Our Story

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Josette Kathy Gradwohl

"A mother is always the beginning.
She is how things begin."  --Amy Tan

My mother, Millie Barton has severe skin problems. Some of the simplest things can trigger painful reactions: pantyhose, toothpaste, laundry detergents, and of course, cosmetics.  Fortunately, I did not take after her in severity, but I did have dry, itchy skin that drove me to behave like a gorilla!  Since my worst itch was my upper thighs, I found myself constantly walking or standing scratching my thighs like a gorilla.

In 2011, my VERY (and I do mean, VERY) friendly mother introduced herself to her new neighbor, Vicki and discovered Vicki mades soap.  Vicki graciously gave my mother soap bars which mother shared with me.  We were both astounded by the feel of those creamy, bubbly bars with their refreshing aroma.  But better than that--we noticed no more rashes and itching.   No more big ape walking for me. 

Mother, knowing how much I love crafts and that we both needed this homemade soap, wanted Vicki to teach me how to make it.  However, I was struggling with a 40-60 hour stressful job, two teenagers, two dogs and a husband. The mere thought of another task caused my stress-o-meter to bubble over. 

Nevertheless, the next thing I knew, Vicki had me measuring and mixing lye and oils into a crock pot she laughingly referred to as her witches' cauldron.  I became so transfixed as the magical potion went through the stages of saponification. And for those of you who are wondering if it really is true that soap-makers taste the soap to tell when it's done; the answer is yes.  It ZAPS you like a battery if it's not ready when hot processing.   I waited anxiously over the next 24 hours, peeking and sniffing frequently until I could finally unmold the loaf and see the magic.

I was so excited to show my magic soap to my husband, Randy, and my teenage son, Chris.  It became a family activity. We experimented with ingredients, honed our math skills and learned chemistry. Randy has a degree (or two) in chemistry so he led the way; insisting we record everything we planned, did, and discovered.  I have the records for every batch of soap I have ever made! 

But the more I learned about soap making and the healing properties of oils, the more I sang, "I'd like to teach the world to soap" to the tune of "I'd like to teach the world to sing".  I wanted to solve everyone's skin problems.  I also wanted to tell people without skin problems how to keep it that way.  So Pass the Bar Soaps was born as a part-time business in 2013.

In June 2014, I said good-bye to my stressful corporate job and plunged into Pass the Bar Soaps.  By February 2015, I changed the name to Josette Bath & Body.  I love researching new ingredients and creating products that help us take care of ourselves in a holistic way.   My simple mission is to deliver pure and natural, handmade bath and body products that engage all of your senses and that without question are good for you and our environment.

And my mother, well, she is still my biggest fan.  She continues to be my motivator, my inspiration and guide.  I have been blessed! 

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