Kim and David 2017
Kim was unwilling to settle for the daily commute to software jobs on the mainland while dreaming of an island-based business that would get her out of the daily grind. She wanted to meet four basic principles:
- It had to be something tangible
- it had to be useful
- it had to be consumable so that it would be purchased repeatedly allowing us to establish long-term relationships with our customers
- it had to cause zero harm to people, animals, and the environment.
One afternoon in 1995, both of us happened to catch a short television program about a woman in Maine whose company made cold-process soaps. A product that not only met all of our criteria, but incorporated Kim’s love of herbs and essential oils. In 1995 Kim, with the help of David originally established our company under the name Whidbey Island Soap Company and began selling at the local Farmer’s Market on the weekends and working her day job through the week while perfecting the products in her spare time.
Around about 2000 David had been working as a contractor at Microsoft, a job he referred to as the “Job from Hell” and told Kim it was “Leaching away his soul”. It was soon agreed that David would become a partner in the business and began working full time in the business. Soon after Kim and David opened the first retail shop at the end of the wharf in Coupeville, WA and began selling and making their products there. Coupeville is a beautiful town located right on the water but foot traffic in bad weather could be a real problem out on the wharf!
In 2001 the shop was moved to Langley, WA on second street. Believe it or not, another town right on the water. (It is an island don’t ya know!) and then to First Street a more accessible location a couple years later.
At this time we had begun selling our products in natural food markets like PCC, Whole Foods, and Central Market. Problem was that we had begun making products other than soap! It got a bit confusing to our customer to look at a name that said Whidbey Island Soap Company and have a bottle of lotion or salve in your hands. It was time for a name change! We dropped “Soap Company” from our companies name and became “Whidbey Island Natural”. Much less confusing.
David and Kim where working upwards of six to seven days a week and pretty much running themselves ragged. In around 1998 Roy and Lesley Van Riper (Kim’s parents and David’s grandparents) retired and joined them on Whidbey Island and often where helped in wrapping them wrap and package products (It was a whole family affair!).
(Lesley, Kim and Roy at the beach)
In 2007 Kim was struck with a rare brain disease known as Moya Moya, a closing of the arteries that lead to the brain. It’s still unknown why this happens but without treatment it would eventually lead to her death. After conducting extensive research she found Dr. Gerry Steinburg at the University of Stanford Hospital in CA. To save her life she Dr. Steinberg scheduled her for immediate surgery in October. Dr. Steinburg performed a double arterial bypass surgery on her brain, returning normal blood flow and saving her life. Unable to leave work David continued to run the business until she was able to return to work the following spring of 2008.
In 2009, Roy and Lesley, decided that both Kim and David needed a nice break. After working through the summer months they first took David on a cruise up to Anchorage Alaska and then Kim on the same cruise back down to Seattle, WA. It was on the cruise up to Alaska that David met the love of his life Gayle Wilkerson. A year later David proposed to Gayle in the barn she kept her horse in in Griffith Park, CA and on April 1st 2011 they were married on a historic beach on the big island of Hawaii. The down side? Gayle had to continue to work for a year to finish up her carrier in L.A. Superior Courts. It all came together and on Jan 1st, 2013 Gayle and David began their married life together on Whidbey Island.
(Engagement and Beach Wedding in Hawaii)
From 2012 till the end of Summer 2013 Kim and David worked a stand at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA while continuing to run the store in Langley and manufacturing their line of bath and skincare products. Let’s just say it was a lot of work and was taking us away from our beautiful island again!
(Gayle visiting David at Pike Place Market)
In spring of 2017, after almost eighteen years running a retail shop on Whidbey Island, it was time to close shop in Langley. It was decided that they would focus their time on their growing wholesale and internet business. It was a sad day but ended up being a good change for both David and Kim as it actually allowed them a day off once in a while!
We take great pride in our work to create our all-natural products with our own hands, taking the time and care required to imbue them with exceptional old-world craftsmanship and quality.
We hope you love our products.
David and Kimberly Tiller
In Loving Memory of our Father and Grandfather
Roy Van Riper
We miss you every day!