Sisters Terry Hiltz and Cindy Scott, along with their friend Susan Tuthill, never imagined that their casual exploration of the art of soapmaking in retirement would turn into a full-fledged and highly successful business.
The three women met in the gym and bonded over their early-morning workouts and, later, their love of travel. As they showered and dressed for work, they would frequently compare notes on the soaps they were using, and when they traveled — often together — they would find and share handmade soaps and other personal care products from all over. On these trips, the partners also began discussing their plans for retirement. When they retired (Terry and Susan from education, and Cindy from restaurant management), they decided to learn how to make their own soaps. “We just bought a book and started learning.”
Initially, the only goal was to learn something fun and new and to produce some soaps that they and their families could enjoy. As they acquired more knowledge and improved their techniques, however, the partners realized that they were producing a high-quality product and wanted to share it with the world. Forever Clean was the result, and its product line grew to include soap, bath bombs, shower bursts, and body butters.
The decision to manufacture CBD products came about a year ago. Terry fielded an online inquiry from a hemp producer who asked if Forever Clean would be interested in using his hemp extract to produce a line of soaps, which he would then sell. The hemp producer’s name sounded familiar to Terry, and she quickly realized why – the man had been her pupil in nursery school! They had a good laugh about that, then she heard him out. While Terry was unfamiliar with CBD, she promised to bring the idea to her partners for consideration.
Terry initially worried that the idea of CBD products wouldn’t be accepted. Forever Clean was, after all, made up of “three older, rather conservative ladies” who primarily sold their wares on the craft fair circuit. Hemp was stigmatized and often conflated with marijuana. It was associated with hippies. What would her partners think? What would their customers think? Would their families worry that they were becoming hippies?
Terry presented the idea to her partners, and to her surprise they were open to it. They researched the matter thoroughly, studying not just the benefits of CBD but also the legalities of selling products containing the extract. They also wanted to be sure to promote CBD in such a way that explained the possible health benefits without making unfounded claims. After consulting with an attorney and their insurance agent, they formulated an informational package insert that they include with all their CBD products, stating, “CBD oil has been studied for its potential role in treating anxiety, depression, acne, eczema, heart disease, inflammation, arthritic and other pain, as well as cancer-related symptoms. There is a great deal of research out there for these and other health benefits and we encourage you to do your homework before making your decision…”
Family and friends were shocked and amused by the new product line, but they were also encouraging. Terry found an especially avid supporter in her son: when she called him in Seattle to tell him about their new venture, he simply said, “I’m very proud of you, Mom.”
Forever Clean’s customer base loved the new products, too. The partners were surprised at how quickly their CBD items would sell out at craft fairs. Another surprise: the bulk of Forever Clean’s CBD business comes from elderly customers. When Terry sent samples to her mother, she too found that it relieved her aches and pains. When word of this natural source of pain relief spread through the nursing home, Forever Clean gained even more loyal customers.
While Forever Clean is thriving and profitable, there are no plans to hire employees or expand the business beyond its current home-based form. Profits are mostly reinvested in the business, and the partners are enjoying mixing business with pleasure, indulging their love of travel while continuing to expand their knowledge at professional meetings such as the recent Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild Conference in Dallas, Texas. They also travel extensively on the craft fair circuit.
Forever Clean products are available by mail order and at craft fairs. For details, please visit www.forevercleansoap.com.