Story by Sarah Allen
Photos courtesy of Tristian Abt
It began with a mother wanting to help her son — but it grew into a business that started at home, expanded to a storefront, and has now sold its all-natural products across the country.
Tristian Abt is the co-owner of Main Street Soapery, with her husband, Bryant. There, patrons can find products that range from lotions to “bug bars.”
But, Abt said, it all started with soap.
When her son was 7 months old, she said, he developed a MRSA infection. After undergoing a major surgery to remove the majority of one side of his bottom, the Abts were told that he would have eczema and that he would always have to wash with Hibiclens, a brand of surgical scrub.
Abt said that surgical scrub was hard to find, expensive, and that it didn’t lather or smell.
“There’s got to be something better,” Abt remembers thinking.
After research, she found that goat’s milk is high in vitamin A. In 2011, the Abts purchased their first goats. She made soap from their milk and discovered that her son’s “skin could tolerate it,” Abt said.
“It keeps his eczema pretty much at bay,” she added.
Next, Abt began making lotion, and then “anything and everything.”
She began selling her products under Abt Family Farm, which was run from her home. For about five years, “people from all over” came to her home for her all-natural products. In 2017, she decided to expand the business.
And, on Oct. 28, Main Street Soapery opened in Leesburg. In addition to her soaps and lotions, Abt also sells 100 percent soy candles and wax melts, sugar scrubs, beard balms, beard oils and goat’s milk stain sticks.
The stain sticks, she added are a “go-to item with kids.”
On the store’s Facebook page, Abt further explains:
“Everything I make is paraben and phthalate free (chemical free). If my kids can’t use it, I don’t want any part of it.”
One of her most popular items is her Jewel Weed Salve. Abt said she originally made it as a poison ivy/poison oak combatant, but patrons have also found success using it for psoriasis. She added that a pharmacy in Wilmington has even referred people to the store for the salve.
“We can’t keep it on the shelves,” she said, especially in the fall.
Another popular item is her bug bar, which Abt described as a natural bug repellent. “People swear by them,” she said.
The salve and the bug bars alone, Abt added, “keep me beyond busy.”
In addition to her products, Main Street Soapery also features handmade items from 20 other vendors. Abt described the many and varied products available through the other vendors in the store. Patrons can also purchase handmade signage, décor, crocheted hats, jams, and elderberry syrup — just to name a few.
Abt said that the most memorable moments she’s had since opening Main Street Soapery are those times when people comment on her products working.
As an example, Abt said some elderly patrons have tried many options without results, but her items — particularly the jewel weed salve — have worked for them.
She added that the business also creates custom products for weddings and showers.
Abt also said that the store is in the process of “revamping” its website for online sales.
“We’ve shipped all over the U.S.,” she added.
But this journey from where she started to where the store is now, Abt said, has been one that she never expected.
“(It was something) I needed to make for my son and wanted to try, but it’s turned into a whole lot more than I could have imagined,” she said.
On the store’s Facebook page, Abt adds:
“I left my job as a bank manager to make soap for a living, but I love every minute of it! Hearing stories of things I’ve made helping someone makes it all worth it! I make everything that I can as natural as possible.”
Main Street Soapery
10 W. Main St., Leesburg
Find the store on Facebook by searching “Main Street Soapery.”