Products shipped all over the world
by Samantha White
When you walk into Anna Huber’s home in Burns, your olfactory receptors are immediately embraced by an array of alluring aromas, ranging from the delicate, floral fragrance of freshly-cut lilacs to the warm, spicy scents of cinnamon and clove.
That’s because her kitchen doubles as her workshop, where she handcrafts her all-natural, artisan soaps and spa products.
A family trade
Anna learned the art of soap making from her mother-in-law, Linda Huber, who pioneered the process through trial and error.
“She had to start from scratch, teaching herself how to make homemade soap,” Anna said regarding Linda.
When Anna first started dating her husband, Ryan Huber, he gave her a bar of Linda’s soap as a gift. And from that point on, Anna was hooked.
“Once I started using her soaps, I became addicted. I never went back to buying soap from the store because it [Linda’s soap] made such a difference in my skin,” Anna explained.
When her in-laws later decided to move to Mexico, Anna said she started to panic because she couldn’t find soap that she liked as much as Linda’s.
But, luckily, Linda agreed to share her soap-making secrets before she made the move.
“She taught me the whole process of how she made soap,” Anna said, adding that Linda also handed over her “soap bible,” a three-ring binder containing all of her recipes.
But it took a while for Anna to get the hang of it.
“The first few batches I made were terrible,” she said with a laugh. “I was giving [bars] away just to get rid of them.”
But she continued to improve. And, eventually, she started getting creative, formulating her own recipes and scent combinations.
Chemistry in the kitchen
Soap making could be considered both an art and a science.
Anna explained that each batch of soap has to be carefully calculated, and ingredients must be measured meticulously.
“You really have to play chemist in the kitchen,” she said. “Anything that you add into [your batch] has to be calculated into your recipe.”
She added, “I try to pack the most all-natural, moisturizing materials into one batch of soap that I can.”
Examples of Anna’s ingredients include coconut, olive, argan, avocado, macadamia nut, palm and castor oils. She also uses shea and cocoa butter, as well as lemon peels, coffee grounds, oatmeal, dried mint leaves, coconut milk, distilled lilac water, tea, sea salt, and a number of other natural products.
“Each soap is a little different,” she said, explaining that different bars require different ingredients.
Some examples of her existing bars include Spring Lilac, Rich Arabian Spice, and Beach Breezes.
And she continues to concoct new recipes.
When asked how she comes up with ideas for new bars, Anna replied, “I’ll just think, ‘What sounds really good to me? What’s a soap that I would want?’”
Anna also creates custom orders for individuals who request specific scent and ingredient combinations through her Internet-based business.
Although she primarily specializes in soap, she’s also created products such as body butters, perfumes, room and linen sprays, body scrubs, bath salts, and aromatherapy oils at the request of her customers.
Anna sells her soap and spa products through Etsy, a website that allows individuals to set up personal shops and sell items to customers around the world. Her shop, AnnasNaturals, can be accessed online at www.etsy.com/shop/AnnasNaturals.
Anna opened her shop in September 2013, after a friend encouraged her to sell the soap that she’d been making and giving away to family and friends.
“The first week I opened, I had a sale every day,” she said. “It was really cool and exciting and kind of nerve-racking,” she added, explaining that, with more than 400 soap-based businesses on Etsy, she didn’t expect such a quick customer response.
Anna said that, since she’s opened up shop, she’s shipped soap to customers “from all over the world,” including New York, Florida, France and Germany. And recent guests of Portland’s Benson Hotel may have bathed with bars of her Mint Chocolate Chip soap.
But Anna, who grew up and attended school in Harney County, said she loves local orders.
In fact, she offers discounts to local customers, including $1 off the price of a bar of soap. She also waives the shipping fee and offers same-day delivery to customers in the Burns-Hines area.
However, same-day delivery is only available for soap that is currently in her inventory. She explained that custom orders take more time because it takes three to four weeks for soap to cure.
Locals can order online through Anna’s Etsy site or by messaging her on Facebook.
Anna said she would like to maintain her Etsy shop’s current five-star rating by providing quality products and customer service.
“Not only are customers getting a top-quality bar of soap, but I really pride myself on the appearance of them too,” she said, explaining that the bars come “beautifully wrapped in ribbon and labeled with a business card.”
She added, “I always want people to be happy.”