My hands take a hammering throughout the year. Either they're in dirt working in the garden, or immersed in water. (I have to say I love my bleach, but it's not good for the skin.) Even though seed starting begins in just under six weeks, my hands are already looking pretty harsh. I ordered a few more tins of body cream from Montana Mercantile to pull me through the season.
As many of your know, I started Montana Mercantile over ten years ago. Actually, I started making the lotion bars, the flagship of the business, first to add to my line of homemade items available at my shop at Shady Side Herb Farm in Coram. The lotion bars were such a big hit, I decided to step out of retail and market to other shops instead. (My first hint that retail wasn't for me was when a car drove in, and I hid - belly down - behind a big patch of oregano!)
The lotion bars took off like gangbusters. It wasn't unusual to be up well past midnight trying to keep up with orders in my tiny kitchen in my pink house in Kalispell. I had two women working with me, my right-hand, Stella, and Lynn, who brought her infant during the few months she was with us. Lauren, the little girl, was crawling at that time, and had the softest knees of any baby from being on a floor slick with coconut oil and cocoa butter.
Soon we added a body cream to the line since some people wanted a cream they could use on their legs and arms. I tried several recipes, but kept having it curdle or clump. Finally, on a horseback ride with my friend Pam, a pharmacist, we brainstormed different methods that might work, and one finally did. The body cream is a mixture of olive oil, shea butter, coconut oil and avocado oil that are whipped together. The lotion bars require the heat of your hand to "rub off" on your skin, but the body cream can be scooped, which is what I needed to put it on Sam's face when his cheeks are chapped.
After several years of being identified by scent - Pam would go into the tack room at the arena where we kept our horses hours after I'd been there, and she could smell me - juggling the wholesale orders, my landscaping business and my freelancing writing became too much. I sold the business to Mark Riffey in 2006, and he's done a fantastic job of improving on it, including a great website where people can order directly from him. So, it was very nice to be able to log in, and order some of my old favorites to keep my hands looking like they did when I used to make it all of the time!