How Moonlights Apothecary Started
During high school, I got a job at as a receptionist at Massage Envy where my mother worked. At the time she was the manager and going through massage therapy school. I became a key holder soon after (no thanks to my mom *wink, wink*). I saw how much of a difference massage therapy made in my life too. When I was 7 I got into a horse riding accident, and since then have always suffered from neck and shoulder pain. The doctors prescribed me muscle relaxers when i was 11, but I got addicted so my mother threw them away after 4 months and my pain was back. When I started getting massages it managed my pain level and improved my mood . This is where my knowledge for alternative health began.
After I graduated high school, I immediately enrolled into massage therapy school. I never felt like a traditional college was for me, and my family didn't have alot of funds to send me to a college anyway. Also, at the time my parents were getting a divorce, so the structure of my home life was already fragile.
Anyway, I got licensed and I really enjoyed working with clients and healing body aliments. It was a very peaceful environment, I was comfortable since I knew so many massage therapists and was already immersed into the industry. This worked! I loved being others relief. Soon after I got licensed, I started taking aroma therapy classes and learning about the medicinal properties of the oils. My mind was blown at how potent essential oils were and how nature could heal headaches, joint pain, muscle spasms, menstrual camps?! This was just the tip of the iceberg too I had always thought aroma therapy was just expensive natural smell good junk. Oh, how wrong was I.
After my daughter’s birth I was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression. The doctors put me on an anti-depressant. I really didnt want to take this pill, but I was desperate. And.... It did not work for me! I asked them to take me off it. They refused, I told my mom and she suggested dark chocolate in place of the medication and I started to use a few essential oils daily. I felt like myself again within a month. I deepened my path down alternative healing. This stuff really worked! Being a therapist also led me to do Reiki classes and learning about the chakras and how to balance them. Reiki, changed my outlook on my spirituality. (Don't worry, I wont share that now)
Unfortunately, massage therapy is hard on the body and I was becoming burnt out. Finding day hours to work was difficult at the time with a baby, so I began looking at other careers. I always loved cooking and baking, so I enrolled into Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School. (This was on a whim and obviously this decision was not thought out well). I loved this program, waking up each day to create these beautiful dishes was a dream.I had a project to do for school to research how we source our food.... and I went down the rabbit hole! I found out so much I didn’t want to know about the dairy and meat industry. I learned about GMO's and pesticides, I was SHOOK. This simple class report left an eternal imprint on me. This is where my outlook on life completely flipped. I was also a single mother at the time, and soon realized that becoming a chef wasn’t going to be an obtainable lifestyle. The hours were long, I had school, work and raising a daughter all on my plate at the age of 22. Ultimately, I left culinary school because I couldn't get on board with this anymore.
I struggled a long time trying to figure out what I truly wanted out of life. I was working so many undesirable jobs just to ensure Kaydyn having a roof over her head. I had to move around alot just to make sure that happened. During all of this chaos, still, I had dived deeply into the holistic/organic lifestyle and began to even make my own deodorant and toothpaste to eliminate the intake of aluminum and fluoride. I wanted my daughter to have only natural products on her skin. I had to find a better way than all the chemicals that were in our food and and skin care. This is where my passion for creating recipes went from food to body products. Body scrubs, lotion bars, whipped body butters, facial oils… you name it… I was trying it.
Except for soap, and I REALLY wanted to make my own soap! But, what was soap even made from? A compound of oil and lye? What is lye? Sodium hydroxide,a highly corrosive causic soda ash compound, that can burn your skin. Then you read up on lye, and how it is so dangerous and you need all this hazmat looking clothing to even get started?! Googles?! People blowing up their kitchens on accident?! This was out of reach for me. This was the impossible. Especially in my current living situation. I had moved again. This time I was living in a house with 2 other single women, one had 3 children and the other was, well… she was my brothers ex-girlfriend, it was actually her house. I couldn't make soap with a bunch of kids in the house, okay... That's insanity.
Then, while browsing for tooth paste jars at Michael's, they had a little melt and pour soap block for sale. I read it and, HEY!! No lye needed?!? Uhmmmm OKAY! You had to buy all the colorants and molds separately. So, I did it! I bought the stuff and I was DETERMINED to make this soap. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time because I was going through an ugly custody battle, just trying to make ends meet anyway I could was difficult. So, this was a big deal for me.
Getting time in the kitchen alone was sparse, but somehow I managed to have a mostly unoccupied time slot, after all the kids went to bed. I just knew that if I could make this soap… I could make gift baskets with the other stuff I made. I could have my own little business and stop having financial woes. My hours wouldn't be as crazy! My baby would have me around more. I was already making all of these other products my friends and family liked. This aligned with my lifestyle and I could create something I believed in. It was perfect! I even had a name “Moonlights Beauty & Health”.
Time to start making this soap… “Cut melt and pour base into sections. Place in a microwave safe bowl and heat in intervals of 30 seconds.” I was underwhelmed. In the back of my head I was really perturbed that I had to heat it up in the microwave?! They didn’t even suggest a pot over an open fire, I mean, make me work for it a little! But.. no, just “a microwave safe bowl”. I did it….and tried not to form anymore opinions until I was done. This had to work! There was no other way, I told myself. I added some of my essential oils and the strange soap coloring drops, (that I swear, were literally just food coloring) and put this mixture into the flimsy plastic floral mold I had chosen. It was literally just for a single soap too. All I could think was that I was gonna be mircrowaving a lot!
After it cooled, I was ready to pop out this baby and use it. The mold would not budge. It was stuck, and this awful plastic mold was not giving me any help. Eventually, after a lot of coaxing, a butter knife, an almost ruined mold and a beautiful tye dyed bar of soap with a bloomed flower ontop. I went to use it and was terribly disappointed! It smelled good, but it left my hands so dry, and there was a strange film left on my hands. I was not wowed. SO… I blamed myself and my essential oil blend. I made few others with different essential oils, until I ruined the mold the rest of the way. They were still awful. I finally read the ingreidants of the melt and pour... and gross. No wonder these soaps sucked! Me and my roommates used it anyway and I made a gift basket with the others. (I only sold one, by the way). At the time I was really excited about it, but soon that feeling faded because it wasn’t truly something I created. I mean I freakin microwaved it, of course it wasn’t great! After this, I decided soap just wasn’t for me, It seems like an impossible feat. I think I recognized true cold process soap makers at that time as inspiring dare devils, and I just had to accept soap wasn’t my thing.
In between all of this, I won sole custody of my daughter, I had met a guy in Florida, moved there, got engaged, moved again to Birmingham, Alabama to be with him and was planning our wedding. I had joined the Tragic City Rollers roller derby team there and didn’t think much about selling products anymore. I only made what I needed, and sent some to my family when they requested a deodorant. At some point, James, my now husband, asked me why I didn’t want to make the real deal soap. I told him my spill. He didn’t buy it and he pumped me up. He is the most encouraging, positive human I know…and he bought me all the supplies to make a real cold process soap. I have him to thank for pushing me. Thanks James!! Now everybody say…”Thanks James!”
I thought cold process soap was going to be hard to make, and I was right! There was so much to remember! I mean, this IS chemistry! There are just so many safety precautions: the googles, the masks, all of the clothing, timing, temperatures, so much clean up, the order it happens in and the fact that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing yet! I read, re-read, read and re-read a hundred more times of what to do through my fogged up googles and rubber cleaning gloves two sizes too big. I made the batter, and only had a few minutes to trace and pour it into a one pound banana bread style silicone mold and followed those directions to a T. IT WAS SO STRESSFUL!!!! I waited one day to unmold, because you have to let it get hard enough to unmold, but cut it before its gone through the curing process and is too hard to cut. It’s a very goldie locks and the three bears type situation. I didn’t know how to cut it, or have any soap cutting tools, so I just used a butcher knife, and boy, did I butcher it. It wasn’t what I expected it to look like…god, was it UGLY. It resembled a stick of butter. I was conflicted a bit over the aesthetics, especially after how beautiful those melt and pours came out. Not only that, but it takes 4 to 8 weeks for cold process soap to cure! All this work, and I didn’t even get to see if it was any good for a month or two. Pure torture.
It was all worth it once I got my very first real piece of cold process soap. It was so creamy and left my skin very soft and smooth, yet clean. There was no weird residue. The sky cleared way, a million doves flew out towards the twilight while an angelic opera singer sung, my skin sparkled and glowed, random strangers all wearing white created a circle around me and began to clap their hands, they lifted me up and started chanting "Jordyn, Jordyn, Jordyn".
No, Not really, but it felt this way! It was so different than the melt and pour soap! Night and day. Real mash potatoes vs instant. A morning with coffee VS. a morning with out… This. Was. Crazy. I was HOOKED on making soap. I started using different oils and butters, new essential oil blends, coffee, beer, colorants. Trying everything under the sun. I have ruined batches, I have seen batter trace to quickly, I have had batches that the essential oil didn’t hold in and I have literally seen a batch commit soap suicide. It is an art and it is science. I haven’t bought a bar of soap since the first cured soap since my first batch.
I just kept soaping and evolving and refining my process. This is where my dream came back. Moonlights Health and Beauty didn't fit anymore, I was giving up the tooth pastes and deodorants, my vision had shifted and this is how Moonlight’s Apothecary was born. Now our soap is so much different too, because like my soap, I too have evolved. That is where the enchanted soap comes into play, but we will leave that for another time.