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Off The Rack: The Natural Approach

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When Jenny Hord and her husband were living in the country near Blacksburg, they became ill after drinking bad water. They headed for a health-food store, seeking ways to cleanse their bodies of toxins.

There, they found what they were looking for — and an interest in all-natural remedies was sparked.

Hord began making her own lotions, soaps and even toothpaste. "It did make us extremely passionate about doing the research and finding the best recipes," she says, "because it was making us feel better."

Their health returned, and Hord started making gift baskets for friends' birthdays. If someone got headaches or had carpal tunnel, for instance, she'd find the herbs to help. Soon Cedar Hill Naturals was born (www.cedarhillnaturals.com). And three years ago, Hord started a store on eBay.

Today she travels to farmers' markets and craft fairs selling her array of all-natural body lotions, scrubs, floral sprays, soaps, herbal pillows and more. Her best-seller is the lavender and lemon verbena headache pillow that she swears by, though it wasn't an easy sell at first. "I had trouble convincing people it would work," she says — "even though it's a bag of herbs."

Her family takes part in the business, too. They grow most of the herbs used in the products on their 14-acre farm in Louisa County. Her sons, 2 and 3, pour ingredients into the industrial food processor.

Hord will also custom-blend a scent. "We have a lot of people who want to try natural but are stuck on a fragrance," she says. For $20, Hord will work with customers to blend a scent that matches a product they like, or help them come up with a new one.

Hord says customers are sometimes surprised at the vibrant smell of her natural products. Take away the petroleum, parabens, food coloring and glycerin, she says, and "it smells different but it smells purer, because it's not jammed with all this other stuff that doesn't need to be there."

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