Spotlight – herbaria

“Our soap making business began when I tried to find a mild natural soap that would moisturize my skin rather than dry it out,” said LaRee DeFreece. I was looking for a soap made with one hundred percent natural plant-based ingredients and enriched with emollients.” In late 2000, she decided to make her own soap. “That first recipe resulted in a soap that was truly disgusting, but I soon found one that would work much better,” she said. LaRee, a real estate attorney, had returned to college to study chemistry to become a plant patent attorney as well. She came to understand the chemistry of soapmaking. Her husband, graphic artist and marketing expert Ken Gilberg thought so, too. Together they began making soap in earnest and named the new company Herbaria.

Their first commercial customer was Gilberg Perennial Farm, owned and run by Ken’s sister-in-law Cindy Gilberg. When sales proved to be quite good in 2001, Cindy suggested that they apply to participate in Missouri Botanical Garden’s Best of Missouri which features state products made and sold by entrepreneurs from Kansas City to St. Louis. “At first, the cochairman of Best of Missouri said that applications had already closed for the October 2002 event. I said ‘let me send you a couple of bars of our soap and see how you like it’,” said LaRee. “A few days later, she called and said ‘you’re in!” “That meant that we had to hustle,” Ken said. “We wanted to make 3,000 bars of soap in time to take to Best of Missouri. We made it. I think we sold over half of them.” Continue reading

Texas Beauty Labs Offers 10% Off

In the summer of 2003, Mary Berry, the founder and CEO of Texas

Beauty Labs, established b.pure, an all-natural product line. The line was sold in over 200 boutiques worldwide and was featured in many magazines including Seventeen and Lucky. Mary and her employees devoted extensive amounts of lab time to researching the role of natural ingredients in personal care products.After identifying the growing need for affordable, convenient, and innovative small-batch private labeling in the spa and boutique industry, Mary and her employees held several staff meetings and strategic sessions to discuss how they could provide their clients with the unique labeling process that was absent in the industry. As a result of these meetings, Texas Beauty Labs was established in 2007.

Texas Beauty Labs has experienced tremendous growth since its inception and now provides clients with contemporary natural and organic personal care products in bulk bases, reverse formulation, and custom formulation. They offer one of the industry’s lowest minimums without sacrificing quality.

Texas Beauty Labs, an FDA registered facility, is a proud sponsor of the HSMG Conference this year. Their team, including an on-staff cosmetic chemist, makes it a top priority to formulate affordable products of exceptional quality. HSMG members receive an additional 10% off by using the discount code coupon10per upon checkout at

By Maggie Hanus

Past HSMG Journals Indexed for Members

Hello Members,

The Handcrafted SoapMaker – Back Issues (also referred to as “The Journal”) is sent out quarterly. It goes by mail to the mailing address listed in your Member Profile.
Back issues are now vailable to members to read on-line or print for reference. They contain a wealth of information! If you are looking for something specific, just sign into the HSMG website Members Area.  You can search articles by Title, by Author or by Keyword. 

Check it out!

Maria Gelnett – P&S Chair