27 May Introducing Wildchild Botanicals
Who would have guessed that right here in Knoxville we have an artisanal soap and skincare company whose fine ingredients, salts, and oils are imported from all over the world? I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it, but we do indeed! Wildchild Botanicals is a locally crafted, lightly fragranced, natural skin care line which we offer at Spa Visage. We recently sat down with Wildchild Botanicals owner Christie Spencer to find out more about her story and her products. Read our interview below to learn about how Christie got started, what her favorite Wildchild Botanicals products are, and more!
How and why did you decide to start this business?
When we lived in Port Huron, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She immediately started research on cancer, what feeds cancer, how to treat cancer. My mother defeated cancer for seven years by detoxing! So she loved this natural soap company Wildchild, and it was established in Port Huron. When my mother passed away, the company came up for sale and my step-father bought the company in her honor.
About two years ago, we went to Michigan for a visit, and after making soap with Papa, my very crafty daughter suggested that I takeover the Wildchild business. At first, I was dismissive of the idea, but that night, my mother came to me in a dream, with a pad and paper in her hand, writing down figures, and she said, “You should buy the business. It’s natural.” I’ve seen my mother in my dreams lots of times, but that was the only time she has ever spoken in the dream. The next morning I told my step-father I wanted to buy this business.
Where did the name Wildchild Botanicals originate?
The original founder of the business thought of herself as a free spirit. She used to say, “I’m a child out in the wild, and I love it!” *Laughter* Since she ran the business for 20 years before we bought it, we like to honor her name. Our Vollie Mae scent is named after my mother.
Can you describe your products and what makes them unique?
Our products are a lightly-fragranced skincare line. We use the highest quality essential oils we can find and USDA-organic ingredients whenever possible. Occasionally, we use some fragrance oils, but since the fragrance oils are not quite as natural, we try to use essential oils for aroma whenever possible. We have the Moisture Body Lotions, which include Organic Baobab, Organic Virgin Apricot Kernel Oil (one of the top oils used for dry skin, which includes cancer-fighting vitamins A, C, E and B-17), silk peptides, and Organic Virgin Pumpkin Seed Oil, and those are great for moisturizing and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. We have a really great Salt Glow Scrub for exfoliation! We get the coarse salt from the Dead Sea and mix it with vitamin E and some of our favorite organic oils: apricot, grapeseed, shea, and coconut.
We have Bath Soaks as well, and when we decided to create them, we researched the best formulas and found that there were multiple types of salt and different benefits for each, so instead of picking just one salt for our bath soaks, we decided to include the top four types of salt that reviewers love. So we have epsom salt for sore muscles, Himalayan salt – one of the purest salts in the world – for the trace minerals, Dead Sea salt for moisturizing effects, and sodium bicarbonate for balancing the skin’s pH. It’s really a great value because it’s rare to find a product that includes all the best salts.
We also make a Green Tea Shea treatment by heating organic coconut oil and brewing green tea (in homemade tea bags) in the oil before adding organic shea and organic beeswax. We are adamant about using organic beeswax, so that we contribute to protecting bees from harmful toxins and unsustainable practices. We want to keep our bees happy and keep them employed at the same time! *laughter* But the beeswax creates a powerful protective barrier on the skin. Our Bay Rum version of the shea treatment is especially powerful. My husband has eczema, and he used to try steroid creams and wearing the gloves to bed, but one night I convinced him to use the Bay Rum shea treatment and within 5 days he was healed! All of the oils in that particular treatment – cinnamon, patchouli, orange oils – are immensely healing for the skin.
Of course, we also have bar soaps! We make our soaps small-batch, cold-pressed the way grandma used to do. It’s very intensive, but worth it. Glycerin, a natural humectant – which humectants actually attract moisture from the air and add it to your skin, is a natural by-product of making cold-pressed soaps. Big soap companies often remove some of their glycerin and sell it as a stand-alone product, so for example, you remember Dove’s catchphrase, “A quarter moisturizing”? Well, what they meant was 25% glycerin. Our soaps have 100% of their natural glycerins.
We also add palm oil, which we order specifically from a supplier who is part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, so that we aren’t contributing to any human or environmental injustices. Similarly, we use Hawaiian sandalwood because of their sustainable practice of re-planting two trees for every one tree harvested. We want to make sure we are always helping the environment as much as possible. The soaps are colored with food grade, natural ingredients, like cocoa, spirulina, Nigella seeds, indigo, and black walnut seeds (for both color and exfoliation). And then, of course, all our soap batches are prayed over. *Laughter* After the batches are made, they take 6-8 weeks to cure (harden), which is a long time, but the long curing time helps the soaps last longer.
What is your favorite of all the Wildchild Botanicals products?
My absolute favorite product is the Living Clay & Seaweed Bath Soak. The ‘living clay’ is Bentonite clay, have you ever heard of it?
I actually mud-wrestled in Bentonite clay after my graduation… You can buy Bentonite at the hardware store to put in the bottom of manmade ponds to seal them, and we thought that was more sanitary and more fun than using clay mud…
*Laughter* That’s a new one! We may have to try this at the farm! *Laughter*
Well, we use food-grade Bentonite, which you can actually take internally, that we get from Fort Benton, Wyoming. There are so many benefits, it’s amazing! It’s electrically charged, and as soon as you add water, it energizes the clay, which is why they call it ‘living’ clay. Toxins are oppositely charged, and so just like a magnet, Bentonite pulls toxins, heavy metals, and free radicals from your body when you take a bath with this soak. I think everyone should do it once a week!
Besides the Dead Sea salt, the soak also has seaweed in it, which promotes healing in your lymph system and increases circulation. It also has Vitamin K in it, which relaxes your adrenal glands, lessens your stress response, and boosts your immunity. So if I get sick, that’s the first thing I do. And the fragrance we use in here is Bergamot essential oil, but we use the bergamotine-free type, so that it won’t make your skin overly sensitive to sunlight.
What have been your biggest challenges?
Perfectionism! *Laughter* I can be my worst enemy sometimes because I want people to enjoy the product as much as we love making it. But also, things like getting the label design, logo, and fonts just right has been a bigger and more expensive challenge than I expected. And also, getting a website set up, which is not my area of expertise, but we’ve got it in the works. It’s so cool though because our little tiny company can think and act just like a big company in this global forum. But that’s part of the reason I want my products and the way they look and are presented to be able to compete with the best of the world.
What have you learned through this process?
We have learned no two oils are the same! Not even if they’re the same type oil. Take lavender oil as a good example. French lavender smells different from Indian or Sri Lankan lavender. It’s the same with all the oils, but luckily, when we bought the business from the original owner, she passed down her list of suppliers.
Personally, I have learned throughout this experience is that I just love plant oils and they are so darn good for your skin. I make my own, unscented shea treatment for my face, and when I get out of the shower, I slather it on. Through this process, I’ve stopped wearing foundation. I realized the foundation, no matter what brand, was just making me look older. So now I just use the oils on my face at night and use a little powder in the mornings.
What are your goals for the future of Wildchild Botanicals?
Immediate goal: Website! *Laughter* I think my goal is to fine-tune and create better products. My immediate vision is to create and offer essential oil blends, like in room sprays for freshening furniture and linens or in a roll-on for headaches and other ailments. Many of the oils can be used for reflexology, like for example, I just learned that vetiver oil rubbed on one’s big toes improves balance and sleeping. Continuing education, like you all do at Salon Visage and Spa Visage, is essential to growing a small business. So every day I read at least one article about essential oils, and we want to bring what we learn to the customer. Another one of our goals is we want to give back to the community and promote environmental and animal welfare, so I’ve devoted a percentage of our profits to go toward charities such as Oceana, ASPCA, and the Boys & Girls Club.
I just love how passionate you are about this. Making soap sounds like a lot of work, but you make it sound like so much fun!
It is a lot of fun, and we try to provide a very valuable, high-quality product for a low cost to the customer, so they can become just as passionate about taking care of their skin as we are!
We loved interviewing Christie! What a great story. If you’re interested in trying her Wildchild Botanicals products, stop by Spa Visage today!
Interviewer: Jessica Chasteen, Visage Social Media Manager