I love meeting people who are passionate about what they do, the business they own, the products they create. There’s a sparkle in their eyes and a contagious enthusiasm in their voices and personalities. During the next several weeks, I want to introduce you to some of the people I’ve recently observed.
ALI AND RUTA QURESHI
Owners, Harmony Creek Farm, San Roc Cay in Orange Beach, AL
Their motto is “Life Is Short! Use Good Soap!” And the Qureshis make really good soap.
Ali and Ruta had their farm and business in the D.C. and Virginia area until about a year ago when they decided to relocate to Orange Beach. Generally, Ali takes care of the front of the store, helping customers, stocking shelves, etc. while Ruta makes the soap in her laboratory/workshop/teaching area in the back. Occasionally, Ruta’s 88-year-old mom even gets in on the fun and is referred to as “a mold-lining queen.” Ruta says that her interest in soap-making emerged as a great combination between the craftiness her mom had and her father’s background as a chemist. She smiles when she talks about a Pakistani and a girl from North Dakota meeting when they were both students at George Washington University in D.C. When they first met, she had no intention of actually dating him, but she was immediately attracted. And, the rest is history.
Ruta, in addition to making 6-7 batches of soap per week for the store, teaches two types of classes. One is “Introduction to Cold-Process Soapmaking” and the other is “Fizzing Bath Bombs,” which is particularly fun for Girls’ Day Out times, Birthday Parties or family time. In the Fizzing Bath Bombs class, students can customize their bombs with different fragrances, colors and botanicals and then take the bombs they make home. The cold-process class is more of a demonstration/explanation/observation event, but students still leave with a luxurious soap bar of their own choosing. The whole store smells AMAZING!
Ruta emphasizes the importance of using high quality products on our skin, which is actually our largest organ. At the same time, she doesn’t think soap has to be boring. It can actually be very artistic and beautiful. She begins with a combination of olive oil, palm oil and coconut oil (important for a good lather) and combines those oils with the exact amount of lye. Precautions have to be taken when using lye, but “you can’t make soap without lye.”
She shared that lemongrass is their #1 selling soap, among other tidbits such as “lavender is a well-behaved oil” while “cinnamon is a cranky oil.” I had no idea!
Their main customer base is derived from those who come into the store (and they offer a Frequent Buyer card), but their on-line orders are growing. They also have some high-end customers. For example, they created a cherry blossom soap for the VIP clients at the Ritz-Carlton in the DC area wrapped in beautiful origami/rice papers, and they just created some custom Valentine’s Day soaps for the Ritz in New Orleans. What about Mardi Gras-colored soap that smells like king cake? Oh my!
All of their soaps are vegetarian, and most are even vegan, except for a few which contain goat’s milk or honey. And, did I mention that they even make soaps for dogs and cats?? My resident veterinarian approved the ingredients list. 🙂
They are happy to make custom soaps for wedding favors, showers or special events and will make a special color and scent with a custom label or tag.
Contact Ali and Ruta at 27267 Perdido Beach Blvd. #114, Orange Beach, AL 36561. The phone number is 251-974-7627 (SOAP) and the website is www.harmonycreekfarm.com.
Those of you who are blog subscribers know that I generally share a devotional/spiritual insight in my Friday posts. Today I’d like to remind you of the story of husband/wife Aquila and Priscilla whose story is found in Acts 18 of the Bible. They were tentmakers who worked together and were very instrumental in helping Paul in his ministry in Corinth and later Apollos in Ephesus. Take time to review their story. (The chapter is short and very interesting). I thank God for people who set examples in the past, and I pray God’s blessings on Ali and Ruta Qureshi’s marriage and their business.