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Desert Frog owner hooked on soap

Sells handcrafted bath and body care products, natural ingredients

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By R’becca Groff, correspondent

MARION — The Desert Frog started selling bath and body care products on Etsy in 2012.

“I was doing very well on Etsy,” said owner Chris Slominski, “but I needed a place to buy soap-making supplies because nobody in town had them, so I decided this town needed some place to buy those supplies.”

Slominski was hooked on soaps after taking a “melt and pour” class and knew she’d found the business she wanted.

“I went crazy with it and drove my family nuts,” she laughed, “but it bored me after a while and that’s when I started on made-from-scratch soaps with lye and all the oils.”

“We still use lye,” she said. “There’s nothing else. If I could figure out how to make soap without lye, I would be on the cover of Time.”

Slominski offers her own hand crafted bath and body care products as well as the ingredients for those who want to make their own natural products.

Food grade oils go into her handmade soaps, as well as sustainably produced palm oil.

“We only purchase from the suppliers who are members of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil,” she said. “Those sustainable growers have serious rules and regulations they must follow.”

Essential oils, fragrance oils, cocoa and Shea butters, Jojoba beads are some of the ingredients her store sells for the soap making process. Natural pigments and mica powders as well as other natural products like marigold (calendula) or olive leaf powder are part of the store’s inventory.

The Desert Frog has a dedicated following. When Slominski moved from her former retail spot in southeast Cedar Rapids to Marion, the business was more centrally located for her regular customers.

“I was not in a good location,” she explained, “When I started asking my customers where they were from, it became obvious many of them were from the northeast side of town, so this move to Marion was a good thing to do.”

Her demographic includes the older generation who has skin conditions and are looking for helpful remedies, “and there are just a lot of people out there who want to learn how to make their own soaps,” she added.

In addition to all the soaps and lotions, she sells more bath fizzy bombs than she can keep in the store.

“The younger crowd loves them,” Slominski said, “and I sell them cheaper than another store in town.” The fizzy bath bombs are the only product in her store that she does not make.

The bombs have oils and scent in them and some are made with Epsom salts that are good for muscles. “The bath salts that I make all have Epsom salts in them as well,” she said.

Classes on melt and pour soap making as well as handcrafted soaps are taught in small groups and range in length from an hour and a half up to three hours.

At a glance:

-- Owner: Chris Slominski

— Business: The Desert Frog

— Address: 1090 Seventh Ave., Marion

— Phone: (319) 640-2848

— Website: www.thedesertfrogsbathbodyandmore.com

Know a company in business for more than a year that would make a great My Biz? Contact George C. Ford at george.ford@thegazette.com

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