When artist Shealynn August moved across the country to take care of her ailing mother, much of the rest of her life retreated to the back burner, including the August Sunshine Shop, her collection of handcrafted home goods and body care. As an artist and certified holistic health expert, the store began as an outlet for August to share her handmade jewelry and therapeutic body products she created for her mother. Now in a new chapter of life, the online shop has reopened, complete with new blog posts and the products many Baton Rougeans will have seen before at local makers markets.
Keep reading as August shares the story behind the August Sunshine Shop, as well as some sneak peeks into what customers can expect in this new chapter.
1. What is a typical day like for you?
There’s not really a typical day for me. It just depends on what markets are coming up in the area. I typically stay within the markets that are in Mid City. I make everything in small batches. When I have a market coming up, I have to look at my inventory and process it and see where I’m at and what I need to make.
2. What is your professional background? How did you get into the retail field?
I grew up with a mom who was an entrepreneur. My family owned a restaurant, and she was a professional cake decorator, so I grew up around entrepreneurship and was raised in it from the beginning. I learned business from my mom, who was very much a businesswoman. I started when I was very young, picking up side jobs and cleaning people’s houses. My first real, big business was a natural cleaning business, which I had for more than 13 years until I closed it just last year. I don’t have any college degree that would justify being a business owner or an entrepreneur. It’s just that I was created with entrepreneurship in my blood. I’ve always loved the idea of creating your own business and being able to scale it in the manner that you need.
3. When people come up to your booths at events, what is one of the first things that customers see?
The first thing that they see is obviously my smile, because who could miss that? Then they’ll look at the table. One of the first questions I always get is about my Magnesium Cream, one of my best-sellers, along with comments about how good it smells. But overall people are very compelled to come to my booth because it’s very earthy in its presence, with natural, neutral tones. It usually catches people’s eyes, and the brand is for anybody, not just women. Everything comes sustainably and naturally sourced.
4. What sets your shop apart?
I always want to point out to people that they’re getting quality over quantity. What I deliver to you is a naturally, sustainably, organically sourced product that you don’t have to worry about in terms of what’s inside. I even take the old-school approach to infusing my oils with my own herbs. There’s a lot that goes into handcrafting these products, though I don’t look at my competitors as enemies. I look at us all like we’re all going toward the same goal. And we’re all just walking alongside each other.
5. What is one thing you think that customers should know about your shop that they probably aren’t aware of?
I handcraft everything in small batches with a lot of love. Also, my products are nontoxic; they’re completely natural. They’re good for anybody in any age range. They’re safe and can be utilized in a lot of different ways. And most of all, they’re completely therapeutic. There’s no fragrance involved.
6. How do you keep your shop’s inventory fresh and up to date?
Since everything’s naturally and organically sourced and I work in small batches, the shelf life of products isn’t going to be very long (though it’s still pretty exceptional). I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve figured out a rhythm. Also, I’m always looking for new ideas and creating new things to seeing if they’re things I want to market and sell.
7. Can you share a hint about what shoppers will see from you this season?
I have a special holiday line of lip balms and room sprays that are coming out. I introduced them last year and people loved them, especially at White Light Night. I have some pure essential oil-based aromas that really get you in the Christmas spirit. You just spray it and close your eyes and you just feel like you’re in the middle of a winter wonderland. I am also offering new gift baskets through Christmas, and they’ll be packaged and wrapped really beautifully. Those three new things can be pre-ordered now.
8. What was your reason for opening the shop? When did it open, and how has it grown or changed since then?
I started this business in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic since my cleaning business was delayed and I lost the ability to run the business like I needed to. I moved back up to Wyoming with my kids because my mom was very sick. She had cancer. When I was there caring for her, I had to do something for money. So I sat down at my mom’s kitchen table and I wrote my business plan. I decided what my inventory was going to look like. I put what little bit of money I had into this, which was literally every penny. I started getting my inventory in. I started my line, and I launched it on June 1. I started going to markets here and there and I did a lot of online orders at that time because it was the pandemic. Then, when I came back to Baton Rouge in September 2020, I just continued and got myself connected to Mid City and networked.
I’ve just grown since then. I am grateful for this business because my mom helped inspire it. Her situation really spurred this. It gave me the ability to be home with her when I needed to keep going back to take care of her. It’s been a huge blessing to have that and to be connected to the community as a vendor.
9. What are a few of your favorite items in the shop right now?
My favorite item, as well as my clients’, is my Magnesium Cream, which is a pain therapeutic. I call it my “multitasker.” It’s incredible for so many different things. I’d say my shower melts and my bath soaks are also in my top favorites.
10. What are a few must-have items for winter?
For me, I would definitely say that the shower melts are a must-have. Mine are unique because I make massive shower melts. They’re also great stocking stuffers or just to use for yourself. Then, I would say again that the Magnesium Cream is a must-have because it helps in so many different areas—sleep, anxiety, stress, and all kinds of different things.