It is often said that when something is made out of love, the investment of the heart is apparent. There is a certain intangible quality that permeates the products and makes them both precious and unique. When Cheryl Misener started making soaps and other natural items in 1972, it was purely out of necessity. These days, she is still doing so, but has upgraded to running a successful two-person business with joy and a love that resonates with customers while fizzing, lathering, and moisturizing!
“My daughter was born in 1972 and she became very sick,” Misener began. “I had to take her to the hospital. The doctors said she had severe allergies and that I had to make sure that all of the products I used with her were natural.” This included no processed foods, water boiled for sterilization, clothing, and bathing items. Unlike the slew of items available to us today, there was no internet to turn to for direction or any health food chains to provide her with what she needed. Being only 18 years old, she did what she thought would be best for her child. “I went to the older ladies at my church and asked them how to make soap, and I would make her soap out of milk and citrus peels.”
In an odd twist of fate, Misener didn’t take her skills to the next level until she had to retire from her career as an interior designer due to her own severe allergies. The formaldehyde that often accompanied the fabrics she was working with made her extremely ill. “I felt sorry for myself for a while, but then it hit me that I knew just what to do.” She got busy making her natural bath products, and found even more peace in it by blending her own natural oils. “The aromatherapy helped me, as well,” she disclosed.
At one point, her husband, Richard, walked in while she was making soap and boldly stated that he could make better bars! “At first, I was offended,” Misener admitted. “But then I realized that if I had him working with me that I could start a business out of it.” Richard’s meticulous eye and background in winemaking served a great purpose, and coupled with Cheryl’s extensive blending knowledge and recipes, Autumn’s Eve (a name that was inspired by mature skin) was then born.
According to Misener, making the perfect soap is no easy feat. The actual labor that is put in has to be precise, as does the blend of oils that are used in what is called the “cold process.” She starts out with lye (taking the proper precautions for safe handling) and adds it to water. The water heats up and she lets it cool to room temperature. While it is cooling, she gets to working on whichever blend of oils she will be adding to the batch and ensures that they are also the perfect temperature, which will vary depending on the oils. She then combines the oil mixture with the lye water and blends for as long as a few minutes to several hours, which is either done by hand or machine.
When the soaps reach the proper consistency, then scents, herbs, or any additions are blended in and the soap is poured into their custom-made molds. After four weeks, the lye is completely gone due to the product becoming saponified, and then the Miseners double wrap the products to ensure they are sanitary.
The sudsy duo make over 100 soaps, alone, and also make soy candles, creams, lotions, and more. In addition to selling via their website and at the Valley Farmers’ Market on F St. and the Golden State Ave. every Saturday, they also provide private label batches, where they make soaps using certain items from other companies who will market them as their own. Free of chemicals and soap scum, one of the finest features is the fact that they make their special products with people with allergy sensitivities in mind. They even have their Posh Pig line, where all of the proceeds go to potbellied pig rescue or sanctuary, another thing she is passionate about.
To indulge in this locally-made goodness, you can check them out at the Farmers’ Market or go to their website at www.autumnseve.com.