From a civil engineer to a stay at home mom, Marci, owner of the Etsy shop Florida Scrub, always had an interest in ingredients and the process of soap making. After realizing that her red and irritated skin was the result of the harsh hand washes she had been using, Marci began experimenting with her own liquid soaps. Both she and her son saw very quick and dramatic results after making this switch, and she knew that there must be others out there who were looking for a truly natural and effective liquid soap.
Marci’s products use only a small selection of natural and organic ingredients, and she offers different formulas to suit different skin types – no ‘one-size-fits-all’ soaps here! The Florida Scrub line features a wide variety of products including everything from organic pet care, hand soaps, dish soaps, face washes and organic hair care! There is truly something for everyone within this newly launched shop! I am so excited to have had the opportunity to chat with Marci about her products and her ingredients in the interview below. She has also very kindly offered a generous 25% discount code for a very limited time, so be sure to head over to her Etsy shop ASAP to look around! Discount code is listed below after the interview.
Thank you to Marci for sharing her business with The Greenly Guide blog today – we hope you enjoy! Read on below for the full interview.
The Greenly Guide: What prompted your initial interest in using natural and organic products vs. conventional products for yourself and your family?
Marci: I recall as long ago as high school looking at the ingredients on a bottle of shampoo and marveling at all the crazy ingredients that were in it. At the time I didn’t realize that all of those ingredients were soaking in to my skin, but my final year in college I really started getting serious about eating more natural foods and using more natural products. I started dabbling in making bar soaps with mixed success. My first bar shampoo I made I thought was such a failure! No one told me about, and there weren’t all the resources we have now to learn about, how real soap reacts with hard water. Of course now I know I just needed a simple apple cider vinegar rinse! But that was just a fun hobby for me. Back then there were not a lot of people that made their own bar soap, and I’m really glad that it’s become a more mainstream thing; it makes it a LOT easier to find supplies for one thing! So I just dabbled with my own bars and had fun with that. But, a few years ago when I became a stay at home mom I was just naturally washing my hands more often and I noticed them become more and more red and it seemed like no matter how much cocoa butter I slathered on them they just wouldn’t heal. I started looking at the ingredients in the liquid hand soap I was using from a well known “natural” product manufacturer and thought it may be the synthetic detergent they used that was blistering my hands. I also noticed that my little guy’s hands were red after washing, though not as bad as mine were. So I started using my bar soaps at the sinks and after about a week the redness was gone. I was washing my hands the same number of times as I was before, so it made sense to me that the “natural” liquid soap I was buying was not for me. Bar soaps are lovely, but they’re kind of messy at the sink, so I started researching how to make liquid soap and I kind of fell in love with that process.
The Greenly Guide: From a civil engineer to a stay at home mom, can you tell us what inspired you to start Florida Scrub?
Marci: I knew I could not be the only person in the world that wanted a truly natural liquid soap. Besides not wanting those synthetic detergents on my skin, what I learned in my research about how some of them are made; the toxic by-products and ingredients that go in to making some of them, I didn’t want to contribute to their production in any way. I am a big believer in making a difference with the dollar I spend. Not everyone has the time to make their own soap, or just doesn’t want to take on that task. I’m lucky to be able to stay at home to raise my son, and with some careful planning I found that I had the time to take care of him and all the other chores that come along with being home and make the liquid soaps. So, I set a goal for myself that I would removal all synthetic detergents from my household, and I know others are working on that also and I hope I can help them on that journey.
The Greenly Guide: Can you share a little about your path to learning how to formulate products and any formal training you have?
Marci: I don’t have any formal training in soap formulation; honestly I’m not sure if such a thing exists. If it does I would be interested! I’ve done a lot of reading and my own informal research in my kitchen and trying the different formulas. The basic chemistry of soap is combining an oil with a base to form a salt; the salt is the soap. Once I learned that specific oils have specific fatty acid components and that those components were good for specific uses then the formulas just kind of made sense to make them that way. For example, coconut oil is high in lauric acid. Soap that is high in lauric acid is excellent at removing dirt and oil. So excellent at removing dirt and oil that I would recommend never using a 100% coconut oil soap on your skin, unless you’re a mechanic cleaning up at the end of the day. But my pots and pans? Yeah, I want every bit of dirt and oil removed from them. My dish soap formula is mostly coconut oil soap, but the straight coconut oil soap was too harsh for my hands, so I experimented adding a little olive oil soap and castor oil soap until I got the formula were I wanted it.
The Greenly Guide: Can you talk about the ingredients that are included in your products and how you source them?
Marci: Most of my soap ingredients including the dried herbs, oils and essential oils are sourced from Mountain Rose Herbs. They’ve been around for a while and it seems like any time I try an oil from a different source I am never as satisfied with the final product as I am with MRH ingredients. The honey I use is sourced locally from a small apiary in the town just north of me. He runs a neat and clean little shop. I wish I could source all of my ingredients locally like that! Most of my ingredients are certified organic, though in some cases I have opted for conventional products that I think are superior to the organic options that are available or perhaps an organic option is not available.
The Greenly Guide: With products ranging from hair care to body care to organic pet care, do you have a personal favorite product? What are your best sellers?
Marci: I really love the foaming face wash for oily skin. Every face wash I’ve ever tried that was supposed to be for oily skin was too harsh. It stripped every spec of oil off my face and made the skin feel tight and over cleaned. Just because I have oily skin doesn’t mean I need no oil on my face! I think most people know that heavy or thicker oils like olive oil or avocado oil are great for dry skin. Those oils are high in oleic acid. Well, oily skin does best with linoleic acid. So I started looking at the readily available carrier oils and found that safflower oil is made up of mostly linoleic acid. This is how I started my formulas for oily skin.
The foaming hand soaps are my best sellers so far.
The Greenly Guide: What has been the most difficult issue you have faced when formulating products? Is there one product that was especially tough to get right?
Marci: I think the biggest difficulty I’ve had hasn’t been so much with the formulas but with the thickness of the finished product. We, myself included, have become used to the super thick consistency that synthetic detergents have. We think that a thin product means that it’s been watered down. With real liquid soap that isn’t necessarily the case. The basic process of making liquid soap is to combine the oil and base, in the case of liquid soap the base is potassium hydroxide though none of this remains in the final product. You cook the mixture, which in the process of cooking thickens to a paste. The paste then is diluted with a liquid, typically distilled water. The nature of liquid soap paste is to remain as a paste until just enough water is added to make it a liquid. If there is not enough liquid a thin film forms on the top; this is basically soap paste that hasn’t been diluted enough. You can take that thin film off, but another one forms. So, it’s really not possible to have a thick, real liquid soap. There are some things you can add, like salt, to a finished product, to make it thicker, but that only works for some formulas, mainly those high in olive oil soap, and too much salt will reduce the amount of suds. I’ve gotten around that by using both foaming dispensers and squeeze bottles with pointed tips, so it’s easy to control how much soap is dispensed.
The Greenly Guide: How are your products different from others that are similar in the Etsy marketplace? What sets your brand apart?
Marci: I think what sets Florida Scrub soaps apart from other liquid soaps, not just on Etsy, but in local specialty markets as well, is the different formulas I have for different uses in addition to having formulas for dry, balanced and oily skin. I know one of the more popular mainstream brands claims that the soap in one bottle has many different uses, but honestly, I don’t want to wash my face with the same soap as I wash my dishes with, and vice versa, for the reasons I explained above. Different oils have different fatty acid components and those fatty acid components are good at different things. I would rather buy two separate products and be really happy with the jobs they do separately, than one product that does a so-so job at everything.
The Greenly Guide: What goals do you have for your business in the coming months and years?
Marci: Right now my major focus is providing excellent customer service. I love that Etsy allows me to do that, even though I am not able to interact face to face with most people. I am really invested in people loving the products they’re purchasing. I also love that I am able to do custom orders and blends. For example, I recently had someone contact me and tell me that their favorite face wash was discontinued and she had such sensitive skin and wondered about the silk that I use in most of my formulas and did I think it would be a problem for her. Of course, we can never know if an ingredient is going to be a problem for us until we try it, but I wouldn’t want to spend money on a product only to find out that I can’t use it. But it’s easy for me to do a semi-custom blend within the line of oils that I use to make her a silk-free wash. And I love that being a very small scale producer allows me to do that.
Special 25% discount for 5 days only!
Make sure to head over to the Florida Scrub Etsy shop HERE to check out Marci’s amazing line of natural and organic soaps. Starting today through Sunday, April 9, 2017, she is offering a very generous 25% discount on your entire order with the code ‘GREENLY25’, so make sure to pick up some of her soaps to try!
*All photos in this post are courtesy of and belong to Florida Scrub.