• Sally

How we started

As a child, brought up in country Victoria, with nine siblings of Irish parents, the doctor's bill was the biggest burden Mum and Dad faced. No bulk billing options then. They were always paying it off. Thankfully Mum comes from a long line of natural healers in Ireland.


My parents Peter and Nadia McDonnell in later life.


















When I visited her grandmother's house in Glendowan, Donegal the patch of stinging nettles was still growing near her back door - the leaves of which she used to boil to make a tea which she drank for her blood pressure. It seemed to me that nature has a way of giving you what you need, if only you know where to look for it.


So as children growing up, natural remedies were always close at hand to complement the work of the doctor. Whether it was honey and lemon drinks when we had a cold, a dab of eucalyptus oil under our nose if we were getting a sniffle, a 'garlic sandwich' ( a raw garlic clove with a little tomato sauce on top if you were lucky wrapped in a piece of bread) our natural antibiotic, or a bracken stalk bent in half to expose the juice which would bring instant relief to insect bites, and comfrey cream for broken bones and torn ligaments, turning to nature to find remedies for ailments was part and parcel of our life.


My family circa 1967 (minus Joanne the baby). Pictured is Dad (holding Patsy), Mum (holding Jackie), Stephen, Peter, Leonard, and in front: Rory, Sally (me), Bridget and Katie.

I can so clearly remember Mum's outrage when the Australian Government banned comfrey because it was found that if a rat ate a truckload of comfrey leaves they died from liver toxicity. As Mum pointed out, you couldn't possibly eat a truck load of the leaves and we only ever applied the leaves or ointment to sore ankles and bruises (of which we were never in short supply!). Yet this herb that has historically been called 'bone knit' by Russian surgeons was lost to us for a while. Thankfully sense has prevailed for the external use of it in salves.


My Comfrey plant is thriving in our medicinal garden

The point is, when I was married and pretty soon my husband and I had four children under five, I soon was turning to Mum and books for help when the children developed any ailments such as asthma, eczema, croup, bumps and bruises or skin rashes. Through this process, I became more aware of how important the food we ate and the products we used on our skin were. While the doctor was the first port of call, rather than relying on medicine, I wanted to try and work out what may be triggering these reactions in the otherwise healthy children.

One day, while staying in the mountains of country Victoria, enjoying the fresh mountain air and enjoying the sound of the cool, crystal clear water of the river, I stumbled on a quaint little soap shop. Whether it was the crisp clean air, or song of the vibrant birdlife, this shop was like a tonic. I instantly fell in love with the all natural soaps they had. After making a selection, I brought home my prized purchases. It felt like I was bring home a little of that earthy goodness. I opened the box and carefully unwrapped the first bar inhaling the energizing scent of essential oils.


Showering became a different experience. It was like my skin was drinking in the nourishing oils as my mind relaxed with the aroma of the beautiful scent. Crying children, washing piled up to the rafters and deadlines at work were all like water off a duck's back. I could face anything after showering with my favourite soap. Also, my skin that always needed moisturising, no longer did.


One day I decided to try and make them myself. I make bread, I cook everything I make from scratch (not trusting additives in packaged products), I'm used to working with combining things of different temperatures, so I thought I'd give it a go. We had moved to the country by now and had a little bed and breakfast. With the encouragement of family and friends, I put my soaps in the cottages. Soon I was receiving enough positive feedback from customers and family and friends, that it became a little side business.


I use fresh Rosemary from the garden in the Shampoo Bar and in the Gardener's Bar (pictured).

It got me thinking about my other personal care products. I started reading ingredient lists more closely and stopped accepting the unpronounceable ingredients as acceptable. After all, our skin, the largest organ in our body, is a not impenetrable, but absorbs everything we put on it. Concerns about these ingredients being absorbed into my skin prompted me to start making synthetic-free, sustainable personal care items.


I studied to become a certified essential oil coach and started researching what ingredients would perform each task required in personal care best. I have since come up with a range of products that have you covered from head to toe - hence the name Bird Body Essentials. The conditioner bar was the most difficult to develop taking months and months of work and more than 40 attempts before I got a product I was happy with.


The Shampoo and Conditioner Bars.

The range has significantly expanded from the early days and now includes soaps, a solid shampoo bar (even for blondes), a conditioner bar, toothpaste, deodorant, moisturiser, salves (for life's bumps and bruises) a magnesium rub and bath salts. They are made from botanicals we grow on the property in our chemical-free medicinal garden. The soaps are made from organic coconut oil and shea butter, with local olive oil and castor oil, French clays, activated charcoal, sea kelp, ground beans and therapeutic grade essential oils.


We have expanded our range to include an all natural skin care range. This includes a French pink clay mask, a toner with a little nettle leaf infusion (surprisingly calming on the skin), and essential oils carefully blended to to give you that lovely feel good feeling in the morning. A Rose Hip serum is lovely applied to areas of your face that may need a little extra attention, and our whipped butter style moisturiser is a lovely nourishing cream for your face.


We are excited to help you reduce your carbon footprint one product switch at a time. This is our little way of giving back to Mother Nature who provides an abundance for us every day.


Today, working in my Soap House is my happy place.

It brings me so much joy making new products. I am excited about what may be created in my new Soap House in the future, and I hope you enjoy what have created as much as I do.


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Address: 100 West Road, Langwarrin South, VIC 3911

Phone: +61 0427293463

Email:  info@birdbodyessentials.com

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