Aubrey Helmuth Miller searched for years for a natural shampoo that actually cleaned and conditioned her brown locks and didn’t cost its weight in gold.
She experimented with the “no-poo” method, only to get a head full of dandruff. She mixed homemade batches of castile soap and coconut milk but got so-so results not worth the tediousness of the effort. She also tried nearly every shampoo in the natural foods store, only to find that some of the “natural” formulas contained a bunch of ingredients she couldn’t pronounce.
Miller, who began her soap company REDBUDSUDS in 2014, began experimenting with her own natural shampoo formulas by tweaking her body soap formula. Using ingredients that she could pronounce and mostly find in the kitchen, she created a soap bar that produces a big lather and can cleanse both her hair and body.
“One of the things that drives me bonkers about natural shampoos is that it doesn’t lather,” said Miller, a former music teacher in Virginia who also operated a wilderness camp in Minnesota before coming to Canton to live near her husband’s family. “I just really like a lot of suds.”
Perhaps even more importantly to Miller, the multipurpose bars are environmentally friendly: They take less water to manufacture than liquid shampoo and body washes, need fewer resources to transport, require less product with each washing and don’t demand the additional plastics and chemicals that come with traditional bottles.
Miller sees the shower bars and REDBUDSUDS as extensions of her passion for environmental stewardship. She named the bars and REDBUDSUDS after the redbud trees that are the first to bloom on the mountainside near her hometown in Virginia. Each of the bars has been stamped with the words, “Thoughtfully Clean” to remind buyers of its natural ingredients and how they can make small but important choices to move toward a simpler, less wasteful life. She’s also started a blog on her website called “Thoughtfully Clean Field Notes” that includes her observations and reflections to help those who strive to become an everyday activist.
REDBUDSUDS now offers the shower bars in multiple scents, as well as an unscented option: Citrus Sunshine,
Extra-Meter Cedar, Kickass Lemongrass, Sea Clay Rest Day and Fresh Tee Scent. They can be purchased on Miller’s website redbudsuds.com, at the Avenue Arts Marketplace & Theater in Canton, The Wilderness Center in Wilmot, in 13 boutique shops throughout northeast Ohio and in California, Michigan and Missouri.
Miller’s five local picks:
1. Beech Creek Botanical Gardens and Nature Preserve
“A great place to spend a relaxing afternoon,” she said. “They have lovely hiking/jogging trails, excellent nature programming for kids and adults, and butterflies!”
2. Muggswigz Coffee & Tea
“This was the first place I ever visited in Canton,” she said. “The quality of their drinks and the intoxicating aroma of freshly roasted coffee keeps me coming back, whether it’s for business meetings, time with friends or weekly dates with my hubs.”
3. Stark SOUP
“What an amazing way to support good work in this community,” Miller said. “For $10 and a few hours of your time, you get a delicious bowl of soup and the opportunity to learn about and support creative local projects. I participated as an applicant in April 2016, and even though I didn’t actually win the grant, they walked me through the process of putting together my pitch. It helped make public speaking–which can be terrifying!–seem less threatening. Whichever side of the mic you’d be on, I highly recommend checking this out if you haven’t already.”
4. Lighthouse Ministries
“(It’s) an after-school program in southeast Canton that reveals what a big vision in a small community can do,” she said. “In addition to your typical homework help, they have lots of creative programming and an outdoor classroom to help kids develop life skills they wouldn’t necessarily learn at school.”
She said Lighthouse’s Business Builders Club teaches students about handling money by bringing in business
professionals who mentor the students as they develop a business plan, pitch their plan to investors for a loan, and then create, market and sell their products so they can repay the loan. Students keep the profits.
5. North Canton Public Library Green Guerillas book group
“Offered the second Saturday of every month at The Barrel Room in North Canton, we read and discuss books related to living more sustainably,” Miller said. “Discussions are honest and thought-provoking. Something I look forward to every month.”