Old Town Suds at The National Archives!

As I write this, it’s my 4 year brain surgery anniversary. We decided to celebrate with a trip to see my soaps at The National Archives! This was my first trip to this particular museum. I’ve been to all the other Smithsonian’s but Archives has eluded me during my nearly 10 years in the DC area.

Old Town Suds’ soap is being displayed as part of the Spirited Republic exhibition – a special exhibit all about prohibition. It’s the perfect way for soap made with beer and wine to make it’s debut at Archives.

Since it is a special day, I was trying to find something fun and exciting to celebrate being alive – I decided we had to see my soap in DC. Around lunch time we ventured into the city on this super spectacular Spring day. It was sunny and we couldn’t have asked for a better day to drive in.

We went straight to the gift shop after parking. It took a bit of looking to find our soaps because they only had FOUR bars in stock. Talk about selling quickly. Technically….photos aren’t allowed in Archives but somehow, our iPhones had a flaw and took some photos all on their own! Apple really needs to work on this glitch.

After the excitement, we decided to tour the Prohibition exhibit. We were wondering if there would be anything on moonshine since Joel is from the county in Virginia that is known for its grain alcohol. There was a lot on various political movements, you see copied of the amendments that outlaw, and then reinstate, liquor. It was interesting and very much worth the trip. As we were getting ready to leave the exhibit we see this:

IMG_0002 THAT’S OUR MERLOT WINE SOAP! IN THE EXHIBIT! I couldn’t believe it! There we are! I think I screamed.

There you have it. That’s how we spent Big Brain Anniversary 2015.

Philly Bound

April & May are the months of Philadelphia! Old Town Suds will be heading to two awesome events in the city.

On April 26th, we’ll be at Crafty Balboa. Outside of the 40 awesome venders:

Crafty Balboa runs in conjunction with Flavors of the Avenue. East Passyunk’s award-winning chefs will offer tastes of their signature dishes and drinks under the cover of a big top tent, making the event rain or shine!

Google Maps also tells me there are two well-known cheesesteak places a few blocks up the road too. What can I say, I lead with my stomach.

If you didn’t get enough of Suds on the 26th, we’ll be back for two days in May! On the 9th and 10th you’ll find us at Art Star Craft Bazaar which has been rated a Best of Philly event for YEARS.

Over 150 local and national artists have been chosen to set up shop and sell their wares at Penn’s Landing Great Plaza, right along the Delaware River.

Save the dates on your calendar now! Suds can’t wait to see you in Philly in April and May.

Designing a New Soap Booth

The past few years of attending weekly markets has fought us a few things about our booth space. I know to always plan for more traffic than I expect at 6am on a Saturday morning (why are so many people in DC up at this time?) and that I need pieces that I am able to carry (strict 20 pound limit on what I can carry). That means most mornings I’m waiting on the husband to unload the car while I wait looking rather pathetic.

So, I’ve decided to redesign our booth space before the market season starts and allow for more items that I can carry. We’ll still have the same wine tasting feel but it’s going to be more jazzed up. For our longer events, we’ll take it up another notch with a bar counter like feel, but that is for another post. If my father in law thought I was a pain in the ass with our trade show booth…wait until he sees this plan. I’m sure you will all hear him scream.

A majority of spaces we occupy are 10’x10′ which is also the size of our canopy. That means everything has to fit in nice and cozy in to 100 square feet. Thankfully, very tiny apartment living has taught me well. Last year, we used the front of the tent as a walkup bar and the rest was storage for us. This year, will be different.

(keep in mind, this is our draft stage right now)

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 10.55.01 PM

What we are going to create is a U shaped table setup. A 6′ table will be at the base of the U with two 4′ tables flanking the sides. The tables will be used for displaying items, signage and whatnot. The 4 feet of space behind the tables will give us a place to stand, additional storage and give us room to maneuver.

I also plan on building shelving between two wooden creates to add height to the display. (That’s one thing we are currently lacking with our setup from last year.) Additionally, our tables are going to grow a few inches in height. They have been eating their veggies during the winter and have gotten a bit taller with the use of PVC pipes on their legs. These extensions will help bring everything up to a more comfortable shopping height. Plus, it also means the stray toddler will have a bit more difficultly eat the new “fudge” they just found at the farmers’ market. (yeah, that has happened)

Our first outdoor market of the season starts in 3 weeks so we must have everything done by then! I see some late nights of painting in our future.

I Hate Snow

I hate snow. I hate it. Actually, hate isn’t a strong enough word. The puppies can’t get off the porch because the steps have turned into a snow slide – that now needs to be shoveled. It’s cold and we’re stuck at home. I do believe this is the definition of hell. I moved away from the Midwest’s blizzards for a reason. Snow and I do not get along.

Side note: Where exactly is Spring? The good news is our farmers’ markets will be starting soon! I really can’t wait to get out and see everyone again. (please remind me of this post when it is 95 out with 80% humidity)

As I sit by the fireplace with Lizzy curled up next to me, I think we need to move to Napa. The wine soap maker at the California vineyards :) That is doable, right?

One can dream. Until then, there is little bath champagne in my plans for this evening.

Stay warm and safe everyone!

How I take care of my skin

Every few markets I get someone who asks what exactly I do to keep my skin looking so great. First, I love that people are using my skin as an example. For years decades I’ve been working on a routine that keeps my skin as clear as possible. There hasn’t been a day since my teens where I haven’t had some sort of breakout.

First, I drink more water that you will ever believe.

At our farmers’ markets I go through at least 1 gallon of water in 5 hours. Throughout the day I always have a large glass of water with me. It’s hardly ever empty.

Second, I always wash with the Best Face Wash Ever. It’s the only way I can keep my skin under control. At times it can a touch too drying (like in this winter season), but it’s necessary for me to keep the acne at bay.

After I wash with BFWE, I follow with either a facial moisturizer that is great under makeup for the day or I use our Hydrate Facial Oil for night or when I’m not wearing makeup. I LOVE Hydrate. After playing with some really young cousins, aka germ magnets, I got seriously sick. The Hydrate kept my nose calm, cool, and not flaky! I used a bit more than normal to help keep my nose happy and it paid off.

Last is something that I am really working on. It’s eating more vegetables. The saying is true, you are what you eat. It’s easier during the summer when I am running between farmers’ markets but I’ve gotta increase the amount of green leafy veggies in my diet. I believe that is the next step to really keeping my skin radiant and glowing.

1% (Not that 1%)

99% of the time, I forget I have a brain issue. It affects what I do on a day-to-day basis like not lifting above a certain amount, being careful how I exercises and the whatnot, but these changes have become normal for me. I’m used to asking for help moving boxes or drums of 400 pounds of oil. (My husband hates oil drums, I love them!)

Today, though, today is a different story. Today is that nasty 1% . I knew I needed to prepare for today last night. See, there is a giant snow storm hitting us right as this very moment. For most people, it’s just an annoyance in the typical way snow reminds us that a majority of the people living in the DC area do not know how to drive in snow. For me, I am pretty much bedridden. And it stinks.

Last night I stayed up until 2am making soap and trying to cram two days worth of work into one. I’ve learned in the last 4 years how pressure changes, like the we are having right now, take me out of commission. It isn’t your standard headache. It’s not a migraine. It’s almost like an altitude sickness, but at the house I’ve owned for more than a year. My face starts tingling and that is when I know it’s time to start taking my meds and curl up on the couch with the puppies. I imagine what I go through during these changes is similar to what it is like to have a stroke. Funny story there, the first time it happened I was told I was having a stroke – they were seriously wrong.

I am not sharing this for you to feel sorry for me. I’m sharing it because when I first found out I had a Chiari Malformation, it was hard to find out things about what it means to have Chiari. I know a majority of the people who find my blog are doing so through Chiari searches. Plus, sometimes you just need to get the bad parts out there so you appreciate the good days more.

Our New Retailers

If you’ve been reading about out trade show booth progress, it’s now time for the results of all of that work.

The list of our new retailers! From up and down the East Coast to the West Coast, we have some awesome stores that welcomed Old Town Suds into their family.


Independent Mercantile, Inc.
728 Main Street
Murphys, CA
Phone: 209.728.8416

Washington, DC

Lettie Gooch
1517 U Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: 202.332.4242

National Archives Store
700 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC
Phone: 202.357.5271

National Building Museum Shop
401 F Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202.272.2448


The Uniqueness Of It All
6786 Broad Street
Douglasville, GA
Phone: 678.427.8088


The Annapolis Pottery
40 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: 410.268.6153

The Fine Arts Company
18031 Garland Groh Boulevard
Hagerstown, MD 21740
Phone: 301.971.2781

The Muse
19 North Market Street
Frederick, MD 21701
Phone: 301.663.3632


Opening Spring 2015 in Burlington, MA

North Carolina

Cedar Creek Gallery & Pottery
1150 Fleming Road
Creedmoor, NC 27522
Phone: 919.528.1041


Pearl S. Buck Gift Shop
520 Dublin Rd
Perkasie, PA 18944

Urban Post
323 Market Street
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Phone: 570.374.0606


Artful Gift Shop
145 Church St NW
Vienna, VA 22180
Phone Number: 703.242-1220

Chateau O’Brien
3238 Railstop Road
Markham, VA 22643
Phone Number: 540.364.6441

Michie Tavern General Store
683 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Phone: 434.977.1234

The Picket Fence
Burke Village Center
6025 Burke Centre Parkway
Burke, VA 22015
Phone: 703.250.2671

Stifel & Capra
260 W Broad Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
Phone Number: 703.533-3557

Tin Top Art & Handmade
130 N. Loudoun Street
Winchester, VA 22601
Phone: 703.999.2997

Wanda’s Hair Salon
3784 Old Franklin Tpke
Rocky Mount, VA 24092
Phone Number: 540.489.1068

Old Town Suds’ Trade Show Booth

I think the hardest part of making our trade show booth was figuring out the feel I wanted to project. I knew I wanted hard walls, that was a given (thank you trade show background). But, how do I want to display all of my babies soap?

Thank goodness for pinterest. First off, there are hardly any soap trade show booths on there. What is plentiful are the stationary show booths. That, my friends, became my starting point. How do different handmade printers make themselves standout? How do they differentiate themselves from their neighbor? How do they stay true to their identity and still wow everyone who walks by? Luckily, when you are turning into an insomniac, these answers come quickly. Sidebar: my best ideas come between the house of 11pm and 3 am.

practice setup

Practice Setup

Old Town Suds makes 80% of its products out of beer, wine and/or chocolate. Three things that I love to partake in! We are located in the Virginia vineyard region so I am always among the grapes and that is basis of our booth design; plus it flows naturally from our farmers’ market display.

The semi-gloss  black hard walls took 5 coats and 2 gallons of paint. (Honestly, they probably could use a few more coats.) Then came the handmade shelves. These were constructed from cheap lumber we found at the lumber yard and some molding to provide a raised edge. They are wide enough to hold a beer bottle and a bar of soap laying down. Wide enough to create soap pyramids but not wide enough for much more than that. A lesson learned is, for our next trade show, we’ll make some shelves for the corners and make a few wider shelves.


Next up are the lights. We used the clip lights from home depot. Originally, I thought they would provide enough spot light to highlight a few products and help draw eyes into the booth. Well, it was a good try. For the next go, we’ll be investing in a different set of lights.

The sign was laser cut out of wood and held on with velcro. I really think it added a needed dimension to the booth. Also, we put a copy of our Washington Post coverage plus a few photos up of me making soap. They were to add color to the booth, plus add that little touch of showing just how handmade our products are.

Here it is! The finished product. Our first trade show booth. For my first one, I am extremely happy with the outcome. It’s the first booth I’ve built having less than a $20,000 budget for JUST the build. It’s the first booth I’ve built where I’ve been selling my own product and everything that was made by me. For those reasons alone, it’s my favorite trade show booth to date.

Booth Shot

Up next, some more lessons learned and what I want to approve on before our next trade show this summer. I can’t wait to make this an even better display for our wholesale customers.