Thursday, June 9, 2011

Retro Rita Interview: Handmade Success with Paula Parrish of Natural Garden Soaps

I am so excited to share this post with you today!  I've been working really hard to better market my business, which is challenging for me because my sewing machine's always calling my name!  Anyway, in an effort to further market my brand, I've decided to begin using my Retro Rita to help me promote some new ideas.

Though I've not properly introduced Retro Rita before, you have seen her.  She's been posing on my marketing materials, including my tent banner...

On my business cards and product labels...

...and here on my blog.

Beginning today, Retro Rita is going to help me share periodic interviews with creative people who inspire me.  Yay!

Retro Rita:  I'm delighted that Paula Parrish is here today for my first Retro Rita Interview and giveaway!  As a quick introduction, Paula is the owner and creator of Natural Garden Soaps, the most wonderful handmade skin products I’ve ever used.  Her line of soaps just makes me want to spend my day luxuriating in the tub!

{I'm gifting several of Paula's products as this month's giveaway.  Details on how to enter the giveaway are near the end of this post.}

Retro Rita:  Tell us about your products, Paula.
Paula:  I make handmade bath and beauty products from botainical-based ingredients found in nature, without synthetic chemicals or commercial preservatives.  Some of the natural ingredients I use include olive oil, sunflower oil, honey, mango butter, Shea Butter, beeswax, organic garden botanicals, witch hazel and Aloe Vera.  My products include Natural Soaps, 3-step Facial Kit (facial soap, refreshing toner and pure healing Shea Butter facial lotion), nourishing Shea Butter lotions, Sheat Butter whipped body cremes, aromatherapy room & linen sprays, 100% essential oil natural balms, and creative bath accessories.

(Photo courtsey Paula Parrish)

Retro Rita: How did you get started in soap making?
Paula:  I wanted to make something with my organic garden herbs, veggies and flowers.  I also wanted to make a better soap for our youngest daughter to use; she has suffered from psoriasis.  After a few months of soap making, I created a soap recipe that I wanted to use and share with others.  I thought, 'Wow, this is an amazing soap and I love the way it feels on my skin!' Well, the feedback from friends and family was wonderful.  They loved it and wanted more.  That's how my business began.  My mission is to continue making great, handmade soap.

(Photo courtsey Paula Parrish)

Retro Rita:  Where do you find your ingredients?
Paula:  Whenever possible I find my ingredients directly in nautre.  For example, the seaweed I use in my Mucky Seaweed Soap is from my local Gulf Shore (Florida) beach.  When I add food products such as oatmeal, I purchase it in bulk from my local health food store.  All of the natural oils and exotic butters I use are purchased from wholesale soap suppliers.

(Photo by Paula Parrish.  Echinacea growing in Paula's backyard garden.)

Retro Rita:  Do some of your ingredients come from your garden?
Paula:  Yes.  All of the herbs, flowers and seasonal vegetables are from my own backyard, organic garden.

Retro Rita:  What is your best selling product and what makes it such a great seller?
Paula:  My handmade super-enriched soaps.  My customers tell me they love my soap because it is super moistening, smells yummy and is good for your skin.

(Paula Parrish photo)

Retro Rita:  You have such a beautiful set-up at your arts and crafts fairs.  Please tell us about the design of your space and what you do to draw in customers.
Paula:  When I designed my display I carefully selected second-hand or vintage items to create an eco-friendly display with its own unique style.  I believe that my soap booth gives my customers a warm, at-home feeling because they often tell me they don't want to leave my booth.

Retro Rita:  Apart from creating your soaps and bath products, what do you do?
Paula:  I love to stay busy; I work as a graphic designer when I am not making soap.  I feel so lucky to be doing things that I love and getting paid for it to boot.  In my free time I love to create all kinds of things from sewing and scrapbooking to cooking.

Retro Rita:  Running a business can certainly challenge a person’s time management skills.  How do you manage your time to get it all accomplished?
Paula:  When I first start a project I give myself a time limit to complete the job.  This habit seems to work very well for me.  I also work from "To Do" lists, set goals and stay focused on the current task at hand.

Retro Rita:  What does handmade mean to you?
Paula:  Handmade to me is something that is made by an individual, with their ideas, their passion and their time.  It is not mass-produced but created with carefully-selected materials or ingredients.  It has those small imperfections which add a personal touch.  I believe each handmade item has a little part of the artist in it when completed.  That is why I list, as the very last ingredient in my handmade soap, TLC or lots of love.

(Paula wearing her Retro Revival apron at her local scrapbooking store.  She said of her apron, "I believe that wearing this charming apron makes me so much more creative.  The family mini book that I created came out amazing!)

Retro Rita:  What are your hopes and aspirations for your business and where do you see yourself in the future?
Paula:  I hope to share my handmade skincare products with as many people as possible and educate people along the way about natural skincare.  I see myself being happy and enjoying the experiences that running a successful handmade business brings.

Retro Rita:  What handmade possession do you cherish most?  Why?
Paula:  I most cherish the poems, drawings and paintings that my children have created for me over the years.  I love them because they truly express the feelings and individual talent of each of my four children.

Retro Rita:  What would you do if you won a ba-zillion dollars?
Paula:  Wow, a ba-zillion dollars?!  I would first go on a long cruise with my family and friends and, of course, foot the bill.  After I returned home I would donate money to a few of my favorite charities and make sound investments.  I would not forget my supportive hubby Chad; I would buy him a big fishing boat and send him fishing!  Woo hoo, with him out of the way for a few weeks I could do a lot of creating!

Retro Rita:  Well, you're quite the creative lady, Paula!  Thank you for your time and insight.  Now, about our giveaway...

Retro Revival's June 2011 giveaway includes these Natural Garden Soap treasures:

There are a few ways to win and each way counts as a point!

1. Share a comment here on this post, letting me know what you think about Retro Rita and/or suggest other ways she can help me grow my business.

2. Go to Retro Revival's FB page and click "like" (mention you've done this in your comment here).

3. Go to Paula's website, check out her products, come back here and share with me your favorite.

4. Go to Paula's blog and become a follower (make sure you tell me about it in a comment so I know to count your entry).

5. Go to Paula's FB page and click "like" (be sure to mention you've done so in a comment here).

I'll draw the winner on June 30th.  Good luck!

20 comments: said...

Welcome to my blog, BringingPrettyBack!

Sizzle and Zoom said...

I love her packaging of her products and I would like to order her products. I am in for the giveaway. I like the shea butter soaps but I would like a cream with shea butter for my skin at night without aloe vera.

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

I've completed all the requirements and even if I don't win, hopefully I'll learn a thing or two about making my own soap! It's something I've wanted to do for sometime now, and to use my own herbs, growing extra this year! My favorite soap of hers is the lavender shown, can't get enough! Please add me, keeping my fingers crossed! Thanks! said...

Welcome to my blog, Laura Eiesland! So happy you're following:)

Betty Lou said...

Glad to meet you Retro Rita, I have seen you hanging around Cindy blog. Glad she gave you a full time job to do. I think you are a born P.R. person.

Paula Parrish said...

Hello Cindy,
I am so excited that you have chosen to feature me on your blog. It would be kind of CRAZY to fully express HOW much I cannot even BEGIN to thank you for your world class, GRAND and ASTONISHING thoughtfulness! You have added a special hop to my step that will last the entire week, month, year and maybe longer. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
Smiles, Paula

Anonymous said...

Cindy I really enjoy your website. It's fun, interesting and very colorful. Your products look so nice. Keep up the good work. Linda

Jingle said...

Retro Rita is fabulous! I think having a strong, appropriate logo like that will help you a LOT! And people won't forget an adorable name like that!

Jingle said...

I like the Retro Revival Biz page on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

I love Paula Parrish's soaps and creams! I was the winner of her last giveaway...a couple of dino egg shaped soaps! And evrything smells wonderful!
I've marked her shop in my favourites too!

Ciao Bella!

Speaking of Etsy shops...I've finally listed some new items!
Come peek.


Welcome to my blog, Theresa (Confessions of a Craftaholic). Hope you enjoy your visits:)

The Summer Kitchen Girls said...

We will have to go check Paula's stuff out...we just LOVE hearing about new businesses - and are amazed at their creativity and dedication - so thanks for directing us to her Cindy!!

Into Vintage said...

Paula's work looks amazing - I don't know how she does all that she does! And I love seeing the little glimpse of your booth at market. Are you selling at any upcoming shows? I'd love to know more about the pros and cons of that from someone who sews (especially since I'll be selling at my first show next month) :-)

Heather said...

I "liked" Paula's FB page:) and checked out her etsy page. I love handmade natural soap and her dinosaur eggs look adorable, what a treat for kids! I know my little ones would love them!

Belle said...

I think it would be adorable to add an animated Retro Rita to your blog! OR go to and make a "Retro Rita" fabric to promote your business!
I absolutely like Paula's products. My favorite to try would be the Garden Lavendar bar soap. I liked both your pages and became a follower of Paula's.
Thank you!

quiltjude said...

OOH the room spray looks fabulous I bet it smells just as good. I may be too far away to win (postage) but I love just saying hello and the blogs are brilliant. cheers from across the globe :) Jude In Tasmania

Sherry from Alabama said...

I've made my own soap for years but I only make the very basic kind; only 3 ingredients (water, lye, lard). Paula's products look wonderful!

Retro Rita looks just like the type of lady that could convince me to visit your booth if I were there. In fact, your blog header just makes my heart rate speed up with all the retro beauty it contains. At home, I "live" in aprons.

Sherry @ A Happy Valentine

Sherry from Alabama said...

I visited Paula's site and absolutely drooled over the Orange Creamtickle Soap! I love citrus products!

Sherry @ A Happy Valentine

Tealovinglady said...

I think Retro Rita is fabulous!Yyour blog is terrific and I love your aprons. Please enter me in your drawing.

Tealovinglady said...

The lavender shea body butter looks wonderful! I think all of Paula's products look great!