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Many people are becoming more aware of what they put ‘ON’ and ‘IN’ their body.
As the saying goes, you only have one body, treat it well. And our guest today will tell us all about her decision to create a natural bath & body products company that is succeeding out of the gate!
Charlene Oancia joins us to talk about Springer & Oake, a local business providing natural products. If you’d like to check out the delicious line of products, visit springernoake.com or find them in NorthGate Mall.
Welcome to The Secret Life of entrepreneurs. Stay tuned to meet today’s guest and hear their story of what makes them tick. What drives them to succeed, and their role in growing a thriving business community. The Secret Life of entrepreneurs chronicles the success and secrets of locally owned businesses and owners listening live as we discuss their secrets and learn how they are making a positive impact in their community. You’re listening to your host, Bart McGrath, business leader, entrepreneur, and founder of the Get found on Google program. Let’s get started.
Our guest today is Charlene Oancia. And she’s the owner of a company called Springer and Oake. So she’s going to talk with us today about her sustainable approach to bath and beauty products and what that means to her. So Charlene, welcome.
Thank you for having me on the show. Which is obviously a big passion of mine.
Awesome, so pleased to have you here. So let’s start off with a bit of an introduction to Springer. And oh, tell me, tell me about the company. Okay.
So Springer, and oak was really born out of a learning process. In 2016, June 2016, I just complicated with my EMBA, from Levine School of Business here in Regina. And I, that was in June, and I took time just to focus on work and the family during the summer months. But being in school full time, plus also working full time and we’re having a family. By September, I was finding that I was had more amount of time on my hands and what I had been previously used to.
So you know, so Charlene and I know each other because we both done, you have our MBA program or EMBA program, and I didn’t have kids when I went through the program. And it wasn’t until I had kids, that I was like, Oh my God, how do people do it? Right? I have no idea. I have so much respect for you and everyone else who goes through that program. With kids. It’s crazy.
Well, I have to say it’s a huge shout out to my husband through that time, because without having a huge supporter at home and a partner. There was, you know, it would have been tremendously much more difficult had had not had that support. You know, just go just go do what you need to do. And we’ll make the rest happen. That was awesome. Yeah. So what happened was in about September, I thought always had a little bit of a creative bug. And I like learning. And I like creating, and I absolutely, obviously love the business side of things, too. So starting to think about Christmas, and I’m an early Christmas planner.
Yes, I’m one of those can you said this was about September, September, months in advance, right?
It’s not like eight or 10. Yeah. But so what happened was, I started looking about, you know, what about creative ideas for Christmas gifts giving to, you know, close friends and family to something a little bit more unique to give to them. As an added special, thank you. And so I started, you know, looking at soaps, and I was very interested in looking at how do you do? How do you make soaps. And so originally I went to Michaels and I bought a kind of a little starter kits and all this kind of stuff. And you know, it’s just a Melton pour and tried a few different recipes that way. And then I then those things worked out, I thought, well, I’m going to try this on my own. So then what I did was after a few samplings I made and created a bar of soap, a sugar scrub and a bath bomb for the gift giving for that for that Christmas. And people absolutely loved it. And they really appreciated it. And once they were finished with it. They said you have some more because I really enjoyed what you what you made. So that was great. And then they use that up. And then it was do you actually have some more? And then people say great, we just heard it was right, exactly. And then what they were starting to say at that time, it’s like maybe you should think about doing this as a business and going and doing some trade shows and craft shows. And I thought about it for a while and I just thought I don’t know about this well then I took that took the chance and did a couple of springtime trade shows. And just to see if there was a market there, see if there was an interest or people really did like my products or things that I was making. So that’s really kind of where it really started. And then as I was starting to research more products and soy products and how they were made and then more Bath and Body products. I really started to understand the ingredients that were going into things and I’m very much I need to know what’s in things I need to know why. Why does this ingredient work with this ingredient and how they interact and and all that bit of a science side to the whole thing then to He’s a bit of that too. And I, you know, one of the things one of I love science in school, but chemistry was my least favorite. And now really, this is all about chemistry. So you think what a practical application can do for your interest in the subject. But I thought, I’m never going to use chemistry in my life. This is now as popping up people, it always comes back. Yeah. So at the end of the day, what I really found and what really got me passionate about, about developing a line of Bath and Body products, was the amount of chemicals that are being used in in our bath and body products. They what was happening was I was researching and looking on YouTube for different tutorials and how to make different things. And I kept talking about a certain ingredient called SLS and, and you need to have SLS and and I didn’t know what that was, so I googled it and thought, well, do I need this have I missed something, you know, in in making the recipe or, or things and how the products actually going to perform for the end user. And so then I did the research, and it comes up with sodium lauryl sulfate. And it’s a very popular ingredient. And it’s pretty much an every product that we use, from our toothpaste to our laundry detergent, all of our bath products shampoo, everything that we find as a foaming agent. But what the foaming agent is, is it’s a surfactant. And so it was actually born and used as a surfactant cleaner for industrial cleaning, so industrial cleaning of like engines and oils and grease and things like that. So then what happens is I started to research more and look at different articles and why and how, you know, how does it affect our skin is it actually it will foam and bubble in, you know when we use it and have a great lather to our products. But what it also does is because it’s a surfactant, it strips the oils and natural oils out of our own skin. So that’s why sometimes when you use a store bought a soap or cleanser or something, after you’re finished using it, your hands feel so dry. And they feel like oh gosh, I need just to put so much lotion on it. And that’s likely what the issue is. So when people who have Zima, or suffer from psoriasis or any other type of skin conditions, this is often compounding the issue and they’ll never overcome, you know, some of the uncomfortableness and the condition that they’re that they have with things. So that is that’s just one of the products that and ingredients an ingredient chemical that I absolutely do not use in any of our products whatsoever. We use very traditional methods of of creating soap and foaming hand soap and everything is 100% natural. And if and I do a lot of research into if people are asking for certain products, looking at recipes, and challenging myself to find recipes that and a lot of times when I first find a recipe, there will be a tremendous amount of chemical added into it. So I challenge myself to look at okay, what are the what are the other what are the natural substitute for these things? Because that is really our differentiator with Springer. And oh, because everything does have to be natural, natural ingredients and derived naturally as well. What did you find for replacements and
you don’t really need it. Now it can be a challenge. So for instance, our bar soap, so bar soap, just a regular old bar hand soap, we use a very traditional method of making a lie creation and your oil creation. And when the two come together, you mix the two together, you you mix it all together, you pour it in your mold, and it goes through a process called saponification. And I know it’s a big word so the saponification process takes about four to six weeks of carrying on the shelf. So before we can actually go out and and sell this to to the customer and through that process what happens is that the lie then begins to leave the soap and it’s in it turns into soap where then you are going to have that nice lather and everything so our our bars of soap lather perfectly all on their own using natural techniques.
So from a mass manufacturing standpoint, which isn’t how your products are made. The reason that large manufacturers started to use the ingredient was to speed up the manufacturing process so they could get soap on your thing in a much shorter time period. Absolutely. It’s not even necessarily a cost thing I’m sure there’s a cost to but but when you shorten the cycle your cost goes down To be able to keep it sitting on the shelf. So it’s really, it’s really driven by cost like, right.
Well, and another interesting one too is so a lot of the foaming hand soaps or liquid hand soaps, you make a, again naturally trying to do it without the SLS. And if you look at your bottle of soap at home, that you’re just pumped foam bottle at home, likely the first ingredient will be water, the second ingredient will be some sort of form of sodium lauryl sulfate or a certificate or things like that. And that’s the foaming agent. And really, there’s no soap components, soap ingredients, bass or anything being used in your liquid soap, you definitely do need some type of chemistry degree to decipher all of the ingredients that are on that list. But in our foaming hand soap, we start with a natural castile soap that we make all naturally as well. And that’s again through a whole natural process. And that ends up being a concentrated form. So then what we add with that, then is distilled water, our fragrance and things of that nature. So then, again, it folds completely on its own, and you don’t have any of that foaming agents or chemicals to help with the foam. We naturally assume that if there’s bubbles, it’s got to be good. But that’s not always the case, we need to question what’s making the bubbles with things to you know, isn’t that interesting.
And I suppose I’ve done a little bit of homework and a little bit of reading and things over the years. When I when I purchase something that does phone a lot. Like right away, I know that there’s something wrong, or there’s something in it that I can be to be concerned about. And it’s funny, because when I was getting ready for today’s show, of course, I was talking about it at home and what you do and the kids had been in the store with me and we keep referring to everything in the store by flavor.
Takes a while.
But I talked with the kids and I you know I said all that I should give a shout out to them because they’re sitting at home having lunch right now. So Peter and Katarina, get your lunch finished, and then you got to get back and come home, you’ll have fresh open all the bathrooms. There you go. That’s right, but but we’ve started to talk to the kids about, you know what’s healthy for us. And just because we consume something, that’s not the only way that our body is impacted, when we put things on our body, we’re equally impacted. So as you were building your business and learning all of this, did you start to find that there’s a lot of those chemicals that we absorb and sort of their chemicals you avoid now,
There is certainly my level of awareness has, has increased. Absolutely. And so not only now when I go to a store to look at grocery shopping, or just running errands or whatever products there might be, and not only looking at the ingredients that are on our food packages and things, but now I’m starting to read the ingredients on what’s in these other products. We have teenage girls at home, they love everything smelly, they love everything pretty they’re into makeup, and cosmetics, all those types of things. So we have a variety of things in our home. But now it’s the education of what what is in these things, trying to teach them as well to just be you know, be diligent and be aware of what we are putting on to our skin and bodies just as much as we’re trying to be more conscientious about what we actually feed our bodies. So oftentimes, people forget that our skin is our largest organ. And it is it absorbs everything that’s in and around the environment around us and what we put on it as well. I was doing a recent study into research, I wouldn’t call it a study, but propylene glycol, and it’s used in a lot of lotions and things as well, that what makes it slippery. I’m not 100% sure about that. But the propylene glycol is, again, something that’s used in a lot of fat fabrication into plastics and like really hard, hard plastics. And so, and I was noticing that this was popping up in a lot of ingredients of products that I saw on the shelf. And so I’m like, I’m gonna look into that and what exactly is it and why is it and so actually it won an award and notorious Award from the American dermatologists, dermatological society. And they give what they won this award for was they awarded can’t think of the name just off the top of my head. But it was an award for the chemical in 2019 That is a known factor in causing contact dermatitis.
And they give them an award for that right.
It’s a notorious award. So it is so it’s the dermatology American dermatologist and doctors who are going Okay, this is a chemical that we’ve recognized in 2019, that has increased the amount of causes in cases of contact dermatitis, which is, you know, a skin irritation. And it can very much a lot of times be an unexplained skin irritation. But what they’re finding is that it’s not it’s not a food allergy, it’s not an allergy to anything else, or water or anything else is happening in the person’s environment. But it’s from the propylene glycol, so Wow. So it’s kind of interesting that way. Yeah. So that’s one of the things, one of the things that we really also looked at, and I looked at the community is very important to us, as well and as a family, but then also as an as an individual and a business owner. And because we’ve been really striving for all natural products, and we really strive to have environmentally friendly packaging, and as minimal packaging as possible. And we encourage people to recycle, we actually have a partnership with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society. Yes, in in Saskatoon. And so they look after, they’re a very small organization, but they look, they have a variety of programs. And one of the programs that they that they have is a k, a kindergarten to grade six education program where they go into the classrooms, and they work with students and an education, curriculum, and programming to help live a sustainable life and the choices that you’re making at home. So what we did at Springer and oak is I’ve developed a line of products called ocean waters, that 20% of the proceeds from that line go directly back to helping support these education programs for for the Saskatchewan environmental good ideas, you know, it’s a small way of giving back and, you know, living with what is truly, truly valuable to us as well, you know, not only making healthy choices for our body, but living a sustainable life that none of the ingredients that are in our products are toxic to water. Water plants are water life, life forms and things. So if by some chance, maybe you’re out camping somewhere and you accidentally spill something in the water, it’s not going to affect the wildlife is all natural, all natural that way,
You know, and that’s made me think of a great use for the product. I’m thinking back to soap. One of the hardest things to find when we go up to the cabin in the summer is soap that we can use in the lake. And so yeah, absolutely, we can hop in the shower, and we do have a shower now bless my husband. But prior to that, you know, and even sometimes now, like we’ll send the kids down to the lake, and we can’t send soap with them, right? Because there’s nothing healthy about what’s in there. And so being able to grab a bar soap and here go and get clean after you know weekend at the lake and it’s been hot and sand and yeah, right. You want to be clean, you gotta get that grime off. Never helps because now you gotta get back out of the lake. Back up the beach. The time you get to your towel, you’re up to the knees and stand again. Anyway.
It was a brief moment anyways, where you were fully clean. felt so good. Yeah.
Surely I’m just gonna do a quick station ID and then come back and let’s talk a little bit about how you find balance between the teenage girls. You mentioned the business building partnerships. So that’s going to be my next question. Okay, do a quick check in here. Sounds good. So I just want to tell everybody about the look and listen lottery. CJ TR is holding a look and listen lottery and it’s a very important fundraiser for the station. You can win a Grand Prize of your choosing to one of four great destinations. You can go to Anaheim, California, which back in January, I think it would have enjoyed Orlando, Florida, Toronto, Ontario or Niagara Falls, the flights, accommodation activities and $500 spending cash for four days are included. And second prize is $1,000 travel voucher, which that’ll still get you a fairways in Canada. The third prize is the Regina folk festival experience Package, which includes two weekend passes to the Folk Festival in August 2019. So you can buy a lottery ticket for $20 Each and there are only 1200 available. The draw will be made on Friday, May 3 at 8:45am. So if you’re interested, you can check out the website at CJ ter.ca/donate. Or you can give the station a call at 306-525-7274. We would certainly love to have your contribution and good luck to everyone who does buy a ticket. So Charlene tell me balance. How do you find it amongst a very busy life?
That’s well I’m not sure if I have found balance. I don’t know if there’s there’s a necessarily I think if we were if I was to try and strive for balance, to have equality and all things in my life because everything is, is equally important. I think I would really be disappointed in myself. So I think one of the one of the mindsets that I had very early on, is this has now become a lifestyle. So this is a lifestyle of this is, this is who I am, this is, this is who we are. And now does that mean that we don’t have balance or that I don’t have schedules? Yes, we definitely have schedules I have, we have a big huge family calendar on our fridge at home, I have a day timer that is full of to do lists that are never ending, which I’m sure it’s all like any entrepreneur. But again, I also balance working full time as well. So Springer and oak is a growing business but still currently want to have a side hustle. For for me with the with the intent to grow that business over time. So it’s about managing the priorities with both working full time and in a leadership role in the company that I’m at, but then also being a founder and business owner for for Springer and Oake, and a mom and, and a wife and a daughter and all those things. So definitely that that time blocking is huge. You know, when you do have so many priorities time blocking to what you want to achieve. And and probably finding that balance, especially if you’re if you’re an entrepreneur who’s still working full time and and building you’re building your business. So there is definitely time blocking those priorities. And then time blocking with your family to to make sure that you are at the important events that they’re that they’re at, that you can spend that family time and carve carve out both times and also making time for yourself. So you know, is it sitting and reading a book that has nothing to do with business for half an hour or an hour?
You do that? It’s like, tell me just listening to you. I have a hard time imagining Charlene with like a trashy novel, right? Unless it’s a holiday?
Well, yes. So on a holiday abroad recent holiday, I honestly I did finally finish a book, but I was probably reading that book for about six months. It takes that long. Besides my bedside table, I have you know, books with intention that I would really like to read. But then that just made more practical sense in our in our business books, I usually get my attention. So you know, it really is about that, that time management and blocking and giving yourself the okay to not beat yourself up if you didn’t get it all done in one day. Because those lists are always going to grow. It’s about finding the prioritized priorities that are actually going to make the biggest impact to your business. And, you know, in in that timeframe or in, you know, the next the next few months, so the next six months and the next year and doing those activities first. Even though those might not be the fun things to do. Those are the necessary things that we have to do for our for our businesses. And yeah, and really making sure that you are spending that time with your loved ones. And that is that is critical that you have that no good.
Congratulations, that sounds like a lot. So we are hearing more and more all the time about healthy products, natural products organic. Where do you see this industry going in the next number of years?
Well, I think the health and beauty industry has been around for years. Standards. Yeah, centuries in the end years. So I don’t think that that industry is going away anytime soon. But I think that and there’s always going to be big business, that is really setting the stage and setting the tone and and through mass market media and attention. You know, there is always going to be that, that that presence there. But I think that the industry in particular to natural products and chemical free products is going to take some time I think it is definitely is a growing industry for sure. I think what needs to get out there is the awareness and education piece for for for people, individuals and consumers who are making those those choices and purchasing choices. So that they understand that there are health benefits to the products that we use on our skin. Yes. And and being able to have businesses who can provide them those options. So the more people know the more people that they’re going to consumers will demand that manufacturers do provide those those options. And unfortunately, there’s no real government regulation on a lot of products, a lot of ingredients that are going in and chemical usage. There’s always a variety of studies But they come back inconclusive or there’s not enough testing yet or there’s not enough this even though a common usage in in so many of cosmetic products is parabens, and they have done numerous studies to date that already in women, they find parabens showing up in breast tissue and it’s it’s a chemical that mimics a hormone and creates more estrogen in your body and unnaturally so it’s, it’s about the education and awareness piece of it and I for one took that for granted. You know, I took for granted that you know what, I’m gonna buy this product and we’re gonna be completely fine and say for me, because it just has to be right and we’re selling it it looks pretty, it looks wonderful. Smells great. That’s that’s what I’m going to buy. And you know, when you actually start looking at that and researching it and Googling the ingredients, you really find another story quickly.
Surely we’re almost at a time. Can you quickly tell everyone how they find Springer?
For sure. Well, Springer and Oake has its first bricks and mortar store in Northgate Mall it opened in October of 2018. So we are just right there in a small little shop. To this can be. And you can also visit us at Springer and oak.com If you’re out of town and listening and want to shop online or view some of the products. Excellent.
Well, thank you very much. I can’t believe that. We’re done already. today. It was a very quick show. So I’d like to thank everyone for joining us today on 91.3 FM si de ter retana Community Radio. Thank you to Charlene and Springer and Oake and be sure if you go and purchase some of the products don’t eat them. They smell very good.
They’re not toxic, but I don’t I don’t recommend it.
And one of these days I’ll stop talking about flavors and all remember, it’s all good. I will be back next time with Jeff can ash from Paragon farms, and he’s going to talk about chickens, honey and vegetables and how that has become his livelihood.
We are at a time, I’d like to thank you for joining us today on The Secret Life of entrepreneurs. As always, if you’d like to be a guest on the show, please email me at barb@google girl.ca or reach out on Facebook and Instagram at abovethefold.ca just a reminder, you can even submit questions in advance of the live show on any of our social media channels. I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner, digital marketer and Google girl. Remember, you worked hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.