Back To Basics
Open the door, and the transformation begins: The stress of the day melts away amid the scents of eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint and two dozen other soothing elements found in the soaps, scrubs, balms and lotions that are sold inside.
That’s the essence of Pure Enchantment
. For Debbie Brink and her husband, Bill, the Rocky River emporium they opened in 2008 is the rewarding result of what began as merely a hobby back in 2003. That year, while vacationing in Wilmington, North Carolina, Debbie purchased a bar of natural soap at a local boutique.
“I couldn’t believe how wonderful it felt on my skin, and how it improved my complexion,” she recalls. “Everything else felt harsh and dry in comparison.”
Fascinated by the old-fashioned purity of the product, Debbie began researching and testing recipes in her Rocky River basement. Soon, she was fashioning cakes of soap to give as gifts and sell at local craft shows. Business blossomed, and her line expanded. Three years ago, Debbie and Bill left their respective careers in sales and real estate to devote themselves full-time to their burgeoning personal-care business.
Today, devotees from across the Buckeye State make the drive to take home the couple’s latest creations. Pure Enchantment products can also be found in 50 salons and spas in 11 states — including at Pennsylvania’s posh Nemacolin Woodlands Resort — and on the company’s Web site.
On most weekday mornings, Debbie can be found in the shop’s kitchen, stirring the contents of a stainless steel soup pot. The kettle is filled with one of the many mixtures of natural ingredients that go into every product. All are made on the premises.
“I’m not a chemist,” Debbie explains, as she pours the fragrant concoction into a rectangular wooden soap mold. “What we’re really doing here is going back to simpler times.”
The results speak for themselves: A file drawer overflows with testimonials from happy shoppers. Moms rave about the castile soap, ideal for their newborn’s bath. Patients offer written homages to the shea butter balm, which eases skin ravaged by eczema or chemotherapy. Others want the Brinks to know they love everything — including the healthy dose of aromatherapy that just comes naturally.
“My customers,” Debbie says, “are my inspiration.”
Pure Enchantment, 19300 Detroit Rd., Rocky River 44116, 440/356-1542.
for more information. — Linda Feagler
In a Nutshell
A century or so ago, colossal American chestnuts grew to towering heights of 150 feet, making up a quarter of all trees in the lush forests of the eastern United States — including Ohio. Strong and hearty, these lofty beauties provided a wealth of building materials and food sources.
But by 1932, they were extinct in Ohio, due to an exotic fungus that destroyed their root systems.
Although the trees have been gone for decades, they haven’t been forgotten — thanks in part to Ohio University plant biology professor Brian McCarthy, president of the Ohio chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation. Founded in 1983, the foundation is comprised of scientists working to create a blight-resistant tree that can grow in Eastern forests. The complex genetic bioengineering process — recently completed to produce the hybrid — has been 25 years in the making.
“Most of the 4,000 hybrids we have planted [in Ohio] have been on reclaimed strip mine lands in Belmont and Harrison counties,” McCarthy explains. “And 700 of them have been planted as an orchard at Dysart Woods, which is Ohio University’s 455-acre land laboratory.”
Now the waiting begins. It will take nearly a decade for the trees to mature. McCarthy, however, has high hopes for Ohio’s batch. Hundreds of the same type of test trees have been thriving in neighboring states for the past year, exceeding expectations that are quickly growing as high as the sky.
“The American chestnut is an important part of our natural heritage,” McCarthy says. “Our goal is to restore our forests to their original condition.”— Rachel Nebozuk
Many schools take students on field trips to art museums, but pupils at McClain High School in Greenfield merely have to step into the hallway to experience the sights such an outing affords: Reproductions of Michelangelo’s tomb monuments for Lorenzo and Guiliano de Medici flank the marble staircase at the main entrance. A frieze of the Parthenon is ensconced in the main corridor. Rookwood tile backs water fountains and Tiffany lamps adorn the auditorium.
The south central Ohio high school is filled with more than 200 pieces of art, thanks to the generosity of Edward Lee McClain and his wife, Lulu. The Highland County entrepreneur, best known for his invention of the hinged horse collar, set about in 1912 to build an educational facility that was state of the art — right down to the swimming pool, two gymnasiums and clock tower. His wife added the artistic and cultural touches the institution is known for.
“Our students recognize that not all schools are alike and that their school is basically an art museum,” explains principal Dan Strain, recalling a recent visit from a member of a rival basketball team, set to battle the McClain Tigers. “He asked where the school was,” Strain says. “He thought he was in a museum and that there must be another building on campus for students.”
McClain’s 650-member student body is used to being surrounded by the unusual opulence. And they are proud of it.
“We remember how it felt to be in this building for the first time,” says senior Erin Mizer. “Visitors seem amazed that the art is in perfect condition.”
Tours of McClain High are available during the school day. For information, call 937/981-7731. — Sarah Williamson