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Bewitching Scents

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Cast an enchanting spell with Soulstice Natural Products

What is it in your purse that smells like a spa?” a friend asked one day. “Pure lavender oil,” I replied. “I carry a small bottle because there’s nothing better than a deep inhale to calm the mind.”

The practice of aromatherapy employs the scents of essential oils to induce curative effects. Aromas can be mood enhancing, soothing, stimulating or thought provoking. Connie Sumrall and Crystal Stansbury, owners of Soulstice Natural Products, create products with powerful scents to soothe both mind and body.

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“The smell of our Creole Pralines and Cream candle reminds me of my mom making candy pralines in the kitchen,” says Stansbury. “It’s my favorite,” adds Sumrall, “Because it smells dreamy, like cakes.”

Stansbury, the former owner of a small neighborhood health food store and recent certified yoga instructor, and Sumrall, a certified master herbalist, started their company just before Hurricane Katrina. The duo has created a collection of scented candles and luscious bath and body products with names like Bliss, Bamboo Sugarcane, Café au Lait and Mardi Gras King Cake. All are handmade and eco-friendly. Their soy candles are made using Dead Sea salts (as opposed to Epsom salt) and have soot-free wicks. Their line of lip balms, lotions, bath salts, soaps, body gels, body washes and body scrubs (that leave skin silky smooth) are made using fine herbs, shea butter and high-quality oils such as jojoba, avocado, olive, grape seed and apricot.

“We were motivated just by wanting to take care of our skin and bodies,” says Stansbury. “And by wanting to create an environment and energy that was nourishing to our minds and souls.” The first thing they made was a salve. Inspired and intrigued by a friend (a raw foodist massage therapist), Stansbury and Sumrall cooked herbs, boiled oils and burned fingers, but in the end made their salve. “Once we realized that we could manipulate herbs and oils and the finishing product was absolutely amazing, we were like what else can we make?”

So we got into making bath salts for Christmas gifts,” says Sumrall. “And after the storm we made soaps in the FEMA trailer.” Their Oyo & Oya prayer candle is named after the wind goddess and was inspired by Katrina. “It’s part of the New Orleans line,” says Sumrall. On the back of the label, it reads: “Light during hurricane season and say the prayer to divert hurricanes.”

In the beginning, they made gifts only to give away not sell. “We were in a testing stage for many years, perfecting our products,” says Sumrall.

These two self-described “white witches” are both intuitive, spiritual beings who live in tune with nature, follow the Mayan calendar and celebrate the annual solstices. “We always make something on the night of the summer solstice and also on the winter solstice,” says Sumrall. “We have a winter solstice candle, a summer solstice candle and a summer solstice scrub,” says Stansbury. “We make products on full moons—it’s always important to do that. So we feel like we have a connection with the universe.”

“We named the company in part because of a painting titled ‘Soul Satisfaction’ by local artist Sean Daliet,” says Stansbury. “He had a lot to do with the inspiration and vision for our company.”

“He gave the painting to me as a gift,” says Sumrall. “And it was his idea for us to make candles. It was our idea for the other products. But it’s his artwork on all the labels.”

Both Stansbury and Sumrall have labs in their homes where they hand make the products.  When it comes to pouring the perfect candle, there’s a process that must be followed to produce a quality product. “If you

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 don’t follow the system, then the candles don’t turn out right,” says Sumrall. “It’s all about temperature in every step,” adds Stansbury. “And patience. You have so many ingredients that you start with and then in the end you have a beautiful candle. It’s a very rewarding process.”

“And soy candles are better for the environment than traditional paraffin wax candles,” says Sumrall.

“The burn radius is only 125 degrees,” adds Stansbury. “And because it’s 100 percent soy wax, you can rub it on your skin like body oil. All the oils used are body safe. And the cotton wick is lead-free.”

Soulstice Natural Products honors the environment and community in other ways, too. A portion of the company’s proceeds is donated to the Gulf Restoration Network, which works to restore the levee system. And Sumrall and Stansbury are advocates for keeping art in public schools.

The partners have big plans for Soulstice Natural Products. “The candles we have offer so many different lines and scents. We want our coffee candles to be found in coffee shops; love potion candles in lingerie stores; voodoo candles in voodoo shops; our inspirational and meditation candles in spas, yoga studios and wellness centers.”

As owners of an emerging company still working to establish themselves in these difficult economic times, how do they stay motivated? “We’re passionate about what we do,” says Sumrall. “Products like these make it easier to go through hard times,” says Stansbury. “They lift your spirits and make you feel better.”

The full line of Soulstice Natural Products is available at Spa Aria, Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St., and Euphoria Hair Lounge, 3135 Metairie Road. For more information or to place an order, call 319-2383 or 606-5687, or visit www.soulsticenaturalproducts.com.