Having grown up along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Laura Cerow always had a love for the natural world and fascination with gardening and horticulture. After retiring from a successful career as the Jefferson County Department of Social Services commissioner, Mrs. Cerow spent more time with her passions and began developing organic, or wild-sourced, products for the skin and home.
“I started taking essential oil certification classes, where you conduct labs and begin to learn the process of making products,” Mrs. Cerow said. “I was retired at the time and it was something that I could do on my own and it was fun.”
From there, she began to create products and provide them to her friends and family. The feedback, she says, was so positive that St. Larry’s Organic, Lotions and Potions was born.
While gaining momentum with her studies of essential oils and receiving rave reviews from local residents, Mrs. Cerow developed her own lab at home and began to develop recipes for her organic products, using only the highest quality ingredients, sometimes from her own garden.
“I started gardening when I was still in elementary school,” she said. “I studied horticulture as an undergraduate at Cornell University, and have had a large flower, vegetable and herb garden at my home for over 25 years, maintained without any chemicals.”
It was that understanding of naturally grown, chemical free botanicals that inspired her to provide products that were all natural and healthy for the skin and body.
“These very plants, when concentrated into essential oils, become something powerful, and yet also almost magical in their beauty. We carry only pure, organic essential oils, and we can tell you how and when they were made, and where they came from,” she said.
She decided that she would start her small business because of the help of friends and family, Mrs. Cerow says.
“Fellow entrepreneur and business owner Emilie Cardinaux said she would guide me on my way to opening an online store and logo development,” Mrs. Cerow said. “And I got the name for my brand from my daughter Alison.”
With a deep knowledge of the natural plant world and their healing properties, Mrs. Cerow says the hardest part of launching the business has been to develop her online store and the development of branding on social media.
“It’s really been an education in social media posting, website development and all aspects of owning a small business,” she said. But the help and support of her fellow women in business along the St. Lawrence River in the Clayton community has leveraged her confidence as a small business owner to where she is today.
Her products can now be found in local stores like Reinman’s and Freighter’s in Clayton and her online store is flourishing.
As for her target clientele, Mrs. Cerow says that her products are for anyone who wants to remove harmful products and chemicals from their daily lives and enjoy knowing how and where the ingredients come from.
“My products are for the conscious consumer,” she said. “They are for someone who has decided that they understand about the skin barrier and how chemicals can enter the body through products that aren’t made with non-harmful, organic ingredients. I want people to embrace organic skin products and foods, and to think holistically about their health.”
IN FIVE YEARS
As St. Larry’s is gaining momentum and the production of her products grows, Mrs. Cerow says that she would like her small business to remain manageable by herself, as it truly is from a deep love and understanding about health and wellness and a rewarding aspect to her daily life.
“It’s gotten to the point now where the stress of producing a new product is created with ease,” she said.
~Holly C. Boname