Meet the Team
Kathy Tarbox: Founder / Publisher
“Satisfying one’s curiosity begets opportunity; acting upon opportunity opens doors of enlightenment and motivation, which results in creating something truly novel and useful, ultimately uniting a community.”
For Kathy, it all started with encountering “essential oils” in an article she was reading in 1996. So intrigued, she took to the information superhighway, where, essentially, she found herself in discussion with soapmakers on the first internet ‘SoapList’ started by Melody Upham.
The inspiration and camaraderie gained from those early soaping friends, was what led Kathy into the world of Cold Process soapmaking, and by 1997 she was making and selling soap under her label, “The Petal Pusher Botanical Soap Company”
Early on, Kathy wanted more information and sought it, but there was nothing out there that guided independent soapmakers such as herself. Thus, The Saponifier was born in 1998 to fulfill a niche in the market.
A Christian, Kathy defines herself according to 2 Chronicles 34: as chasing after God with all her heart.
Married to “her blessing” for 35+ years, Mom to 4 wonderful children, and gamma to 10 grandchildren.
Kathy loves books and words, and family, and springtime, and hazelnut mocha’s. She loves God’s Word, is desperately thankful for God’s mercy & grace. She’s sometimes impatient, usually disorganized, frequently forgetful… but always grateful for this wonderful life.
In her spare time, Kathy can be found penning her thoughts on her personal blog, “A Wonderful Savior”.
Beth Byrne, Managing Editor
Beth has always liked reading, writing, the arts, and crafting, and was a school teacher until she had her first child. She home-schooled her six children for 17 years, and has kept busy with various volunteer activities in writing, editing, and teaching, as well. However, now that some of her children have graduated and left the nest, and others are attending elsewhere, she finds that she can pursue her other interests even further. Although Beth figures she’s dabbled in enough subjects to appear on Jeopardy, she has no plans to actually do so.
Her hobbies of gardening and floral design led to an interest in herbs and in making her own cosmetic preparations. Melt and pour soap came soon after, which she enjoyed immensely, even winning a contest for artistic ability. She said, however, that she would never make cold process soap. Three years later, she saw a soap-making demonstration at the New York State Fair, and life would never be the same. Now, with untold batches of soap under her belt, and experiences with various processes and methods, she is crazy about soapmaking and in sharing her skills with others. She has begun a small business called, Soap and Garden, and is working on her website. Most of the credit for putting together this site is due to her son, Ethan, and her husband, Ken.
An avid researcher and learner in soapmaking, Beth looks forward to learning more, teaching more, and doing what she loves, imparting information to others. She is eager to do it in written form here at The Saponifier. It is an honor to be on staff, helping to make this magazine again the best soaper’s magazine available.
Marla Bosworth, Feature Writer
Marla Bosworth is the CEO and President of Back Porch Soap Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Marla teaches natural skincare classes throughout the U.S. and
online. (www.backporchsoap.com). She provides product, brand and marketing strategies for handmade beauty companies as well as retails, wholesales and private labels soaps and bath and body products.
Melinda Coss, ‘Savoir Faire’ Editor
Melinda Coss is widely credited with pioneering the cold process soap making movement in Europe and in the 90s she created what became the largest soap making company in the UK before selling it in 2004 and moving to France. Melinda continues to work as a soap making consultant and she runs soap making courses in London and in France (www.makesoap.biz). She also works with social enterprises in Africa.
Melinda Coss is the bestselling author of 27, internationally published books on crafts including three dedicated to soap making . ‘The Handmade Soap Book’, ‘Gourmet Soaps Made Easy’ and ‘Natural Soap’.
Kevin Dunn, ‘In the Lab’ Editor
Kevin joins us for a series of articles on chemistry and soapmaking. Kevin is the Elliott Professor of Chemistry at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. He has conducted a number of experiments on soap and soapmaking, and has written books (Caveman Chemistry) on chemistry and soapmaking. His latest is entitled, Scientific Soapmaking. Kevin has also become a fixture at the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild (HSCG) conferences, regaling audiences with his knowledge and findings. Consequently, he has found quite a following among soapmakers.
Karen Mallinger, ‘Herb Monographs’ Editor
Born in England, but raised in the Amish country of Northern Ohio, Karen Mallinger grew up with a natural love of the earth and plants. The gardens were planted with the Farmers’ Almanac and the cycles of the moon. Remedies for the animals were all natural and ranged from Epsom salts and water for colicky horses to a homemade “miracle salve” that worked for everything!
Karen later settled in Colorado and began growing organic vegetables and herbs in cold-frames and raised boxes. She obtained her MH, CNC and CHS certifications from Trinity College and is a Certified Natural Health Professional.
Karen retired to Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula with her husband, Michael and four Pembroke Welsh Corgis. She was the owner of All Goode Gifts, an international business catering to the needs of those pursuing a healthy lifestyle for over 25 years. She closed the business in 2012, and returned to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she does personal consultations and prepares custom formulas for her local clients. “My personal calling is to provide my customers with the most natural solutions to their health and personal care challenges with good things from the good earth. I believe that God has provided everything we need for optimal health in the way of natural plants and herbs, and thus, I seek to educate others on the path to natural health and total wellness.”
Karen also answers readers’ questions through our “Ask the Herbalist” column.
Erica Pence, ‘Potpourri’ Editor
Erica Pence is the owner of The Bonnie Bath Co., a small bath and body and candle business with an emphasis on natural ingredients. Raised by an herbalist, she has a strong interest in becoming one herself as she continually researches herbs and aromatherapy and their place in bath and body products. Erica lives in Southeast Florida with her husband and daughter and is a former school teacher and librarian. Her career as a librarian has imparted a strong background in research as her background in teaching promoted the sharing of the information she finds with anyone who will listen. In her free time, she enjoys scrapbooking, photography, and reading. In addition to hosting a blog for her customers – www.BonnieBath.com/blog, she also has a blog for fellow soap makers (and chandlers) to share information she finds and to network with fellow professionals – www.BonnieBath.com/blogspot.
Debbie Sturdevant, ‘Herbal Wisdom’ Editor
Debbie Sturdevant developed her interest in herbalism and all things natural growing up in the country hills of upstate NY. She created her first batch of soap over 30 years ago. Between handed down knowledge and endless hours spent with her nose in a book or in her herb gardens, she created her business, “The Country Artist Soaps & Sundries,” (www.thecountryartist.com) where her soap and botanical formulations line her eclectic shop’s shelves.
Educated in fine art and business she began her career as a graphic illustrator. When her soap business was born, she felt “The Country Artist” was the perfect name to describe all of her art forms, including making her artisan soaps and herbal body products. Her love of nature and gardening is what brought her heart close to herbs and their wonderful properties. She is passionate about her business and helping people through the use of nature’s wonders. She has been invited to lecture on many occasions across the state including Cornell’s annual Herb Festival. Her products have been featured in Norfolk Lavender, an international catalog, as well as Zahav, a NYC spa.
In addition to her shop, she finds enjoyment as an avid writer, artist, musician and health guru, practicing yoga, dance, healthy cooking and living. Her family and many pets are a constant source of support. On a continuing quest for knowledge and new formulations, she is honored to share her humble wisdom.
Marina Tadiello, ‘Interview & Reviews’ Editor
Marina Tadiello is an Italian-born technical writer, translator, editor, and a passionate soapmaker of vast experience. A pioneer of the environmental movement, she is a long-time devotee of self-sufficiency and frugal practices.
On moving to Australia in the late 1990′s, she came into contact with the budding internet soapers community, at a time when as natural as possible handmade soap was a niche product in the smallest niche markets. For a couple of years she researched and experimented with handmade soap. Extensive tests by family, friends and herself (as possibly the harshest soap critic because of her “intolerant” skin), led to the 2001 launch of her soapmaking business, AquaSapone.
With Patrizia Garzena, she authored in 2004 the best seller, Soap Naturally, soon followed by three more books for Italian publisher, Edizioni F A G. Also published in their “Natural LifeStyle” series is Marina’s frugal cooking guide, La cucina salvatempo.
Her professional association with Patrizia has recently resulted in the new, Making Soap Naturally series, http://www.demetra.com.au/natural-soapmaking.html. Issued by Australian independent publisher, Demetra, their books are distributed in the US by DIY Cosmetics.
Marina co-founded the “Soap Naturally” community back in the year 2000. She remains an active supporter of this group, once known as “SoapNatch,” and now active as “Natural Soapmaking.
Following her experiments and helped by the shared knowledge of other soapers on “SoapNatch,” Marina was the first to define and officialise the soapmaking method now known as DWCP (Discounted Water Cold Process), http://www.aquasapone.com.au/soapmaking/discountedcp.html.
Contributing to the Saponifier is a great honour for her, as is the opportunity to work with Beth, Kathy and other handmade soap celebrities.