Before Kim Tiller and her son, David, opened Whidbey Soap Company (now Whidbey Island Natural), both had been successful software developers.
Kim had lived in California for several years, and David was attending school there. Family ties to the Northwest extend back six generations. Kim has lovely memories of family visits every summer with her grandparents on Camano Island. Her plan was to move to Whidbey after David graduated high school. When they came for a visit just before he was starting his senior year, he told his mother that this is where he wanted to live. They moved to Whidbey Island in 1989.
At first, Kim commuted to work off-island every day, but after many years traveling to off-island to jobs in the software business, she realized she wanted her own business on Whidbey. She had a list of criteria in her head for a product line: Something tangible, consumable, useful, healthy, and a product that would create on-going relationships with her customers.
“For over a year, I thought about what I wanted to do.” Kim said. She loves growing herbs and studying their medicinal properties. She saw a demonstration of a natural soap product on television and suddenly visualized a business opportunity. She began reading and studying. She took a class in soap making and finally made her own soap in 1995. Her first product came out great. She made small batches and gave it to her friends and family. And they loved her soap!
She continued to experiment with different recipes until she was satisfied. Her retail soap business began at the Bayview Market on Saturdays. David, who was working for Microsoft, came up to help his mom. In 2000, they opened Whidbey Island Soap Company in a retail location in Coupeville. A year later, they found a suitable space in Langley Village. As their business began to grow, they moved to a larger space on 1st Street in Langley in 2008.
Kim and David became more interested in using organic ingredients and expanded their product line to include organic soaps, lotions, bath salts and recently, healing salves.
After the crash of 2008, sales dropped off for a while, but their business began to come back and they also adapted to the new world of on-line buying.
In 2014, they moved into a smaller location at 220 1st Street in Langley. Their shop is now focused on retailing locally-crafted, artisanal products, including their own They changed their name to “Whidbey Island Natural” to reflect the values of their business.
Whidbey Island Natural products are now sold in PCC stores, New Seasons Markets in Portland, and Whole Foods in the Northwest Region. They hope to continue to enlarge their business and educate people about the value of buying products that have organic ingredients raised in ethical ways.
On Whidbey, Whidbey Island Natural Products may be purchased on line at https://www.winatural.com/ and are available locally at: Flowers Café at Bayview Farm and Garden, The Goose Grocer (Langley), Purple Moon (Oak Harbor).