CHARLOTTE – In March of 2020, Sandy Harrison found herself in a position that has become all-too-familiar to so many this year: anxious, scared, depressed, and out of a job due to COVID-19.
A career photographic artist with decades of experience creating museum-quality, classic-style portrait photographs and paintings, Harrison watched as her business of 34 years dwindled to little more than enough to cover her rent and utilities. “I lost my spring business, which is about 80% of my income for the entire year,” says Harrison, “and then come the fall, I usually take part in Mint Hill Madness, Matthews Alive and another women’s show. Those large vendor shows are necessary for me to get in front of people that may be interested in my photographic art.”
But COVID, again, thwarted Harrison’s efforts to revive her business as rising cases and continued prohibitions on large group gatherings necessitated the cancellation of the shows and festivals she relies on to generate new business. As Harrison began to contemplate what the future could look like, she found herself leaning to aromatherapy for the additional support neededi n self care as well as a possible income stream.
A melanoma survivor, Harrison first found herself experimenting with more naturopathic remedies in the wake of surgery as she tried to eliminate unnecessary chemicals from her life. Harrison began learning about essential oils about eight years ago and became licensed as an aromatherapist three years ago.
Aromatherapy was more of a hobby for Harrison, who made natural products for herself and her family aimed at easing common ills like headaches and anxiety. The new reality in which we all find ourselves got Harrison thinking whether there was a larger market for her natural remedies. With her Saturdays freed up, Harrison began selling Vitality Ginger, her own line of naturopathic remedies and all-natural beauty and personal products, at the Mint Hill Farmer’s Market. Harrison was pleasantly surprised to find that she could barely keep up with demand for all-natural bug spray and vitality remedies for anxiety, allergy and headaches.
“I had lots of people coming there asking me questions about alternative remedies,” says Harrison, who offers personal consulting as well. In search of a business opportunity that could help not only her but others through this pandemic, Harrison thought of a unique idea: warm herbal foot baths.
Combining her love of herbs, essential oils and mineral salts, Harrison created a signature foot soak experience, and Soothe the Soles was born. Harrison converted an extra room in her portrait studio into a spa-like oasis, where up to two guests at a time can indulge in a relaxing, healing and nourishing foot soak.
“Since the feet are rich in nerve endings and sweat glands, they are the ideal place in the body to detox and de-stress,” says Harrison. “There’s no denying that soaking your body or just your feet in hot water is calming. By adding specific herbal, botanical and essential oil ingredients, our foot baths may also help reduce swelling, boost your immune system, and improve overall health and mood.”
Soothe the Soles offers a full menu of healing and calming foot soaks from the “Sole Full Delight,” a 20-minute relaxing aromatic soak in Soothe the Soles’ hand made, antifungal and antibacterial solid copper foot bowls, to the “Decadent,” a 40-minute treatment that includes an invigorating sugar or salt scrub, a detoxifying Dead Sea Mud foot masque, soothing moisturizing lotion, and a mini hot stone treatment.
What Harrison hopes to provide with Soothe the Soles is an experience that heals the body, calms the mind and nourishes the soul. Guests enjoy the ambiance of the low lit chandelier, spa music and amazing aromatics while soaking their feet and sipping a complimentary Vitality Ginger medicinal tea or fresh herbal infused water blend. It’s the perfect date night or mother/daughter outing, and Harrison hopes to work with other local retailers to plan packages for occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day.
Harrison comes up with a new signature, seasonal blend every month, and you can take advantage of them all with a subscription to Soothe the Soles. Past blends have been infused with chai, local Mint Hill Roasting Company coffee, raw cacao and homemade vanilla. November’s blend will focus on boosting immunity, and December will likely be a peppermint or orange-mint blend for the holidays.
Harrison’s success at Mint Hill’s Christmas in the Village with Vitality Ginger has given her confidence that she has a service people want. “It was overwhelming, in a good way!” recalls Harrison. “People were very supportive and interested in the natural ways we can combat the current COVID situation.”
You can read more about Sandy’s story and see her full line of natural hand blended products from her website at www.VitalityGinger.com. Foot soaks start at an affordable $25 and can be booked online from Facebook @VitalityGinger or by calling Sandy at (704) 608-6164. Gift cards are also available starting at $25.