Hi. I’m Merv.
I am not sure if it was nature or nurture, but growing up in a household with my parents, 2 older sisters, and what I would later find out was a touch of OCD, cleanliness was certainly next to godliness on my list of priorities. While this bled into all areas of my life, I took a particular interest in hygiene. After I learned to deal with my fear of the shower drain (I’m still not over this. It’s literally where everyones dirtiness goes! Gross.), I would mix together whatever products I could find in the bathrooms around the house as “experiments” and use them when I showered. If you ask my family or past roommates they are fully aware of how much I enjoy at least 1 long shower every day. In fact, I was so proud of my cleanliness that I sometimes would talk about it just to make other people feel dirty and want to go take a shower to get on my level. I mean, Godliness is hard! Cleanliness sounded more achievable.
When my sisters, who are 4 and 6 years older than me, were going through their ugly duckling stages, I got to tag along on trips to the mall where they buy their skincare products. Whether they were trying to get a leg up on their acne before it started or trying to get rid of a recurring blemish, we always came home with quite the haul of products for me to steal and mix together to make my own concoctions. Eventually, not wanting me to feel left out, my mother bought me my own skincare products on one of these trips. I don’t remember how old I was but I’m pretty sure I am the youngest person ever to have a skincare routine. Especially one where the products came from a fancy department store. I was determined to avoid my own ugly duckling stage at all cost. Unfortunately, my ugly duckling stage came in the form of childhood obesity, not acne.
After putting down the Little Debbie Swiss Rolls and narrowly avoiding fat camp, I made it to college without ever having to deal with a blemish. Maybe it was moving across the country or the stress of my freshman year, it didn’t take long before I got my first pimple. And my second. By the time I got home for Christmas break, my acne was bad enough that my mother made me an emergency dermatology appointment. It really wasn’t that bad, but I’m pretty sure she cried. After a couple more trips to the dermatologist and the skincare section of the department store, I was able to get it under control. This was a relatively short period of my life, but it raised the hygiene stakes and pulled me deeper into my obsession with cleanliness.
My first job out of college was working in a department store which turned into a 10 year career in retail. I not only got to move all around the country, do a bunch of different jobs, and meet some amazing (and not so amazing) people, but I had access to the best skincare and an endless stream of shady salespeople no matter where the job took me. I tried everything. All the samples, testers, gift with purchases, and freebies the managers, salespeople, and/or vendors would give me, I would try. Whether it was a machine, cleanser, serum, lotion for your hair, body, or face I would try it. Some might call me a skincare connoisseur. Some may not.
After my close calls with obesity and crater face combined with things I learned from traveling and some research, I decided to make a shift to a more natural lifestyle. At first, this really just meant food. I jumped on the organic bandwagon as soon as it passed through whatever city I was living in at the time and started to question why it was socially acceptable to be ingesting things that we didn’t even know how to pronounce. You shouldn’t have to be a scientist to understand what you’re eating.
For some reason, I didn’t ever apply the same logic to what I was putting ON my body. I had used tons of products, some that worked and some that didn’t, but I had never even considered what they were made out of. If you have ever turned around a bottle of lotion and read the ingredients, you know that you might as well be reading a latin encyclopedia. After I realized it wasn’t feasible to go back to school to get my degree in Chemistry just to understand the products on my bathroom counter, I started doing research on natural skincare products. I was fascinated. First of all, I realized that there is some nasty stuff in most of the products that are on the market. Secondly, I didn’t understand why we were ignoring natural alternatives that have the same benefits as the petroleum products we were lathering all over our skin. This led me back to my days of experimenting. Not with things I found in the bathrooms in my apartment, but with the things that I had in my kitchen. After much trial and error, I made the Charcoal Oat Bar that we sell today.
The third phase of my natural lifestyle shift will be exercising… but I can’t be perfect. (Maybe one day this section will get its own paragraph.)
My soap making was purely a hobby for years. It solved all the problems I had tried to solve with natural and chemical laced products. It’s hard to make just one bar of soap so I would end up with more bars than even an obsessively godly, I mean clean, person like myself could use. I would give out the excess bars as gifts on holidays or for housewarmings and then people started asking to buy more. After realizing that I wasn’t the only one looking for natural solutions to traditional skincare that worked, I made other Bars and then I made our Bottle products. The goal has always been to make all-natural products that Cleanse, Exfoliate and Replenish your skin that are made with ingredients you will recognize.
Thank you for reading about how my family, childhood obesity, OCD, college years and career were all linked by soap. All of these experiences led me to what I know now about hygiene, natural products, a healthy lifestyle and ultimately what led me to start this brand. I use my products everyday and, if you were wondering, so does my mother. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.