Jenny Sommerville made her first batch of soap in January 1998. Her kitchen suffered a bit before she got the hang of it, with a few strips of paint missing after the first few attempts.
But she persevered and soon had batches of fragrant, natural soap, which she found time to make and sell somewhere in between raising her two young children.
Sixteen years on those children are almost grown up and Jeymar Soap and Body is a raging success.
Jenny and husband Richard Peterson use a wide range of natural products in the soap such as Marlborough lavender, rosemary and tea tree and much more.
The bed and breakfast industry started ordering from Jeymar as they gradually expanded the product range from beautifully scented soaps to liquids.
Now shipping all over the world, Jeymar remains based at home in the picturesque setting of Church Lane, just outside Wairau Valley township, where the couple still sell from their shop. The family kitchen has been replaced with a manufacturing centre but Jenny and Richard still manage the business with only part-time help from one woman.
Despite orders flying out the door - 2 tonnes of soap and 2500 litres of liquid product a year - each fragrant soap or bottle of shampoo has been the subject of Jenny or Richard's personal attention.
"It's all handmade. Today 5000 soaps went off to Korea but every one is personally wrapped," says Jenny.
The couple rarely have time to attend markets as they did in the early days, but they will be at the Marlborough Girls' College craft festival because their daughter Megan attends the school.
- The Marlborough Express
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