As necessity is the mother of invention, so too can it be the beginning of a new business and a newfound calling. Such was the case with Barb Vareka. Facing a knee replacement surgery, she was concerned about the risk of infection after hearing stories of others who had had problems. This concern led her to research essential oils and discover their anti-bacterial properties and potential to aid healing. Thus, it was that she decided to make her first soaps, using two of her first essential oils, frankincense and myrrh.
Barb’s oldest daughter Kristen had been struggling with an unknown allergy most of her life. When using her mother’s soaps, she discovered that they helped with her sensitivity. As they studied more about the personal care and household products they had been using daily, they began to understand it was artificial fragrance that had been causing her symptoms. Their interests aligned, a partnership was born.
The goal of Square One Soapworks is to be helpful to nature and community. Says Barb: “If we all made one choice for our family that was better for the planet, we could do amazing things for the world.” With that thought in mind, Square One uses only vegetable oil, buys local and organic as much as possible, and colors their soaps with herbs, flowers, spices and clays. Essential oils create the scents. Barb and Kristen are “guided by the idea that the ingredients we should be using already exist in nature—not developed in a laboratory.”
Having been born in Newton, Barb’s ties to the area run deep. Like many others, her life took her and her husband elsewhere for a time. Also like many others, when it was time to raise a family, they decided Manitowoc County would be the best spot.
Barb bought in to the Clipper City Co-Op idea early, claiming membership #10. She offered her soaps as incentive gifts for early new members, so a few of our members may have been lured into the co-op by the aroma of her products.
Her list of products goes beyond soaps, including loofahs, deodorant, beard oils, facial serum and essential oil roll-ons among others. Her products can be found locally at The Wild Iris Gifts And Botanicals. They can also be found on her website, once a month at the local Manitowoc Markets and of course, in the not too distant future, at the Clipper City Co-op.
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