CEDARBURG — Looking back, it seems that Dionne Schedler Cofta was always destined to have her own skincare line — she's always had both a serious affinity for luxury cosmetics and a fascination with chemistry. "As a kid, I liked 'sciencing' — mixing things together to see what I could create," she said. But it wasn't until 2013 that Cofta began to think about the ingredient list of those products. Shortly after starting her candle business Cedar Creek Essentials on Etsy, she found herself on the hunt for a natural lip balm that also offered sun protection. Unable to find what she was looking for, Cofta formulated a recipe of her own. In place of titanium dioxide, she used raspberry seed oil, which has an SPF of between 28 and 50. The balm was a hit with her customers at public markets and vendor fairs, and soon she was fielding requests for other products with organic ingredients. In response, she dove into research about the chemical makeup of many of the mainstream health and beauty products she had been using her entire life. "I was really shocked as far as the garbage that's allowed to go into the products that we use. It's kind of crazy — hormone disruptors, known carcinogens," she said. She began to envision a line of products crafted without the "fillers" that dilute the effectiveness of the active ingredients and can even carry health risks.

"I wanted to get away from the parabens, nylons, acrylics, formaldehydes — things that are in pretty much all of the products that are considered to be the luxury brands," she said. "I just really want my customers to have an option for a line that uses the same active ingredients as the luxury brands but without all the garbage." Six years after launching Cedar Creek Essentials as an online business, Cofta has opened the doors of Saboni, her first brick-and-mortar store in downtown Cedarburg. Located at W64 N707 Washington Ave. The shop occupies the space that formerly housed Amish Craftsman Guild II. Cofta's professional background is in restaurant management, and she previously owned a franchise of a chain restaurant. Her foray into skincare and nutritional product development and retail has been "a serendipitous journey," she said. She started Cedar Creek Essentials with just $500, figuring that if she failed, it wouldn't be much of a loss. But the business kept growing, and today Cofta offers toners, face washes, masks, moisturizers, lotions, sugar scrubs, foaming bath salts, bar soaps, herbal products and much more. Everything in her business is handcrafted with sustainable, natural, organic and EcoCert ingredients. Because, as Cofta says on her business' website, "Life's short, and we're not trying to make it any shorter for you." Previously, Cofta created her inventory in small batches at a studio space in Grafton. Now both production and retail are housed at Saboni's downtown Cedarburg location, where she cherishes the smalltown community vibe. "My first customer in the store was the mother of one of the kids who went to preschool with my son," she said. Cofta will continue to offer her nutritional products under the Cedar Creek Essentials name but is gradually changing the name of her skincare line to Sobani, which means "soapmaker." She said she is excited about meeting the evolving needs of a clientele that is growing increasingly educated about the ingredients in their beauty and personal care regimen. "When I started using skincare products we had no idea what we were putting on our faces," she said. "My customers are pretty savvy as far as their knowledge of ingredients. They ask intelligent questions about certain ingredients, like, 'What kind of propanediol are you using, the 13?' People are becoming more educated with regards to ingredients, and that's fantastic." Saboni is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends. For more information on Cofta and her products, visit cedarcreekessentials. net.

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