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Justphoria Soaps Plus! a naturally growing business

Soaps Plus! founder Linda Phillips and her Jewel of Clear Creek soap
Justphoria Soaps Plus! founder Linda Phillips and her Jewel of Clear Creek soap which is infused with jewelweed, reputed to counteract the negative effects of poison ivy.

Linda Phillips’ homemade soaps and personal care products do have additives.

But rather than some polysyllabic mystery compound created in a laboratory, they’re easily recognizable, many of them plants grown on her and husband George’s Clear Creek-area property.

“I can honestly say the lavender is from my yard and I personally infused it,” smiled the founder of Justphoria Soaps Plus!, the name representing a combination of ‘just for you’ and ‘euphoria.’

The Phillips moved off their Port Colborne-area hobby farm and to Clear Creek eight years ago. Used to caring for a varied menagerie including cattle, horses, goats, chicken, turkeys and pot-bellied pigs, Linda ‘had to find something to do.’

Extensive research and reading led her toward hand-crafted soap and related items in natural combinations. “It’s an educated choice people make to choose natural.”

Developing her craft took a year of practice, ongoing research and many different combinations. “A lot,” she smiled, “I like to experiment.”

Phillips ‘lab’ is in her basement, site of mostly successful trial and error.

“I had a few that didn’t quite turn out the way they should,” she confessed with a smile.

Phillips does have a willing test market in friends and family. Smiling, she jokes none of her products use animal testing in their development, she instead tries them out on her husband.

“George is my tester most of the time,” Linda laughed.

Soaps on a shelf
Justphoria Soaps Plus! soaps come in a wide variety, many infused with plants grown on founder Linda Phillips’ Clear Creek-area property, or sourced from around the area.

In very basic terms, soap is created by mixing animal, vegetable or mineral fats or oils and an alkali such as lye. Historically, lard (Phillips has rendered some sourced from Bird House Farms) or tallow was used, however she says newer generations are trending toward a vegan base. Phillips does stick to a natural approach when sourcing external ingredients, ensuring for example, should she use coconut oil - ‘great for suds’ - it comes from sustainable sources.

What makes Justphoria’s product unique from a basic or mass-produced version is that it is hand-made, typically visually distinctive, and thirdly, infused with items adding either fragrance or beneficial properties or both.

Lavender Soap
Justphoria Soaps Plus! Lavender Bath & Shower bar, along with some of founder Linda Phillips’ homegrown lavender which it is infused with.

Lavender is a familiar example, its distinctive fragrance purported to have a calming or relaxing effect. Phillips picks hers from her front yard when ready, dries it and strips the flowers for storage. Beyond its essential oil, she may put buds into the body of the soap, sprinkling a few more on top for visual effect. She also makes a pumpkin spice soap in the fall from surplus squash, enhanced with aromatic ingredients including cinnamon, and also has an apple cider and sage version.

Calendula flowers take her soap in another direction, backyard annuals in the marigold family, pushing out a single row of petals in colours including creamy yellow or bright orange.

“You’ll get different shades like that.”

Harvested and dehydrated, Phillips puts the petals into oil in a specific ratio for a specific period, heats them in a double boiler or uses an oil infuser, the latter an accelerated 90-minute process. The resultant infusion is good for troubled skin says Phillips, “for different skin ailments.”

Her rosemary is used in hair products, targeting growth and overall health.

“You don’t really get the scent, it’s just the beneficial ingredients in the herbs are infused into the oil.” Justphoria plantain salve harkens to Linda’s father’s advice to put a bit of plantain on a cut or sting. “It’s excellent for bee stings or mosquito bites,” says Phillips. “It takes that sting away.”

Lemongrass is seen as a natural repellent, its infusion designed to keep mosquitoes away before they get close enough to sting. Phillips also collects jewelweed from the Clear Creek area, its infusion used to counteract poison ivy’s negative effects. “I gather it first thing in the spring before there’s any spray or anything on it.”

Phillips has offered her soaps, moisturizers, face masks, makeup removers, bath bombs and shower steams at the Port Rowan Farmer’s Market for the past three years. The first year was a form of introduction, people interested but looking more than buying. But in year two and beyond, repeat customers, word-of-mouth and she believes, continuity, has seen her ‘little business’ develop.

“People know I wasn’t going to be there one year and disappear.”

Her processes are labour-intensive and time-consuming, roughly an hour-and-a-half for example from mixing soap ingredients to putting them into a mold, where they must develop for four to six weeks. But it’s also rewarding admits Phillips, who as a child, wanted to be a doctor or a vet, and is pleased to be creating items which can help people.

“You’re proud of the finished product,” she summed up, happy with her decision on ‘finding something to do.’ “I know it was a good choice.”


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