Welcome to Good Horse Scents
Good Horse Scents - was created by curiosity and courage.
I am an Occupational Therapist and a Recreational Therapist - I love to create and make. Like most makers I wanted to develop something that my whole family could use - husband, kids, parents, dogs, horses, extended family and friends love to make and to discover that I could take Appalachian history (making soap) and putting my spin on it. As an ever learning Herbalist and Cabell County Master Gardener, I knew that plants healed.
I started in my kitchen and thankfully - I now have a designated soap room in my home where I can create our products using Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Each item is made by hand, cut by hand, packaged and labeled by hand.
In 2007 - our home burned down, the stress of that and the process of rebuilding, dealing with insurance companies, inflation, my job, my husbands job, helping my kids through this - was more than I could handle. I survived the heartache and trauma - but my physical body changed under the stress.
For several years, I struggled with itchy skin, difficulties with digestion, and difficulty with my weight -I was eating and definitely exercising - but my body struggled and the brain fog developed. I began seeing my now friend, Dr. Jane Kurcuz, MD - The Balance Doctor, Hurricane, WV.
She had known me personally for many years - as her daughter had volunteered with River Cities Therapy and Recreation Center, which is housed at my farm. She worked diligently with me to discover that stress had led my body into a fight or flight situation, I had not only developed Thyroid challenges, but had depleted my hormones and developed significant food allergies.
So the journey started in 2011 - making soap. You see I discovered that I had allergies and intolerances - to food - food that I had eaten my entire life (41 years) - so through the process of discovery, I became aware that the products that I used on my skin - also caused "Dermagraphia" . . . basically I can write on my skin with my fingernail. Itches like the devil, but goes away within 20 minutes (when I leave it alone).
I first tried commercially made - unscented products - then said - I can make that. I really looked at the ingredients of those products and thought there had to be a better, simpler formula. I discovered handcrafted soap on a trip to Lexington, KY - began researching, taking classes (in-person and more). The path brought my love for gardening, herbalism and making together. I don't make any claims that it "fixed" me - I just know that I am used to my own products and I like them.
I began researching ways to help my own family to begin to be chemical free, which many handcrafted soap and body product makers have done. We started making our own cold processed soap. I liked to mix oils, fats ad butters to change the properties of the bar soap that we made: hardness, slipperiness, bubbles, texture, etc.
I have taught many folks to make their own and taught Casey Jo Carpenter how to make soap for her same interests and needs.
The real "family approval" came when my husband forgot Good Horse Scents soap on a trip - he came home and asked for my soap. I loved it! My Dad had a long hospital stay and the hospital wipes were degrading his skin - I took Good Horse Scents Calendula soap, the Healing Salve and the Lavender Hemp Stick and he loved it along with the nurses and physicians.
It is interesting having teenagers in the house - their friends always staying over - curious about what I was making - SOAP! Teenagers are exposed to the "stank" of fragrance oils - going to the mall and being exposed to the overpowering perfumery and fragrances. Personally I don't tolerate the overwhelming smells. And I have told them that they stunk! I prefer the smell of the outdoors, the barn, fresh water, and in general - FRESHNESS! Do I like all smells - of the outdoors? NO Way!
As a practicing Occupational Therapist - I saw first hand the struggles with the simple Activities of Daily Living (that the term that includes bathing, dressing, eating, managing oneself), as infants that have been born addicted to drugs, struggled with products on their skin. One mom knew that I made my own soap and asked if I could make a "lotion" that wasn't greasy, that could help her son's skin, and he wouldn't cry when having it put on. Challenge accepted and whipped body butter was formulated and made. He called it "Connie's magic stuff". For a toddler to want to put on something - tell you something. Then it grew . . .
Aromatherapy - is actually a field of study. One that you can get a certification in. There are also guidelines that have been to set out that provide guidelines for the use of smell in personal products. There are requirements for labeling and also the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) designates what we can say about our products - no claims can be made.
The essential oils that I have chosen are for the scent only. Does it smell good? Folks can deduce their own claims - but you won't find one here. The development of handcrafted products are researched, made, tweaked - FORMULATED to make sure that they are safe for infants, toddlers, families and my critters.
2020 has brought on many challenges - to my full time job is that of an Early Intervention - Occupational Therapist. My job is to coach families to aid their children in developing to their fullest potential. So you ask - what does this have to do with Good Horse Scents, LLC.? Well, being a therapist is not easy - the toxic situations that we are exposed to daily is beyond stressful - and if its stressful for me a "functional adult" - what is it like for the kiddos? I had kids on my caseload that had been through up to 5 foster homes - they struggled to deal with everything in their worlds. I often times give soap to kids (teens) that are in residential care - they say that simple gesture is amazing!
What Good Horse Scents offers:
We offer naturally, nourishing products that we feel just makes “good horse sense." to use ingredients that you can pronounce - don't have to Google to figure them out - that God created - botanicals, herbs, natural oils and butters. The FDA does not regulate the term "natural" but we do . . .
What Good Horse Scents believes -
Ingredients in our products are plant or animal based
Yes - some of our soaps are made with animal fats - they are sustainable and readily available.
Artificial colorants are not used in our soaps. We use plant based colorants - and occasionally Micas, oxides and ultramarines that are sourced sustainably and have been determined safe for use in body and bath products.
soap making is easy - but making good soap is not!
We are beyond grateful for the support that folks have shown us.
Whether you are an infant or aged - we have products for you.
You need to give us a shot - so that you can see if moving away from the mass produced - synthetic based products is right for you and your family.
My philosophy . . .
Over my years here on this earth - my aspirations to to better, learn more and be the best human I can be - was instilled upon my by my parents - Skip and Shirley Gilkeson. I have had and hold many roles in this journey of life - a daughter, a sister, a wife, a parent, but also am a Recreational Therapist, an Occupational Therapist (OT), a friend, a neighbor, an animal lover and a giver.
I wear several hats and wanted to merge them together - I am a Master Gardener, avid horseman, nature lover, I am a Soap Maker!
My Tribe - my circle - my help if I ask . . .
Jenny Boggess - my daughter - has grown up learning about the farm, nature, horses and being creative. She is beautiful, spunky and vivacious. She is responsible for many things - from setting up our Square account, decorating our Market Booths, packaging products, and developing products based upon her interests.
When we started out - Casey Jo Carpenter - also grew up on a farm in Hurricane, WV. She is also an Occupational Therapist that works with adults. She would make a few of our bars, bath bombs and a whipped body butter.
The Rowe Family - Debbie, Katie and Grace - we are more that friends - we are family! They join us in making products, labeling and selling. You will see them at events.
Stacy Chapman - she is a dear friend who also helps in making our products and working our events.
Gina Elliott Burcham - is a long-time friend and sister. She and her family have often jumped in to help - so you can see her work in the editing of Facebook posts, the making of products, the organizing of the soap room.
Tabatha Scarberry - she wasn't so sure about me when I came into her life to see her adopted daughter. She actually questioned herself - but soon accepted and now loves me and all that I do! Funny - how people come into our lives.
Becky Linger - is a tribe member as well. She is a Medicinal Chemist - and a professor. She also has a love for nature that rivals my own. Together she and I have "nerdy" conversations on the molecular structure of oils, alcohol's, plants, and create together!
It takes a village! I am very grateful to my tribe.
Connie, Casey and Jenny
From left to right: Stacey, Debbie, Connie, Gina, Tabatha at the 2019 WV Pumpkin Festival.