Widgets Magazine

Fernanda Menegassi-Lojac of Brand-New North Fork Natural on Hand-Crafting Products, Essential Oils, and Coming to the North Fork.

Q: Congratulations! You’re grand opening is today [last Saturday]; welcome to downtown Cutchogue.  What is North Fork Natural all about? A: North Fork natural is a really awesome shop where you can buy aromatherapy & skin care products made with all natural, certified organic ingredients. You won’t find any artificial fragrance, synthetics, anything.  I handcraft most products myself, everything except the essential oils. I’m a certified aromatherapist.

I want the store to be very inviting; that’s why I have a seating area up front. Someone wants to come, have tea, set up a laptop they’re very welcome to just hang out and keep me company; we’re open every day except Monday.

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Q: That pot of lavender out front greeted me with a burst of freshness just when I got to your door; that was inviting. But seriously, you handcraft essentially everything? That’s amazing, you have several product lines here. Do you have a signature product?

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A:  Yes, really I do. My signature product is soap; it was how I got started. I started using essential oils, started researching what I could make with them, and I made them into soaps and deodorants.

Right now I’m selling rose geranium clay soap, French green clay,  lavender patchouli, honey & oats, rosemary mint, lemongrass cedarwood, lavender orange and some other cool blends. Our beer soaps will be ready to put out next week also!

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Q: They are so beautiful, especially the ones with the flower petals on the outer edge.  How did you get from doing soaps to making all the other things here?

A: I enjoyed making the soaps and deodorants so much I started taking aromatherapy classes, and I got certified in March. I learned how to blend oils, their uses, how to make them appropriate for grown ups and kids.  I put a lot of time into researching the therapeutic properties of the essential oils and herbs that I use in my products.

Q: Was soap making and aromatherapy always an area of interest for you? Did you always know you’d have a store like this some day?

A: Actually, my first degree was in business, and I worked at Dreyfus Funds for a couple years.  Then went to nursing school and became an RN. I was an RN for three years, and I would like to go back to nursing again someday,  but I would prefer to work in home care or other context where I can really focus on the patient and give them the care they deserve; I didn’t enjoy working in hospitals; we were always so short-staffed it was incredibly stressful.

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It was during a break from nursing that I began exploring aromatherapy and soap making, and it’s been really nice that I have the nursing background for my aromatherapy to formulate products for specific ailments or skin conditions. I can ask the right questions to figure out and formulate appropriate products that won’t interfere with any medications or current treatments a person may be undergoing.

Q: What do you mean when you’re talking about formulating for someone?

I provide aromatherapy consultatons to customize a product for someone to meet his or her particular need. For example, I created a baby liquid soap for a child that was recently diagnosed with autism, and the parents were having difficulty putting her to bed at night due to agitation and anxious behavior. I was able to formulate a product using vetiver, bergamot, petitgrain, cedarwood and lavender that was very effective.  The parents could not believe the difference in behavior and how much calmer their daughter was at bedtime.

I also sell essential oil diffusers, which makes it easy to use the oils at home. Aromatherapy supports the body’s natural ability to heal itself. The sense of smell influences your response to stress, which is very toxic to your body.

Some scents can be very uplifting and balancing. For example, citrus is very uplifing. Floral aromas are very balancing and calming. That’s why I like using the rosemary mint soap in the morning for a burst of energy.

Q: Custom aromas to reduce stress; that sounds beautiful. What other products do you offer, besides soaps, deodorants and skin care?

A:   I make a wide variety of personal care, child wellness as well as indoor and outdoor skin care products. For example, I make facial products; serums, toners, face wash; all made with vegetable oils and essential oils. Some are specifically blended for people with sensitive skin. I also make ointments, salves and rubs, such as tummy care for nausea and vomiting, a chest rub for respiratory conditions and a pms belly rub for girls. I also make a diaper cream for babies.

My outdoor products include all-natural tick  and insect spray that is extremely well reviewed and also safe for use on dogs and pets. I also make a soothe spray for wounds, cuts and bruies, and a soothe ointment  for bug bites. It really stops the itching and reduces inflammation almost immediately. In the winter, I’ll be making products like hand butter, body butter, lotion, things like that for dry skin.

Q: How did you get to the North Fork?

A: I came a long way. I’m originally from Brazil. I came to America in 1996 to go to high-school as a foreign exchange student in Missouri. I then got a scholarship to attend college in Missouri as well. After a couple of years I transferred to New Jersey to be nearer to family. I met my future husband in the city, and shortly after we moved to Long Beach. We then moved here to Cutchogue three years ago.

Q: Such a long way from Brazil. Has it been hard to put down roots here?

A: Not at all; I love it here on the North Fork. When my husband and I were dating, we’d come here to go wine tasting, pumpkin picking, and fell in love with it. We moved here as soon as we were able to.

Q: Have you integrated the North Fork into your business in any way?

A: I’m sourcing my ingredients locally when possible; so, my lavender for my lavender soaps is from Lavender by the Bay, and the honey and oatmeal soap uses Wickham’s honey. I’m getting a dehydrator  so I can start drying my own locally grown herbs and flowers to use in my soaps and my herbal infusions.  I look forward to making my products reflect this wonderful place as much as possible.