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Soaps Up

By Jennifer McKee  |  Photos courtesy of Johnette Rodgers


It all started with a Georgia breeze. 

Georgia Breeze soap, to be exact. A clean, refreshing, invigorating scent reminiscent of a cool mountain breeze.

That was Johnette Rodgers’ first introduction to Andree’s Essential Soaps. Today, Rodgers owns and operates the company.

“I’ve shopped at Andree’s throughout the years, buying products for myself and also for birthday and Christmas presents,” says Rodgers. “When I found out she [Andree] was selling the business, I thought ‘that’s what I want to do.’”

Andree Terry created Andree’s more than 20 years ago, when her mom’s cancer diagnosis made it necessary for her to use gentle cleansers and moisturizers that wouldn’t irritate the skin. When an exhaustive search for irritant-free products didn’t yield any results, Terry decided to make them herself.  

Then, in 2004, Terry learned firsthand about the skin changes that occur with radiation and chemotherapy: she was also diagnosed with cancer. She set up partnerships with hospitals and cancer centers to distribute her fragrance-free line, including three facilities in Athens and the Walter Reed Cancer Center in Washington D.C. 

When Rodgers, a fellow cancer survivor, took over the shop upon Terry’s retirement, she trained with Terry to make sure Andree’s products meet the same exacting standards they’ve always had. 

“Her product helped me, and I wanted to carry on her legacy,” says Rodgers. “It was challenging to learn to make the products. I wanted to make sure they were just as wonderful.”

Andree’s has 18 scents in its lineup, and makes soap, lotion, gel, after bath spray — more than 100 products in all. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to create 72 bars of soap, and up to a few hours for a batch of lotion. 

“I asked Andree if there was any type of certification I needed,” says Rodgers. “She asked me ‘do you like to cook?’”

Once the store closes, Rodgers sets to work in its kitchen, mixing up batches of product and pouring fragrance-free products into special molds to ensure there’s no contamination. Since the products need constant tending, quiet evenings allow a singular focus.

Rodgers hasn’t introduced new scents, so she can focus on the quality of Andree’s signature scents. But not to worry, supporters of the artisan soap still flock in for Lemon Verbena (which was selected for the 34th Emmy Award Gala gift bags), Rosemary Mint, and, of course, Georgia Breeze, which is still Rodgers’ favorite. 

Visit Andree’s Facebook page for special events such as a fall open house and special breast cancer awareness sale days.