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Meet Jana Hester of Little Cabin Soaps

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jana Hester.

Jana, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up making soap – taught by my mother (still using some of her recipes) – we both adore the art of soapmaking. It’s as familiar as baking cookies. As life went on, I realized my hobby was taking over and made the decision to soap full time. Every batch is handmade from scratch (no box mixes) through two soaping methods, cold process and hot process. From beer soap to using carrot juice, clays and local honey – there is nothing I won’t try. Last year there was a request for hot pepper soap and half a dozen batches were made using all varieties of peppers including ghost peppers. (No heat came through saponification)

Working together is important so you’ll find collaborations all the time. Custom sets and gift baskets that feature local handmade artisan products in addition to Little Cabin Soaps are available for every occasion. Sourcing ingredients from as many local and small business companies is something near to my heart. From local honey and beeswax to tea and essential oils, seeking those out from other moms & pops is how I roll.

In 2017 I branched out and joined forces with my now business partner and we launched The Perfect Man Club – a line of soaps, beard oil and beard balm for men.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Haha a smooth road? Nope. Anything but smooth. The 3rd official year of being a company was the hardest. I wanted to close the doors and quit. But business trickled in and my soap fans spoke up and didn’t let me stop. Of course mom and husband also jumped in and said you can’t stop just because it’s not easy… so I kept going. I got a part-time job to supplement while things were slow.

A constant challenge is making soap that is true to my heart and desirable for customers. I don’t do trendy soaps or cupcakes with glitter… I make old fashioned soap from scratch. Bar form, no frills. However, customers enjoy something new and flashy, so I have had to teach myself new techniques that are out of my comfort zone. I stand by my morals and don’t use certain ingredients, even if someone asks, I’ll gladly send them to someone who uses those things.

Soaping is my first true love and I continue to create things that are familiar and limited ingredient recipes. But I’ve learned hot process, embeds and pencil lines more recently and customers really dig it. I’ll continue on the learning path always – to give folks something fresh and new while always offering the tried and true things they’ve grown to love. But I remain true to my heart and soap with ingredients and designs I believe in. However it’s fun to jump out of my comfort zone and learn something new!

Of course, now with everything going on business has plummeted. The brick and mortars who carry the Little Cabin Line have been forced to close. How I’ll get through this, I have no idea. This has been a challenge beyond anything that’s happened in my lifetime. I’m unsure how to handle it but hope folks will continue to support so all of us small business folks are around on the flip side.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Little Cabin Soaps – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Little Cabin Soaps is mainly bar soap. Occasionally I create soaking salts, clays, etc. I do manufacture for The Perfect Man Club (co-own it with my business partner and manufacture all products) and that includes beard oil and beard balm. Little Cabin Soaps specializes in simple ingredient no frill soap (although I’m getting into some of those fancier soaps and such) that everyone in the family can use. Gentle yet fun – something that feels like a treat in the shower and you can feel good about using it.

I’m most proud to carry on soaping- mom still soaps and we bounce things off of each other all the time. It’s a treat to be able to carry on that tradition and still refer to my teacher for guidance. I’m proud to stick to my standards – if someone requests something, I simply don’t feel good about making I’ll gladly refer them to someone who does. Not using preservatives and parabens does limit me, but I’ll gladly refer folks out for something that requires using those ingredients. That may set me apart from others too. I don’t do trendy glittery stuff and jump on that train – that may be something that holds me back, but I stick to my standards.

Super proud to collaborate- nothing makes my heart happier than working WITH others. I make beer soap for several breweries with their own beer, they then sell the soap in their tasting rooms. What an adventure that is! I make beer soap for 8-Bit Aleworks, Historic Brewing Co., The Shop Beer Co. and beer is so so so neat to work with. It results in the most creamy bar of soap ever. I also make honey soap for Scale & Feather Meadery – they are amazing to work with. Using honey increases lather and bubbles, something most folks don’t know. I source my honey locally and adore working with these gems in the valley. Partnership and lifting each other up goes a long long way and benefits everyone. Yay teamwork!

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
New techniques are in the works… pencil lines and embeds so I can have some really seasonal items that are visually seasonal (not just scented seasonally). Facial bars are currently underway and I hope to launch that line this summer. Dream wise? I’d sure love to have a brick and mortar filled with all handmade all artisan products. That’s been a dream for over a decade. It doesn’t hurt to dream right? I’d love for that to somehow unfold.

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