Koni Popke, 55 Bath & Body

A woman set out to create and inspire.

Koni Popke is an inspiration to all the women of her generation who have ever thought to themselves, "I want to follow my dreams." 55 Bath & Body is a body brand founded by a wonderful woman with the enthusiasm to start her business at age 55 after retiring from the big business world of banking. Koni hopes to show other women her age that it's not too late to pursue new goals by sharing her story.

Koni has been growing her business by never being afraid to push boundaries and freely go where her interests and those of her customers take her. When she whips up a new product, a team of friends test the products and give her feedback. She loves to hear from those around her because they are the catalysts for sparking new ideas in the experimentation process. Customers and friends often ask, "have you ever thought of trying this?" Her nature is to try it all, with positivity and creative flourish.

Last year, she endeavored to grow her own batch of loofahs. From seeds to store, she nurtured the plants through frostbite to finish, meeting every challange as it presented itself along the way. The weekend she planted seedlings out along the fence she made for them to grow on, an unexpected cold storm blew through the Motherlode, and she feared the loofahs wouldn't make it. So her husband assisted her, and they got creative. "We made makeshift hot houses along the fence to protect them," she explains. Throughout the storm, the whole yard flooded and they hoped for the best until the they were able to check on the tiny loofah plants. Miraculously, they survived and continued to thrive through the seasons until it was time to harvest them for the next step in getting them product ready.

Koni was successful in harvesting 100 loofahs of various shapes and sizes, which she used to sell as whole pieces and to create loofah soap bars for a wonderfully scrubby body wash. Along with her line of loofah products, she has created an assortment of goodies for all sorts of luxury self-care treatment.

"My lotion candles are the most popular item," she comments. These candles are made from a low-temperature melt soy wax mixed with olive oil and fragrance oil. It feels warm and rich, smoothly covering skin with fragrant moisture. Each candle burns slowly and comes with a mini spatula to scoop out each dollop.

Dead Sea bath salts are the message in a bottle that everyone needs at the end of a long day. They come in beautiful corked bottles that are both decorative and functional for slowly pouring into a hot bath. Koni's line also carries sugar scrubs and bath vials made with tea, complementary to the tea's available at Amala Detox in downtown Sonora.

She loves to customize products like the bath vials for the locations that sell her items, so visiting them all may provide customers with new treats not sold elsewhere. All of the products sold at Lavender Ridge in Murphys feature lavender scents, fragranced solely from essential oils and fresh lavender. Her soy candles can be found in unique scents at Motherlode Grown, where they have been given endearing names relating to local nature elements.

In her attempts to make new products that surprise customers, Koni admits that not everything has been successful. She affably tells of the times that mixtures have turned out completely wrong like when she wished to create an aloe vera and matcha face cream. She knows that it takes trial and error to find what works and only discovers what friends and customers respond positively to by simply trying and putting it out into the community.

Working out of her converted garage, she never intended to grow as big as she has when she first began the hobby. In this small town of ours, word spread about her goods and small businesses soon began contacting her to carry 55 Bath & Body products. Koni is excited for the opportunities she has had to expand and will continue to do so as long as new doors open. Now, her daughter who owns Bloom Sonora, shares the converted space with Koni and creates beautiful bouquets and floral arrangements for subscription delivery and events.

When asked if she feels that people see her business growth and respond to it, she says that she definitely feels like she is encouraging those around her to pursue their own goals. Sometimes people don't know what's possible until they watch another person in their life do it. For Koni, this is incredibly important to her. She is amazed by the dreams of women over 50 and hopes they continue to respond positively to what she's doing and take action within their own passions. She wishes this for everyone at all ages, it's clear, but there is an emphasis on opening the eyes of people her age because she feels that the world can be discouraging towards starting over later in life. It can be a challenge - but it doesn't have to be.

55 Bath & Body products are made with a purpose, and cater to body care for men, women and children. For men, she has a line of soaps and shaving kits. Children's soaps, scented room sprays, lotion sticks, facial cleansing grains, make-up remover, soy candles, whipped body butter, and so much more can be found among her product line. Koni is always inventing and if she doesn't already have what's desired, she will create it.

You can find 55 Bath & Body at six retail locations in the Motherlode and sold privately through her online pages. Amala, Indigeny, Lavender Ridge, Motherlode Grown, the Tuolumne Mi Wuk Pharmacy and the new store in Angels Camp, Horse Feathers proudly carry 55 Bath & Body products.

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The Bright Orange Poppy

PO Box 1479

Twain Harte, CA 95383