With a “Spring Cleaning” March theme at the Doylestown Food Market, it’s fitting to be highlighting our producer Gretcher Maser and her Tandi’s Naturals line of handcrafted soaps. Gretchen guaranteed me that once I did a load of whites with the Laundry Soap I would be hooked – and indeed I am! We’ll be handing out sample packets during the two demo days and I highly encourage everyone to try it. In fact, it only takes one tablespoon of the powder for one load of laundry.
Gretchen acquired the Tandi’s Naturals line four years ago as a natural extension to her Christina Maser line of Bath and Body, Candles, and Pantry products. Gretchen is committed to maintaining the same original Tandi’s Naturals soap recipes that produce effective, high quality, preservative-free, environmental friendly products.
The distinction between the two lines of soap is that while Christina Maser soaps are primarily vegan, half of Tandi’s Naturals soaps are tallow-based. Gretchen explained that the original soap maker chose to use tallow because it’s a good substitute for palm oil. “She had a strong opinion about the use of palm oil contributing to the deforestation of other countries and didn’t want to use it.” Gretchen continues, “If the animal was going to be killed for whatever purpose, at least use all of it and don’t make waste out of any of it.”
Gretchen concurs the reasoning is good and agrees with it. It’s just been difficult to bring the two companies together under one name and that’s why she hasn’t.
Here’s another distinction: Every Tandi’s Naturals soap recipe is completely different from the other. In contrast, as Gretchen explains, “In the Christina Maser line of soap, I function off of two soap recipes. What differentiates the bars is the essential oil, or some have clay or oatmeal in them, but for the most part, it’s a base recipe that I use. Not so in the Tandi’s line. Every single product is 150% different.”
Like other soap makers and local artisans, Gretchen is totally self-taught. She started learning about soap making 18 years ago after a Caribbean vacation where she came across handcrafted soap in a local store. “The woman couldn’t keep the table loaded fast enough. She had to reload the table three times during the hour I was there, people were buying it so quickly.” Gretchen remembers thinking, “Wow, this is something people must really want.” Everyone was buying the fragrant smelling soap, and Gretchen herself brought a lot of it home. Then, as she continues, “I started buying books. I bought books for about a year, and read them. … Finally I took the plunge and made soap, and kept making soap to the point where the same thing happened when I started making jam – I made so much I had to give it away!”
What inspires this Lancaster County business owner and soap artisan? Here’s one: “There are so many different things you can factor in or change about a bar of soap that will in fact change the outcome for the person – if they have skin problems, or fragrance problems, or whatever. It’s the same thing with food. There’s so many variations to a jar of jam.”
And something else that Gretchen mentioned about the joy of coming to work every day: “I see things changing. More and more people are starting to care – even when it comes down to the laundry soap they use. No, they’re not eating it, but they care about the clothing they’re wearing every day and the residual from the laundry waste water. People’s opinions are genuinely starting to change.”
The Doylestown Food Market sells Tandi’s Naturals Bar Soap, Laundry Soap, and Scouring Powder.
Stop in for samples and to learn more about the product line during two demo dates: Saturday, March 12, and Saturday, March 26, from 10:30 – 12:30.
Find out more about Tandi’s Naturals at their website: www.tandisnaturals.com.