Raising the Bar on Soap
By Eugenia Moskowitz
“I started making my Wonder Balm, a simple effective skin salve, back when we still lived in Brooklyn,”Sarah David, founder of Third Day Naturals, tells me from her warm kitchen in her two-story house on Beattie Road. She laughs, remembering her first foray into making natural personal-care products. “I must have done something right because it came out really good and all my friends started asking me for it.”
She and her husband Robert relocated to Washingtonville in 2006 and now operate a full mail-order and wholesale natural product line consisting of handmade soaps, hair/skin/lip care, sugar scrubs, baby care, and bug spray. They even make a beeswax-based Vaseline alternative for those who wish to avoid petroleum.
“I started to get interested in natural health when I was pregnant,” Sarah says, as her youngest children play in the living room. It’s hard to imagine she and her husband have the time to successfully run a business while Robert works for Orange & Rockland and Sarah home-schools their four children, but they do. “Having kids was the catalyst for making my own products because I wanted to reduce the amount of chemicals entering our house. I always dreamed of gardening and making natural products for my family, so when we moved here I went ahead and made soap and it was so much fun and turned out so well that friends encouraged me to sell it.”
“My husband’s a mechanical engineer and has an MBA, plus is very handy and loves to do stuff,” Sarah says. As if his engineering and business skills alone weren’t enough, he also makes some of the machinery for the production of their products. This on top of all the order processing and packaging in the morning before work, including the spreadsheets, and the administrative tasks. “He’s very good at managing his time,” Sarah says, “while I get to do the fun stuff like brainstorming, creating the recipes, and developing new products.”
The Davids kept making and mailing out their soaps and other products while growing their family. “Then, in 2016,” Sarah says, “our stuff really started taking off, just from years of chugging away and by word of mouth.” There are no bells and whistles going on in the David household, just a lot of steady work, with the result that Third Day Naturals now ships products all over the country. “We started by doing farmers markets, but that was too labor intensive. Between gas, renting a booth, and all the time we devoted to an unpredictable market, it never paid off, so we went the wholesale route, selling to Adams and Nature’s Pantry as well as stores in Pine Bush and Otisville. Then, through Amazon and our website, our direct sales took a major leap forward.”
I ask if Sarah grows any of the ingredients she uses in her products. “Our soaps are very simple,” she says. “Pure, simple, and effective is our motto. We use oils and other high quality ingredients from good suppliers which makes more sense than growing, picking, and drying stuff myself. That would be too labor-intensive and just wouldn’t work. We get some of our beeswax from local beekeepers, but all of our other products are plant based except for beeswax, honey, and one product which contains goat’s milk.”
The Davids named their line Third Day Naturals because on the third day God created plants, Sarah says. And while that has always been their driving philosophy, her pragmatic mom-sense told her to make her products affordable and competitive with supermarket soaps, so that people will actually buy and use them, which is likely the main reason her products have grown from a hobby into a true business. Ask her anything about her line, just not during holidays or at the beginning of the week when her weekend orders are being processed. “That’s my crazy time,” she says. And while her eldest children are starting to take on small aspects of the business, the bulk of the work still is done by Sarah and Robert. “I’m still recovering from Christmas,” she says, laughing.
Third Day Naturals products can be found at http://www.tdnaturals.com, on Amazon, or by going to the “Third Day Naturals” Facebook page.
CAPTION: Sarah David, founder of Third Day Naturals, at home with some of her products. (Photo provided)