Time Travels with Elmhurst – Celebrating 100 Years
In this story, a trip through time took us to unexpected places! We started with a 1990 Ruralite article about The Powder Puff Cattery owned by Susan and Steve Cheney and arrived at the Skybox Skincare Bar owned by Marika Thomas.
In the 1990 article, the Powder Puff Cattery was described as a boarding facility for cats. The Cheneys raised Persian cats and opened boarding rooms for cats whose humans were traveling or who required quarantine after vaccination. We were unable to determine if the Powder Puff Cattery is still in business. However, if you search for the Powder Puff Cattery, you will find the SkyBox Skincare Bar. Marika purchased the Cheney’s home and still has their sign for nostalgia.
That Marika looks too young to be a grandmother may be a tribute to her organic skin care products! She started her business because the skin care products prescribed by physicians for her children were too expensive for a young and growing family. The story from that moment to the business success she has today is one of family tradition, perseverance, trial and error, and a fascinating study of chemistry and horticulture.
To develop a product, Marika starts with a family recipe then experiments with changes to improve the consistency and scent. Her first product was soap and was perfected through a lot of trial and error and testing the product on herself and her husband. Her first scent was rose oil, but the oil she was able to purchase was too strong and not authentic enough for her taste. She developed her own rose oil by taking tea rose petals, drying then in the oven, crushing them, adding oil and leaving them in the dark for 6 months to a year. This was so successful that she began growing her own plants from which to extract scents. Her home and garden are filled with rose bushes, a mini apricot tree, lavender, gladiolas, jasmine, papayas, mangos and dandelion. She uses a “very busy” hydrator now instead of her oven.
Marika found she thrives with a creative outlet to her ideas and has incorporated that creativity into her soap designs with varying scents and patterns. She cuts the scents into her soaps and lotions with honey, which is one of the few base ingredients she purchases. She researches what bees are feeding on when they are making the honey, as that will make a difference in the scent. For example, if the bees are feeding on lavender, she will not use that honey for her lavender products, as the lavender scent would be too strong.
Marika’s products are seasonal. She and her husband go on an annual Northwest bar hop and order the signature drink at each establishment. From that research, she develops product scents that are inspired by those drinks such as blueberry whiskey, apricot and honey whiskey, boysenberry mojito, and blackberry ginger whiskey. In “Dessert December”, her product line features such scents as lemon meringue, pineapple upside down cake, pumpkin and pecan pies and banana pudding. Marika tests her products for men on her husband – products that use bamboo and sea salt (they smell like water), sandalwood patchouli, and sweet pine. She prepares cedar and teak wood shaving kits in the October to November time frame, just in time for Christmas giving.
For those sensitive to scents, she uses straight goat’s milk soaps with no infused scent. A more recent product is felted soaps, which is soap encased in wool and the wool shrinks around the soap. It acts as an exfoliator or a loofa. You can purchase Marika’s products online or by contacting her. They are also sold in Urban Sugaring and Mattice Beauty Supply. It is important to Marika that her products are affordable. She believes if they are not, then her mission and reason for her business “doesn’t stand”.
We had so much fun learning about Marika’s story, her business philosophy, and her approach to making these skincare products. The circle of life and the generational legacy that endures in this business was heartwarming. We were happy to meet and learn about the Skybox Skincare Bar and wish Marika and her family all the best of success as this business grows!
We will have a basket of Marika’s products as a door prize at our event on September 3.