By Meredith Wagner | Arts & Life Editor
When Jill Boman founded Happy Stuff, a small business dedicated to all natural home and body products, she did so not out of obligation, but of a love for the craft. Since 2011, Happy Stuff has been meeting Wacoans’ home, body and skin care needs using simple ingredients and recycled glass bottles –– a hand-crafted arrangement unavailable at generic grocery stores.
Boman’s profession emerged from a mere hobby –– a personal need, rather –– to create products that worked, that Boman felt she could trust and, most importantly, that were composed of as few chemicals and toxins as possible.
“I started with deodorant. It was really because the natural deodorants in the store didn’t work,” Boman said. “I tried it, and I could not believe how well it worked. That was really the start.”
As Boman’s children Hannah and Luke grew up and left for college, she said felt compelled to pursue something new of her own.
“I had stayed home since they were born,” Boman said. “And I was just talking to David, my husband, kinda thinking out loud –– What am I going to do when I’m not a homeschool mom anymore?”
This question prompted the possibility of turning her hobby into a career. In its youth, Happy Stuff was a small stand that featured only two natural lip balms, a handful of deodorants and laundry soap.
As time passed, Happy Stuff gradually increased its variety in inventory, which Boman accredits to two key factors.
“One is listening to my customers,” Boman said. As customers both loyal and irregular purchased her products and returned to the market the following weeks, they provided constructive feedback, often requesting specific items Boman had yet to create. When customers asked for something new, Boman said, “I would just figure out how to make it.”
“Now, I have two tables packed full of skin care products, solid perfumes [and] miscellaneous items like tooth powder and hand sanitizer,” Boman said.
The list goes on. Boman’s display of products, some labeled with her modern logo, others with hand-written notes on white stickers, stretch across the table in neat rows, organized atop mint green plates, adjacent to explanatory notecards.
The second motivator Boman said helped expand her business was a personal challenge she bravely set out to accomplish.
“A couple years ago, I made a crunchy commitment to myself –– yes, a crunchy commitment –– not to buy personal care items of any kind at the store,” Boman said. “If I couldn’t figure out how to make it, that was just too bad for me.”
From here, Boman’s line of products soared and expanded into what market goers experience of her booth today. She didn’t do it alone, though. Through thick and thin, she said her family stuck by her side.
Boman’s husband is currently attending Chiropractic college in Dallas, where Boman lives during the week and commutes to and from for the market every Saturday morning. Her son Luke now lives in Hawaii, and her daughter Hannah still resides in Waco. More than helping Boman at the market each Saturday, the market is a reason for her family to come together again.
“Saturdays, it’s like family day,” Boman said. “We just like hanging out together.”
Boman’s daughter Hannah, in addition to exclusively using her mother’s creations, has supported Jill by attending the market each Saturday and engaging with customers as if they were her own.
“We really like giving people advice on how to transition from using more conventional products to natural products,” Hannah said.
In addition to spending time at the market with one another, Happy Stuff’s booth has become a space where other market vendors and friends are always welcome.
“It’s been a community hub, and there’s always random people just hanging out back here,” Hannah said.
The Bomans’ conversations about Happy Stuff products often exceed that of a typical sales pitch. Hannah and her mother agreed that their products are often the first step in establishing an all-around healthier lifestyle, and that they are willing and excited to help customers every step of the way.
“A lot of times, a person will notice, ‘Hey, that actually feels better than what I was doing before.’ That’s a baby step, and then they take another step, and pretty soon their entire life has been touched,” Boman said. “They start to clean out, not just the refrigerator, but their medicine cabinet and their laundry liquid.”
This is important, Boman said, because “it’s not just what you eat and how it’s grown. It’s what you put on your body.”
Hannah said her and her mother would talk to women struggling with acne and advise customers, not only about skin care products, but about how diet directly affects the complexion of one’s skin — an informal consultation, if you will, pointing to an all-around more natural resolution.
“There is a connection between somebody who wants to buy produce and somebody who wants to buy natural skin care products,” Boman said.
Hannah added, “We have a lot of customers who have being using our skin care products since we first started selling it, and we’ve watched their skin radically improve. It’s fun to see how much more confident they get.”
Ultimately, Boman said the farmer’s market is about making connections and bringing members of the community together.
“The farmer’s market is like a wheel, and there’s all these spokes moving together,” Boman said. “It’s all a gateway to a more natural lifestyle – one that’s more sustainable, not only for [individuals], but for the planet.”
The final and most important lesson the market naturally teaches, Boman said, is “realizing that it all matters.”
Tune in next Tuesday to learn about our next Farmer’s Market Booth of the Week.