Love of plants blooms into small business

Dana Bressette loves plants. She spent most of her college years with them, and has never looked back.

Naturphyllia, a.k.a. Dana Bressette, in her greenhouse, a work in progress. Photo by Rodika Tollefson

Bressette knows plants. Born in California, she moved with her family to Tacoma and finished high school at Curtis, then went to Washington State University to earn a bachelor of science in horticulture in 1983. Two years later, she received a teaching certificate from Pacific Lutheran University, then worked at Point Defiance in the Horticulture Department and at Wright Park Seymour Conservatory.

As she worked on a master’s degree in urban horticulture, she was required to do much traveling in Washington and Canada to study Madrona trees and try to find out why so many are sick and what diseases they have.

Bressette did take time out to have fun and learn how to line dance, which is where she met her husband, Ed. They have a 5-year-old son. The couple bought their property on the Key Peninsula nine years ago, and built their house on it four years later.

Trying to find a way to earn extra money while staying at home with her son, this bright woman got on the Internet and found some basic recipes for soap. She found they had much to be desired, and wanted to make soap she actually liked.
Through trial and error, she gradually made changes she felt made soap better than the kind sold in the store. Her goal was to create soap to improve the skin without using harsh ingredients.

Everything Bressette uses is directly derived from plants, and she makes almost all of it herself — only one scent is too time-consuming for her to manufacture. She purchases natural essential oils and a few fragrance oils for her soaps and adds her herbs into the specialty soaps.

Bressette says she hasn’t been able to make soap for a while because it is very time consuming—and she is working on increasing her inventory of plants and seedlings for starts for next year’s market. She tries to do it all while being a wife, mother and teaching evenings for Sylvan Learning Center.

Bressette’s inexpensive bar soaps would please almost any taste. Scents range from Apricot Seed and Cranberry to Gentle Lavender, Lemongrass and even Peppermint, and the smells are amazing.

As if soaps don’t keep her busy enough, Bressette also makes (everything is by hand, remember) solid perfumes in several scents, hand cream loaded with oils to replenish the skin, chocolate and mint lip balms, and shaving soap. Her bath fizzies, for which she uses baking soda, oils and scents, are like a giant alka-seltzer once in the water.

You can expect to see Naturphyllia, stocked with soaps, plants and herbs, at Stroh’s Field this year for the weekly markets. She is getting prepared for everyone’s tastes and seems to have a knack for knowing what people want.

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