February 1, 2018
Jean Scholtes, founder of the Kind Soap Co., said she became an entrepreneur out of necessity.
Scholtes has a background in design and marketing, spending 10 years as creative director for Sara Lee before joining a local ad agency, doing work mainly focused on packaging design. However, when Anheuser-Busch was acquired by InBev, and took much of the brewery’s marketing work out of St. Louis, Scholtes was one of many working in the local industry who found themselves facing a future with much less demand for their services.
“There were so many creatives out of work, and at my level of creative director, the jobs were going to be very scarce because everyone was going to be competing for the few that were out there, especially in the area that I wanted to stay in, which was consumer goods and package design,” said Scholtes, 46. “So I thought, why don’t I just create my own brand?”
Scholtes had been experimenting with formulating soaps and skin care products from all-natural ingredients, making up batches of products in her basement and selling them at local craft fairs.
“I decided to marry my newfound passion of making my own skin care products with my experience and background in marketing and brand management and package design,” Scholtes said. “I don’t know if I would have done it had I not been faced with the prospect of not being able to find a job that I really liked. So it was partly necessity and it was partly just optimism that was based on nothing. I just thought — I can do this. This will work. I don’t know why not.”
Scholtes registered the Kind trademark and launched the company in 2009, selling her all-natural skin care products online, at farmer’s markets and through other local stores. In 2011, she opened her first brick-and-mortar store in Webster Groves, and five years ago, she moved the store to its current larger location at 20 Allen Ave., in Webster Groves.
“Going from the ad agency world to the retail world is pretty much like going from the frying pan into the fire, but Jean had a plan and a vision, and she’s stuck to it,” said Cordell Jeffries, creative director at Osborn Barr, who previously worked with Scholtes at the former White Space agency. “I’m not sure how someone can go about their business tirelessly and still manage to make it seem effortless, but Jean does exactly that.”
Kind now carries more than 100 products, ranging from soaps and lotions to lip balm and bubble bath. In addition to the Kind boutique, the products are available at Whole Foods stores in St. Louis and Chicago and in a variety of mom-and-pop stores in Missouri and Illinois. The company had about $250,000 in sales last year, with about 75 percent coming from retail and 25 percent from wholesale. Scholtes said the company now is looking to increase production to allow it to expand its wholesale accounts.
Scholtes lives in Webster Groves with her husband, Jeff, and their four teenage children.
What is the Kind Soap Co.? Kind Soap is what I created initially to have products for myself and my family because my son had really bad eczema at the back of his knees and was always clawing at them, and doctors just kept giving him steroid creams. I started researching into what would be a better option than just steroids every day on a 4-year-old. Then I started realizing all these products out in the market that say that they are safe and natural and great for kids have all these ingredients in them that, after you research it, you don’t want to put them on your kids. I started looking into everything we put on our skin, and I saw all these harmful carcinogenic and hormone disrupters and irritants. I thought, I’m just going to make my own products. I threw away all of the our skin care products — all the things that were being absorbed into my family’s skin — and I started making my own.
How did you go about making the products? My husband set me up a little workspace in the basement. I had a little sink, and I had a little hot plate. It was basically cooking. There are ingredients. There are things that you melt. There are things that you boil. You follow recipes. I went on Amazon and bought like 20 books on how to make soap, how to make lotions, natural-this and ingredients-that. This was almost 10 years ago, so YouTube wasn’t really around that much. Now I would have been on YouTube 24/7 just watching tutorials, but back then I was reading books. It was just trial and error. Making up batches, and some things just did not work out and some things did.
Did you go through any training? Being all natural, I didn’t use any synthetic fragrance, and everyone wants things that smell really good. So that’s when I really started looking at essential oils and natural fragrances, and I decided I really needed to get educated on that. I enrolled in courses with an online program through the American College of Healthcare Scientists out of Portland, Oregon, and it took me about three and a half years, but I got my certificate in aromatherapy, which means I am able to safely and effectively manufacture products with essential oils. I would say that was harder than my bachelor’s degree. It was intense. It was all about how the different chemicals affect different systems in your body. It was chemistry; it was physiology. It was a lot of work.
Which Kind product is your favorite? That’s like asking which kid is my favorite. It depends on the day. Honestly, after all this stuff, my favorite is still just a good bar of soap.
You’re a Missouri native? I’m from Ste. Genevieve. I went to college at SIU in Carbondale. My first job out of college was designing bikes in Olney, Illinois, which is a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, and I really needed to get back to civilization, so I applied for jobs in St. Louis and got a job as an art director at a small agency and then from there I went on to Sara Lee.
What do you do when you’re not working? I don’t have time for hobbies. I have four teenage kids, so when I’m not here I’m running them around to different things. I’m active with our trade association here in Webster. The Old Webster Trade Association puts on all kinds of trade events in town, and I do all of the graphics for them. Other than that, I am really kind of a homebody. I like to hang out with my dog. I like to read.
What are you reading? “The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs” by Kevin Johnson.
Where can we find you? My husband and I spend a lot of time over at The Block restaurant. We call it our Cheers — we just go in and sit at the bar. I guess I’m Norm, and he’s Cliff. Sushi Station is another place we like to go and hang out, and Olive & Oak is great.
August 10, 2017
ROCK HILL, MO – Our Mortgage team officially has their own footprint! After years of getting members in the perfect mortgage for their perfect home from within the walls of the credit union, we are pleased to announce the expansion of our mortgage department into a brand new division, West Community Mortgage!
“We have always taken great pride in our ability to help our members with their mortgage needs with a wide variety of mortgage services,” said Denny McGrane, the Director of Mortgage Services. Denny was just named as one of the “Best in Banking” by St Louis Small Business Monthly. “Being able to expand from our success with the Credit Union and starting West Community Mortgage has been very exciting for all of us involved.”
This exciting development will give the mortgage team a brick-and-mortar space completely devoted to getting members into their dream homes. The office is located in Rock Hill off of Manchester and McKnight and will operate as a stand alone mortgage space for buying or refinancing home loans.
The credit union’s CEO, Jason Peach, has been working towards this passion project for awhile: “While West Community Credit Union has been one of the top credit union mortgage lenders in St. Louis for decades, we’ve known that we could be positioned to help even more people in our community.” He continued, “The key to leveraging that opportunity is building awareness, which we will gain through the West Community Mortgage name and opening of a dedicated mortgage office.”
With the mortgage division, not only can you visit any credit union branch for your mortgage needs, you can also apply online or stop by West Community Mortgage and meet with the mortgage team.
“Our goal is to continue to provide our member’s with the great service we have become known for and giving borrowers, and Real Estate professionals an office that is completely dedicated to all of their mortgage financing needs,” remarked Denny.
Whether you’re a first time buyer, buying your next home, or simply need to refinance, our West Community Mortgage team is ready to put you on the smartest path to home ownership. Schedule your no-obligation mortgage consultation today!
9534 Manchester Road
|Monday – Friday 10 a.m. -3 p.m. or by appointment.
By: Matt Sorrell
June 1, 2017
The readers have spoken. Chef of the Year Katie Collier’s restaurant, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria, is one of the hottest spots in town. She and her husband/business partner, Ted Collier, are poised to open a second location in Town & Country this summer and their meal kit company, Vero Pizza & Pasta, debuts this month. Here, Collier shared her unconventional childhood, love for Italian and plans for the future.
Why focus on Italian food?
“When I was 18, my mom worked as a professor at Washington University in the fine arts department. They put her in charge of the study abroad program in Florence, Italy, so she moved there. I dropped out of high school when I was 14 years old. At 18, all of my friends were going to college and doing other things. I was working at Zoe’s Pan-Asian Cafe, so I saved up all of my money for a plane ticket to Florence and I flew there to live with my mom. I went every spring. Obviously, food is the epicenter of Italian culture – I became super passionate about Italian culture and cuisine.”
What did your folks think about you dropping out?
“My parents are both eccentrics, and we were kind of raised wild, so no one noticed!”
Where do you like to travel?
“We use travel to discover and explore. We go places and try to get with nature and chill out and calm the brain. Usually I come back with great ideas and inspirations from that silence. Ted is an amazing fisherman, so we go to places that are fishing destinations and we fly-fish for hours and hours and days and days. That’s where I came up with Vero Pasto – walking down a river. We also love to go to cities and eat. We go to California a lot and travel the coast and eat at great restaurants like Osteria Mozza, Juniper & Ivy, République and In-N-Out Burger.
What’s your guilty pleasure food?
“Chinese food, and I’m into Vietnamese food, too. I have to have it at least once a week.”
What are your favorite local restaurants?
“We just went to Reeds American Table for the first time and loved it. We also love Olive & Oak. It’s close to the restaurant, so we can go by and get an early dinner. We go to Mai Lee often. Ted’s obsessed with barbecue, and we’re friends with Mike Emerson, so we like Pappy’s. We also like Sugarfire Smoke House.”
If you weren’t a chef, what would you do?
“When I was growing up, my dad worked in North St. Louis, buying fireplace mantles and doors and terra cotta from abandoned buildings. We opened a ‘junk store’ together, next to the original Katie’s Pizza before it opened. No name or phone number, just a big open room filled with architectural antiques and furniture. We’d travel to auctions and find stuff. I was pretty good at that. Whatever it would be, it would have to be something creative.”
What do you want to do next?
“We really love the brick-and-mortar concept we have. People often ask if we get bored doing the same thing, but if you really focus on Italian food, it can go in so many great directions. … Our goal – it’s delusional and crazy – but we’d like to have Katie’s Pizza & Pastas and Veros all over the country.”
How do you define success?
“Definitely not monetarily. Growing up, my family wasn’t wealthy. There were many times when no one had a car and we all slept on the floor. I can live with very little. Now that I have enough, I’m totally satisfied in that realm. I definitely feel successful right now because I get to work with my family and my husband every day and we’re good at what we do. My definition of success is when you can innovate something and change it and make it better.”
Photo by Ashley Gieseking
St. Louis Magazine
by George Mahe
December 6, 2016
There’s a new gathering place coming to Kirkwood. On December 15, the former Winfield’s Gathering Place (10312 Manchester, at Woodlawn) will open as Kirkwood Brewhouse, a neighborhood restaurant with a focus and vibe similar to Winfield’s: casual, affordable, and family-friendly.
But it’s not a brewhouse in the strictest sense of the word. While the focus will be on beer, much of it local (26 craft and mainstream tap handles, as well as bottled selections), there’s no on-premise brewing at Kirkwood Brewhouse. (And no affiliation with Kirkwood Station Brewing Co. at 105 E. Jefferson in downtown Kirkwood.)
The interior has been softened and relaxed, according to general manager Mike Watry, former manager at Billy G’s and an alum of Miso on Meramec, ARAKA, and Lester’s in Chesterfield. On the walls, the color palate shifted toward warmer tones; the existing pale, reclaimed wood required no further warming.
The U-shaped bar received bolder accents—including four 75-inch TVs—a signal to Kirkwoodians and beyond that the Brewhouse is a sports bar, too. (There are 15 TVs throughout the restaurant.) When pressed for a description of the concept, Watry replied, “a sports-friendly, beer-centric pub, wrapped around a great menu.” (Fair enough. He could have copped out and said “gastropub.”)
Come spring, Watry might well add “with a great patio.” The restaurant has already been given permission to reconfigure the area on the west side of the building and add 50 covered outdoor seats.
Watry and owner Steve Stolze, a local attorney who recently sold The Side Bar downtown, wanted a “pub-plus” menu and enlisted Michael Eagen to lead the charge. Eagen is the former executive chef at recently shuttered Cardwell’s in Clayton. He’s also the older brother of Tim Eagen, the executive chef at Weber Grill Restaurant.
Eagen has assembled a menu of American favorites and upgrades. Appetizers include three varieties of chicken wings (all with a boneless option), calamari “with fried sweet peppers mixed in,” and candied bacon. The kitchen came equipped with a premium Ole Hickory smoker, so Eagen’s smoked meat sampler is likely to be a big seller. Same goes for the jumbo smoked shrimp, which was a mainstay at Cardwell’s.
Salads run the gamut from a Rich & Charlie’s-esque house salad to a spinach salad with smoked duck breast.
Entrées will range from $15 to $23, with a 14-ounce strip steak served with truffle fries and a fresh vegetable on the higher end. Look for fresh seafood and a smoked pork loin chop, as well as comfort classics like meatloaf and a fried chicken cutlet.
Eagen touts his scratch kitchen (“we have a Caesar dressing where you can actually taste the anchovy”) and half-pound grass-fed beef burgers, served “on Sheboygan hard rolls” (if they can be sourced), a Wisconsin-based product known for its thin, hard crust that doesn’t flake apart.
Watry believes the success of a restaurant comes down to staffing, execution, and nailing the basics. “Restaurants tend to receive the most criticism on the simplest of items.” he says, “We’ll be prepared for that.”
Kirkwood Brewhouse will open just before the onslaught of NCAA bowl games. Good call.
10312 Manchester, St Louis, Missouri 63122
First Music City, now River City.
The Slider House, a gourmet slider restaurant based in Nashville, will open the doors to its first St. Louis-area location on March 6. The new restaurant is located at 9528 Manchester Road, in the former home of Altai Mongolian Grill and Baskin Robbin’s.