lather up with peachy and blue
by Emily Merrell, photography by Kayla Macomber
Jonesboro native Jen Tuseth has found her passion by lovingly handcrafting vegan soap for her growing business, Peachy and Blue.
Tuseth lived in Jonesboro for several years as a child, followed by Milwaukee, Memphis and Omaha, earning her bachelor’s degree in consumer sciences from the University of Memphis. She returned to Jonesboro eight years ago and founded Peachy and Blue in 2013. Tuseth is now happily married with two children, Bella (9) and Loial (11 months). She is family-oriented and environmentally conscious both in her personal life and in her business.
“My family and I are very close, and none of this would be possible without them,” said Tuseth. “My husband, Grayson Grant, has supported me from day one. He helps me in every way – from brainstorming ideas, to wrapping product, to taking the kids to the park so I can make soap. My dad, Mike, has spent a lot of time learning about my products and he helps me set up and sell soap at every single event. My mother-in-law, Ruth, frequently drives over from Memphis to stay with our baby boy, Loial, while I’m at the market. My daughter, Bella, has grown up spending her Saturdays at the market, and she is old enough now that she can help me organize my display. My aunt, Sherry, is always happy to help me name soaps, which is fun but harder than you would think.”
How did Peachy and Blue grow into a full-time business?
I began setting up a booth at the ASU Farmer’s Market and sold enough in the first year that I could justify making more soap. I started to have a lot of repeat business. In order to remain in contact with my regular customers and reach new ones during the Farmer’s Market “off season,” I opened an Etsy shop and started a Facebook page. I began to get requests for wholesale orders from local retail shops, which expanded into other states. Ultimately, I believe it is mostly word-of-mouth advertising that has contributed to my growth and success. It is important for me to be reliable, fair and provide high-quality products. I do my best to respond to messages quickly and ship orders as soon as possible.
What items do you offer at this time?
While my main focus is on bar soaps, I also offer bath soak, custom-scented lotion, handmade ceramic soap dishes and made-to-order gift sets. All my soaps can be used on the face and body. I make soaps with many textures, from smooth to scrubby, and in a wide variety of fragrances. I even offer an unscented bar. I try to address many different needs. I have soaps that are formulated to produce a creamy lather that’s great for shaving. I make a super lathery shampoo bar. I offer a few coconut oil-free soaps, which I call Butter Bars, and they create a lotion-like lather. I also offer several types of salt soaps, which have a foamy lather. The salt soap seems to be especially popular with men.
What are your goals for Peachy and Blue? Do you have plans to expand your product line?
I am always adding new soaps and scents to my product line. When I have enough customer requests for a certain scent, I work to create it for them. My goals are to continue to take care of my regular customers and reach new ones, as well as to continue to experiment with new recipes and add more products. I would love to have a retail shop of my own here in Jonesboro and one day expand my business nationally.
What are the benefits of using natural, earth-friendly, vegan soap?
I have many customers tell me that they have sensitive skin and other skin issues and that Peachy and Blue gives them relief. My soaps are gentle while being rich and moisturizing. None of my products contain parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde or dye. Regarding the environment, I make an effort to use ingredients with the lowest impact on our earth. I never use palm oil due to the excessive destruction of animal habitats involved in its cultivation. I also designed my packaging to be minimal and biodegradable. Most notably, I make my soap, lotion and bath soak without any animal products. By using Peachy and Blue, you can pamper your skin while contributing to an effort to protect our planet.
What are your main ingredients?
My main ingredients are olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, castor oil, essential oils and, of course, lye. I include generous amounts of high quality butters and oils to provide the richest experience possible. Depending on the formulation or purpose, my soaps might also include fragrance oils, seeds, coffee, oatmeal, tea, herbs, salt or aloe.
Do you have a favorite scent or scents?
I could talk forever about my favorite scents! I have so many favorites, but I am especially drawn to woody and earthy fragrances. I also love to work with orange essential oil. It has such a sweet, clean scent, and I like mixing it with other essential oils. I just made a batch of a new favorite called Marmalade. It’s scented with orange, ylang-ylang and vanilla, and it smells delicious. Some of my other favorite soaps are Date Night, a shaving soap with sandalwood fragrance oil, and Warm Earth, a butter bar with patchouli and oatmeal. I love combining fragrances to create interesting new scents, whether they are warm and spicy, clean and fresh, fruity or floral. My aunt, Sherry, is a perfume connoisseur, and I have inherited her appreciation for complex fragrances.
What has been the most challenging part of owning Peachy and Blue? What has been the most rewarding part?
Finding the time to manage all aspects of a business while raising two children is the most challenging part. The most gratifying part is definitely hearing how much my product has helped my customers and how much they enjoy using it. Real life testimonials from people who have seen improvement in their skin will always be the best reward.
Follow Peachy and Blue on Facebook for updates on new products, as well as dates and locations for where the Peachy and Blue booth will be set up. All soaps are available for sale on Etsy at etsy.com/shop/peachyandblue. Those interested in Tuseth’s products can find her at the ASU Farmer’s Market and at Alive After Five from May until October. She will also be selling Peachy and Blue products at the Jonesboro Public Library Arts and Crafts Fair on April 1.