iVIVA Salt – Himalayan salt & more

It makes me really excited when I come across a business that is a little out of the ordinary. iVIVA is one of those businesses, as owner Katie White sells something you may not come across at every maker’s market: Himalayan salt and essential oils.

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A pound of iVIVA edible pink Himalayan salt is just $5, an AMAZING bargain, especially considering the product’s exceptional quality.

If you tune in to the health and foodie world at all, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about Himalayan pink salt, and for good reason. It’s more than just a trendy seasoning— it’s an incredibly rich source of minerals. For a quick comparison: sea salt (yes, the oh-so glorified garnish of gourmet caramels) has 10 minerals, whereas Himalayan pink salt has 84 minerals. Yes, you read that right! There are a ton of other health benefits behind Himalayan pink salt that make it superior, but Katie really explains it best herself in her blog. Read up on the numerous benefits here.

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I love the warm, cozy glow of Himalayan salt lamps. Katie offers lamps in various sizes.

Katie offers more than just edible pink salt. She transforms whole blocks of Himalayan salt into some incredible products, like salt lamps, salt massage balls, bath salts, and soaps.  I’m a particular fan of her salt lamps and bath salts, which I can personally vouch for. Salt lamps have many mysterious benefits, from purifying the air (a plus for folks with asthma/allergies) to improving anxiety. Do your own research— this is an article I’ve found that summarizes different benefits and theories— but regardless of whether you buy into the health benefits, salt lamps make a beautiful, calming home accent.

Calming Oils

You’ll find single essential oils as well as unique iVIVA oil blends on Katie’s website.

Beyond salt, you can also purchase high-quality essentials oils from iVIVA. Katie studies aromatherapy and is in the process of receiving her aromatherapy certificate, so you can feel good about incorporating iVIVA essential oils into your home and family. Again, Katie does a great job informing her customer base on the quality behind all her products, so read more on her blog.

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Katie incorporates essential oils AND Himalayan pink salt into her homemade soaps.

Katie has a real passion for holistic health, and one of the primary reasons she began iVIVA is because she felt astounded at how expensive high-quality Himalayan pink salt and essential oils were. After finding a fair trade-compliant salt mine, becoming a certified aromatherapist and SC Certified (all of Katie’s products are made right here in Greenville county!), Katie now has a wide variety of incredible, natural products that won’t break the bank. Be sure to check out her website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook!

Hochstetler’s Country Store – Seneca’s Hidden Gem

Though it may not look like much on the surface, Hochstetler’s Country Store in Seneca, SC is a neighborhood gem and a long-time favorite among my family.  The Hochstetlers set up shop in 2006, and in their country store you’ll find all the old-fashioned charm and friendly service you’d expect.

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Hochstetler’s has an intimate setup, with the store leading directly into the deli. I love traditional places like this!

Being only about a five minute drive from my childhood home, I’m well acquainted with Hochstetler’s.  They’re your one-stop shop for bulk and local foods, in addition to their bakery and deli.  The variety of goods nestled in that tiny store is impressive; you can find anything from baking ingredients and supplies, spices, candies, tea and coffee, snacks, and much more.

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They carry a HUGE variety of snacks and candies, anything from gingersnaps, peanut butter cups, yogurt-covered pretzels, sour gummy worms, spicy snack mix…you name it!

The prices at Hochstetler’s alone are reason enough to drop by.  My father, a self-proclaimed foodie, buys all his spices there: not only are they cheaper, but he swears by their freshness, too.  Before I got married, I stocked up on all sorts of spices and seasonings from Hochstetler’s; their all-natural lemon-pepper seasoning is my husband’s favorite.

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Hochstetler’s stocks all kinds of spices and herbs, whether common or more exotic.

For you Christmastime bakers, please do yourself a favor and get your ingredients from Hochstetler’s.  You’ll find an excellent variety of nuts and dried fruits (which add up to $$$ at most grocery stores) at a fraction of their normal price.  Furthermore, you can find specialty flours (gluten free, anyone?), gourmet sugars and salts, different cooking oils, and more to fit virtually any recipe.  Take a peek at their refrigerators, too; Hochstetler’s stocks local meats and cheeses, as well as raw milk.

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Hochstetler’s has “bake days” three days a week, churning out delicious breads, pies, and sweets.

After you’ve collected your basket of amazing snacks and ingredients, be sure to get a sandwich and bowl of soup from Hochstetler’s deli.  Everything is freshly prepared, with meats cut right before your eyes.  Did I mention you can also purchase deli meats and cheeses there?  They’re absolutely delicious, and (you guessed it) way cheaper than at the grocery store.

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What a great hometown treasure. Hochstetler’s is a relaxing, fun place to shop and eat.

This no-fuss, no-frills store is a true delight to visit, and I’d be there weekly if I still lived in Seneca.  As it is, I drop by and stock up on spices, dried fruit, popcorn (Benjamin loves their “mushroom” popcorn–you know, the kind of huge popcorn kernels that they use for caramel corn!), and more whenever I visit my parents.  Take my advice and drop by Hochstetler’s, pick up a fresh-baked pie or loaf of bread for dinner, and make it your regular destination for all foods fresh and local.

Good Juju Herbal — Mindful Skincare

Natural skincare is a trend that is quickly catching on, and for good reason.  As people do research into what is in their commercialized skincare (and the side effects all those chemicals bring), you see more folks turning to natural options.  For Judith Jones, the need was even more urgent: born with eczema, Judith already struggled with sensitive skin, but at 19 she began to develop dramatic allergies to some of the most commonly used chemicals in commercial products.

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Judith’s compassion shows through in her warm smile and bubbly voice.  You can tell she cares about the people who use her products! [PC: Three Regions Photography]

Even in dermatologist-recommended skincare lines and products advertised as “natural,” Judith repeatedly found the artificial ingredients and chemicals that she was allergic to.  As a result, Judith began making her own products.  What started out as soap for her own use rapidly caught on with friends and family, until soon folks began insisting she make her products available for purchase.

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Judith’s soaps are simple in their ingredients, but dramatic in the way they nourish your skin.  

Today, two years later, Judith is running Good Juju Herbal as a full-time business, with a hopping Etsy shop as well as partnering with West Elm and other North Carolina-based businesses. Judith quickly found that natural skincare–we’re talking 100% natural, with no complicated chemicals–was not only popular, but much-needed for many people.

When asked about her favorite product, Judith admits that she’s tremendously proud of her soap.  While you’ll find lots of other artisan soap makers at on Etsy, Judith is one of the only ones that doesn’t fiddle with artificial colors, fragrances, and chemicals.  But that doesn’t mean her soaps are boring–while some are purposefully unscented, many have a bright, natural scent that comes from essential oils, spices, and flower petals.

Good Juju

Not only are Judith’s products all natural, but ethical as well.  She is conscientious about the packaging she uses, and regularly donates a portion of her proceeds to charity.

Because of her passion for helping others, Judith initially had intentions to become a nurse, but through Good Juju Herbal she’s found an entirely different way to practice healing.  Judith spent months crafting her own skincare line that includes a facial soap, toner, and moisturizer.  Judith finds the skincare line most rewarding to make because she receives dozens of testimonials from customers who have been rid of conditions ranging from acne to dryness.  Judith painstakingly developed this skincare routine to not only be friendly to sensitive skin, but also to suit a wide variety of skin types and issues.

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When Judith calls her skincare line “Skin Food,” she’s not joking–that stuff’s jam packed with nutrients to make your skin happy!

There’s no shortage of products at Good JuJu Herbal, and no end to the goodness Judith’s creations provide.  A couple months ago I ordered one of her gift sets (which includes a bar of soap, lip moisturizer, a cedar soap dish, and felted soap) and fell in love with her products.  Whether you have sensitive skin or not, once you try Judith’s soap you can never go back to liquid pump soap; her products are deeply moisturizing, luxurious, and tastefully scented.  Especially if you suffer from acne, eczema, or other difficult skin issues, Good Juju Herbal is an essential to try out.