Artist of the Month: Anne Ferrari of Vita Pulita

055_0The following post was written by Anne Ferrari, Owner and Founder of Vita Pulita, the first Herban Lifestyle Store Artist of the Month. During the month of December, Anne’s soaps will be featured at our new brick and mortar store in Fairfax, VA.

I was always fascinated by soap. As a child growing up in the Bronx, NY, I didn’t have many soap options, but I was still fascinated with making soap pretty. My holiday gift to my first grade teacher was an ordinary bar of soap on which I pinned a homemade pompom. The obsession with soap remains. It wasn’t until my good friend Mary Kearns shared with me that she had started making soap herself that I was finally inspired to give it a try. And once I did, there was no turning back.

john_jay_farmers_market

As a professor with a PhD in psychology, I am accustomed to using research in my work experience. This serves me well as soap ingredients need a great deal of research too. One customer of mine confessed that she didn’t worry too much about what she put on her skin as she believed that it was not absorbed by her body. Unfortunately, research on breast cancer and the use of parabens in beauty products shows us otherwise. Vita Pulita products never contain parabens, as they never contain artificial fragrances or colors. They are products that I feel confident using and sharing with my family. In fact, Vita Pulita was born of necessity, when my pregnant daughter could not find a safe yet still luxurious body butter. I whipped up a combination of unrefined shea butter, unrefined cocoa butter, rice bran oil, and essential oil. I still sell that body butter, and it is a customer favorite.

Although I am not an artist, one of my favorite things about making soap is making it beautiful. Many of us assume that” beauty” and “natural” do not go together and quite frankly, there are some colors that simply cannot be made naturally in soap, such as a vibrant blue. However, natural soap can be just as lovely, especially when one dives into her creative side. Check out my White Wedding Soap, Carrot Orange Soap with Cocoa, Black Charcoal Facial Detox Soap, Cupcake Soap or Pink Sea Salt Bar and see what you think. All of the colors and scents in Vita Pulita Soaps are from natural and healthy sources, such as plant essential oils and ground up spices. If a color or scent cannot be made using this method, then it will not be made.

14231

It wasn’t until recently that my father shared with me that his mother made soap in Italy from olive pomace left over from the farm. I was shocked, but not surprised. I was named for her after all (over the protests of my mother who did not care for the sound of “Anna Maria”), as I was born on the anniversary of her death. And I chose to name my company Vita Pulita, which means “clean life” in Italian, although I don’t speak Italian myself. Perhaps the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, would say that my need to “soap” is part of my family collective unconscious, inherent in me. It certainly feels that way at times.

You can find Anne’s products online at the Vita Pulita website, on Etsy and seasonally at markets in Westchester County.

Advertisements

So You’re Planning an Eco-Friendly Wedding…

By Outreach and Operations Associate, Lisa Seyfried

I’m getting married later this summer (which is suddenly fast approaching!) and I thought I would share some of the tips I’ve learned about trying to plan an eco-friendly wedding! We also made it a crafty wedding, including making all the bouquets.

From the beginning, we made it a priority to use as little new stuff as possible.  Why buy fancy vases when you can reuse wine bottles from your recycle bin? Why buy plates when you can find so many at thrift stores?

There is so much out there about what you need to buy or have to make the perfect wedding, and the truth is you don’t need any of it! All you need is what will make the atmosphere you want, and that is simple enough to find recycled.

So here’s what we did:

  1. Almost all of our decorations (center pieces and various decorations around thevenue) were made from recycled materials. We saved wine bottles to use for the center pieces, old jars to use as extra candle holders, and made art out of canvasses that we already had and wine corks.  There were a few things that we bought like the tulle to hang on the ceiling beams, but we did our best to make something new out of something old.

    Wine Bottle Candle Holder

    Part of the centerpieces, minus the gravel and the painting. But you get the idea!

  2. Our cups, napkins, and forks are all made from biodegradable or compostable materials.  We were not about to try to thrift 130 plates and 130 glasses (ok, what held us back was the thought of washing 130 glasses after the wedding…) so we looked around for other options.  We found a number of great places online to buy eco-friendly party wares
  3. We thrifted for our plates and vases to use for outdoors.  This was a ton of fun for us! We scoured thrift stores to find funky plates for all our guests.  We had planned to find our tablecloths this way too, but found that the places we looked didn’t have tablecloths that would fit our tables.

    Thrifted Plates

    Just of a few of the great plates we found. We have almost every color and lots of great patterns in our plate stash.

  4. Our paper for the invitations, programs, menus and anything else was all recycled paper.  We couldn’t find a way around not having programs, so we did the best we could here! We also encouraged guests to RSVP online to save a little extra paper.
  5. Our caterer uses only locally sourced, in season foods to make up the menu. Some of the places that they purchase bread/meat are the same places that we shop at the farmer’s market.  I call that a win.

There are definitely places where we just couldn’t think through any more options, and so did not get as eco-friendly as we’d like.  It’s also a lot to go up against – everyone has opinions about what you need to have and how it should be.  Some things were just battles we were ok not winning (recycled paper napkins are almost as good, and much less hassle, than buying 130 cloth napkins!), and others we put our feet down.  It’s all about what matters most, and what makes the most sense for you to spend time/money/energy on!

Wine Bottle Candle Holder

We even found a use for the tops of the bottles!

What are some of your eco-friendly wedding tips? How do you think we did?

Paper bouquets

By Outreach and Operations Associate, Lisa Seyfried

I’m planning a DIY wedding in a few months, and one of the crafts we decided on was to make all the flowers.  Instead of having real flowers that will surely wilt in the August heat, or pretending that our flowers were real when they were really fake, we decided to just scrap it all and announce it!

I found a whole slew of instructions and patterns on Pinterest, but I found this pattern to be the easiest, and the prettiest looking. And the great thing is that this pattern allows you to print out the flowers on any paper you’d like, in any size, cutting out the need to trace anything!

Printed patterns on colored cardstock

Printed patterns on colored cardstock

Cutting out all those petals takes a really long time.  I found it’s best to cut out a bunch of flowers at one time, so you can put them all together without having to stop and cut out more petals.

The instructions are really easy to follow – cut out the flowers, curl the edges, then glue onto a piece of wire about 12 inches long.  I’ve been using hot glue to glue them on.  I was afraid that the strings from the glue would get all over the bouquets, but it has been pretty easy to just get a drop on there and not have big clumps of glue all over.

The beginning of gluing the flower together.  You can see the scraps in the background!

The beginning of gluing the flower together. You can see the scraps in the background!

I really love the way these came out.  I think they are bright and sturdy and catch the light really well.  Against the bright colors of the women’s dresses, these flowers will really stand out.

I’ll be covering the “stems” with ribbon and a few beads to hide the edges.  I’m thinking about making the men some kind of pin on flower that is similar, but we’ll see if I can find a great pattern for that!

What I think I love most about these flowers is that they will last.  I’ve made a few out of recycled paper (mostly old grad school papers!) and they came out really lovely looking.  And they will stand out among the several bouquets that I’m sure people have from other weddings – at least I save them all!

The final bouquets!

The final bouquets!

 

 

Our New Brick and Mortar Friend: Nonny’s

image copyright Nonny's

I am very happy to announce that my line of products is now available at the newly opened Nonny’s in Fountain Hills, AZ. Nonny’s is a retail store filled with handcrafted items, refurbished vintage home goods and a floral section. It is the creation of Jerrod Alcaida, who was a wedding and event planner in LA for several years. He decided to come back to his home state and set up a retail space where he and his partner, Chad Harr, could combine several of their interests, all focusing on beauty, creativity and celebrating life’s mileposts, big and small.

image copyright Nonny's

Besides their retail selection, Nonny’s continues to provide wedding and event planning services. In addition, they offer custom floral arrangements by mother-daughter team Diane Gonzalez and Katherine Gonzalez, who are past and current Arizona State Floral Designers of the year. There are some great photos of their floral creations on Nonny’s Facebook fan page.

image copyright Nonny's

Nonny’s is also offering a variety of classes that include holiday decorating, centerpiece arrangements, and gift wrapping. The full schedule is available on their website. All of this (as Dori Wittrig said in her recent blog post on Nonny’s) is part of their mission to provide “an alternative and unique vision for your home, garden and everyday celebrations of life, inspiring harmony between interior & exterior spaces and enhancing those special everyday moments.”

image copyright Nonny's

If you are in the area, please stop by Nonny’s at 16858 Avenue of the Fountains, Suite 102, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268 and tell them I said, “Hi!”

New Offering: Customized Gift Bags

Today I am delivering these gift bags to a client who order them for a bridal shower she is hosting this weekend. I am particularly happy with the way they came out, so I wanted to share some pictures with you. I have created a few gift bags now, and have discovered that I really enjoy coming up with the theme and customized labeling. This set includes a mini organic sugar scrub, organic Dolce de Limone lip balm, and a sample of my new Herban Lifestyle Naked line Pretty Pink Facial Masque.

The items are packaged in compostable cellulose bags and tied with paper ribbons. As always, the labels are printed on 100% recycled paper, and the containers are recyclable.

I have decided I will start to offer these through my Etsy shop. Please feel free to contact me if you would like more information on pricing, timing and customization!