#HomeGrownStories – Tanya Brown
Tanya Brown has been making handmade soaps, lotions and other beauty products for the past fifteen years. In 2011, the brick and mortar location of Living Simply Soap opened in historic downtown Tipp City. Tanya hopes that her business brings people to shop throughout Tipp City and Miami County. She loves the way the communities in Miami County preserve their history for future generations.
Here connection to Miami County:
I grew up in Greene County and moved to Vandalia when I got married in 1977. Living north of Dayton was new for us. My husband and I fell in love with the charm and atmosphere of the historic architecture of Miami County. The small town welcome we received in the restaurants and shops made it our “go-to” place whenever we went out. When we had the opportunity to buy one of the historic buildings in Tipp City we jumped at the chance! It was a dream come true!
We still live in Vandalia and have for over 40 years but we love owning our building in Tipp City. Most of our life revolves around Miami County now. My husband and I both work in Miami County and we expect our son to buy a home in Tipp City soon and raise his family there.
How she started her company Living Simply Soap:
I started making soap in my kitchen at home in 2002. It was fascinating to me how much better our skin felt when we used it. I started giving it away to neighbors and friends. They were also amazed at how they preferred it over their store-bought soaps. I began researching paraben-free preservatives and shea butter, olive oil, and cocoa butter. I was intrigued by all that you could do with soap. I enjoyed the different ingredients, colors, and packaging.
At the time I was busy with a real estate career. As my passion for the process grew, my determination to actually make it a business became my goal. I have always been one to gravitate to natural ingredients and make things from scratch. The idea of making a more natural product, something I loved, and building it into a business from the bottom up was an irresistible challenge for me.
In 2006, I was accepted into the Farmers Market in Tipp City and began selling my soaps there. Meeting new people, explaining my process, and having them come back for more was so exciting. I learned how to display, price, promote, and package my product. It was a bug that bit me hard. From there I began going to festivals all over the area to sell my soaps. As I talked with customers they would ask for other products like lotion, cream, sprays candles and custom labeling. I began researching ways to deliver the best of those products and services as well. My customers have been the greatest resource for new products and fragrances.
When we purchased our building in Tipp City I put my real estate work aside. I devoted 100% of my energy to building our soap business. My sons Jake and Clay and my husband Bud worked so hard to rehab our building and create the shop we have now. None of this would have been possible without them and their talents. We had a lot of shelf space to fill. We expanded our product line to include bath bombs, liquid soap, whipped butter, deodorant… it keeps growing!
On the community response to Living Simply Soap:
The community has been wonderful to us here! We have been welcomed by not only the residents and visitors but also by the other merchants in the area! We were chosen by the Tipp City Chamber of Commerce in 2014 for their Outstanding Small Business Award. For us, it was a huge honor. When we opened the shop in 2011, our dream was that people would actually come to Tipp City to visit our store — but then shop in other stores in town as well. We wanted to grow into a destination store. We have seen that happen and it has been so rewarding!
The most popular items at Living Simply Soap:
Our bar soap has always been our number one selling item. But our liquid soap, lotion, creams and bath bombs are very strong sellers as well. Recently we added an organic line to our collection. We have found that our products make wonderful gifts. We have made it our goal to keep gift giving easy for our shoppers. We offer free gift wrapping and continually seek ways to improve that part of our service. Many find our creative packaging perfect as it is without any need for more wrapping. When we think about all we do we realize that we are a manufacturer, a retailer, and a service provider. It can be a pretty full plate but we love every aspect of what we do.
What she loves most about Miami County:
I would say what we love most about Miami County is the warmth of the people – it feels like home! I also love the way that Miami County towns cherish their heritage, history, and community. So many areas tear down and build new with little regard for the treasure they are destroying. Miami County treats their buildings and tradition with respect and honor. We love that way of preserving history. I think that’s why people come to Miami County. They want to experience that history and the value of saving it for the future generations.
Her Miami County favorites for out-of-town visitors:
Tipp City has a delightful mix of small family owned businesses! You can spend the day shopping at The Hotel Gallery, Cairns Toys, Merchant Thirty-One and That Place on Main! You can get a bite to eat at Sam and Ethel’s, Sweet by Kristy, or Bodega. I always recommend Coldwater Cafe to out of towners! That restaurant would hold its own in any of the largest cities in the US but here they are in sweet little Tipp City!
I love Beppo Uno Italian Restaurant in Piqua: great food, wonderful service and a charming atmosphere. The Olive Oasis in Troy opened around the same me we did. It’s been great to see how their business has flourished and grown over the years. The Bakehouse Bread and Cookie Co. in Troy is amazing! I love all that they offer in fresh baked goods there!
Of course, all the antique shops in Miami County are such fun! The Iron Dog, Midwest Memories in Tipp City and The Three Weird Sisters in Troy. We try to use as many Miami County and local business as we can for ingredient sourcing and services.
Living Simply Soap
112 E Main St Tipp City, Ohio, OH 45371
Follow our storyteller and interviewer, Courtney Denning, at ThisOhioLife.com.