The Inspiration for Garden Path Homemade Soap | Ontario Canada

Growing in Grandpa's Garden


by Garden Path Homemade Soap December 22, 2017 5 Comments

Tara MacWhirter Family | Garden Path Homemade Soap | Made in Canada

Photograph: Tara's Grandfather

When I was young, I always dreamed of being a teacher. I loved knowing that I could help others learn and grow and I hoped my support and encouragement would influence those I taught to live a more positive, happy life. As a child, I also remember watching my grandfather in his large vegetable garden. He was a gentle and kind man who nurtured the plants that grew, and once I tasted his fresh produce, I knew that one day I would have a garden of my own.

Fast forward to 2008. My family and I had been searching for a property in the country for almost 14 years as we wanted our kids to experience a taste of the country life we had experienced when we were growing up. The 5-acre heritage farm on Pleasant Corners Road was perfect! There were extensive gardens which included a pond on which the kids could skate. I remember sitting outdoors one day sipping on a cup of coffee and I remarked to my husband, “I wish there was a way we could share this beauty”.

Garden Path Homemade Soap in Vankleek Hill Ontario Canada Garden Path Homemade Soap in Vankleek Hill Ontario Canada

In 2010, I received a bar of homemade soap from a good friend. When I learned that she had made the soap, I became intrigued. Not only did my family love how the soap made our skin feel, but I thought it would make a great gift for my friends and family for Christmas! My friend lent me some equipment and sat by my side as I created my first two batches of soap (one was lavender and one was honey almond ~ ironically still two of our most popular scents!) The gifts were a hit and I began to sell some of the bars locally at craft shows. When I needed to create a logo for the business, I wondered what type of symbol I could use that would represent me, my passion, something memorable…and an image of a monarch butterfly popped into my head.

Summer brought life to our gardens and I began to realize that some of the herbs could be dried and added to natural bath products which would complement the soap. Customers who stopped by our home by appointment or chance could walk around our property and often times, I would bring them on a guided tour to explain what herbs were growing and how they were used. The heritage farm provided a perfect backdrop!

Tara MacWhirter & sister Brooke Unsworth | Vankleek Hill Ontario Canada Photograph: Tara & her sister Brooke
About one year after I started making soap, my sister showed me her hands. I was shocked! For years, Brooke had struggled with extreme eczema and had tried everything to keep the eczema under control. Her hands were clear – the eczema was gone! When I asked her what product she had discovered, she told me she had been using my soap. Why did it take a year? Like many people, she had stock piled soap (been given gifts etc) and once she was only using homemade soap, her condition cleared. Not all eczema is caused by chemical irritants, but in her case, switching to an all-natural soap bar did the trick. Years later, we continue to hear from customers who discover relief from some of their skin irritations. In fact, it still makes me smile when someone comments “I have sensitive skin – do you have anything for that?”. We all have skin; it’s not sensitive – it’s skin. The trouble is that many of the bath & body products found in stores today contain cheap, harsh chemicals which are not meant to go on our skin.

There have been many changes to our business including a retail shoppe that was built on the property in 2013 and our latest renovation to our house in 2016 which allows all of our products to now be made in one room that is separate from our home. I feel as though pieces of a puzzle have slowly been falling into place and my business has become our business. A fantastic team now makes up Garden Path Homemade Soap and every year we grow and transform. But I won’t forget our humble beginnings and I am thankful for each person who continues to help make this journey so awesome! I’m sure my grandpa would be proud.

A progression of the shoppe:

Garden Path Homemade Soap in Vankleek Hill Ontario Canada Garden Path Homemade Soap in Vankleek Hill Ontario Canada

Garden Path Homemade Soap in Vankleek Hill Ontario Canada

Garden Path Homemade Soap in Vankleek Hill Ontario Canada
Garden Path Homemade Soap in Vankleek Hill Ontario Canada



Garden Path Homemade Soap
Garden Path Homemade Soap

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5 Responses

Diane Proulx
Diane Proulx

December 23, 2017

What a lovely story! Thank you for sharing your inspiration and how you began such a great business for you as well as all of us who enjoy your wonderful products. Keep up the good work Tara!

Barbara Hopkins
Barbara Hopkins

December 23, 2017

The only soap I use for skin and laundry – love the products!

julie
julie

December 23, 2017

Beautiful! Love to see the progression through the years.

Isabel Kinnear
Isabel Kinnear

December 23, 2017

What a wonderful blog. Your Grandpa would be so proud.

Mary Haworth
Mary Haworth

December 23, 2017

Wonderful story, Tara. Continued good luck and love to you. Your Grandpa would be proud.

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