Dry hands run in Cara Steinbuchel’s family. Her granddad was a mechanic and her mom a nurse. Cara’s a potter. “We always needed a good lotion in the house,” laughs Steinbuchel whose livelihood now depends on an abundance of parched hands. Since 2004 she’s been producing and distributing Cara Mae Skin Care products – including her original concoction: Potters’ Skin Butter – throughout the country and at local shops.
Her journey into lotion making began as an employee at a pottery shop which had exhausted supplies of their favorite hand balm. Instead of buying more, Steinbuchel stepped up and masterminded her own recipe. The resulting formula was a big hit among the potters and over a decade later she’s still making it.
“Clay drinks the moisture from your hands so dry hands are an insanely big issue for potters,” she explains. It’s also a headache for the cracked palms and digits of hikers, climbers, and other folks who came into contact with dirt and rock. The singular feature of her skin lotion is that it’s vegan, so it’s not greasy and seals the moisture in your hands keeping skin healthy whether you’re backpacking in the cold or gardening in the mud.
The Huntsville, Alabama native originally wanted to become a doctor, but discovered that dissections rattled her and detoured her studies into art therapy. In addition to healing dry hands, Steinbuchel spends three-days-a-week as an art teacher at Mission Hospital focused on caring for people’s emotional well-being. Working with patients, she says, allows her to satisfy her professional desire to be part of a clinical team in a healthcare setting.
The rest of the week Steinbechel is devoted to the marketing and development of the business while her wife, Michelle, handles Cara Mae’s operational systems which they manage from their West Asheville home. Currently the majority of their sales are during the winter holidays, but they’re ramping up the company’s e-commerce presence and expanding their wholesale clientele.
Their aim, however, isn’t to be huge.
“We make our products just around the corner,” she said. “Our goal is to continue to make our products sustainably and to continue to work with other local, awesome business partners like Second Gear.”
By Jack Igelman