MORGAN PARK — Jane Zia sees herself as both a Goth and a soaper.
"I'm not that Marilyn Manson, 'Mall Goth' either," said Zia, a Morgan Park resident.
Despite the gloomy outlook commonly associated with Goth music, the future of Zia's business looks bright, particularly after partnering with County Fair Foods in February.
The neighborhood grocery store at 10800 S. Western Ave. has been steadily selling about 200 bars of Zia's handmade soap per month, the business owner said. The soap retails for $5.99 per bar.
Zia, a graduate of Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Mount Greenwood, has been selling soaps, lotions, body spays and other skincare products for the past three years. Most of her sales had previously come via farmers markets and craft shows.
Her first product was a handmade lotion. But strangely enough, it was a candle-making kit that drew Zia into the world of boutique skin products in 2009.
Zia was unhappy with the instructions provided in the candle kit. So she began to research the process, which led her to online suppliers of lye and other products used to make soap.
She was immediately drawn to the soap-making process and began to tinker with recipes that relied on dissolving the lye in beer, cucumbers, tea and other non-traditional liquids.
"A lot of the things I use in my soap, I can source them local at County Fair," said Zia, adding that all the cucumbers, oranges, pomegranates and coconut milk used in her soap is bought at the Morgan Park grocery store.
She then mixes her unique concoctions with essential oils infused with herbs and other natural products — avoiding any chemical colorants and synthetic fragrances, Zia said.
The result is nine varieties of soap that are sold at County Fair. Lavender peppermint is the most popular soap, followed by green tea and lemongrass soap.
Zia prints the County Fair logo on the bars of soap she sells at the grocery store. She does the same for The Blossom Boys. This Beverly florist shop stocks body spray and a product called winter balm, which is intended to be used like a lip balm but over the entire body.
She also hopes to bring more unique items to the Beverly Farmers Market. The summertime market opens at 7 a.m. May 10 and runs every Sunday through the end of October in the commuter lot at 95th Street and Longwood Drive.
The farmers market is a perfect spot for Zia, as she said her family also eats very little processed food. She believes a firm dedication to this way of eating also helped push her to produce a natural brand of soap.
"Being concerned about what you are eating, there a natural progression," Zia said.
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