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Lanier Charter Career students craft sustainable products for market, spa
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Joy Schofield begins mixing ingredients to make soap during a demonstration Tuesday in Janice Laster’s cosmetology class at Lanier Charter Career Academy. The soap products the class is making will be sold at their farmers market at the school. - photo by Erin O. Smith

At Lanier Charter Career Academy, horticulture students grow herbs while cosmetology students work in the school’s onsite salon.

These two classes are teaming up to provide a line of homemade, all-natural products including handmade soaps, potpourri, essential oils and more. The products will be sold at the school’s Reflections Salon and Spa, as well as the future Farm at the Oaks market on campus.

“The whole concept of all this is we have a grant for what we’re calling the Farm at the Oaks,” said Janice Laster, cosmetology instructor. “We wanted something where the students can do something more hands-on, more natural. Something sustainable.”

The project is a chance for students to see every side of a business, from growth and production to marketing and sales. The Farm at the Oaks, which will open officially this summer, and the Reflections Salon and Spa serve the community already. But this venture gives students a chance to try their hands at a different side of business, according to Kim Guy, workforce development coach at Lanier Charter Career Academy.

“The expansion of our student-led businesses and new product lines are a first for students in the county,” Guy said. “It is so cool to be on the cutting-edge of growing, harvesting and producing organic foods, aromatherapy items, and beauty products for our Hall County residents.”

The students will dry and dehydrate flower petals and herbs from the campus garden to create potpourri and essential oils, according
to Laster.

“Once the garden gets up and going, we have a dehydrator in our classroom,” she said. “So we’ll be drying out the rose petals or lavender and then use that for potpourri. It’ll be self-sustaining.”

A group of students were visited Tuesday by the school’s student services liaison Joy Schofield, who makes her own all-natural soap at home.

“Today we are all going to be learners together in making soap just a little bit differently,” Joy Schofield said.

The Schofield family uses homemade lye- and coconut oil-based soap at home. Joy Schofield shared a recipe she uses with the students that includes lye, or sodium hydroxide, water, coconut oil, olive oil and vegetable oil. They mixed the ingredients in a bowl and blended them in a blender, then added all-natural scented products from the garden.

Joy Schofield said she got into soap making because of her grandmother.

“She was born just at the turn of the century and she was just a mountain woman,” she said. “I still love and wear my grandmother’s little aprons when we bake cookies at Christmastime. You’ll notice there are two little pockets and that’s what she would put her false teeth in.”

Joy Schofield said, because her grandmother was raised in a poor mountain village in North Carolina, she was accustomed to growing and making everything herself. Some of the only things she would purchase was coffee, sugar and shoes.

“As I got older, another springboard for me to make my own soap was just the toxic load we as people walk around with,” she said. “…that’s just my little push for being natural.”

Joy Schofield was visited by her husband, Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield during class Tuesday.

“People in this country that have been successful for the last 200 years are the innovators, the entrepreneurs and the creators,” Will Schofield. “Do you realize when you go into a store, a little piece of homemade soap … may be $5? You can imagine, in your own basement, you could be creating $1,000 of soap a day.”

Will Schofield credited the class for teaching students good business practices.

“This is an incredible country, because in this country, you can have an idea and if you can dream it, you can make it a business,” he said. “You may not have any interest in soap, but I challenge you to say, ‘What is it I’m interested in?’”

Cosmetology student Elizabeth Cano said the products the class is creating will also offer home remedies, such as the use of lavender oil for relaxation.

“It makes me feel great knowing that I can contribute to the health of others in the community,” she said.

 

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