The mother-in-law/daughter-in-law team of Sherry Robertson and Stephanie Armstrong has been making handmade soaps since 1999.
Their products currently are available at Bee’tween Friends, located at 206 S. Summit St., where they have been sold for nearly two years.
The Cowley County-based business always has operated locally, but it has evolved greatly since 1999.
“We have had a few different names over the years as we have recreated ourselves,” Armstrong said.
The Willow Crossing also has been known as Affordable Luxury and Sunflower Country Creations.
Back in 1999, the duo were well ahead of their time. “I had been interested in making soap,” Robertson recalled.
“I started making some simple goat milk soaps. Back then, there was not all the information available that there is today.”
“I told Stephanie, ‘Let’s make soap and sell it.’ She thought I was crazy — no one was going to buy ‘homemade’ soap,” Robertson continued.
The Willow Crossing attended its first craft show in September of that year, in Oxford.
“Even though we knew nothing about what we were doing, we sold out. Stephanie did not think I was so crazy after that,” Robertson said.
When they began making soap, most people associated handmade soap with the lye soap that commonly was made by older generations.
Because of that misconception, the ladies always put out a bowl of water so shoppers could try their products.
“From that, we evolved into making candles,” they said. “For a few years, we had a great soap- and candle-making business. People would come to shows just because they knew we were going to be there.”
Since that time, the candles have faded out of production, but The Willow Crossing has plans to bring them back — with wood wicks.
Robertson and Armstrong said their best-selling soap is called “Deadly Weapon.”
Their clientele is a mix — somewhere around 65 percent female to 35 percent male. “Men have no problems loading up bars of soap and saying, ‘Hey, honey, pay for this,’” Armstrong said.
“We keep unnecessary chemicals out of the picture,” Robertson said. “We use the lye and fragrance oil and colorants, but no preservatives — (except) in the lotion.”
The pair has contemplated adding several additional products, such as deodorant, shampoo and products for pets. But they still are working to decide what they will add.
“Our soaps have more than one or two oils (and/or) butters in them,” Robertson said. “They sell for $7 for a 5-plus-ounce bar. We also offer ‘mini’ soaps, which are $4 or four for $15.”
They also have lotions, bath salts, bath bombs and more for sale.
“We make all of products from scratch,” Robertson said. “Even our lotion, so that we can ensure the quality of ingredients.”
Some of The Willow Crossing’s most popular scents are:
- Cherry Citrus;
- Lavender Flowers;
- Lavender Mint;
- Ruby Slippers;
- Salty Mariner;
- Suit and Tie;
- Vanilla Patchouli.