Soap, Hope & Joy - In the beginning...
Shiloh Baptist Church, the oldest known African American church in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream. - CS Lewis
This very exciting life experience begins with my husband and I buying a former church. I had just received my first national contract, and I needed to get a proper and much larger workspace. We purchased the church to create a business and produce soaps and sundries. It was also meant to display other handmade wares from local artisans. Another retail brick and mortar store, in a different location, was in the works! To say that we were excited, nervous, and feeling blessed - is an understatement!
With our four boys all in their teenage years my hobby of making soapy products increased, as did my presence at many vendor fairs. As my days of changing diapers, feeding and bath schedules were long gone, I could focus my attention instead on supporting their blossoming adulthood and focus time on passions that I loved. I was hooked on soap making with my first, faulty creation, proudly displayed on our bathroom sink! What is this? Asked my eldest son. It's soap. I made it. Beautiful, huh? His grimaced face looked at the soap and then at me. He stood silent for a second, staring at me. Yeah, Mom, it's something else! Huzzah! Huzzah! Success! And so went my journey of creating, testing, reading, educating, and immersing myself in all things 'personal care'.
Those humble, and kind beginnings from the honest and sometimes brutal reviews of friends and family enriched me. They made me grow. They motivated me. And many years later, there was Hubs and I, touring the Shiloh Baptist Church to buy as my new maker space! With a newly signed contract with a national chain, I had a deadline for product delivery!
The square footage was the perfect fit, plenty of space on the upper floor to serve as a retail space, a fully stocked kitchen area in the basement with plenty of room for supplies and curing. The traffic count along the highway in front of the church had a daily traffic count of 11,000, and taxes and utilities were decent. It had a parking lot as well, and had great visibility. Needless to say, it was perfect in our eyes.
The real estate agent informed us during our walk through, that it was the hot property of the day as three others had already walked through the property and two more were scheduled. Someone from Apollo Borough had walked through it as well. I offered the full asking price. The lone parishioner, with whom we had met casually at their church fundraising dinners over the years, sold us this neglected beauty. For better or for worse, we were now the proud owners of a battered and worn down Christian worship center, tree growing through the roof and all!
Before buying the building, we had done our due diligence in assuring that the former church was located in a zone that permitted what we wished to accomplish. Since the church sits in the Business Transition with Overlay district, light manufacturing and Mercantile was allowed. So excited!!! YAY!! My goal was to have everything ready and finished and open for the Christmas season - of 2017. First on the list - go to the Apollo Borough offices to see what needs to be accomplished to take this building from blight to beauty and open up shop!
And then things went from super - duper excited to almost five years later - a complete judicial nightmare.
Join us in our adventure of excitement, success, enjoyment, wonderment, and celebration, to confusion, frustration, Apollo Borough officials bullying, abrogation, court battles, colluding, cover up and perjury. It's all in there! Stay tuned.