17th Century Suds, was founded in 1999. Wendy created all of the recipes, taking time and patience to perfect each one. Andy joined the manufactory part of the business in 2004 and since 2006 has since been head of the entire production facility. In 2013 Ithaca Soap was branded for the soap division of the company. LiXTiK Lip Balm was branded in 2015. Ithaca Soap and LiXTiK Lip Balm are registered trademarks.
Wendy comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, designers, artists and thinkers. She grew up on Long Island, NY, in her mother, Ruth's, art studio. From the ages of 3-18 years, after school she would sit in the special chair and critique her mother's paintings. When she was 8, her mother showed her art at shows on the streets of Manhattan, in art galleries, and in The Hamptons. At 9 Wendy began showing her creations and sold toys she made with her father, George. She was that kid with her cardboard box in the corner of her mother's booth. That was the beginning of her vending and art/craft show career.
At 10 years old, she and her father joined a food coop in Brooklyn, bagging raisins on Saturday mornings. This coop, had a whole foods restaurant attached to it, where they would sometimes get lunch. She thinks this coop later became the Park Slope Food Coop.
At 11, after dinner, she would get handwriting lessons from her engineer father. She was getting ready for the schematic drawing lessons she had from him, from 12-15 years old. During this time, she would sit in on her father's entrepreneurial business meetings held in their kitchen. Her father designed the factory machines to make the entrepreneurs products. The most memorable product design was what we now know as the dreaded plastic grocery store shopping bag. The entrepreneur was a woman.
Like most kids in the American 1970's, TV was part of any suburban household. Commercials were always a source of discussion with her father, dissecting what the message was and what was actually being sold. George also did the family's grocery shopping, which Wendy loved to go do with him. It was always an adventure to read labels on packaged foods, learning what all the processed ingredients actually were.
In high school, Wendy worked in a Foodtown deli, making salads, slicing meats and fish to order, and worked the sample table, giving out tastes. In SUNY Fredonia she studied English lit and was herded into a high school teaching degree. The professors told her they didn't know what to do with an entrepreneur and she didn't really know what that was at the time, anyway. She loved to take her friends to the grocery store, and taught them how to wade through the aisles of mystery foods. She spent a few weeks working at Tops Super Market. After college, she sold and designed newspaper ads for the micro paper, The Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
She left Saranac Lake in 1988, and headed to Ithaca, NY. During this time she had a catering business for 10 years, and for 5 of those years, she worked as a cook and did store shifts at Somadhara Bakery and Natural Foods Grocery. Starting in 1990 for 10 years, she sold ads for the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival, set up the festival's merchandising, and then moved into the kitchen, heading up the hospitality catering. She had a devoted and innovative volunteer staff of 50, pumping out 1500 homestyle cooked meals a day for 7 days. She got as much of the food as possible from local businesses and the farming community. This is where she and Andy met in 1995! The sparks flew right then, but their flirty encounters lasted for 4 years before...
In March 1999, Andy and Wendy went on their ONE date. They made soap in Dec. that year and decided to make a business out of it right then.
To this day, Wendy still LOVES the grocery store business and loves to supply them with the best personal care that her and Andy's company can provide.
In her spare time, Wendy is a textile wool wet felt artist with a natural dye studio and is also a mad knitter. She is also a hack gardener, she reads a lot, studies finance, hikes, builds their house with Andy, and hangs with their 4 cats.
Andy grew up on his family's 170 year old dairy farm, located in the western foothills of the Catskill mountains in upstate NY. He worked outside and in the barns with his father, Albert, various cousins, and his little brother. He had the responsibility of feeding about a dozen calves every morning before school. His mother, Judy, a beloved elementary school teacher, made sure he bathed between chores and going to school, to wash away the barn perfume. After school, there were more barn chores, the endless cycle of feeding and cleaning.
Around 8 years old, another cousin on a farm over the hill gave Andy his 1st motorcycle experience on a Honda 50 Mini Trail. To this day he finds a source of joy and inspiration from even talking about motorcycles. He learned how to operate a tractor at the age of 9, further feeding his lifelong fascination with machinery.
On select weekends in high school Andy and a few friends would chain together their stereos and play records (vinyl, remember that?) for school dances. During college at SUNY Stony Brook he produced sound and lighting designs (and did some welding) for the college theater department. This solidified his ability to make systems work from behind the scenes. During this time his Uncle Dan bequeathed his Saab to Andy, supplementing his experience in keeping machines in working order.
After college, carpentry, landscaping, turning wrenches (including a stint at a SAAB dealership) and managing a 16 track recording studio kept him busy for a few years until the call of country life landed him back on the farm. Working days on the farm, he became the defacto sound guy at a local coffee house (The Night Eagle) that a friend ran as a folk music venue. Connecting with various musicians inevitably led him to Ithaca where he easily found work with sound companies who liked how he "plugged it in right the first time." Working at a nearby music festival is where Wendy came into the picture. She was working there too and although she knew right away, it took Andy a while to ask her out on that fateful date...