Our Trade Mission to South Africa

“Natural soap may seem like a simple, personal luxury to most Americans,” says 116609-deborah-kraemerKraemer, “but for the many people of Africa and other parts of the developing world who have limited access to personal hygiene products like soap, learning to make their own natural soaps, using ingredients found right in their own locale, is a compelling and cost-effective way they can improve their health. It’s also a skill set; a way to earn a living. Natural soap making also is a sustainable process, and that’s become a priority throughout the world.”

Read about Abbey Brown under The Chicago Soap Company, our owner Deb Kraemer, and our trade mission in South Africa in the following articles:



Greetings from South Africa

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Off we go…


Well, we made it! After a long trip, the Abbey Brown Fam has arrived in South Africa for a three week trip, including an International Trade Show. We’ve carted along 2 suitcases full of product and have 13 meetings set up some in Johannesburg and some in Cape town! Among them, we are meeting with an NGO to discuss our educational opportunities and also a number of private labeling opportunities.

The support has been huge and welcoming toward small businesses here in South Africa. The experience is a great one already! What a tremendous effort Illinois has made to support this trade mission. We are grateful for this opportunity and challenge to export. Can’t wait to see what the next few weeks have in store…stay tuned!

See what’s growing…

aniseOur anise, or Pimpinella anisum, is growing beautifully! Similar in flavor to star anise, fennel, and liquorice, anise and its oil has health benefits both inside and out. Snip anise leaves for fresh use, and collect seed heads while still green-hang them to dry.image

As a tea, these deep and spicy seeds and leaves are great for digestion, gas and bloating, and chest congestion. Its use as a relaxing bedtime tea dates back to the days of Pliny the Elder (the Ancient Roman naturalist).

knowAnise oil has been known to cure a toothache and heal minor cuts. In skincare, anise oil may be used to soothe psoriasis and other skin conditions. It’s also great in aromatherapy as a soothing bath that relaxes the mind and the airways for better breathing.

a quick side bar

*Avoid anise oil while pregnant and consult a doctor before using while nursing

Au Revoir to Our Interns


As we say goodbye to our interns and send them on their long way home, we want to express the joy they brought into our lives and workplace. Having interns seems like a lot of work…and it is; it takes us away from our day to day, there are language barriers, much time is spent teaching and sharing information. However, what these interns bring to the table is an abundance of energy, eagerness to learn and a fresh eye on any subject matter. This year we were blessed with Camille and Arnaud from France who spent the last two months in our Abbey Brown family. When they arrived they looked a bit overwhelmed, as did I, but we settled in and got down to the core of what they needed to accomplish as well as what we could learn from their valued insight. I thank them for that and everything they brought, especially their new ideas and thoughtfulness. It was awesome. We look forward to next year’s interns. This being only our second year of doing this program, I am delighted with the caliber of the program and students and what each of us has learned. To Camille and Arnaud we say Chapeau, Merci Beaucoup & Au Revoir.


spearmint titkleAhhhh, the fresh scent of mint! There are more than 30 varieties to choose from of this aromatic herb that grows throughout the world, including right here in the U.S.

Spearmint, or Mentha spicata, is mellow, refreshing, with a sweet, sharp, pleasantly pungent flavor backed by hints of lemon. Use this refreshing herb in a variety of dishes to reap the benefits of its rich nutritional profile or to punch up a nice summer salad. The fiber in mint leaves offers many health benefits, including helping to reduce cholesterol levels.

Spearmint can be grown in your yard or simply on your windowsill.

Spearmint can easily be grown in
your own gardening space.

Spearmint has healing qualities as well; it promotes calmness and balance, helping to release emotional blocks. It is useful for balancing dry skin, used as an astringent or antiseptic. Spearmint is an anti-inflammatory.

Spearmint has gray-green or dark green leaves and stems and pink flowers. When choosing spearmint, whether from your grocer, farmers market or your own garden, look for evenly colored, fresh-looking leaves with no signs of wilting or discoloration at the edges.

Store your fresh mint in the refrigerator, where it should keep fresh for several days. Dried mint should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place, where it will keep fresh for about nine to twelve months.

a quick side barA refreshing Mint Julep in the spring and summer months is another way to get your mint!

(Note: Women should avoid spearmint essential oil during pregnancy.)


Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day with a nice shaving gift for the man’s man. We just made a fresh batch of shaving soap. They fit so nicely in handcrafted scuttles by MoonStar and a natural bristle brush.



Because the best Dad deserves the best natural shave.

Shaving Soaps: $8


Many of our products make great gifts for men. Especially our Man’s Man line up of Olive Oil soaps!

$8.50 each

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New Season, New Growth

knowThere is something wonderful about renewed energy, the new growth in the garden, lighter clothing- it brings smiling faces to our landscape.

New to our garden this year is fennel; we just adore fennel and all that it brings. It’s feathery and tall, often called the licorice plant, praised for its medicinal use dating back to ancient Babylon where the seeds were eaten as a digestive aid.fennel_1591785c

Emotionally stimulating, bringing energy, enlivens self-motivations.

In vapor therapy, fennel oil is used as an appetite stimulant in cases of anorexia, and to boost courage and strength in the face of adversity.

Fennel oil can be used in massage oil or diluted in the bath for helping a bloated stomach, colic, constipation and other digestive problems. It also acts as a diuretic, to remove excess water and to start breaking down cellulite.

Fennel offers ideal skin healing qualities and can be helpful for general skin care, especially for dispersing bruises, livening a dull complexion, clearing oily skin, and fighting wrinkles in mature skin.

Fennel_seedFennel oil can be used as a single note and blends well with geranium, lavender, rose and sandalwood.

*Take precaution: Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) essential oil can over stimulate the nervous system so ingesting the seeds instead would be beneficial.


Here are some wonderful recipes using fennel:

Energy Tea
4 parts Fennel Seed
3 parts Licorice Root
2 parts Yellow Dock Root
1 part Psyllium Seed
1 part Senna
Combine the herbs, prepare a decoction and enjoy the energy flow in.

Respiratory Tonic
4 parts Fennel
4 parts Rose Hips
2 parts Lemongrass
1 part Calendula
1 part Mullein
1 part Clover Flowers

Massage Cellulite Buster Oil Blend
7 drops Juniper Berry
7 drops Lemon
5 drops Basil
5 drops Atlas Cedarwood
7 drops Bitter Orange
5 drops Fennel
5 drops Cypress
5 drops Pink Grapefruit

Adding this blend to your favorite carrier oil helps assist your body in eliminating the toxins and built-up deposits.


Tip of the Day


Many essential oils are very costly, so when making blends we take care not to waste these essences. Here’s a great method for testing out new blends without too much waste:

You’ll need- a blotter or cotton ball, a small Ziplock bag and post-it note or scrap of paper.

Start by adding one drop of each of the oils of your choice to the cotton ball. Jot down on your post-it note the time and name of the oils you are testing out.Herbal Essence Dropper

Smell the blend and see what is either too strong or not strong enough. Return to the baggy an hour later and sniff again, continue to add one drop at a time (taking notes on your post-it) until you have found the right combination of oils and then let them sit for 24 hours before smelling again.

By using this method you will be sure to knuckle down what is working without wasting oils. At some point you may come up with a scent pallet that is just right. The drops can be thought of in parts and then these parts can be converted into weights.


For example:
3 drops Patchouli = 3 oz Patchouli
2 drops Rose = 2 oz Rose
5 drops Orange = 5 oz Orange

Stay tuned for more tips & tricks…

Ready, Set, Farmers Market Season

I believe Spring has finally come! We are spreading compost this weekend, getting seeds ready, and our indoor seedlings are popping up.

We will be rolling out a new farmers market line of products that will be seasonal and brought to our local farmers markets. New this market season is our Aloe Vera line including Lemon Verbena Kale Soap, Parsley/Citrus Soap and Bergamot Thyme Soap – look for them, they are a wonderful addition to our lineup!

Each week we are committed to sourcing local ingredients that we infuse into our olive oil soap and other skin healing products.

Introducing a wonderful addition to our cast is Baby Clementine soap in honor of a new arrival in our lives that brightens up our days and probably keeps our Production Manager up most nights. This will include a deodorant for mom and other wonderful products to follow. Having a close tie to scent between mom and baby is important and develops at the time of birth.ClemOur handmade soaps and products are always natural, never combined with anything less than 100% goodness.

Look forward to seeing everyone at the Market! You can find us at:
Daley Plaza – Thursday 7am – 3pm
Park Ridge – Saturdays 7am – 1pm
Logan Square – Sundays 10am – 3pm

DIY Salt Scrub and Potpourri Recipes

recSalts from the Sea are a natural resource and come from evaporating seawater. Rich in minerals, sea salt has therapeutic qualities which help cleanse and detoxify the largest organ- your skin.

Epsom salt is not from the sea, it is a pure mineral compound. It looks like salt (or sodium chloride) but is not- it’s magnesium sulfate. Himalayan salt is also not from the sea, rather it is mined from ancient seabeds that were pushed up into the mountain range and preserved by volcanic ash and is considered the finest of Earth’s salts.There’s a world of different salts to choose from, picking one over the other is like a box of chocolates, you just can’t go wrong, they are all yummy.


The type of salt you use for this is up to you. If you’d like to go to your kitchen, grab your kosher salt, and mix up a scrub now- go right ahead! If you’d like to create a more exotic scrub with the extra benefits of volcanic clay use a fine ground Hawaiian salt. We have a super soft, velvet-y textured Breton grey organic sea salt at our shop that is a perfect texture for scrubs. Any fine ground salt will do.

In a jar or container with a lid, combine 1 cup of your fine salt with 4 tablespoons of oil. Olive oil, grapeseed, sesame, any of your typical cooking oils are great for softening your skin. Grate some lemon zest into your salt and add a tablespoon of dried rosemary. Stir to combine. Add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to boost the anti-arthritic and astringent properties of your scrub.

Some salt scrubs are entirely saturated and dripping with oil, but we make ours with much less oil. It still leaves your skill feeling soft and refreshed! Simply get yourself wet in the shower or tub, and massage your salt scrub over desired areas either with your hand or a brush. Rinse and pat dry. Enjoy your rejuvenated skin. Moisturize! Store the excess for up to 6 months at room temperature.


Use this recipe to create a potpourri made of salt and essential oils that you can leave out to scent any room. You can leave your potpourri in a decorative open bowl and spritz with left over scent blend to refresh as needed or you can make your potpourri in a container with a lid that you can open from time to time when you wish to scent the area.

For this recipe you’ll need jumbo salt crystals. Try Himalayan for an interesting color. You might also choose a clear jumbo crystal that you can color with liquid dye, but why not let nature do the coloring?

First rinse your salt crystals quickly under water and lay them out to dry completely. This removes the powder from the outside of the rocks. In a spray bottle combine 1/2 ounce of vegetable glycerin with 1 and 1/2 ounces of your desired essential oil blend. Try eucalyptus and lavender to refresh your stuffy winter home or a citrus blend. Place your crystals in your desired container and spray with your scent mixture. Mix well. You’re done! The salt will absorb the scent blend into its pores. You can spray on more to refresh as needed.