Radiant Life

Essential oils, changing behaviors key to Lather
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

As a preteen, Emilie Hoyt suffered from migraines. The extreme headaches kept her from everyday activities. 

“Time stands still, and you’re trapped somewhere awful,” Hoyt says. “You’re in that other realm. You’re in so much pain. They’re debilitating. I can’t see. My left side of my body I can’t move. It just gets stuck in this place until it passes.

“As I was growing up, I discovered they were triggered in part by synthetic fragrances and perfumes.

“Eliminating those ingredients from my world, I learned how prevalent they were in so many products. That’s not just a bottle of perfume but so many products we interact with every day.”

The Colorado native was forced to toss her hair products, makeup, suntan lotion — everything she relied on as a 13- or 14-year-old. She constantly read labels, trying to find products she could use.

“In doing so, I was trying to find products that I could be excited about using without any added perfume or synthetic fragrances. That was next to impossible.

“Whether it was a high-priced item that was being marketed as very special or one that was found on the shelf at a drug store, I couldn’t use it.”

Twenty years ago, Hoyt took matters into her own hands and founded Pasadena-based Lather, a brand that eschews synthetic fragrances in face, body, hair and wellness products. Instead, she uses essential oils.

“I graduated college and I worked in public relations for the nonprofit sector,” she says. “I learned about crafting messages and educating people. We were really focused on changing behaviors.”

For some time, she worked on Lather’s products while she was working her day job. 

“I was really searching out and finding some lovely independent small-batch-type companies that were making really lovely products,” she says. 

“They were really simple products like soaps, candles, etc. When I decided that I really wanted to do this, I reached out to those companies. I talked to the owners or the makers.”

A soap-maker schooled her, and that led to Hoyt’s first product, an olive oil soap.

“It’s still in the Lather line, and it’s featured prominently,” she says. “It’s such an experiential product. It has beautiful essential oils and lovely bases. It can make such a difference in day-to-day life, even though it’s just a bar of soap. 

“It’s a product that’s dear to the Lather brand.”

The $9 soaps come in varieties like lavender lime, rose tangerine lavender, lemongrass, honey almond, orange peel, vanilla bean and shea, oatmeal lavender, patchouli olive, clove, rosemary and peppermint, and eucalyptus and clay.

Candles and bath salts came next. 

“It wasn’t until I had a lot more knowledge and experience that I started a lot of the products that the brand’s known for today,” Hoyt says.

Now she has stores in Pasadena; Long Beach; Fairfax, Virginia; Phoenix; Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; and Honolulu.

“We’ve been part of Pasadena for the last 22 years,” she says. “We’re a woman-owned independent business. We always felt very loved and supported by the community. 

“We have retail stores, but we do have an amazing website and we reach people all over. Pasadena is our hometown, where our office is and where our fulfillment center is.”

Hoyt is looking forward to getting through the COVID-19 variants and seeing customers return to her retail shops. Lather has become known for its Pamper Parties, private events held in the stores for guests to sample the company’s most popular products, enjoy mini treatments, and learn about the benefits of natural aromatherapy skin care. 

Hoyt says they’re ideal for birthdays, bridal or baby showers, club meetings, girls’ nights out or office parties.

Similarly, there is Lather Lends a Hand, during which time attendees shop for a cause. They have the same features, but guests can make purchases to generate donation funds for an organization. The charity of choice receives a check for 20% of the proceeds from the group’s sales. 

“In Pasadena, we’ve had so much success and interest in (Lather Lends a Hand),” she says. “Unfortunately, through COVID, we’ve had to wind that back, although we have done virtual parties. We’re excited about connecting with our community again. I think I speak for everyone that it’s going to be great when we’re past all of this.”


Historic Old Town

17 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

626-396-9636, lather.com

10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays

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