Meet Shaen and Rich Goetsch, owners of Perfectly Natural Soap®
Of course, the shop Perfectly Natural Soap® smells like heaven – a clean, fresh scent, like freshly laundered linens that have hung outside to dry in the sun. You would expect that. Of course, the gorgeous displays and products draw you in. But what you might not be expecting is that these products are like little works of art. You want to touch and smell each handmade bar of soap. Most surprising of all is that these luscious products are really affordable, so filling a bag with special treats isn’t as indulgent (or stressful to your wallet) as you would expect.
“Quality and affordability.” That’s what Shaen and her husband, Rich promise their customers, and they deliver on that promise.
If you’re a fan of Smithfield’s Farmers Market, you’ll recognize the Goetsch’s. Shaen and Rich had a booth there for four years. They also sell their products online, but in the fall of 2016 their dream of opening a brick and mortar store came true. “We had completely fallen in love with the people and charm of Smithfield. We knew we wanted to be in the historic district, so when 202 Main Street became available, we knew it was meant to be.”
The business initially grew from a hobby the couple became interested in when they learned their oldest daughter was allergic to the synthetic chemicals found in many shampoos and washes. Their soap making is far from a hobby today though. In 2016 Shaen achieved her certification from the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild of Advanced Certified Soapmakers, the only international, non-profit trade association serving the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry. She had to pass the arduous certification process with tests on chemistry, regulations and processes, and a practical test of their soap.
Today, Shaen and Rich create their own recipes for a complete line of products including natural handmade soaps, lotions, bath bombs, essential oils, scrubs, natural deodorants, facial care, men’s grooming and an assortment of other bath & body products. Especially popular are their bubble bath bombs (available in a dozen or so luscious scents) and their traditional wet shaving products for men.
The Goetschs produce their soaps and other products in a converted 1,000-square foot warehouse in Williamsburg. “Our products are handmade by my husband and myself in our soaping studio that is setup to allow us to create,” explains Shaen. “Our customers appreciate the difference between handmade natural soap and body care products versus what is mass produced. They appreciate the value of our high quality raw ingredients and skillful creations.”
But what makes these products so popular, and what makes a soap ‘natural?’ After all, “Technically, soap isn’t present or formed in nature.” as Shaen explains. “When we say our soap is all-natural, we mean it contains no synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes or preservatives. Our soap is scented with essential oils and naturally derived fragrances made with plant based oils (sunflower, palm, olive, almond, avocado and coconut oils and coca and shea butters).”
Perfectly Natural Soap’s® online sales are booming, especially since Amazon discovered the line and is now featuring the products on Amazon.com. While this is very exciting, the couple credits a great deal of their success to their outstanding staff, Melanie, their ‘Packaging Specialist,’ the two Kims, their ‘Retail Specialists,’ and Sam and Kailey, their ‘Customer Service Specialists.’ Shaen says, “We can depend on them to handle the day-to-day tasks in the store and for online orders, so that we can then focus on producing and creating the products.”
The Goetschs are natives of New Jersey and were both employed by Anheuser-Busch when they were transferred to Virginia 14 years ago. They’re raising two lovely daughters, Amber and Erin. Mya and Lucy, the dogs, and Lightening and Star, the cats, complete the family. Shaen’s dream vacation is to take her family to France to learn how to make Savon de Marseille soap from a traditional old world soap maker! Ça vous dit?
While Perfectly Natural Soap® began out of the desire to alleviate their daughter’s suffering, it’s grown into a thriving online business and now a charming store in the heart of downtown Smithfield. But this dedicated couple hasn’t lost their sense of purpose that began it all.
“We have so many loyal, repeat customers.” says Shaen. “One particular customer stands out though. She has very sensitive skin and had to use a doctor prescribed a non-lathering ‘wash’ for many years. On the suggestion of one of her friends, she took a chance on trying one of our unscented natural soaps and found it worked very well for her. On her next visit to our store she stocked up on soap and asked for a hug, thanking me for bringing bubbles back to her shower. She missed that experience and we were able to give her back that little piece of ‘normal.’ To be a part of something so personal for someone who is otherwise a stranger is humbling.”
Both Shaen and Rich are retired from Anheuser-Busch and are now working full-time for the business. Shaen says that “aside from the creative freedom, being able to work with my husband on a project that we both have a very large stake in is a blessing. This is quite an adventure for us!”
The town of Smithfield is thrilled to be part of the Goetsch’s ongoing adventure. Treat yourself to some affordable luxury. Stop in Perfectly Natural Soap® soon, take a deep breath, and relax!
Perfectly Natural Soap®
202 Main Street
Smithfield, VA 23431
Monday through Friday: 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.