After practicing physical therapy for thirty-five years, Laura Rozell decided to channel her passion for wellness in a different direction and started creating natural household products.
Rozell began making nontoxic vegan products like soap, candles and bug repellent in her basement and hawking them to family, friends and farmers market shoppers. Rozell eventually outgrew her basement digs and decided to take the leap and purchase Fire Lake Soapery in Paola, Kansas (5 E. Piankishaw, Paola, KS), a thriving candle and soap business with a similar philosophy. Along with the business came a quaint brick-and-mortar shop on the edge of Paola’s historic town square that included a manufacturing area, allowing Rozell to keep making all her products in-house and start holding workshops for people wanting to create their own.
How did growing up on a farm in North Topeka influence you? My whole family always gardened. Being around that environment in Sabetha and Holton from a very young age helped me see the benefits of fresh, organic produce as well as the flowers and herbs that my great grandmother would use to make her own teas. Seeing how they lived, helping them garden, created a lifelong practice. Do you remember going to your grandma’s house? You always remember that smell of cookies—there are certain scents that make you feel a certain way. Scent can be a “happy trigger.”
How did your medical background inform your passion for natural products? I practiced physical therapy for thirty-five years, and through that time period, I became a massage therapist. I’ve always been into natural medicine as a way to prevent pain and increase fitness and ability. I’ve worked with disabled children doing a lot of stretching exercises, and we found that aromatherapy, botanicals and natural oils helped them relax and led them to stretching even better. I found that those things were beneficial in combination with my practice. So, soon I started making natural household products for family and friends.
Tell us more about Fire Lake Soapery’s products. The skin is the largest organ in your body, and we have to take care of it—no paraffins, no mineral oil, no soy, no toxins. We don’t use any kind of fillers at all. We only use organic oils. It’s a cold-pressed soap, just like my great grandmother made. We infuse botanicals, herbs, all that good stuff in the soaps. We make so many different kinds of soap that have different medicinal purposes. And that’s really our focus—to make sure that we’re producing the best soaps that we can for the right purpose.
You can find Fire Lake Soapery’s natural household products online (firelakesoapery.com) and in select Whole Foods, Price Chopper, Family Tree Nursery and Made in KC stores.