People, sharing and community

Barbara Schatz in the kitchen at Quail Hill Soap Company.

ST MARYS — Barbara Schatz, who turned her love of making handmade soaps, lotions and salves into a business, says she always knew she would have her own business, she just didn’t know when.

Schatz returned to St. Marys more than 10 years ago to open the Quail Hill Soap Company.

She makes all of her products in house. Her kitchen is located directly behind the business’ front counter.

Once while shopping in Lancaster, she found a soap store owned by an Amish woman. Schatz explained to her that she made her own soap and sold it at consignment shops. The woman asked, “How do you talk to your customers about your product?”

Schatz took this to heart and said to herself, “She is right, I will have to open my own store so I can have that personal interaction.”

Schatz said she enjoys sharing her knowledge and supporting the community.

She said she likes to work with local artisans and support the small businesses that help build community.

Schatz says she has always been creative and has years of retail management experience.

After working at a major retail chain in Charleston, S.C., for seven years, she decided it was time to come back home and open her business.

She says she knew it would be a risk but adds, “If you do what you love how can you fail?”

The store itself lends a cheerful note. Her friends Bonnie and Ken stop by every Thursday just to visit. “It just makes us happy,” they said.

It turns out, Schatz said, “Many people say they stop in when they ‘just need a little happy.’”

Colorful jars of herbs and oil sit in her window. She is making her own oil infusions for her salves.

Her soaps are rustic squares. The soap doesn’t look fancy because she wants customers “to actually use it.”

Schatz said soaps often are not used because they are “too pretty.”

The soap made at Quail Hill Soap Company is bastille soap using high quality olive, castor, and coconut oils.

Schatz said she uses the hot process for soap making since the soap is ready in about a week which allows her to make specially ordered batches for her customers.

She makes water based lotions and feels less is more when it comes to making her products.

In order to ensure high quality products, she believes in ongoing education since processes are always evolving.

She is a member of the Pittsburgh Soap Making group where she learned a new process for her soap making.

In addition, she plans to learn about distilling floral waters that she will use in her lotions.

She is also studying aromatherapy and hopes to teach classes on the use of essential oils.

“For me it is all about sharing knowledge,” she said.

She recalled that one day a young girl and her mother from Virginia stopped in the shop. The girl, about 12 years old, who already had an interest in soap making, watched in fascination as Schatz was making her soap, so Schatz allowed her to assist with the making of the soap so she could learn the technique.

Schatz said she was thrilled to teach someone in hope of inspiring people to follow their dreams. “Who knows what they will do with what they learn,” she said.

Her effort is not about the money, she said. “It is about every person who comes in the door.”

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