In the Fall of 2012, after sending her youngest off to college, Peony decided to show up at Heart Change Ministries for the first time. It was a ministry she had heard a lot about and figured that if she was ever going to go, now was the time. For the next year or so, Peony continued to volunteer at Heart Change.
Meanwhile, Peony had been having some skin sensitivity issues. A friend recommended trying using the handcrafted soap that she made which used only all-natural ingredients to help. Peony had been purchasing and using these handcrafted soaps for three years when she thought she might as well try to make them herself. She started doing her own research about into making soap and came across some beautiful felted soaps. As a knitter, Peony was very intrigued by the concept of felted soap. For some of her knitting projects, she had integrated felt designs into her knitting. She decided to give the felted soap a try.
For Christmas that year, Peony gave all her friends handmade, felted soaps. One of those friends was Cindy Palmer, director of Heart Change. Cindy was delighted by the gift for more reasons than the gift itself. Cindy had been looking for a business idea that could be a platform for the women to acquire the skills they needed to keep a job and be promotable on the job. She was looking for a self-sustaining business, one that could pay the wages the women would be earning. Felted soap just might be that business idea! Cindy asked Peony if she would be willing to teach some of the women at Heart Change how to felt soap. For a few months, Peony got together with the women and taught them how to felt soaps. During that time, it was simply a training time. However, a few months later, Cindy suggested making felted eggs to sell for Easter – to see if the concept had marketplace viability. Peony and women that were willing to move into employment mode made hundreds of felted Easter eggs. They were then sold to several retailers on a consignment basis. Sales were great!
So, after that first Easter trial, the soap felting continued and eventually expanded into making the soap itself as well. Peony states that the process of learning how to make the soap is not a simple process. There are lots of details and a pretty thorough training is involved, so the process takes commitment. But together, Peony and the women have worked hard to learn how to create our all-natural, cold process soaps and produce the many different designs that are now available.
Over the last four years, God has continued to give confirmation about what was next, whether it was a place to showcase their soaps or a new design. Peony says it has always been very clear what was next.
But it is not just about the soap and a paycheck!!!! Peony has had the joy of developing meaningful relationships with many of the women who have worked at Heart Felt Soaps. She says the time working together has provided an opportunity to speak into women’s lives. The main goal has always been to provide a Godly work environment where the women learn to work in a God-honoring manner. Although it is a real workplace and it is serious work, it has also become a regular, comfortable setting that allows the women, Peony and other volunteers to simply do life together, talking about life’s struggles and successes, encouraging one another, praying throughout the day and making soaps.