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Fields of Ambrosia exhales aroma and therapy through the Mt. Washington Valley


November 25, 2010
"I had no intentions of doing this [making natural soaps and lotions]. I moved to the Valley in 1998 and had every intention of staying retired, gardening and relaxing," says Jasien. She adds that her life partner, Francis Savard, whom she met while working in the theater, is from the Valley and came home to help take care of his mother, Mary Savard, at Intervale Farm.

When Jasien moved from New York, it was like coming home for her, too. Although she hails from Cleveland, Jasien spent time with her grandparents in southwestern Pennsylvania near the Alleghenies and the Monongahela River. Both sets of grandparents had vegetable and flower gardens and pretty much fed their families off the land. "Coming to the Valley was like coming home, only the Monongahela River was replaced by the Saco River and the mountains. It was a relief moving here," she says.

After two years of wallpapering Intervale Farm, a rambling five-bedroom farmhouse, making quilts for every room and cultivating her herb, vegetable, perennial, annual and ornamental flowers gardens. Jasien decided it was time to do something else.

"Francis' mom was an antique dealer," says Jasien. She explains that unfortunately Mary Savard lost her battle with cancer and after she passed away, She was looking through Mary's collections and happened to find a recipe for antique soap circa 1700.

The beginning of her bath and body products journey

"I FIGURED I could use some of what I grow in my gardens. I experimented with soaps and bath salts, and searched online. People publish recipes online. This was all self-taught," she says. Jasien began making natural soaps and lotions for friends and family. They were the willing guinea pigs she says. She wasn't selling the skin and body care products to her friends and family, yet.

Then in 2000, her sister Karen was diagnosed with lung cancer. Jasien went to Cincinnati to be with her sister. She explains that her sister had tissue pain and surface skin pain from radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Jasien began looking into holistic healing using essential oils. The products she crafted helped her sister with the pain and helped her to sleep better.

"In 2001, my sister passed away. The therapeutic products were so successful with her [my sister] that I decided I would incorporate the business and dedicate 10 percent of sales to Jen's Friends Cancer Foundation," she says. In honor of her sister, Karen Marie Jasien and Mary Porter Savard each year a check is sent to Jen's Friends. Jasien became involved with Jen's Friends, too. She is a past vice-president and a past board member, but continues to volunteer for Jen's Friends. She also has stepped back into the theater world, helping M and D Productions with set design.

When she is not volunteering or working on theater sets she is at home making products for the store and for commercial customers. Jasien's retail store has moved from the Old Village Soaps and Sundries location to her present spot at Norcross Place which she shares with barber Cathy (Kate) Hunter. "This location is a good spot, we have good foot traffic especially when the train is running and Ben and Jerry's is open," she says.

What will customers find in the store?

EVERYTHING NATURAL. "Our products are 98 percent organic, we still have to use a preservative, manufactures haven't figured that out yet," she says. The products are all natural made from plants and vegetables, no animal products except bee's wax- no synthetic products, she explains. Each product has no more than 10 ingredients. "If you find alcohol in the first five ingredients of any skin care product, don't buy it. This extends the life of the product and dries the skin out," she adds.

Customers will also find two knowledgeable sales staff in the store. "I have two invaluable staff, Barbara Spofford and Jeanne Primeau, both retired school teachers," she says. "Being teachers they are good at imparting knowledge about the products.

There's a lot to know, too. Fields of Ambrosia offers bath and body, home fragrances, outdoor and specialty skin care for eczema and psoriasis, rural remedies, Dead Sea Salt products, facial care for young and mature skin, moisturizing lotions, therapeutic products like Raindrops, Peppermint Foot Care, Eucalyptus and Mint for breathing easy. Jasien says she had tried putting products in other stores and gift shops, but unless you have trained staff that can talk about the product line the items just sit on the shelves. "You have to learn about the products to successfully sell a non-brand name," she adds.

Business has been good. "We haven't had a negative month in the past two years, being a local business people talk about you, word-of-mouth," she says. Jasien does some local advertising, has a website where customers can order online. "Ordering online is not hugely active, until we have scratch and sniff on the Web, people aren't going to blindly buy beauty products," she explains. "We do have samples of each product in the store," she adds.

Jasien has branched into the commercial market. In addition to making some private labels for local businesses, Jasien supplies to New England Inn, Bernerhof Inn, Nordic Village, Wyatt House, the Cut Off, to name a few. She explains that she can supply spa packets, diffusers for rest rooms, hand creams and lotions. Business cards are left in the rest rooms, which helps to drive business to the store, she adds.

Therapeutic products and specialty skin care are the most popular for her customers, she says. The Raindrops line, inspired by Jasien's sister, helps relieve aches and pains and offers a sense of wellbeing. Raindrops can be used for pre-sports and dance. Jasien says therapeutic pillow sprays, skin products to help with eczema and psoriasis, garden and insect therapeutic products are by far the best sellers and help customers.

"I didn't plan on starting another career, but it's nice to know that I can do some good work too, says Jasien.

For more information, visit www.fieldsofambrosia.com, call 356-3532 or stop by the store located at 9 Norcross Place in North Conway.

PeterCavanagh
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