TELLICO PLAINS (WATE) - When life serves you lemons, you make lemonade. A Monroe County woman who got a sour deal when she lost her job didn't turn to lemonade. She turned to the mountains she'd grown up in and found everything she needed to succeed.
It's often said that necessity is the mother of invention, and no one knows that better than Christy Humberd.
Two years ago, she gave birth to her son Jackson and found that he really couldn't handle store bought products very well.
"My son has super sensitive skin and was born with really bad eczema. And all the bought soaps and lotions would make him worse, and so that was why I began making soaps," said Humberd.
She learned soap making on the Internet, and after a while, she got pretty good at it. Humberd says her soaps really caught on with her family.
She never thought about making a living making soaps until a year ago when she lost her job teaching music due to school budget cuts.
Again, necessity reared its head, and the Green Cove Soap Company was born.
"It was a great opportunity because I can make soap and stay at home with my son and I can still make a living. It's been a great thing," she said.
Humberd's soaps are all natural and all unique. She uses herbs and medicinal plants which have properties she learned from her grandfather and others.
One example is jewel weed, a soap that soothes the rash if you get poison ivy. Another is pumpkin seed, which can help the skin because it's rich in vitamins.
"It's very pleasant. It's a lot different than teaching kids at school," Humberd said of her new career.
She spends her time in Green Cove, high atop Riddle Hill, in the heart of the Cherokee National Forest. Her family bought the land in the 1960s. She now relies heavily on the plants here for her products.
Christy Humberd showed 6 News how she seeks out a plant to harvest for a soap ingredient, In this case, a small sassafras tree.
"I'm just going to dig up the root ball and make a tea out of it, which is great for the skin and full of vitamins," she explained.
She left enough root so that it will grow back eventually. She then took the root back to her home and boiled it to create a dark tea.
The tea goes into an oil mixture, then lye goes in, and it's carefully mixed until it thickens.
It's then poured into molds, and 24 hours later, it's cut into cakes.
"Once it hardens, you let it set for four to six weeks so the Ph goes back to normal. If I were in a hurry and used it tomorrow, it would just burn your skin because of the lye in it. So, it has to set," she said.
She sells her soaps at the local farmer's market, at stores in Tellico Plains and on her website.
Humberd is happy with her business and hopes it continues to grow.
For more on Green Cove Soaps and its other products, you can visit Humberd's website.
If you know of a product we should feature in our Made in Tennessee series, send us an email.