Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Updated: Saturday, April 20, 2013 11:04
Juliane Bullard | The Seahawk
Sherry Jordan cuts a loaf of her latest soap- Baby Powder.
Sherry Jordan drives UNCW’s yellow line bus. As a student making the trek from an off-campus apartment to a morning class, expect this bus ride to be anything but quiet. Unlike some drivers, who sit back disengaged and bored, Ms. Sherry, as students call her, welcomes and greets each student and talks to them about everything––her family, the rotated disk in her back that keeps acting up and her side business and passion––her soap and candle making company.
Sheri’s Bath Bakery, a company based in the 5x5tool shed outside Jordan’s home, makes all organic products. She offers everything from wax candles, handcrafted soaps made with essential aloe and coconut oils, long lasting roll-on perfumes and colognes, lotions wrapped in bows, and anything made special to order. Ms. Sherry does it all.
“Ms. Sherry has been my bus driver since I transferred to UNCW, and she made me feel right at home,” said sophomore Dan Shea. “She started telling me about the candles she sells, and the one I bought has lasted much longer than any sold in the store. It smells great and is definitely much better priced.”
Jordan has been driving for the city of Wilmington for 13 years. She gets up every morning to take her seven-year-old adopted daughter to school and heads to work for eight hours of uninterrupted driving.
“Driving is in my blood; my father was a truck driver and my sister is one too,” Jordan said. “The city bus during the summer is stressful, but during the school year, I love getting to know the students.”
However, Jordan’s true passion lies in what happens after she discards the trademark blue Wave Transit cap. Sheri’s Bath Bakery started 20 years ago when Jordan began making soap as a hobby.
“Bath time is my favorite time," said Jordan. "I love just getting in the tub and relaxing. And candles and soap just go together when it comes to a relaxing bath. I thought I could make this stuff myself.”
After being prompted by everyone who tried the products, Jordan started selling her creations to her friends, co-workers and church members and established an internet following in 2006 when she developed a website. Early this year, Jordan also created a Facebook account that prominently features her designer-quality soaps, lotions, and candles. Jordan even began selling her products at the local ACE Hardware off College Road.
“Sherry was a customer of ours who used the post office here,” said ACE owner Jim Wrigglesworth. “She became friends with my mother-in-law and asked if she could sell her soaps here. We like to keep a well-stocked supply of local merchandise, so we said ‘yes.’”
Her soaps have done so well, especially in the summer seasons according to Wrigglesworth, that the store buys the soap wholesale every month instead of on a trial basis like many of the other local products.
To create the one of a kind soap, Jordan uses two different processes: cold and hot. Both include essential oils being heated and mixed with lye, but the hot process requires 2-3 hours of heating a soap base at a low temperature. While the hot process is best for liquid and transparent bar soap, the cold process allows for more creativity with the mold.
“I like the cold process better because I can be more decorative with the soap,” Jordan said. “I can add glitter and cutouts and make the soap really stand out. It’s especially nice for holiday soap. For Christmas I like to add candy canes and little trees to the top of the soap. I can also make the soap different colors.”
Jordan has designed soap and candles for all occasions, including baby showers, birthdays and holidays. Each occasion’s products offer Jordan’s own twist, completely unlike her mainstream competition.
“I made a candle called ‘Elf’s Sweat’ for Christmas and people went crazy over them,” said Jordan.
While Jordan is known for her decorative soap and candles, her products have, according to customers and family, cleared up blemishes, made hair smoother and more manageable and softened dry cracking skin.
“I’ve only ever used her soap since I was a teenager and started getting breakouts,” said Jordan’s daughter, Natalie Caines. “It cleared up my skin immediately and as soon as it did all my friends wanted to use it.”
Many acne treatments are too vigorous and scrubbing with such harsh exfoliating soaps, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, could make acne worse. Dermatologists recommend using a mild soap twice a day with warm water to clear acne. Jordan’s products, while moisturizing, don’t clog pores after two weeks of using it every day. Many customers, such as Jordan’s coworker, Almira Jones, have been using her products for years with the same positive result.
“I have been using Sherry’s home-made hair oil for four years,” said Jones, a fellow Wave bus driver. “It made a 100 percent difference in my hair. My hair stylist even wants me to get a mixture for her.”
For many bus drivers, one face is the same as the next and each year’s blur of UNCW students is followed by another. Routines become boring and days drag on. However, as Jordan ended her route after a day of handing out holiday cards to students, she looked in the mirror and said, “Well darling, I guess I just didn’t realize how many of my youngin’s I had. I ran out of cards halfway through the day. I’ll have to bring more tomorrow.” Jordan’s day job is “Ms. Sherry”––a job she enjoys, but her real heart lies in creating simple pleasures for relaxing after a hard day’s work.