The Florida company has seen growth during the coronavirus pandemic.
When news of the novel coronavirus began to spread earlier this year, three of the most important words of advice from medical professionals to anxious Americans were to “wash your hands.”
The answer to the public health directive fell, well, right into the hands of Cynthia Young-Jennings, the founder and owner of Sweet Harvest Farms, a small Made in USA manufacturer of organic soaps, lotion and other products that promote healthy skin.
Young-Jennings, affectionately known as CJ to family, friends and customers alike, has been crafting her handmade organic soaps since 1994. What started out as a cottage industry turned into a bona fide business, with increasing internet sales and loyal return customers.
While many small companies are struggling to remain in business because of the pandemic, Sweet Harvest Farms has managed to grow in recent months because the company is offering products that have become a luxury item in recent months. In addition to approximately 2,000 return customers, Sweet Harvest Farms has added another 600 loyal followers since early March.
We first got to know Sweet Harvest Farms back in 2017, noting that the company differentiates itself by offering a product that includes lye, which means it is real soap. Many of the products you find lining the shelves at the big box stores are actually “beauty bars.”
All the soaps and lotions CJ and her small family team manufacture are products from her own recipes. She spent the first 24 years of her adult working career in a variety of medical field jobs, and now at the age of 65, she has built a successful, sustainable business while still helping those in the medical field.
“I have been donating N95 masks, sanitizer, lotions and lip smoothy for whatever I thought I could do to help those medical people on the front lines,” she said. “The long hours put in by doctors and nurses constantly wearing masks and shields has taken a toll on their skin. So, I’ve sent care packages out to hospitals and medical professionals as a way to help. I am doing this at cost. I want to make money on my business but in this time of need I am not looking to make a profit.”
Sweet Harvest Farms soaps are manufactured from a cold-processed soap recipe that retains 100 percent of the moisturizing glycerin and are made with high-quality organic food oils, herbs and clays. Rosemary extract and vitamin E are used in every small batch of Wild Harvest Farms soaps. Natural colorants and organic natural herbs such as shea butter, olive oil, jojoba oils, flaxseed oils and sustainable palm oil are just a few of the additional ingredients used to create this luxurious line of soap.
CJ’s soap products retain the natural glycerin in the manufacturing process unlike most over-the-counter products.
“Our cold-processed soap making method retains 100 percent of the natural glycerin which medical professionals say is essential to hydrate your skin,” CJ said. “Our handmade soaps do not contain synthetic, lab-based preservatives or chemicals of any kind.
“The major so-called soap manufacturers start out with soap, but they siphon the glycerin out of the end product to sell to the high-end cosmetic companies. Glycerin is what the skin needs but these large companies add other types of glycerin. Some can come from vegetable plant oil, but it can also come from bio-diesel fuel which is a bit scary. The glycerin from bio-diesel fuel does not have an odor making it undetectable but you really do not want to put this fuel-oil on your skin.”
Our bodies absorb what we put on our skin, and CJ is making sure only the healthiest of ingredients are used in making her organic soaps and lotions.
“People ask me how can something we put on our skin get into our bodies?” CJ said. “I then tell them, duh, did you ever hear of a nicotine patch? That’s when they finally get it.”
The pure properties of Sweet Harvest Farms soap make it ideal for the most sensitive skins and are handmade right here in America. About three years ago, CJ and her husband Duane (also affectionately known as Mr. CJ) moved from Tampa to Lakeland, Fla. Soap manufacturing now takes place in their oversized two-car garage which is equipped with insulation, ductless air conditioning, ample electricity and storage space for finished products.
Along with soap, CJ also has recently begun offering hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray.
“I had been working on a hand sanitizer recipe before the coronavirus hit and I was able to bring it to the market when the sanitizer shortage hit,” CJ said. “I was able to obtain spray mist bottles and pumps for the hand sanitizer and I sell 4-ounce and 8-ounce bottles.
“The hand sanitizer is expensive ($18 for 4 ounces, $32 for 8 ounces) but I am not selling it to make a profit. It is full of wonderful organic minerals that are just great for your skin and smells wonderful. The ingredients are expensive. The hand sanitizer is just a small, fine mist spray that lasts a long time. You need just one spray to completely cover your hands.”
But CJ cautions that the hand-sanitizer, even with its fragrant, organic ingredients and 99.75 percent pure organic aloe, is only to be used as a last resort when you lack access to soap and water.
“My advice, and any postings that I do on my website, emphasize hand-washing first,” CJ said. “If you can’t wash your hands, then you use a sanitizer which is more than 75 percent alcohol. But if you are in a spot where you can wash your hands for at least 26 seconds you should always do that. While washing your hands sing “Happy Birthday” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to time the proper amount of washing.
“My business is booming but I hate that it is booming because of this virus,” CJ said. “People need to constantly wash their hands or use sanitizer when hand washing is not possible. Hand washing comes from the medical side of me.
“I don’t believe in pushing hand sanitizer just for the glory of selling hand sanitizer. Washing your hands is the most important thing you can do. And if you wash with my organic infused soaps, your skin will remain soft, supple and silky.”
Sweet Harvest Farms soaps, lotions, sanitizers and other beauty products can be ordered online.