By Brian Nicholson
For many outdoor adventurers in the Ogden Valley and elsewhere, skiing and being close to the mountains is the only way to live. The peace and tranquility of a day spent breathing the clean air, hearing the silence among the trees, or filling the thrill of reaching the summit, or speeding down the steep slopes create some of the most lasting memories and add the much needed spice of life. For Athena Steadman of Simply Eden, those mountains have always been a part of her existence.
She first moved from the ski areas of Alta and Snowbird at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake County where she worked as a restaurant and hospitality manager. In 1999, her and her husband moved to the Ogden Valley and continued in similar roles at Snowbasin where she served as assistant and food and beverage manager during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. With all the responsibility and stress a career in hospitality brings, Athena started realizing there must be something else she could enjoy doing more.
When her health took a turn for the worse, she left her post at Snowbasin and started focusing more on her health and well-being. “It was really stressful opening up three lodges and three restaurants,” she said. “I left there and needed to figure what I wanted to do.” That drastic paradigm shift has opened a world of possibilities for her.
“I really started watching what I was eating and putting in my body,” she said. Then one day she was driving by her neighbor’s house and saw some really cute baby goats. She thought, “We could get some goats, that would be fun.” When they started digging into that possibility she knew she wanted goats that would produce milk for cheese.
After getting the goats and trying to make cheese to sell, she found that it was much more difficult to produce and sell commercially and started dabbling in soaps and lotions. That journey of finding just the right recipe took about two years to perfect and her first product was goat milk soap.
But the soap was just the beginning. Her next product, along with the soap, continues to be among the most popular products. Her body mousse is a super smooth and restorative product that absorbs nicely into your skin, without a heavy greasy feel. “I want something that feels good on the skin, that’s beneficial,” she said. “I do think there are a lot of ingredients out there that are non-toxic and I try to avoid things that are harmful or cause skin irritation. I like good quality ingredients that are based on natural processes.”
At first, she started working out of her basement and her first products began selling exclusively online and eventually branched out to farmer’s markets, artisan shows, the Ogden Valley Balloon Festival, and other booth-type shows around Northern Utah. She also started providing products for some local gift shops in the area.
After about five years in business, some of those gift shops ended up closing, Athena’s business was growing, and she was in need of some employees. The thought of hiring someone to work out of her basement was weird and she needed a storefront. That’s when Simply Eden was born.
The shop in Eden opened for business in 2014 and has been going strong since then. “We work hard, but we’ve also been really lucky,” she said.
The shop is much different than it was when it opened, and according to Athena, is in a constant state of evolution. “I like to always bring in fresh products. We have a really great local support and I try and bring in different items so when people come in, the store is fresh.” Many times, she brings in a product and it flops, but there are some things that have been a huge hit!
Her customers seem to love what she’s created. One regular customer, Cindy Becker works in the healthcare field and says she comes in the store every single day. “This (body mousse) is the only thing I’ve found to repair and rejuvenate my dry and cracked hands,” she said. “This is the only place I come to get gifts for my family and friends.”
In addition to the soap and body mousse, the shop also sells other Athena creations. Those include lotion, bath salts, shampoo bars, lip balm, deodorant, and shaving soap. Each of those products take an incredible amount of time to create. “The pump lotion was about a two and a half year process to formulate. My face cream was about three years,” she said. On average, it takes at least a year before she feels comfortable enough with her products to begin offering them at her shop. She is particularly proud of her most recent creations, shampoo bars and deodorant, each taking about 18 months to get just right.
Not only is the shop working hard to produce natural products they are also working to eliminate the use of plastics for packaging by switching more to eco-friendly items that are more sustainable for the planet.
“I really want a product that works well, but is also a simple indulgence, or a little bit of luxury,” she said. “I want to offer a little pampering.” According to Athena, the secret is in the goat milk, which provides a more gentle feel, lowers pH, provides a lot of vitamins and minerals, and nourishes your skin.
That extra attention to the finest details to make a luxury product is exactly why Mountain Luxury Lodging has incorporated Simply Eden items into all their vacation rental properties. It’s one of the long list of amenities you can find in every unit because there’s nothing like spending a day in the mountains and coming back to a restful and relaxing experience.
The journey for Simply Eden is far from over. With a loyal customer base, strong local support, and a portfolio of products that make people feel good, the future is bright for Athena Steadman.