The crowd waited in anxious anticipation
of the live television broadcast to be held
in the historical park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. . . .
It was May 4, 1997, and we were enjoying an unusually warm, clear Sunday afternoon. Thick, black television cables snaked all over the ground. Lights and camera crew were every where. People crowded into the park to see their favorite QVC on-air personalities sell the 20 best products from their state!
As the four-hour live broadcast continued, it was obvious to all this was a good showing for South Dakota. Many of the items for sale were sold out. This was quite an event for this quiet Western state! And, where was I in all of this excitement? As usual, I was away from the crowds, isolated, hooked up to my oxygen tank, my faithful husband at my side. A grizzled, good-looking ol' cowboy who had just finished selling his very Western-looking barbed wire wreaths on live TV, walked up to us. "God bless you," he said softly. I thanked him and thought, "What a doll! He's the best thing on this show!" He was so genuine and warm. And he looked a lot like Richard Farnsworth, the actor, too.
Soon it was my turn. I was ushered through the crowd. People stared curiously at my mask and oxygen. I was hooked up with microphones and shown to a seat to await my turn at selling our Sunshine Collection Soaps. Terry and I had toiled for weeks making 1,500 gift sets, using 6,000 of these sunny, citrus bars and we hoped people would like them.
A woman seated next to me sized up the oxygen tank and immediately fired up what looked to me like the world's biggest cigarette. Yikes! Was I going to be blown to Kingdom Come before I ever got my chance to appear with Judy Crowell and tell America about Homespun Naturals Soaps? (I hate it when that happens!) On the other hand, that would make South Dakota the most memorable stop on QVC's "50-In-50" Tour! Thankfully, nobody got blown up and it was my turn.
This was all unrehearsed and I hoped I would be able to breathe, let alone tell America about our soaps. Judy suprised me and immediately asked how I started Homespun Naturals and why. I thought I was just there to tout our soap, not tell our story. But, we can't get away from it. Our story is the reason for our soap and our company. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons.
I told the nationwide audience that I had become very ill while living in a suburb of Chicago, IL. I had an accidental chemical poisoning and became an invalid. I was unable to leave my home for over three years and needed oxygen to breathe. I became so ill, I suffered anaphylactic reactions to many common foods and normal, household odors from things like carpet, drapes, paint, and every kind of cleaner and grooming product imaginable. Finally my world-famous doctor, Theron Randolph, M.D., said we had to move away from the pollution that was literally killing me.
We settled in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which has the cleanest air in the country according to the EPA. Because I couldn't use any kind of soaps or other grooming products, I decided to learn to make my own. That's how Homespun Naturals Soapmaking Co. became established in 1995. Judy asked me if commercial soaps bothered my skin. I blurted out, "Oh, no! I just stopped breathing!" So much for unscented Dove.
Judy mentioned over and over how "beautiful and dewy" my complexion was. (Later, friends started calling me "Dewy.") We took a few calls from people who also had troubles using commercial soaps. I was really getting into this. It was fun! I could do this all day if I had to. But, suddenly it was all over. We were allowed up to eight minutes to present our products. Judy announced that all the soap was sold out. Four minutes and all 1,500 gift sets, over 6,000 bars, gone! I was stunned. So was Terry, looking on in the crowd. Happy, but stunned.
When we got home QVC had left a message on our answering machine. There was a tremendous response to our soaps. They had a backorder of over 300 gift sets. Could we make them and could QVC place another order? Of course, we said "yes" to both questions. This was a revelation. People across America had problems using commercial soaps with their harsh synthetic fragrances and chemical additives. There was a real need for soaps so gentle and mild even someone with severe Chemical Sensitivities could use them. Or, make them and use them, as in my case.
By far, our greatest delight has come from working with so many fine men and women entrepreneurs who own their own gift shops or make professional gift baskets. We love working with small businesses and strive to make our products and service appealing to them!
We moved to our lovely home in the Ozark Mountains in 1998. (More clean air, but much, much warmer than beautiful South Dakota.) The Ozark area enjoys a centuries-old tradition of soapmaking. We fit right in here and love it. We hope you'll try our products. They are all made from our own secret recipes. We've also spent years working on making our packaging eye-appealing and beautiful. That's why we have such a high percentage of reorders from our happy customers. These products are proven sellers in upscale gift shops and for gift basket makers all over the country.
Yet our operation is small and personal. You will receive excellent customer service from us. We really do appreciate your business and the opportunity to serve your needs. We have chosen to stay small, so you can be assured that our products will never appear in chain stores across the country. Rest assured that when you choose to use our products in your gift baskets or in your gift shop, you will not see them at a large discount store. We recently turned down the opportunity to have one of the 10 largest gift wholesalers in the country represent our products. They have two showrooms in the Dallas Merchandise Mart and customers like Speigel's, Macys and JC Penney and many others. Although we felt we could not work with them and stay as small as we'd like, this illustrates the demand for our products.
For our customers who call, you'll frequently talk to Terry. He is as big a part of Homespun Naturals as I am. He wants our male customers to know that he shaves with our soap every day because of the great lather and extra moisturizing qualities of the soap! Yes, he's a busy guy who hand-cuts our soap and does much of the marketing and shipping for our products. He's a wonderful partner!
Please write or call us with any questions you may have. We hope you'll become a happy Homespun Naturals Customer.
Homespun Naturals is a registered trademark of Homespun Naturals Soapmaking, Inc.
QVC is a registered trademark of ER Marks, Inc.