I may have created this business, but we would not be where we are today without our Chagrin Valley Soap Family. We are a group of people who share a common trait--we love the work we do.
Our shop is full of laughter and creative energy that inspires and motivates. We share ideas, we share a vision, and we are rewarded with a sense that our time together makes a difference. Although when I awake on a snowy morning I would love to sleep in, I look forward to my day because of the people with which I spend my time. That is extraordinary!
This is our entire team--Left to Right: Anthony, Christina, Kate, Sarah, David, Sam, Ida, Howard, Ben, Lindsey, Christine, Jenna and Katie
Yes, we really are a small business. We accomplish all we do with a small, super dedicated and passionate team!
From newborn nursery nurse to middle school science teacher, to soapmaker, my career path has been a journey filled with the love of people, nature, science, learning, and teaching. Throughout the journey, my favorite “career” is being a mom. The memories of the games, walks in the park, story times, family holidays, laughter and tears will forever be there. My children have grown into loving adults and now I am blessed with wonderful sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren. I am married to my soul mate, best friend, and biggest fan. As a breast cancer survivor, I delight in growing older, celebrate my age (over 65), and always remember the importance of living each day to its fullest doing things I love to do, with the people I love, and doing them with passion. Chagrin Valley Soap is infused with everyone and everything that has enriched my life.
If it wasn’t for my husband, Howard, Chagrin Valley Soap would probably not exist. Enclosing the porch, for my first soap “factory,” building all of my molds, allowing me to take over the whole house and “borrow” all of his kitchen utensils, he encouraged me to pursue my passion and was there every step of the way. He retired from practicing law in 2010, but is now working (sometimes) for a new boss - me! His business and financial expertise help guide our growth and avoid many of the problems faced by small businesses. Howard is an accomplished woodworker and wood turner and when he is not building or fixing something for the business, he is in his wood shop making sawdust (that he tracks into the house) and listening to opera and the "oldies." Recently, he started a hydroponic indoor garden and is growing vegetables and herbs for our dinner table. Best of all, he is a great cook and after a long day, I can usually expect a fabulous home-cooked dinner.
Yesterday my little boy and I were making cookies and now we work together as an incredible mother and son team. Sam has led an adventurous life on his path to managing daily operations at Chagrin Valley Soap. Going from directing and acting on the Theater stage to teaching in classrooms both at home and abroad, Sam now uses his communication skills to run our customer service end of the business. Sam’s time is divided between the ‘office’ and the ‘kitchen’ here at Chagrin Valley. If you send an email or call our shop, Sam will be on hand to answer your questions. Otherwise, he will be making a lip balm, salve or whipped body mousse for your moisturizing pleasure! Sam volunteers with local youth groups and when he finds a rare free moment, you will catch him and Lindsey at a concert or sharing a fabulous meal. According to Sam: Music and Food make the world go ‘round! Sam is eternally grateful to his Mother (that’s me!), his mentor and the person who makes it ALL possible.
They say when your son gets married you are not losing a son, but gaining a daughter and I gained a beautiful daughter in Lindsey! Her sense of humor and charming smile brighten up my days! Before coming to work at Chagrin Valley, Lindsey studied psychology and fashion merchandising at the University of Cincinnati. With her keen sense of design, she is my go-to person for new product and packaging ideas. Whenever I create new essential oil blends, Lindsey, along with Christine, are my best critics. I fondly call her my "princess of packaging" since she manages all of the orders, packing, shipping and customer service. When not at work, Lindsey enjoys trying out new restaurants, traveling, going to concerts and spending time outdoors with Sam and their miniature Dachshund, Wheezy. Lindsey has great respect for nature and all things natural and enjoys being a part of a company that shares her values.
Ben, one of Sam’s closest friends, came to help during the 2010 Holiday season. He was so impressed and excited about the soap business that he quit his computer job and joined our "family." He is passionate and enthusiastic about being involved in a small, growing business, especially one that corresponds to his strong feelings about the environment and personal wellness. Ben began as my soapmaking apprentice, quickly learned the technical aspects of making soap and is now head soapmaker. As our jack-of-all-trades and operations manager, Ben orders all of our raw materials and always seems to find something to clean, fix or organize. Outside of work, Ben practices yoga regularly and spends his time drawing and etching. He truly believes in our mission to provide high-quality natural skin care products.
Christine has been a part of the Chagrin Valley Soap family since 2008. One of Lindsey's closest friends, she began by volunteering her time while I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She was such a great fit that I begged her to stay. While Christine began as the Chagrin Valley Soap "slabber," our soap cutter, she is now our products manager. She enjoys working with a dedicated staff that shares her love for the outdoors and nature. Christine is has a Business degree from Kent State University, loves music, art, cooking, animals, and spending time with loved ones. She bakes the most scrumptious chocolate chip cookies that I get on my birthday, half-birthday, Mother’s Day, actually anytime I ask! Christine would like to thank our customers for their continuing support and for inspiring us to create new and inventive ways to encourage a natural way of living.
Kate joined the Chagrin Valley family in the Spring of 2012 when we needed help after launching our new website. She is a sweet, kind and gentle soul, so of course, we fell in love with her and she never left. With a background that covers everything from being a mom of three to a doula to an event planner, Kate has become Lindsey’s right hand. Each day finds her shipping our products all over the world, critiquing Ida’s latest creations and suggesting ideas for new products and packaging. When not at the shop, Kate focuses on her family and loves spending time with friends, volunteering in the community, reading, and cooking. The cooking is the part that I love. From her lemon blueberry bread to her cobbler cake and so much more, Kate is always surprising us with homemade goodies. She also gives great hugs!
Sarah, my daughter, joined our team in the Fall of 2013. I made my first batch of soap when Sarah was only 14. Sarah has always been the first tester for all products, and my go-to person for brutally honest feedback. "I have had the opportunity to watch and learn as my mom's soap company grew from her hobby in our kitchen into an incredible business and look up to her as a mom, a mentor, a friend, an entrepreneur and an overall inspiration." After graduating with her Master's in Global Policy, Sarah worked in PR in the non-profit sector. She is our Social Media and Public Relations guru here at Chagrin Valley Soap. "We know that all of YOU, our Chagrin Valley community, is the most important aspect of this company. I hope to engage with all of you, and be an active online presence and representative of our family company." Outside of work, Sarah enjoys cooking, travel and sharing time with friends. She values family above all, especially her husband David and her daughter and 6-month baby boy.
While David joined the Chagrin Valley family in 2014, he has been a part of my family since marrying my daughter, Sarah, in 2010. David was born in South Africa and now must get used to Cleveland winters. “Growing up in South Africa, where I bore witness to Africa's awe-inspiring wildlife, majestic landscapes, and lively tropical oceans has allowed nature and deep respect for the world we live in to sink deep into my heart.” David worked in his family's business, as marketing manager, while earning a degree in marketing from The University of South Africa. He is in charge of everything tech. Cooking with Sarah is his favorite after-work activity. “Food and cooking drive my appreciation for the unique products at Chagrin Valley. It's exciting to take quality fresh ingredients and turn them into something amazing.” He loves to get out on a sunny day and go for a good run, to soak up the fresh air. David is excited to be a part of our family business. “I have big aspirations for the Chagrin Valley Soap Company. I believe firmly in its' mission.”
Katie became part of our team in the summer of 2015. She had recently given birth to her first child. With one huge change taking shape in her life she figured "what's one more." So she left her job of 16 years to be part of our team! When she's not fast at work you will find Katie chasing after her son at the local parks or pool. After all, that running, she looks forward to vegging out on the couch with her family, a bowl of popcorn and a good beer for movie night. Katie is so excited to have the opportunity to grow with another local company right here in her hometown. "It has been such a blast to work alongside and learn from these guys who have mastered this unique craft. I still look forward to coming to work each day knowing I will learn something new."
Anthony joined the Chagrin Valley family in Summer 2016 after moving to Cleveland from Chicago. In school, he was always involved with music through marching bands, jazz bands, pit orchestras, chamber groups, and more. Although brass is his specialty, he enjoys playing many types of instruments. Today he focuses on the trombone and bass guitar and fills his free time hiking in Cleveland's Metroparks, reading, playing tennis, finding new music, attending concerts, and spending time with his girlfriend, Rachel, and precious pooch, Vale. His tasks at work are many and include packing web orders, packing and shipping wholesale orders, and staffing the downtown store. "Before joining the team, I hadn’t given much thought to the types of products I used on my skin and what they consisted of, but I soon became a strong believer in Chagrin Valley’s mission statement of simple and effective products derived from the natural world. CVS&S is a wonderful business to be a part of, and helping and watching it grow has been both exciting and very rewarding."
Elizabeth began working for Chagrin Valley in July 2018. Originally the majority of her day was spent packing orders and stocking products. Elizabeth, a fabulous baker, knows her way around a kitchen and understands the nuances of carefully crafting products. She now spends most of her time with Christine, our products manager creating all of the products, other than soap and shampoo, that our customers love. She is passionate about travel because the experience of meeting new amazing people, sharing delicious food, and experiencing natural and manmade wonders is extraordinary. She loves our organic body powder especially the Lavender Rosemary and the Herbal Mist because they keep her cool on any day.
Brent joined the Chagrin Valley family in the fall of 2018, but he has been a fixture in our family as Kate's husband and a dear friend of Sam & Lindsey. His infectious enthusiasm and creative spirit align with the Chagrin Valley mission to be "inspired by nature" and feeds his need to live artistically and sustainably with nature. Brent describes himself as a "Dedicated husband and father of 3." He is a trained fine artist and an accomplished musician. Brent has genuine warmth in his heart for everyone, it is obvious in every word and deed every day. When I need to laugh, need some positive thoughts or just a hug, Brent is my go-to-guy.
Ida's Mom, Sophie
Pablo Picasso said, “It takes a long time to become young.” My mom is now 101 years young. Although she had to quit school at a young age to help her family during the depression, she is one of the smartest people I know. She looks only for the best in people and every person she meets she considers a treasure. Resolved that her age will not get in the way of living a full life, my mom is always busy. She even volunteers with the “elderly.” She used to put labels on our soap and shampoo bar bags but now that we use boxes she lost her job. If you ask her what is most important, she promptly replies, “My family.” She still loves to dance and sing. She loves telling people about her daughter's soap factory! She taught me how to love!