If I told you a few things I know about Eva, you might well raise a skeptical eyebrow. And I would be the first to join you. In this age of odious bombast, it’s easy to dismiss everything you hear. So, let’s skip the weary list of talented, brilliant, energetic—yawn, right? But I can share a few impressions—and with some luck those will tell you more About Us than anything else.
She wrestles with goats…She paints…Sings…Hunts with falcons and hawks...Plays Classical on the piano and Old Time on the fiddle…Earned a masters in biochemistry and a Ph.D.--from Oxford, you snob. She is best described, I think, as a dynamic, or a process--cascading forward. If you can capture a freeze frame of Eva King--worthy of Duchamp--then you will find yourself a lovely friend and empathic ally—and then you can trace her through the brightening air.
At the moment I’m writing this, we are at our booth the Martha’s Market show of 2018. For the last six hours, Eva has been multitasking in real terms: pitching the soap lines in bars and liquid to shoppers; taking a call for an indoor air quality inspection for a construction site; doing some preliminary research on same; then on the phone with her Mother, and they are both speaking in their native German—keeping to her story that she grew up there, if you fall for that.
As a company, Dr. Eva’s Skincare began in 2014 when she and her husband, Andrew King, opened up their first booth at the Charlottesville Farmers’ Market, operating as Dr. King’s Little Luxuries. Both were employed full time so the company remained a part-time endeavor. Eva loved experimenting with formulas, and soon transformed an upstairs room of their Victorian farmhouse into her workshop. She had been here before—as an allergy researcher at a global biotechnology company, as well as in grad school.
Eva brought that acumen to her role as the Soap Chef. She brews and stews with a mission in mind. We are rethinking soap, how we use it, why, and how we can make it do much more work than merely cleaning our skin and hair. She is now creating fresh new ameliorative experiences in our daily environment. In each bar and bottle, then, we can trace the enjoyable results back to a problem from Eva’s own experience in her youth, on her farm, or in the lives of her friends and family. This, too, I know about Eva: she hasn’t met a problem that she hasn’t engaged with everything she’s got. And that is not a job, or a career: that is a trait of character, expressed in her actions, mind, and body—and fundamental to her being. At least from what I’ve observed.
A fond observer of people, I’ve made my living writing nonfiction—first a newspaper reporter then a magazine journalist then an author, each time improving the title with a loss in pay, of course. The career years were broken up with stints in graduate school: Johns Hopkins, in the Writing Seminars; and then the University of Virginia’s Creative Writing Program. At one point, I went from ginning up ideas for magazines to imagining them as companies, and the freelancing initiative turned into entrepreneurship. My most recent startup has a history gaming app in the Apple Store, and is now in mid-pivot into a new market. That startup launched in the i-Lab at UVA, where my enthusiasm enjoyed some welcome b-school discipline. It was this hybrid of my enthusiasms, writing and innovating, that brought Eva and me to the same conclusion one fine spring afternoon over coffee: let’s see what happens if we can create something new together.
As business partners and friends, we have now rounded our first six months, Eva and I, and are heading into our first year of rolling forward together. What I can tell you About Us as a team, is that we share a devotion to teasing out and innovating something new, a pleasure in working together, and a passionate commitment to shaping and improving the way we live now.