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383 Delano Road
Irasburg, Vermont, 05845

North Country Soapworks - home to the best all-natural handmade body products. No artificial flavors, no artificial scents, no artificial colors. Never anything artificial and never tested on animals. Artisan soaps, sea salt spa bars, delicious lip balms, skin loving body butter, scrubs and soaks. Your skin will love you.

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Welcome to the Vermont Cowgirl blog where you'll live life in Vermont through the lens of our camera, get sneak peeks of new all-natural products, behind the scenes peeks and much, much more.

Filtering by Category: business

Honesty and integrity in advertising - and why we don't claim "treats acne"!

Katrin Mooney

A customer recently asked us straight up "does your Complexion bar clear acne?" We could have said "Sure, it's a pimple busting miracle." Or "My sister-in-law tried it and had great results." Or we could have said "It contains Anise essential oil which is known to be an anti-epileptic, anti-hysteric, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, aperient, carminative, cordial, decongestant, digestive, expectorant, insecticide, sedative, stimulant and vermifuge." (I'll admit, I had to look that one up!). Our answer, however, is always the same: 

"Our soap doesn't cure any diseases. It simply cleans." 

That's it. Our soap cleans. It's an awesome, rocking, amazing, skin-loving soap that smells and feels awesome and cleans your skin. It doesn't feed the hungry. It doesn't cure cancer. It doesn't make your arthritis go away. It's soap, not a magic pill. :-)

Also, making any such claims is strictly against the FDA's Cosmetic Act (which is as much fun to read as one might imagine). As per the FDA, a drugs "... are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease and/or are articles intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body." (under section 201(g)(1)(B) and/or (g)(1)(C) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)(B) and/or (g)(1)(C)])

So the law is pretty clear. Anytime anybody makes a claim that either a product or a single ingredient used in that product "makes wrinkles disappear", "helps against insomnia, spider veins, acne, prevents sun burn, heartburn" is making an unlawful drug claim. We don't want to do that. For a couple of reasons: we don't want to mislead our customers and we most certainly don't ever receive one of these warning letters from the FDA like these folks here.

We've all seen claims such as "Eucalyptus oil functions as an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antibacterial ingredient. The oil is also a skin-conditioning agent used to treat skin infections and help alleviate skin irritation.” - and everybody seems to be doing it. Looking at Etsy, Amazon and on people's websites, claims like the ones we posted above are every.where.

I get it. It's a great marketing angle but unfortunately, that's all it is. Marketing. Words. Not evidence.  

What does this mean for North Country Soapworks?

We don't want to mislead our customers. We're not making any claims. We simply list our amazing ingredients and will proudly tell you that we follow FDA guidelines and that our all-natural products rock! 

2 weeks later

Katrin Mooney

And holy cow - we've been sending orders across the country every day non-stop. Thank you all so very, very, VERY much for embracing the new North Country Soapworks (although I caught myself trying to answer the phone saying "Vermont Cowgirl ... ah, North Country Soapworks - but after over 5 years, it's probably normal). In any case, I digress.

You're all super awesome. And totally vindicated the purchase of roughly 200 rolls of branded tape we made a couple of years ago. To quote Col. John 'Hannibal' Smith: I love it when a plan comes together!

Happy shopping!

Kat & Damian

Vermont Cowgirl is now North Country Soapworks

Katrin Mooney

How did we get here?

Back in August of 2016, we decided to file for a federally registered trademark for "Vermont Cowgirl". That trademark was granted and we thought we were all set. We clearly thought wrong. A company named "Cowgirl Cosmetics" who had been dormant for the last 4 years decided that nobody in the entire USA could sell cosmetics that had the term "Cowgirl" in it.

We contacted our attorney and learned that being right (which we were) and being found right in a court of law are two entirely different things. Cowgirl Cosmetics filed an appeal to have our trademark cancelled and we received a court schedule that would have tied us up until the fall of 2018 had we decided to fight their appeal. As much as we knew that were were right, as much as we knew that they were just corporate bullies who didn't have a legal leg to stand on, we also knew that they had millions of dollars on their side and could easily drive us into bankruptcy.

My initial instinct was to fight this until the bitter end based on principle alone; it just felt so entirely wrong. We were being bullied and there wasn't an awful lot we could do about it. In the end, we decided that it would be best if we focused on the positive (our products), not cling to a name and move forward instead of spending the next 18 months in court. We said "screw it" and rebranded.

As of June 5th, 2017, Vermont Cowgirl is officially North Country Soapworks and we couldn't be more excited. We took the time to completely overhaul our packaging, our logo, our design, our photography and are pretty stoked with the results. We also added quite a few products to the lineup. The hugest of THANK YOUs to our amazing families, friends, team mates and coworkers who supported us through thick and thin, tested, purchased and cheered us on - you truly are an amazing group of people and we're super grateful to call you friends.

Kat & Damian

Super stoked! The new packaging is here.

Katrin Mooney

We're super stoked. For a couple of reasons.

We just finished the final design of our new soap packaging. Woot. We had previously used cigar bands but it looked never quite professional enough but at the same time, we didn't want to contribute to the landfill by adding unnecessary packaging either.

The solution: Recycled craft boxes. Custom labels that still showcase our soap but make the easy to store, easy to display and easy to sell. Added bonus: we get to include a better product description on the package and the full list of ingredients on the back. 

Secondly, we just completed our first private label order. Stop on by the 33 Foundry Street Gym in Morrisville, VT to pick up a bar of our post-workout-sweat-smell  busting sea salt soaps:

Happy first week of May!

All-natural body products - what does that even mean?

Katrin Mooney

We use the term "all natural" a lot here at Vermont Cowgirl.

As it turns out, the term "all natural" is not protected in any which way, shape or form. Anybody can slap the term "all natural" onto any product and they wouldn't be in any violation of the law. Ethically, it's a crappy thing to do but legally ... it's apparently perfectly fine. Theoretically, I could offer an "all natural" body butter chock-full of artificial ingredients and plenty of people actually do just that. Just because something says "all natural" doesn't mean it's actually "all natural".

When we use the term "all natural" here at Vermont Cowgirl, we guarantee that our products never contain any of the following:

  • artificial flavors
  • artificial colorants
  • bisphenal-a
  • parabens
  • mineral oils
  • petrolatum
  • synthetic dyes
  • triclosan
  • phthalates
  • formaldehyde
  • sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

... and so much more. This is our promise to you. All natural to us really means "all natural". No artificial crap. Period.

Our oils are carefully infused with organic herbs for color and scent and we then use these "colored oils" in our lip balms, body butters and soaps for a true, all natural color. We also frequently use clays to impart color.

While I would love to claim that none of our products are tested on animals, that claim went out the window after Jake ate a jar of body butter and Shelly later took a bite out of a bar of sulphur soap (imagine a dog who is burping and farting sulphur for the better part of the weekend). We will, however, say that all products are tested on humans first before they're ever tested on animals. :-)

If you have any questions about any of our products, just give us a holler in the comments.

Have a great weekend!

Vermont Cowgirl

Donating for a good cause

Katrin Mooney

One of my friends on Facebook posted a meme last week. That meme read "Pray for the Homeless this winter."

My thoughts were: Praying is fine but what are we actually going to DO to help the homeless and how can we do it locally? I went online and found COTS and loved their mission statement: "We believe: in the value and dignity of every human life; that housing is a fundamental human right; and that emergency shelter is not the solution to homelessness." Boom. There we had it. The organization we wanted to support. 

Now how to help and what to do? Then we had it: soap. Everybody needs soap. About every 15 seconds, a child dies from a disease that could have been prevented with proper hygiene. Scary to think that one little bar of soap could have saved a life. Or helped somebody get ready for an interview or simply just take a shower with a bit of a luxury soap. 

So going forward, we're going to donate 100 soaps each quarter and hope to make a bit of a difference. One bar of soap at a time.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Vermont Cowgirl!

Trademark registration filed

Katrin Mooney

Phew. After watching videos on the US Government's Patents and Trademarks website for what felt like hours, I just completed our trademark application. While our business registration here in the State of Vermont protects our name here locally, we wanted to protect our name & brand in all 50 states since we have big plans for this little business.

So now we're just going to wait and see if I screwed up somewhere of if it's going to be smooth sailing. Fingers crossed!!!!