Before LELU, there was Lemongrove Spice Co.

My name is Stephanie. I first started making handmade soaps in 2008. I was interested in natural products and was inspired by many Bloggers, YouTubers and Naturalists who create their skincare products from natural and skin-friendly ingredients rather than harsh chemicals. The same inspiration eventually became a personal determination to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

At 25 I bought my first handmade soap book by Tatiana Hill. After having such a great experience using my first handmade cold process soap (Oatmeal, Milk, & Honey) I immediately made another batch. I was delighted with the effects of the natural soap on my skin. I loved how smooth, silky, gentle, and bubbly the soap was. I loved how it felt and it made me feel great to know I had made it. I made a third batch, but this time I began passing out bars to family, friends, and acquaintances. I wanted to share my soaps with everyone, and I received great feedback. Soon I started getting inquiries from more people asking for more soaps or samples to try. 

Inspired by the positive response I was enormously encouraged to start my own business. At the core of the product line were these same handmade, all-natural ingredients, never tested on animals, and sustainable soaps that everyone seemed to love so much. My vision was to create natural products that are easy on the skin and help men and women feel good, so I started Lemongrove Spice Co.

Lemongrove Spice Co.

I started making small batches of soaps of different scents and blends to sell on different online markets. I was happy and content with the progress I made, and I was happy to see my little soap business growing. This experience eventually led to a desire to venture into a bigger business. The dream was big, and I was having a lot of challenges obtaining a loan to start my business, and after a lot of dead ends, I was not able to secure the finances I needed. I was having a difficult time maintaining both my day job and soap venture full time.

Unfortunately, this challenging adventure came to an abrupt end after four short years in 2011. With the financial crisis followed by economic downturn, I was laid off. It was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make, but I was left with no other choice but to let go and close the business, taking instead two full time jobs just to make ends meet. I was hurt. I was discouraged. My dreams were crushed.

I needed a fresh start, I needed something different to pull myself back up.  I always admired the men and women who serve our country in the military, but I never thought myself strong enough or fast enough to do it myself. All the hard work had molded me into a person willing to embrace new challenges and I am a very patriotic person, and grateful for the many liberties and freedoms we enjoy in the United States. So, eight months after closing my little soap business I joined the Navy and never talked about my soaps for nearly eight years.

In 2018 I was about halfway through my second of three tours in the Middle East. I was having dinner with some friends, and eventually the conversation drifted to talking about our past jobs before the military. One mentioned he was into construction and explained how happy and satisfied he felt after putting in a long day of work and at the end of the day looking back at the results of his hard work. After hearing him say that, I mentioned that I used to make handmade soaps and could completely relate to those feelings of satisfaction at the completion of a job and looking at the results of those efforts. In the following weeks I could not stop thinking about it and the excitement from years ago regrew from there. In my mind I knew I needed to try again. Fast forward…

A Fresh Start: The Arrival of LELU in San Diego, CA. 2020

A new chapter is in the making. After 18 months of planning, researching, creating, formulating new recipes, and coming up with ideas with the help of my best friend and soap business partner I’m regaining confidence and I’m more determined than ever. I’m focused, inspired, energized, and forever grateful to God for the humbling experiences I previously went through and for the chance to start again.

I have stumbled so many times. I have made mistakes and failed. I know that the mistakes and failures in the past have taught me lessons that instant success could never teach, and I am stronger and better for having gone through it. Through those failures and obstacles, I learned, I grew, I gained wisdom, I found ways to overcome, I thrived, and I became more resilient. This time I welcome the challenges, because finding solutions to those challenges is rewarding and satisfying.

To be continued…