Mesa-based Verano Bathery is all about natural, fresh ingredients, soothing scents and vibrant colors that make their soaps one of a kind.
Jena Nagamine and John Garrard started making soap as a hobby long before they established Verano Bathery as a business in January 2015.
The husband and wife team create the products at their Mesa residence. It includes body and facial soaps, baby care, beard care and gift sets.
“The reason I started making soap was my kids have always had really sensitive skin, and you don’t think about those things until it starts causing problems and you don’t think about what you put on your skin until someone in your life is having bad reactions to those things,” Nagamine said, referencing their usage of natural ingredients, botanicals and fruits in their soaps that are gentle on the skin.
Verano creates handmade soaps, some of which are what Nagamine calls their “destination line,” which are travel-inspired scents from the couple’s travels like the tropical Isla Verde and the earthly Andes Mountains scent Amaru. Other scents include cucumber mint, blueberry lemon, and customer favorites pomegranate and black currant and honey oatmeal and orange.
“The first part (of the soap making process) is my favorite because that’s where we sit down and say, ‘What do we want to create?’ and ‘What sort of feeling?’ and we usually either start with a specific feeling if it’s a destination soap…or sometimes we’ll out of the blue have an idea like ‘Hey, what if we put raspberries in our soap?’ so usually there is some sort of inspiration and then we try different blends. We try to use just essential oils as much as we can, start to work primarily with the scent, mix essential oils together and see how they turn out, talk about what we want it to look like. But, most everything follows the scent, and we try to get it to look like it supports that feeling or that scent.”
Nagamine said soap is a subtle mixture of any fat and sodium hydroxide, and when they combine, there is no sodium hydroxide left, but it is the catalyst that makes the fat breakdown into soaps. She said what happens with natural soap process makes it completely different than commercial soap. To create their handmade soaps, Nagamine and Garrard mix and blend the ingredients, pour the mixture into molds and let it sit for a few days—afterward, they remove the soap from the molds in large chunks, cut it into many smaller, easy-to-hold pieces and it cures for about six weeks.
In addition to utilizing social media and word-of-mouth from customers, the duo attends events to sell their products and connect with people in the community to speak to them about their products.
Nagamine said they attended Phoenix Flea for the first time in 2015 after winning a booth—and the outcome could easily be described as a successful outing for the husband and wife team.
“We have people that we see on our Instagram or that we see at other events who order from us now that we met at Phoenix Flea that first time in 2015. It was such a good connection between people who were really interested specifically in our product and we found our people there and every year we go, it keeps growing.”
The Mesa resident said she and Garrard are happy with how supportive the community is in the Phoenix area and they have grown since then, but “I have to keep going back to that first Phoenix Flea, because I feel like that was what really opened our eyes that we could really do this, and we should really do this, and that is my favorite event every year.”
Customer Rachel Amaro met Nagamine at a booth at Phoenix Flea in 2016.
“My daughter and I were celebrating her birthday with an outing to the Phoenix Flea when we stopped at the Verano Bathery booth,” Amaro said. “My daughter loved the lavender handmade soap, so Jena gave her a free sample of it to take home for her birthday. We love purchasing local, so we were hooked in that moment.”
The Phoenix resident has purchased many products from Verano including charcoal facial soap, lavender handmade soap, facial masks from their spa line, and baby soap and baby wash rags.
Amaro said the charcoal facial soap is her favorite for her sensitive facial skin.
“I’ve fallen in love with how well it removes my makeup without drying my skin…I’m really picky about what soap and makeup I use, and stay away from chemicals, and toxins completely, so this bar is perfect for all my facial skin care needs,” Amaro said, adding that she has used all Verano’s new facial masks, and said they leave her skin feeling bright, clean and fresh afterward.
Amaro said her kids love the lavender handmade soap for the scent, and she loves that it has no chemicals or toxins, in addition to knowing who makes it, what’s in it and where it’s made.
“Buying local gives me a chance to support the people in my community and connect with the people that are making the product I am purchasing,” Amaro said. “This allows me to know exactly what is in the product, where it is made, and who is making it, and I love this about Verano Bathery. Jena has remembered me by name since the first day I met her at the Phoenix Flea in 2016. This relationship helps build confidence in the product as I see her passion for what she’s doing, and the joy it brings her to know she’s helping other people with her product.”
Nagamine said she likes the idea of creating soap the traditional way, and for customers to accept that it’s going to have a shorter shelf life and the care is a little different, but that’s the way the product is.
“I really like this idea of getting away from faceless companies, and I love this idea of us embracing community,” Nagamine said. “I love this business model of going to events, meeting people, having who we are, and our story be a part of the product we sell because I feel like when we have strong communities and when we know each other and are supporting each other in this way, I feel like that’s a step beyond survival.”
“So, what I really like about having this company is we address both of those things, the physical health and taking care of yourself and the environment but also building up this other need that we have to be connected to other people,” Nagamine continued.
Their connection and relationships with their customers have largely contributed to Verano Bathery’s success, as evidenced with Amaro’s satisfaction with their soaps and the relationship they have cultivated over the past few years.
“Verano Bathery is special to our family as we feel like we are family friends,” Amaro said. “They sell their product at such a reasonable price, yet stay consistent with keeping ingredients free of cheap, harmful chemicals. For this reason, we will buy our soap from them as long as long as we can.”
To learn more about Verano Bathery, visit: VeranoBathery.com.
– Mesa resident Alyssa Tufts is a freelance writer for MyNewsMesa.com.