Sunday, November 1, 2009

Virginia Soaps and Scents

What happens when a homeschool project becomes a favorite family hobby? For the Spargur family of rural southeastern Virginia it becomes a family business. Three years ago, Roy and Richelle Spargur, parents of their homeschool family of 11, enjoyed their soap making project suggested in a unit study on Colonial Life in Virginia so much they knew they had to continue making soap as a family. They launched their hand crafted soap making business, Virginia Soaps and Scents at the Virginia State homeschool convention in June of 2008, where they caught the attention of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine publishers Paul and Gena Suarez. A review of Virginia Soaps and Scents products appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of the magazine catapulting their company to national recognition and exposure.

My four daughters and I adore bath and body products. When I received my free sample of soaps from Virginia Soaps and Scents to review I couldn’t wait to test them out and share them with my family. We are very particular about scents and quality in our bath and body products and on occasion can spend hours in chain stores searching for just the right selection. We were able to use the Ginger Lime shampoo bar, Coconut Lemongrass, Fresh Orange and Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soaps. We found the soaps to hold a lovely light fragrance, which unfortunately, in my opinion, did not linger. I love fragrance so much that I found this aspect just a tad disappointing. I was very skeptical about using a bar of soap as shampoo, but too intrigued not to give it a try.

The shampoo bar is applied to wet hair and lathers remarkably well. Its’ light scent is refreshing and with a quick rinse all soap residue and dirt is removed from hair and scalp. My hair was left literally squeaky clean, but since it tends to be a bit on the dry side I felt still needed a touch of conditioner. As I placed the bar on the soap dish I realized what a benefit a shampoo bar would be for travel. It is lightweight and compact for packing plus eliminates all issues airlines have with liquids. The shampoo bar is also recommended on the company website for use in camping.

When asked for comments our family test marketing team had similar experiences to share. “It made my hair slightly dry, but my scalp felt really clean”, said Sammi age 18. “It was fun to use because it was different from regular shampoo. It didn’t have a strong scent, but I thought it smelled clean which is the scent I want for my hair”.

“It was easy to use and it made my skin feel really soft after using it", commented Micah, age 12. “It would be really handy to take to swimming lessons, I think, because you could pack it in your bag to use as your shampoo and conditioner and it wouldn’t take up much space”, she added.

Virginia Soaps and Scents soap bars contain an olive oil base not detergent. According to a company brochure provided in the packaging their product is defined as “real soap” because it consists of oil and water bound together with sodium hydroxide. “Basically, a fatty acid (the oil) combined with an alkali (the sodium hydroxide) creates a salt (the soap.) The alkali is neutralized in the reaction; leaving a cleansing, moisturizing compound we call ‘soap’”. Almost all Virginia Soaps and Scents products contain olive and/or soy oil for skin conditioning and coconut oil for lathering.

The Spargur Family promises all of their products are hand crafted and explains on their website what they mean by the term. “At Virginia Soaps and Scents we take the term literally. It means we don’t buy soap, lotion and lip balm from a supplier and slap our label on it. We have developed our own soap recipes which are poured into Roy’s handmade poplar soap molds. Roy makes all the tools used in cutting and planing the soap, as well as printing all the labels and literature. All of our products are crafted right from scratch and are tested by use in our own home..”

Virginia Soaps and Scents products are sold in specialty stores in Virginia, craft fairs and homeschool conventions, but most non-Virginians will want to take advantage of the convenience of on-line shopping at the company’s web store,
Payments are made via PayPal. Prices range from $3.95 for an individual bar of gourmet soap to $39.95 for the Virginia Sampler, a sample set of all the bath and body products offered by the company delivered in a wooden crate. The set includes soaps, baby powder, body butter, lip balm, and laundry soap. Shipping charges are added to orders at the time of check out.

From lip balms to laundry detergent Virginia Soaps and Scents has a lot to offer the homeschool family in search of pure, wholesome toiletries. Their reasonable pricing and quality standards make them stand out from ordinary bath and body products. As you use their soap, shampoo or lotions you will experience the joy of cleanliness while knowing you have the best home education can offer; a “delight directed family business” born from a love of working together.

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