Tag Archives: virginia make

Profile: Peacock Soap Company

Beyond the Gift

The unique origins of locally-owned Peacock Soap Company

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

To celebrate her 10-year anniversary, Kristie Paxton and her husband spent a week driving along the west coast. One night, they found themselves at a cute, very hospitable, Bed and Breakfast in Oregon. The owners had one room left to offer the Southwest Virginia couple, and it had a bathtub, but no shower.

“They felt so guilty about it that they stocked the room with soaps and lotions,” Kristie recalls. “They didn’t really sell them, but they allowed me to purchase some. I brought them home, used them up, and requested more.”

Soon after, Kristie decided to start making her own soaps for personal use. With a little help from the Bed and Breakfast owners and a few books, she quickly found that her new hobby yielded enough product to sell to the community as well. She opened Peacock Soap Company, lovingly named for her grandmother’s affinity for raising peacocks. For the past eight years, she has made and sold soaps, lotions, and other toiletries at local stores and the Grandin Farmers Market. Recently, she expanded her line to include beeswax and soap nuts.

“[Soap nuts] are literally a nut grown on a tree,” Kristie explains. “The nuts are grown in India. I buy them and package them. They are a really interesting alternative to laundry detergent.” Kristie has started using soap nuts in her home as well. “They are completely reusable,” she adds. “You can throw them in the washing machine five or six times and then compost them.”

Peacock Soap Company stands out from the competition with unique scent offerings. Their beer and wine soaps actually contain beer and wine, and the sugar content makes each soap extra sudsy. (This would be a great stocking stuffer for the wine or beer lover in your life!) Additional scents for the winter season will include Crackling Firewood, Ginger Snap, Evergreen, and the signa-ture Peacock Bar.

Kristie also makes hand and body lotions, lightweight face lotions, lip balm, and liquid soaps. You can find her, on occasion, as a fill-in vendor at the Grandin Farmers Market. Her products are
also sold at Downshift and the Treehouse Collaborative. Additionally, Kristie will participate in the KrisKindle Market at the Clifton Forge School of the Arts this month! Stay updated on Peacock Soap Company and purchase directly from a link to their Etsy page by following them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peacocksoapco. Finally, if you see Kristie at the Grandin Farmers Market, be on the lookout for a special touch on her table!

Another nod to her grandmother, Kristie displays her packaged soaps on her grandmother’s china. “It’s kind of sweet because I get that question a lot about where my name came from,”she says. “It’s nice to be able to tote her along.”

Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel, The Huntsman: A modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com.

Virginia Made: Sew Brave Designs

Meet May Gonzalez

Written by Faith Jones of Hill City Handmade

“April showers bring May flowers.” How often have we heard this old adage quoted? Every April, as we experience rainy days more often than not, we try to look on the bright side. We think about the reward and beauty the gloomy days will bring. That philosophy can be applied to May Gonzalez and the inspiring purpose that was birthed from her storm. 

Born in the Bronx and experiencing foster care in Texas, May eventually found her way to Richmond, VA. She jokes, “Oh boy, I have a Lifetime story, I’ve seen a lot in my 31 years.” In April 2012, May and her husband lost their first child to Trisomy 13, a genetic disorder which is considered incompatible with life. After receiving the news at 19 weeks, they made the difficult decision to go through with the pregnancy. Caleb was born “sleeping” at 32 weeks. Amidst the devastation and loss, May turned to sewing to deal with the grief. What began as hand sewing personalized pillows and baby moccasins soon manifested into much more.  

With her passion ignited, May began to focus on what she really loved, bags. Armed with a sewing machine (gifted from her mother-in-law), a few lessons from her husband’s aunt and plenty of YouTube videos, Sew Brave Designs was born. The name for the business came to her in a dream. “It was pretty clear from God. I wanted to combine my experience in life with my passion. I love sewing and I wanted to remind people that they too can be brave no matter what they face.”  

The handmade bags feature bold flowered fabrics combined with leather and are not only beautiful but make a difference. A portion of the proceeds for each one is donated to Noah’s Children in Richmond. The Bon Secours organization provides for the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families. Each donation is made in memory of Caleb and he lives on each time May sees someone carrying one of her creations. 

Though faced with the showers of life, May Gonzalez has found her flowers. She and her husband have since been blessed with two fun-loving boys, ages five and seven months. Life is not always easy but they face it together. Assuming there isn’t a Golden Girls marathon on, you might find May enjoying a date night involving tacos and movies or just hanging out and laughing with the family. Wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, you can be sure that May is counting her blessings and enjoying the flowers after the storm. 

www.sewbravedesigns.etsy.com

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. Faith’s motto is, “Paris is always a good idea.” www.thehillcityhandmade.com