XENIA — Laying around after a knee replacement in 2008, Kristine Gadmoski-Summerlot needed a hobby.
“I was bored and I wanted something to do,” she said.
After hearing about soap making, she had an epiphany of sorts.
“I told (husband) Bob, I said ‘I want to try it.’ ”
That trial has turned into second careers for the husband and wife team as they will celebrate more than five years in business in downtown Xenia with the grand reopening of Our Family Soap at 16 S. Detroit Street Friday and Saturday Dec. 14-15.
“We fell in love with it,” said Gadmoski-Summerlot, who is retired from the medical field.
The business was located down the street in the old Xenia Daily Gazette offices where the photo lab was utilized as the soap-making area. But it simply outgrew the space.
Growing has been the operative word for Bob and Kristine since she made her first shaving soap and lavender bar 10 years ago.
“I got more soap than I had the need for,” she said. After giving it away to friends and family, people suggested she sell it.
Gadmoski-Summerlot set up her first booth at the 2011 Old Timer’s Day and after a few more shows at various places decided to make it a formal LLC with registered trademarks.
“During this time we’re making everything in our house,” Gadmoski-Summerlot said. “Our house looked like a warehouse.”
After wandering into Blue Jacket Books one day, owner Lawrence Hammar showed Gadmoski-Summerlot a space for rent.
“I was figuring (Bob) would say no, we can’t afford it,” Gadmoski-Summerlot said. “(But) he was sick of it (being in the house) too.”
So Nov. 1, 2013 Our Family Soap officially opened in Xenia.
While selling a plethora of scented soaps — all made by Bob with natural ingredients — the store also carries a vast amount of other products such as poison ivy soap, bug spray, stick lotions, SPF 30 sunscreens, soaps specially made for gardeners, and of course, soaps for pets. The bug spray uses essential oils from catnip, which is 10 times more effective than Deet, according to the Center for Disease Control.
“As our line has expanded we have a great many return customers,” Gadmoski-Summerlot said, adding that their products are sold and taken around the world and are available locally in many Ace Hardware stores. A campground in Bear Lake, Mich., also has a special soap made just for their campers.
The process for making the soap takes about 90 minutes, Summerlot, a retired electrician, said.
“Most of it’s waiting for your oil temperature to go up and your lye to go down,” he said. “It’s tricky. You have to learn tricks. It’s how to treat everything. Some essential oils will seize faster than others. You have to play with your temperatures and how you do things.”
Our Family Soap also features vintage collectibles and antiques and a line of soaps for men and women who like to use the cup and brush instead of canned shaving creams. About half the store will be soap, and the other half the collectibles, Gadmoski-Summerlot said.
The official ribbon cutting is 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14. The grand reopening open house is 12-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 and will include a visit from Santa Clause.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.