Artisan Spotlight: Katie Hart - Hart's Handmade Naturals

Katie Hart’s passion for soap and body scrub making grew out of her love for creative cooking. “I love to cook and love coming up with different recipes, and all the wonderful flavors that go well together. Soap-making is creativity at its finest: not only do I get to come up with wonderful exotic oil blends for the body butters and salves, but I get to figure out what essential oil blends evoke what mood.”
Although she’s kind of new on the scene she’s already learned a lot, not the least of which is “don’t put so much pressure on yourself; take each day as it comes.” She admits to being a bit ‘all over the board’ when she started. “I wanted to make too many different things—scrubs, bug spray, laundry detergents—and spent perhaps too much time and money on them. Now I know I need to narrow the focus.” She’s concentrating on sticking with core business and building those sales.

It was only about a year ago that she decided she wanted to sell goods at her local farmers’ market and settled upon soap, using only naturally-derived ingredients—organic whenever possible. This summer was her first selling season, and the response has been great. She was contacted by the Duluth Trading company – a catalog sales company based in Wisconsin – who wanted to carry her Gardeners bar, which will be featured in their upcoming 2011-2012 spring summer catalogue. Her products are also featured in the gift shop at Pitchforks & Tablespoons—a restaurant that grows its own produce—in Austin, Texas, and has just submitted samples for consideration at her regional Whole Foods locations.

In just a few short months, she’s created some terrific signature soaps using detergent free melt and pour bases from Wholesale Supplies Plus: “Un-Green Your Thumbs” gardeners’ bar, “Honey, You're So Smooth”, “Snap Out Of It Citrus”, and “Calm It Down” with lavender, chamomile & gardenia.

Now that she is gearing up for her first real holiday selling season, Katie is getting excited! “This is more than a hobby for me; I really like my products and want to share them with other people.” She’s getting organized with new point of purchase displays, and is working on becoming part of a mail sampler program with a company called “Out of the Box”.

Hart's Handmade is a family business. “We feel good that we are doing our part to keep Mother Nature clean and healthy, and we hope to educate people on the many ways they can cut unnecessary chemicals and un-natural products out of their household.”

ROBIN M LENHARD is a freelance business writer and craft artisan, based in Buffalo, New York, and is a board member of Artists in Buffalo, Inc.. Robin wrote this feature article exclusively for Debbie (, an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.