Our Company Name: Chagrin Valley Soap
Every so often we receive an email questioning the origin of the name of our company. We often receive a question like this . . . “why did you give your company such a sad name?”
At first, I did not understand, and then the lightbulb went off—oh . . . “chagrin.” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “chagrin” is defined as “distress of mind caused by humiliation, disappointment, or failure.”
Oh dear, why would anyone name a company something that has to do with humiliation, disappointment, or failure? I had completely forgotten about that meaning.
The company began with one employee (me). My first "soap factory" was located in a little space my husband built for me under the deck of our home located:
- overlooking the Chagrin River
- just outside the Village of Chagrin Falls
- in a region of Northeast Ohio called The Chagrin Valley
Voila, now you see why we use the word Chagrin.
Our motto "Harnessing the Power & Simplicity of Nature" comes from the majestic beauty of nature that surrounds me in the Chagrin Valley and which continues to be my inspiration for "all things natural."
For those interested here is a bit of the history of the area.
About Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Located about 30 miles southeast of Cleveland, Ohio sits a little village, called Chagrin Falls.
It is quintessential small-town America, with its natural beauty, close-knit community, hospitality, and charm.
Settlers first arrived in the area in the 1700s and Chagrin Falls was incorporated as a Village in 1844.
The village was established and has grown around a beautiful, natural waterfall on the Chagrin River.
What began as a settlement of craftsmen from Massachusetts had grown to a commercial center with 9 separate mills, powered by the Chagrin River. The picture shows the east side of N. Main St. taken circa 1870. The Main Street stone arch bridge was built in 1857. (From the Chagrin Falls Historical Society)
The origin of the name “Chagrin Falls” is heavily debated. Some say it comes from the Native American word "shagrin” meaning “clear water,” others claim that the river was named the Shaguin to memorialize a French trader named Sieur de Saguin.
Chagrin Falls is a lovely little town, built around an enchanting waterfall, hence the name. Regardless of the season, it is a place where you can see people of all ages walking, sitting, enjoying dinner, eating ice cream, taking, pictures, or just hanging out.
The architecture of its main street, of course, named Main Street, has not changed much over the years. It is still lined with restaurants and shops, old and new.
The Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Chagrin Falls. It was built around 1874 as a showroom for The Pride of the Falls flour mill, which was powered by the Chagrin River. By 1931 the mill was vacant and dilapidated.
The Popcorn Shop opened in this building in 1948 and continues to be a destination for both locals and tourists to this day.
Chagrin Hardware and Supply which first opened its doors in 1857 is another permanent fixture in the village. One-hundred-fifty-six years later, customers still wander over its old creaky wooden floors to see antique tools and hardware as well as modern-day hardware needs.
Chagrin Falls definitely has that hometown feel of a village, not a suburb.
The Chagrin River and Falls
The name "Chagrin River" first appeared on a map of the Western Reserve in 1797. Land use has been changing in the Chagrin River watershed since the settlers first arrived in the 1700s.
The Chagrin River, particularly in the area of Chagrin Falls, was used for mills in the early years but still maintains natural beauty.
The Main Branch of the Chagrin River begins as the Upper Main Branch above Bass Lake in Munson Township and flows 48 miles before entering Lake Erie in the City of Eastlake, Ohio.
The highlight of the river is the falls. Although we refer to them as the "Chagrin Falls" after the river, technically they are called the "High Falls" of the Chagrin River. The "High Falls" provided a power source for a gristmill that was built in 1836.
The waterfall is located in the middle of the Village of Chagrin Falls under the Main Street bridge looking west. There is a boardwalk with stairs and small seating areas that take you down to view the falls. (FYI: The staircases are closed in bad weather for safety.)
On the eastern side of the bridge is Riverside Park which follows the river eastward. People love to stroll through the park which has a children’s playground, a covered picnic shelter, and lots of green space. Each year the park hosts local festivals, including the Blossom Time Carnival and Art by the Falls.
The Chagrin Valley
The Chagrin Valley is an area located in Northeastern Ohio that includes The Village of Chagrin Falls and surrounding cities in eastern Cuyahoga and western Geauga Counties.
The Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce serves 13 Communities in the Chagrin Valley.
Like most of the region, the area was originally settled as part of Connecticut’s Western Reserve.
The majestic beauty of the nature that surrounds me was and continues to be, my inspiration for "all things natural."
Have you ever visited Chagrin Falls? Share your memories!