Natural, local oils for the body

By Jeffrey Bishku-Aykul
Assistant to the Editor

Hyde Park mother and entrepreneur Sarah Thompson calls it her “gift to the neighborhood.”

Thompson’s preservative-free lotion, My Body Garden, is one she has been making from scratch for years at her neighborhood home. She hopes to start selling it to the community starting early next year at Bonne Sante, 1512 E. 53rd St.

Thompson began concocting a natural lotion nearly a decade ago, after her husband, Young-Jin — then a research assistant at the University of Chicago Medical Center — told her of cosmetic preservatives appearing in breast cancer tumors.

Her husband “would point out that the lotion I was slathering all over my body had these preservatives in it,” Thompson said. “Me being health conscious, I immediately started looking for other alternatives.”

Thompson researched the contents of high-end moisturizers and, aided by Young-Jin’s chemistry know-how, created her own lotion. Pleased with the results, she says she found the preservative-free lotion consisting of “raw basic oils and other ingredients, all plant derived” better than its store-bought counterparts.
“At first I would just use it in the home,” she said, adding that she would offer the lotion sometimes to her friends.

Thompson has never worked in the cosmetics industry. After a brief career at the Field Museum of Natural History and a stint as an organic vegetable farmer in Greyslake, Ill., she became a full-time mother. Now, the Hyde Parker of 13 years sells the lotion from her home. There, she offers to refill used bottles for her customers — for a discount — to encourage sustainability.

Thompson will in January begin selling her lotion fortnightly at Saturday demonstrations at Bonne Sante, after which the store may begin shelving her product. Yet, although her operation is expanding, she says she wants to keep it local.

Her “primary goal and focus is to maintain the jar recycling initiative because my passion is sustainability and recycling and that’s more important to me,” Thompson said.

As for the lotion’s name, Thompson says she came up it while brainstorming on a park bench with fellow parents.

“I was looking for a name that directly symbolized … something that’s fresh,” she said, adding that being in a garden “is a fresh sort of experience.”
Those interested in learning more about My Body Garden or buying the lotion, may e-mail Thompson at info@mybody Thompson will also be providing demonstrations at Bonne Sante, 1512 E. 53rd St., on Saturday, Dec. 15, from noon to 3 p.m.