In the Workshop
By Avery Chenoweth
She dips her arms into the sleeves of her white lab coat, and is transformed.
Only moments earlier, she was outside tramping through the routine of feeding all the animals--the hogs, goats, and chickens--then she came into the sunny kitchen, asking if I’d like something to drink. All is chummy and conversational as you might expect of Eva King, the founder of this remarkable new skin care company.
Then she changes. On goes the coat, the goggles, and now she’s lifting away from me, at least in conversation. She is preparing a batch of the best-selling products in her new skincare line: Beat It! and Luna Sea. When she ascends into the thin atmosphere of her PhD, then it’s time for me to raise the binoculars and watch her go, listening to a stream of names, chemical reactions, tinctures, and all the rest of her wizardry in this science of natural ingredients, Ayurvedic botanicals, and even CBD Hemp oil.
The mission still blows my mind: to activate the latent potential in this neglected space of our lives: the potential of ameliorative soaps and serums. To start the reduction of all inflammation in the bath and shower; to relieve the sting and itch of the mosquitoes and the poison ivy which the flesh is heir to; and to zing energy into our mornings with our own peppermint soap that puts “zest” in the shade with all the other old-school soaps.
She measures. She pours. She writes numbers. She reads formulas. She says nothing to this nattering nabob, who sits nearby, wondering if I can smoke in here, and why not? In go the ingredients, emulsions, and other generalities of my prose, until the mold is brimming with colors from a palette, all swirling like some old LSD projection that melted in a huge lava lamp above the Steppenwolf concert that boggled my 7th grade mind.
When Eva was in high school, in Germany, she was beset with her own acne issues, and that misery kick-started her on this path. Ultimately, she earned her MSc in biochemistry in Germany and a PhD from Oxford, and turned that erudition to making soaps in 2014, and selling them in the Charlottesville City Market, a Saturday morning farmers’ market. In the years since then, she has tested many shapes and formulas, and they began to get and retain best-selling traction--with repeat sales and loyal clients. Now they buy in bulk.
The batter spoon goes into the brilliant mire, twirling and pulling, until it’s from here to the curing shelves for a few weeks. The curing begins in the mixture and ultimately in the pores of customers. Packaging, sales, shipping, and the market all follow.
Then she’s off working hard at her other startup, AURA EnviroScience, about which more later.
In the cool of the evening, she returns to the growing menagerie of friends, family, and animals all of whom circulate throughout the days and nights of Eva King.