Backdropped by dozens of her hand made soaps, Crystal Ferenczi carefully portions out her Activate muscle lotion in preparation for distribution in her home based workshop. /ANDREA ARNOLD

By Andrea Arnold

New McBride resident Crystal Ferenczi did not start out with the goal of selling natural soaps, salves and aromatherapy products. 

When the kids were born, her husband Tanner wanted to use cloth diapers. “I thought he was crazy,” said Ferenczi. “I came around to the idea, but then needed a diaper cream that washed off the diapers and was natural. I started to figure out how to make it.”

Her production of items was dictated by need. One day they ran out of vapour rub and the kids were sick. She looked at the supplies she had and figured out how to make an alternate more natural option. 

After a run-in with a populated wasp nest she created a remedy for bites and stings, and following a mishap that caused her to throw out her back, she made a muscle salve.

“The need for pain relief products comes out of a need for pain relief,” she said.

Ferenczi said her mother-in-law taught her how to make soap. The family uses hard bars for most every task, including homemade hard dish soap bars. 

“The kids pump liquid soap like crazy. We were going through it way too fast. Now we hardly have any in the house.”

Ferenczi began her journey approximately 12 years ago, and established the business Farmstead Naturals in March of 2017. Her products use all-natural, almost food-grade ingredients, but she wouldn’t recommend eating them as they are mixed with a variety of scents.

The Ferenczi family moved to the Robson Valley this past summer and she is having to be creative and inquisitive in sourcing ingredients. She would like to use locally sourced items as much as possible; where she’s unable to, she is looking for others to order alongside to cut down shipping costs. The items she has not been able to find locally, she stocks up on when she visits family in the lower mainland.

Several of Ferenczi’s products have been registered with Health Canada. In order for them to meet Health Canada requirements, the products have to be proven to have health benefits. Usually, this process takes a few months, but most recently, the Activate Muscle Lotion took about three years to pass. The lotion was made with consultation with Ferenczi’s physiotherapist in Mission BC. Delays due to COVID drastically slowed the registration progress. 

“It is always exciting to get notice that a product has been approved, but it was extra exciting when we received the approval paperwork for the lotion.”

This lotion is not the first muscle pain relief item that Ferenczi has made. When she threw out her back, the salve she created at that time has heating qualities and this second, a cooling. 

“I can’t use the cooling one in the winter, it’s too cold,” she said. “So, one is better for the winter, and one is for the summer.”

One of the aspects of this business that Ferenczi really enjoys is the ability to talk to people, and help them figure out what it is that would be the most effective. 

“Talking directly to people and being able to work with them,” she said. “Being able to suggest different options, and the possibility of creating something new that is needed, when my opinion is asked.” 

Ferenczi has learned that not everyone responds to aromatherapy scents the same way. For example, she has gotten feedback from customers that her “Serenity now” product that was created to help alleviate stress has also been used as a sleep aid, and the “Lights out,” sleep aid product has helped with stress relief.  

“It depends on how the client processes the scent,” she said.

Farmstead Naturals has been selling products to individuals and small businesses around the world through online platforms. Ferenczi had just received an order from a small shop in Switzerland. She is working towards selling wholesale and would like to see the business continue to grow.

Ferenczi has been pleased with the interest that the residents of the Robson Valley have shown in her products. In the past she has set up ways that groups can use Farmstead Naturals for fundraisers, and would like to do that again.

She plans to attend Christmas markets in Valemount, McBride and Dunster in the coming weeks.