Indiana State University Newsroom

Young entrepreneur a vendor at Indiana State’s Earth Day on April 15

April 7, 2015

On Earth Day, many reflect on the condition we're leaving the planet for the next generation. At this year's celebration at Indiana State University, however, it is an enterprising member of that next generation who is taking sustainability into her own hands.

Pure GRACE Soap will be one of the 50-plus vendors at Indiana State's Earth Day, celebrated all day April 15 on the campus. The mother-and-daughter body products company was started in 2013 when 7-year-old Madeleine Grace wanted to sell something at the farmers market and create an antidote to her dry, cracked winter lips.

Her mother, Julie Manson, agreed to help get the business started if the proceeds would be put into a college savings fund.

"We knew immediately we wanted to be as natural as possible and with that went us being eco-friendly and green," Manson said.

Creating each small batch of soap was an intriguing process for Manson, who described the unmolding process as being like Christmas.

"Our soaps and other products are all made with custom recipes. We do a lot of testing to finally get the recipe just right," she said.

Many of their recipes are born from clients' requests. Take, for instance, their Strawberry Facial Sugar Scrub. Pure GRACE Soap had a Strawberry Body Sugar Scrub available, and a customer contacted them about reaping the skin-improving benefits of strawberries on his face, not just his body.

"I recommended I would not since the texture of the organic sugar was too rough for the somewhat sensitive and fragile facial tissue and skin," Manson said. "I offered to create a custom scrub for him that was made with a finer texture of sugar, and after some testing with friends and clients, shipped it out to him. He loved it! The Strawberry Facial Sugar Scrub is now a permanent scrub in our product line."

At Indiana State's Earth Day celebration, Pure GRACE Soap will be demonstrating their wool-felted soap, which is a bar of soap wrapped in a wool roving and then wet felted until it shrinks and wraps around the soap like a shell.

"Wool is such an interesting fiber to work with. It's antimicrobial, which makes it great for the bath or shower use, as it will be more resistant to growing germs than other things might be," Manson said. "It is not itchy or scratchy once it becomes wet. The bar of soap inside actually lasts longer when it is felted than using a bar without the wool felting."

Once the soap is used up, Manson recommends repurposing the pouch of wool for other soaps or to craft a coaster or coin purse out of it.

"I had one client who is also a vendor at the farmers market bring it back to me to show me she had added other fibers and ribbons, a pin on the back and made it look more like a brooch or decoration for her jacket," Manson said. "It was absolutely beautiful, and I was amazed at her creativity. I find the wool felted soap fascinating and hope some of the Earth Day attendees will as well!"

Earth Day kicks off at 11 a.m. on Indiana State's quadrangle with comments from Mayor Duke Bennett and university President Dan Bradley. Sustainability awards will be presented to students, faculty and staff who are making a positive impact for the environment. Prizes include a bicycle, a sustainable catered lunch with the Bradleys and gift certificates to sustainable local businesses.

A picnic lunch will be served by Sodexo, the university's dining services provider. The cost is $7-10, and vegetarian options will be available. The Scott Webster Band will perform until 2 p.m., and a rock climbing wall and cornhole games will be available.

A 3:30-6 p.m. concert featuring Ross David and Levi Jones will give festival-goers all the more reason to linger outside.

And, as the sun sets, be sure to arrive early to stake your place on the Condit House lawn and the showing of "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies," 8-10 p.m. The first 125 students will receive a free blanket, courtesy of the Hulman Memorial Student Union Board.

Earth Day is sponsored by Indiana State's Institute for Community Sustainability and Staples Advantage.


Photos: -- Wool-felted soap from Pure GRACE Soap will be available for demonstration and purchase at Indiana State University's Earth Day celebration on April 15. -- Julie Manson and her daughter Madeleine Grace own and operate Pure GRACE Soap, which will be one of the more than 50 vendors at Indiana State University's Earth Day celebration on April 15.

Contact: Caroline Savage, interim executive director of the Institute for Community Sustainability at Indiana State, 812-232-8502 or

Writer: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or