Making soap

Deb Ruhf, owner of The Muddy Moose Bath Boutique, is pictured creating all-natural soap products.

A DuBois woman has dedicated 11 years of her life to making all-natural soap products that appeal to a wide range of customers around the country.

Deb Ruhf, who is originally from Brockway, started “The Muddy Moose Bath Boutique” in 2008. She can remember making soap for Christmas one year when she lived in Montana, then getting involved with a farmer’s market there, where she sold her goat-milk soaps.

Ruhf is also one of the only vendors in the surrounding area offering vegan soaps, which customers tell her are hard to find.

“I wanted to cater to a wider amount of people,” she said.

She creates personalized and customized wedding or party favors she says make excellent gifts.

Some soap products are filled with chemicals, and can actually be harmful to the skin, Ruhf says, whereas hers are natural. She has researched and formulated her products for years, ensuring the ingredients and lasting effects are healthy for customers.

She gets her goat milk from Gilbert Hill Farms, Ruhf says. She’s also looking for more local sources for goat milk and beeswax providers, and to support other business owners like herself. Her lip butter, lotion bars, diaper and belly balms for pregnant moms all incorporate beeswax.

The belly balm was created when Ruhf was pregnant, she said, and the diaper balm when she used cloth diapers for her son. The goal, she said, is to create and sell products she would use herself.

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Ruhf tries to bring her products to at least two festivals a month, she said, and recently started doing bridal shows, with the first in Elk County on March 3.

One of her biggest sellers is the goat milk skin cream, Ruhf says.

“People say it’s the only thing that helped their dry skin,” she said.

Ruhf ships products to other states and countries through her online Etsy store, including destinations like Italy and Portugal. She also ships them back to Montana where it all started. Some customers will order enough products in bulk to last them a year.

She’ll send out samples, too, so people can try a product before purchasing it.

Ruhf has an area at her mother’s house dedicated entirely to making her soap products, she said. She uses a cold process for making soaps, mixing and melting oils like olive, palm and coconut, then adding herbs, extracts and natural clays for coloring. The soap cures for four to six weeks.

The internet media, news and entertainment company BuzzFeed, based in New York City, featured one of Ruhf’s products — the bath bomb called “Chill Pill” — in its “30 gifts for the person so busy they can’t even” article. The product went viral around the holidays, and she ended up selling thousands of them, Ruhf said.

Having her own business is challenging, Ruhf says, but it’s something she enjoys — bringing all-natural and curative products to people who may otherwise have trouble finding them. In the future, Ruhf says she’d like to offer shampoos and conditioners.

“This gives me the flexibility to be at home with my son,” she said. “It’s how I bring money into my household.”

Besides the Etsy shop, Ruhf’s products are found in other areas, such as Blue Rose Candle Company in Clearfield, Gourmet Kitchen in DuBois, the Elk County Council on the Arts in Ridgway, the Elk Country Visitors Center and Kinzua Bridge State Park Visitors Center in Mount Jewett.

For more on The Muddy Moose Bath Boutique, visit www.themuddymoose.etsy.com.

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