PARKERSBURG -Steve Geibel, a Parkersburg native, started a business selling soaps, lotions, candles and lip balm last year.
The logo, "Good for you. Good for the plant," means more than a good business strategy. All products are made with natural oils and scents, and all packaging is made from recycled materials.
Geibel made his first batch of bar soap, oatmeal scrubby, in his kitchen.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Steve Geibel of Parkersburg with some of the items he sells through his company Mountain Organix.
"The first batch was perfect," he said.
Geibel, who attended Parkersburg High School, graduated from Marshall University with a bachelor's degree in marketing. He is pursuing a master's degree in marketing at Auburn University, but it is on hold while he achieves his business goals.
Geibel started a company called Mountain Organix, where his wife is the president and he is director of operations. He is also the president of Alchemy 13 Marketing, specializing in strategic marketing planning and brand building.
Geibel said after the first batch of soap he made he began to experiment with soaps of a more "out of the box" variety, and has had success since.
Geibel operates out of local warehouses he refers to as a "giant kitchen" and "satellite kitchens." His home kitchen is an overflow kitchen should the company need to use it. He wants to bring the product to Parkersburg but hasn't had any luck yet. The business consists of him, his wife and two employees, a small organization in the second year of business. Their products include soaps like citrus spice, described on the website as "reminiscent of grand homes of yore, when Victorian-era homemakers would decorate their parlors with juicy oranges, made even more ornate with elaborate designs all done with cloves inserted into the flesh of the fruit."
Geibel said one thing that keeps customers returning is the story they include on the back of every soap bar. Many of them are as creative and artistic as the description of citrus spice, but also include fun names like zombie apocalypse and mountain sunrise.
Geible said being in his own business is a full-time job, but the benefits outweigh the negative aspects.
"I'm always working," he said. "You just try to take breaks in between, but luckily I've been able to go to every one of my son's basketball games."
Geibel said he has always been interested in consumer goods and wanted to own a condiments company in about third or fourth grade.
"I'm the kind of person that wants you to tell me 'no you can't do that,' I'm stubborn." he said.
Geibel said he had the idea to start the soap company and was trying to "talk it up" among his friends.
"I wanted to prove my point. Anybody can do this," he said about his business.
Products are sold online at www.mountainorganix.com and in salons/spas, gift and candle stores in six states, including West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
When appearing on its Facebook page, the company went international by sending an order to Amsterdam on Aug. 30. The business uses social media marketing tools.
Geibel said they recently held a contest for the customer who could come up with the most interesting idea for a soap. He said the most interesting idea so far has been lemon meringue pie, and the winner will receive a batch, about 25 bars, of their own soap as a prize.
Geibel said when he started the company he wanted to make sure he focused on customer service. He said he has always treated his customers with respect and gives them a reason for wanting to return.