By the time Margaret Schmitt and her family moved to their current home in Barnett, between High Point and Versailles, she had already started her skincare business with only a few products. That was more than a year ago and since then she has created a complete line of organic skin care products, including lotion bars, salves, lip balms and face creams that are sold at several retail outlets in the area, including Goods Variety Store, GVS, in Versailles; Nature’s Source in Eldon; and Clovers Market in Columbia.
Her products are also on display and sold most Saturdays in Jefferson City at Lincoln University’s Farmers Market. That’s where we caught up with Schmitt and her two daughters, Maggie and Abi, who help with the labeling and packaging, and Ben, her husband of 24 years who works at Nutra Ag. They also have two sons Caleb and Levi; Schmitt has homeschooled all of her children.
As a baby, Levi had severe skin allergies and sensitivities so Schmitt has always been highly cognizant of the ingredients found in various products.
“I’ve always had to shop for lotions and other products with pure ingredients, a plain shae butter or jojoba,” Schmitt said. “I couldn’t use Johnson’s baby lotion on Levi because his skin would break out so bad. Everything I used had to be hypo allergenic.”
When Levi came home from Bible school with athletes foot, a contagious fungal infection marked by itching and burning on the feet and toes, she was determined to make a salve to treat him. After doing her homework and consulting her herbal reference books, Schmitt came up with a medicinal salve in two days and the symptoms of the athlete foot fungus disappeared quickly.
“Athletes foot is usually treated with steroid creams or even oral medication but I wanted a remedy that wasn’t so harsh and I didn’t want my son to live with the side effects,” she said. “The herbs I used are known to irradiate the fungus. By two weeks you couldn’t tell he had ever had a rash but FDA’s labeling regulations are strict so I couldn’t say he was cured,” she said.
She shared the salve with friends and members of her church family, who also experienced good results. One customer’s husband paid hundreds of dollars for a tiny tube of steroid cream but the athletes foot kept returning, until he used Schmitt’s salve, which also works on nail fungus. Another salve works on cuts and scrapes.
“I was so impressed with the results from the herbal salves and lip balms that I just kept going and I liked that it was a project we could do at home. I have learned so much just by listening to our customers.”
HER LATE GRANDFATHER WAS AN HERBAL DOCTOR IN MEXICO. Schmitt was born in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico and her family moved to west Texas when she was 2 years old. “My grandfather was a chiropractor from the age of 18 in the early 1900s, traveling in a horse and buggy and making his own casts for his patients. When I was little, we would visit him and my dad got sick once, Montezuma’s Revenge (traveler’s diarrhea). My grandfather mixed up an herbal concoction for my dad to drink and in 30 minutes his fever broke. I’m always digging in my herbal books for a remedy and my mother has always said ‘that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.’ I have many books from European doctors and I do my homework. I want to take an herbal class soon and add to my knowledge base. I do a lot of research as well as experiment with different recipes on my own family. My sister is an RN and I have different family members who have medical experience and that all helps.”
ALL OF HER PRODUCTS ARE CLEAN. “When you’re buying lotion at the store, it has a lot of water and alcohol in it and the customer is receiving very little of the good moisturizer, but my products are as pure and clean as possible.” Organic olive oil, beeswax and shae butter serve as a base for almost everything she does. “Olive oil is good for your skin and doesn’t clog your pores.” Ironically, five years ago after some testing Schmitt found out she is allergic to olive oil. “I can’t eat or use olive oil so I make the products I use on my skin with avocado oil. Most people can tolerate shae butter but some can’t and some also can’t tolerate camomile so I make special orders for people who are allergic to an ingredient.”
LEMONGRASS, LAVENDER AND GERANIUM ROSE are some of the scents in her lotion bars. She also makes an unscented bar. “I purchase all of the organic, herbal essential oils that I use to scent my products. I also use those made with a carbon dioxide process for more superior extraction methods and a thicker mixture. I put the oils herbs in a jar or container with the olive oil, sometimes for up to 6 or 8 weeks, or cook the mixture slowly over the stove.” For the lotion bars, she adds a thickener like a bees wax. Once everything has been infused she pours the mixture into molds or the packaging.
MEDICINAL HERBS INCLUDE COMFREY that helps reduce inflammation and helps clients with arthritis, while burdock is utilized into a salve to help with burns and wounds. The arnica flower is used in one of the herbal salves and a myrrh essential oil, (a healing antiseptic, antibacterial) that is wild crafted, is used in the plantain salve (for itch and rash or for poison ivy). Myrrh is a wild-crafted essential oil from the plants that are not farmed or sprayed with any kind of pesticide. Angela Beshore, the owner of Nature’s Source in Eldon has carried the Pure Skin Care line for six months and the herbal salves are very popular, as are the lotion bars.
A FAMILY PROJECT, Schmidt does all the cooking in her home kitchen but her daughters help with labeling and shrink wrapping the products and attend the Farmer’s Market with her. She also experiments on her family. “When I was working on my face cream, I turned to my European herbal books and I used my mother as a guinea pig. She has age spots from living in Texas and being out in the sun and it definitely helped with those and it’s good for wrinkles, too. My husband likes to rub the Arnica salve on his sore muscles after a hard day at work.”
MOST OF HER PRODUCTS DO DOUBLE DUTY. The lip balm helps prevent cold sores as well as heals them. For one young girl with braces, the lip balm treated a rash around her mouth. The lotion bar works as a moisturizer for dry hands and cracked heels. Her bug bite salve evolved into a stick. “No one wants greasy hands when they’re hiking so the bug bite stick is great to rub on a mosquito bite. I’m also working on a bigger and wider bug off stick.” The foot salve works on nail fungus, too.
SHE WILL EXPAND HER MARKETING EFFORTS. All of her product labeling, printed by BW Graphics in Versailles, features her email address so customers can communicate with her. She makes her products in a larger size for one customer in New Mexico. “I want to make a bigger sign for our table at Lincoln University’s Farmer’s Market.” Going forward, she will expand her baby products line. “It’s important that we keep our prices reasonable so they’re available to as many people as possible. I’m always so excited when it works, just realizing that a lot of people can be helped with our products.”
For product information or ordering, contact Margaret at firstname.lastname@example.org.