Soothing the Skin for Spring

Feature Stories Spring 2014 Issue

Soothing the Skin for Spring

By Susan Gloss | Photos By Jim Klousia 0

Our skin takes a beating during a Wisconsin winter. In March and April, as the crocus and daffodil emerge from the soil, so do our limbs emerge from long johns, wool sweaters and wet boots. Our minds and spirits may be more than ready for spring, but often our skin is not. Winter leaves its mark with a host of skin problems, from eczema to chapped lips and cracked hands.

Fortunately, LuSa Organics and Naughty Goat have you covered as you uncover all that sensitive skin for spring. These local businesses save our skin with lotions, salves, and other care personal care products made from natural ingredients right here in southern Wisconsin. Both companies were born from a belief that what we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in them.

Growing a Business and a Family
at LuSa Organics

Rachel Wolf already considered herself a “maker” long before she began crafting body care products as a profession. While in graduate school for environmental education, she kept her hands busy with baking bread, home-brewing beer, canning tomatoes and knitting mittens. She first tried making personal care products when she was in her twenties, after she read an article about soap making and decided she was up for the challenge.

“From that first batch of soap, I was hooked,” she says. Within a few years, she was making body care products full-time while parenting her young children. Her husband, Pete, eventually left his job to help with their growing business venture. In 2008, they launched LuSa Organics together. Rachel and Pete came up with the company name by combining the names of their children, Lupine and Sage. Now LuSa, based out of Viroqua, makes a variety of body care products that not only smell good and feel sumptuous on the skin, but also are safe for the whole family to use.

“Our skin is our body’s largest organ,” says Rachel. “If preservatives, artificial colors and petroleum aren’t on your dinner menu, consider keeping them out of your body care as well.”

In keeping with that philosophy, LuSa uses local and organic ingredients whenever possible. All fragrances used in the products are made exclusively from essential oils, and all coloring is derived from natural pigments, herbs and clays. LuSa’s bath scrubs are made with organic sugar. Its soothing lip balms and lotion bars incorporate Wisconsin beeswax. The sunflower oil used in its soaps comes from Driftless Organics (driftlessorganics.com), right down the road from the Wolfs’ own farm.

“It’s delightful to drive through the valley past their fields of sunflowers and know that some of those flowers will be pressed into oil for LuSa Organics,” says Rachel.

If there is one ingredient she can’t live without, it is local, organic calendula flowers (above). For those not familiar with calendula, also known as “pot marigold,” it’s an annual plant with blooms that range from yellow to orange in color. The flowers look like bursts of bright spring sunshine. Calendula has a long history of use as a healing herb with anti-inflammatory, antifungal and immuno-stimulant properties. LuSa purchases calendula from several small growers in the area and uses the plant in its baby soap and popular Booty Balm diaper ointment (a staple in this author’s house).

“Local ingredients are simply more vibrant,” says Wolf. “It is the terroir of the Driftless region in everything we make.”

LuSa recently took its commitment to locally-sourced ingredients a step further when the Wolf family purchased a small farm. There, they are making plans to raise organic herbs to use in LuSa’s body care creations. The family also recently began keeping bees and purchased two Nubian goats, Daphne and Pie, whose milk will be used in LuSa soaps.

A Naughty Goat and a New Career

Goat milk is the star ingredient in the handmade soaps, salves and lotions handcrafted by Naughty Goat, the brainchild of Miranda and Chris Pollock-Raymond at Under a Rock Farm near La Farge. Miranda and Chris tend a herd of eight goats along with heritage chickens and ducks, red wattle hogs, Shetland sheep, turkeys, geese and trout. Not to mention five children.

The family’s average day starts off with the children in a mad rush, getting ready for school and tending to farm chores, clearing the barn of manure, feeding and watering the animals. Managing such a diverse farm operation requires a team effort from the whole family.

“We try to remind the kids that we are the caretakers for the animals, and that they depend on us,” Miranda says. While Chris oversees the animal chores, Miranda tackles plant-related tasks. Many of the ingredients used in Naughty Goat soaps, lotions and balms are sourced right onsite at Under a Rock Farm.

In addition to utilizing goat milk and yogurt produced by their Alpine and LaMancha breed goats, Miranda uses tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and pumpkin purees and juices in her personal care creations. Home grown lavender, an herb known for its calming and antidepressant properties, goes into her recipe for an indulgent mineral spa soak. Antioxidant rosemary adds a fresh scent to a biodegradable shampoo bar. These natural ingredients not only smell heavenly but provide the skin with much-needed nourishment after a harsh winter. And they do so without the use of the petrochemicals, synthetic dyes or paraben preservatives commonly found in commercial body care products.

Making soaps and other body care products has been, quite literally, therapeutic for Miranda. Two years ago, a rollover car accident left her with a traumatic brain injury that affected her speech and memory. As part of her recovery, she had to relearn certain skills, such as following instructions, using a timer, and measuring and weighing items. These skills tied in well with soap making. At first, Miranda made her soaps and other products as a hobby, but family and friends soon began to request that she make more. Miranda worked on developing her own recipes and expanding the types of products she offered. She now sells Naughty Goat care products online, at the Viroqua Farmers Market and at Tulips General Store in Viroqua, which she and Chris run as an extension of their farm.

In addition to Naughty Goat soaps, Tulips General Store offers pottery by local artists, handmade jewelry, clothing and other items made by members of the community. The idea behind the store, explains Miranda, was to have a place where people could purchase unique items that would directly benefit friends and neighbors.

With all the creatures—two-legged, four-legged and fish-tailed—that depend on Miranda and Chris daily, it is hard to imagine that they ever get a moment to relax. They are too busy balancing their roles as selfdescribed “rogue farmers,” artisans, retailers and parents. Drinking plenty of coffee helps fuel them, as does their commitment to the community and their passion for the work they are doing.

It’s not all work and no play, though. “Most days involve some sort of animal antics, like goats dancing on a picnic table or Willie, the five hundred pound hog, taking himself for a walk,” Miranda adds. “Something interesting always happens.”

To locate where to buy LuSa Organics and Naughty Goat products in local stores or online, visit www.lusaorganics.com and www.underarockfarm.com.


Recipe

Driftless Herbal Body Oil

This simple body oil can be prepared at home and used in place of lotion after a bath or shower. It also makes a wonderful massage or bath oil.


Read on for more handcrafted body care businesses in the southern Wisconsin region!

Local, Handcrafted Body Care
in Southern Wisconsin

Cackle Bee makes soaps, lotions and other skin care products from honey and beeswax straight from their beehives in Waunakee.

Four Elements Organic HerbalsNorth Freedom, creates soaps, bath salts and more on-site at their 130-acre farm in the Baraboo Hills, with certified organic herbs that they grow.

Mari Botanicals, Viroqua, produces homemade soaps with organic, sustainably-harvested palm oil and locally grown herbs such as calendula, comfrey and mint.

Opie's Goats soaps are free of chemicals and fragrances and are handcrafted with organic goat milk straight from their farm in Beloit.

Patti's Potions, Kenosha, makes natural, artisan soaps, including two popular extra-moisturizing bars made with emu oil and shea butter. 

Qēt Botanicals, Cross Plains, handcrafts artisan body care products for the face, body and hair, all free of toxins and synthetics, with a focus on organic ingredients.

Via Naturelle, LLC, Madison, has an array of natural body care products including soaps, dry shampoo, perfumes, body butter and more, all handmade with natural ingredients and refreshing scents.

Wildhaven Soap Company, Beloit, handcrafts vegan soaps using an olive oil base for a more moisturizing product and only essential plant oils for a natural aroma.

Susan Gloss is the author of the novel Vintage (HarperCollins, March 2014). She lives, writes, cooks, eats, mothers, and works as an attorney in Madison. She blogs about fiction, fashion, food and wine at GlossingOverIt.com. Photo by Nick Wilkes.

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