Making it with beeswax: An interview with Susan Shashok of Caroline’s Dream, skincare products crafted with integrity

A slightly different version of this article has been previously published in Bee Culture Magazine. 

harvesting honey

By Alice Eckles

Thinking of the uses of beeswax and the myriad of businesses that rely on it from fine art to food wraps my mind turned to my neighbor and friend, Susan Shashok of Middlebury, Vermont, who regularly buys bulk beeswax from my husband and I at Dancing Bee Gardens, for her skincare business, Caroline’s Dream.

 They say good business is about relationships and I think it’s interesting how circles of relationships overlap in this example:

 Dancing Bee Gardens’ relationship with honeybees, Ross Conrad of Dancing Bee Gardens and Susan Shashok of Caroline’s Dream both involved in local politics are friends, and Susan Shashok buys DBG beeswax for her cosmetic line. Susan Shashok sells her products at Elmer Farm Community Supported Agriculture in Middlebury where Ross Conrad has one of his bee yards and where we also sell our products. It starts to seem like it’s all one ball of wax! But beeswax has a different place in different businesses. My talk with Susan about beeswax in her business sheds more light on the comb.

Beekeeper businesses stimulate the local economy in many ways by wholesaling products from their hives as well as through pollination and other services. Beekeeping businesses provide supplies and services for mead makers, farmers, artists, health and beauty product makers, and still other industries. Recognizing this good that comes from what we do as a beekeeping business inspired me to ask Susan Shashok about her business and how beewax comes into it.

 Alice Eckles- How did you get started making your products? 

Susan Shashok- I started because I wasn’t finding the products that would work with my sensitive, acne prone skin. I tried them all and got so frustrated, that I took a class on how to make my own. That first moisturizer that I formulated specifically for me worked so well that I started making some for gifts and experimented with making other formulas for family and friends. In a few years enough people wanted to buy them that I was able to start a company.

 Read the rest of Alice's Interview

Susan Shashok
Read more

Low Waste Packaging Updates

    Caroline's Dream containers will never be zero waste, I tried refilling jars when I first started my business and it was not a successful venture. Return shipping on jars was cost prohibitive, messy and I couldn't get the containers clean enough unless I resorted to harsh chemical solvents. I have committed to low waste and sustainable choices that involve low plastic, recyclable and compostable solutions.

   low waste

    In 2019, I focused on making my shipping materials more earth friendly. I have used brown kraft paper packing instead of plastic bubble wrap and inserts for many years. I swapped out plastic lined shipping envelopes for brown kraft paper envelopes and plastic packing tape for brown kraft paper tape. I also swapped the plastic "fragile" stickers placed on the outside of all shipping boxes and envelopes for this fun red ink stamp.

-zero waste skincare packaing

    Finally, I reuse all clean packing materials from my suppliers, most of whom use similar brown kraft paper instead of packing peanuts.

-

    In 2020, I swapped the plastic Deodorant twist up tubes for some amazing paper push up tubes. I am particularly proud that the new tubes are recyclable AND compostable, chose whatever works better for you. In addition, I swapped the large, clear plastic shrink wrap safety seals on the Deodorant for a small, plastic button safety seal instead. 

    I also swapped the amber jar lids from plastic to metal. Black for the moisture creams and gold for the Super Skin Salve. So much better to be able to recycle the jars AND lids everywhere.

Super Skin Salve Peppermint Forest Foot Cream

-

    In 2021, I eliminated the plastic shrink wrap safety seal on all the moisture creams and Super Skin Salve. This extra bit of throw away plastic has not been missed and not having to fuss with removing anymore it has been a bonus.

-Caroline's Dream Lip Balms

    I am now researching ways to change the lip balm tubes. I will need to address their shrink wrap safety seal at the same time. Having unsealed lip balms in stores makes me cringe. The current tubes are BPA free and recyclable but I want to eliminate this last bit of plastic packaging by next year if possible.

Susan Shashok
Read more

Calendula Cream and Cancer Treatments

   Calendula is one of my favorite herbs. The petals can be applied externally for a wide range of skin problems. Such as inflammation, dry skin, abrasions, wounds, eczema, psoriasis, burns and cancer treatments.
-
    They are deeply healing to skin and safe enough for sore nipples with breastfeeding and delicate newborn skin. Calendula has antiseptic, antibacterial and astringent properties that work in tandem with it's healing abilities.
-
   I make Calendula oil by steeping Organic Calendula Flowers in warm Extra Virgin Olive Oil, stirring frequently for many hours before straining. This oil is a star ingredient in my Super Skin Salve, Lip Balms and Calendula Cream.
-
-

    Calendula can be of particular use to those receiving radiation during cancer treatments. Radiation exposure typically causes DNA damage and skin toxicity and topical Calendula brings all of it's healing properties to mitigate damage and speed your healing process.
-
    Lots of my customers have successfully used it during their cancer treatments. Apply Calendula Cream on breasts and surrounding tissues (or wherever the radiation treatment is targeted) as well as bruised skin covering ports.
-
    If you are reading this after radiation burns and sores are already a problem, Super Skin Salve will help the most at first, and then follow with regular Calendula Cream use. 
-
-

Calendula Cream Super Skin Salve

    Dry mouth is very common during cancer treatments, especially during Chemotherapy so Peppermint, Sweet Orange and Maple Lip Balms help keep lips moist and comfortable all day and night.

-

Sarah Sweet Orange Lip Balm
-
    Calendula is a soothing partner to bring along any cancer journey. Please let me know if you have any questions along the way!
 
Susan Shashok
Read more

I got scammed a few weeks ago.

It's been a while since I lost some money to a scammer but I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I was looking to buy some cross back aprons for production days. Bright colors and lots of pockets, non traditional and adding some fun to my day. I saw an ad on Instagram with smiling models and just the kind of aprons I was looking for...
Susan Shashok
Read more

Local Deliveries, Meet Up and Pick Ups

   I love delivering skincare on my electric cargo bike town so don't hesitate to place an order and give me a destination. No tipping please, I am already rewarded with fresh air and exercise.

      

Susan and Caroline's Cruiser

How it Works:
-
1. Purchase your skincare on website.
 -

 2. During checkout, you can choose between having your order shipped or several delivery/meet up/pick up options:

  • WEDNESDAY & THURSDAYS: Middlebury Delivery/Meet Up or Pick Up at Susan's House. 

I will contact you to arrange after your order is completed. 

  • THURSDAYS: Delivery to Elmer Farm. Retrieve your order from the red Caroline's Dream cooler anytime after 10am. (During Winter CSA, the Caroline’s Dream cooler is kept in the warmer walk-in with the potatoes & squash). 

    Any questions, please call or text Susan at (802) 388-5458

(please do NOT contact Elmer Farm).

Susan Shashok
Read more

Healthy tattoo care nourishes while healing your skin.

Getting a tattoo is a big deal for you and your skin. Any good tattoo artist is going to spend some time telling you how to take care of your tattoo after you leave their shop. I peppered my artist with all sorts of questions and left with her standard full sheet of specific instructions. I have a large snake tattoo and I was nervous about taking care of it properly.

-

Susan's Tattoo

Many of the tattoo care products out there are petroleum or PABA based and I definitely hesitated to put that gunk on my skin just to help my tattoo heal. But I did because I didn't want to do the "wrong" thing for my tattoo. It did heal, but the tattoo was really itchy, peeled a lot and after a few weeks, needed another hour of touch up work, so frustrating. I felt like I had failed my skin.
-
After the touch up work , I reconsidered my approach. I followed all the cleanliness instructions and for the first week I substituted cocoa butter for the petroleum gunk. I warmed a few pieces of cocoa butter in my fingers until it was soft enough to apply easily.
-
After that, I used my own Calendula Cream. The result? It never got itchy and there was no more peeling or fading of lines. In fact, it looked and felt great the entire time and still does years later!
It's extremely important to follow instructions on tattoo cleanliness, wrapping and more, but in my experience the cream worked even better than the recommended petroleum product. 

I still take care of my tattoo. I am careful to apply Calendula Cream everyday to keep my skin, moisturized and healthy.  
Susan Shashok
Read more

Vermont Fall Foliage Hiking 2020

I love autumn: wearing sweaters, the snap in the air, shuffling through crunchy leaves underfoot, they all make my heart sing with joy! I am very lucky to live in  Vermont and get to enjoy hiking and biking when the trees shine their beautiful fall colors for all to see. 

Breadloaf Campus

 

On Sunday, Alan and I hiked up to Silent Cliff which is off the Long Trail in the Middlebury Gap. It is only a 2 mile hike but with some decent elevation. I got to use my hiking sticks for the second time and break in my new boots. Both performed well and although the views at the cliff were gorgeous, the trek through the woods was also a treat for the eyes.  

Alan & Susan

Silent Cliff Hike
Silent Cliff 2
Susan Shashok
Read more

How is everyone doing?

Daffodils

(Daffodils blooming yesterday in my yard, Yay!)

 

Seriously, I'd like to know how you are holding up to all the stressful news and  changes that are hitting us weekly, daily even hourly. For me it is a complicated question to answer, mostly I am fine but this new way of life is still disorienting and constricting.
Luckily, I had ordered plenty of supplies for Caroline's Dream this past December so I have ingredients, packaging and safety equipment on hand for a while. Production continues regularly and I set up a no contact shipping area in my garage to keep both delivery people and my family safe and happy.
I donated my supply of N95 masks to the local hospital and replaced them with handmade fabric masks. I have also been giving away lip balms to medical staff on the front lines and to the groups of volunteers sewing fabric masks in my community. 
If you purchase a skincare gift for some front line people, let me know in the notes section of the online order form and I will tuck in a free lip balm for them!
Susan Shashok mask
Please let me know how you are doing and feel free to share photos. I love to re-post on Instagram and in my newsletters. My sister Mary sent this one of her necessities of life. She is a Manager in a busy medical office. Happy to see her Sweet Orange lip balm made the cut and she sewed that cool face mask.
Take care, let me know if I can help with any skincare questions and let me know what is going on in your corner of the world!

 

Susan Shashok
Read more

March 20, 2020 Newsletter

Checking in with all of you, sharing some new packaging and a sale to go with it!
Susan Shashok
Read more

Comparing Prices

I set my prices to support a liveable wage. I work hard to keep your products affordable even when I don't have the volume buying power of a large skincare company. 
Have you ever been curious about a price comparison to other similar skincare? 
Calendula Cream
 

Caroline's Dream Calendula Cream = $8.25/ oz 

----

Burt's Bees Truly Flowing Night Cream For Dry Skin = $9.99/oz

Honest Deep Hydration Face Cream = $16.56/oz

Badger Balm Damascus Rose Beauty Balm = $16.99/oz

Fat Co. UnMyrrhaculous Face Cream = $28.00/oz

Tata Harper Redefining Body Balm = $34.16/oz

----

 I use larger containers so there is less packaging waste along with the free shipping so please be confident that I am offering you an excellent product at a great price.  

Susan Shashok
Read more

What is your skincare challenge? I share part of my story.

Back when I started making skincare in 1996, my top three skincare challenges were: adult acne, extra dry skin and occasional psoriasis patches. 

The first moisturizer I formulated was the Lavender + Sandalwood Cream. It is light enough to moisturize without clogging pores and the essential oils are soothing and anti-inflammatory. After 6 months of use, my face was clear and I still use this cream all summer long.

During Vermont winters, my skin required so much more care and I would get regular flares of eczema or psoriasis. So I developed Calendula Cream for extra dry skin. It is so concentrated that I didn't need much for my skin to stay properly hydrated and I put Super Skin Salve on any small patches of eczema or psoriasis. 

I believe that one of the main reasons it took so long to diagnose my Psoriatic Arthritis is that my skin was so well taken care of by these products. The arthritis side of my autoimmune disease showed easily but the psoriasis was so slow to show itself that it was confusing for myself and the medical community. Now that my disease has progressed, my skin reacts with more psoriasis flares. I still use Calendula Cream all winter and find Super Skin Salve is more effective and has less side effects than regularly prescribed steroid creams. It is diet and yoga practice that effectively compliment my skincare routine the most. 

Now in 2020, my main skincare challenge is remembering to reapply at night before falling into bed after working all day! This is funny, but also a good point. The best cream in the world won't help you by sitting on a shelf. It is meant to be used and enjoyed everyday by you and your skin! 

What are your skincare challenges?

If you wish to email me, I am glad to share my advice based on 24 years of experience in the field. 

Susan Shashok
Read more

Featured in Happy Vermont Blog

Susan Shashok | by Happy Vermont
photo by Erica Houskeeper

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Erica Houskeeper from Happy Vermont. She collects and tells stories of interesting Vermonters. To read her post on me and check out some other great stories of people who live and work in my state, click HERE
Susan Shashok
Read more
21 results