Navajo Girl Brings Native Soap to Farmington

4/15/2021

Before the pandemic, Kamia Begay decided she needed an art project to help her recover from her father’s 2019 death. Her project has grown from an effort to provide her family with native soap to a world-wide community online and a beautiful store in downtown Farmington. By Donna Hewett. Sponsored by Traegers.

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A young Navajo girl is helping to grow the arts district in downtown Farmington, perhaps without even realizing it. You're watching the local news network brought to you by Traegers, I'm Wendy Graham Settle. That all began when the ten-year-old Kamia Begay infused her first batch of glycerine soap, with what was on hand. In this case, her mother's precious Navajo tea plucked from the Shiprock desert, the summer before. Two years later, she's grown from making soap for her family to opening an online business. And now a classy second story shop Nizhoni Soap Company at 101 South Orchard Street, just off of Main in Farmington and a new sister store in Mesa, Arizona. We wondered how a 10 year old taught herself to make soap. We should have known.

I first watched a YouTube video. As I was watching it, I saw her infusing it with like different flowers. And that's when the idea clicked to me where I thought, hey, instead of flowers, what if I put Navajo tea? And so I took my mom's Navajo tea. I infused it with the bars, I was so upset with my first batch. I showed it to my mom, friends, and family and they really loved it. And they kept on encouraging me to start selling it. So that's when I started selling it at downtown Phoenix for the first Friday. And then after that I got a really good feedback from tons of people. And then a person recommended that I go to the native art market and that's what helped me a lot.

Her glycerin soap bars, foam washes, wax melts and sugar scrubs come in luxuriously scented combinations such as Triple Butter White Sage with Lavender or Cedar with Peppermint and Eucalyptus. Other descriptors are more mysterious with names such as Nalis Camp Fire, Blue Corn Pollen, and REZ DIRT soap. It's not as bad as it sounds. Dirt soap captures the heavenly scent of rain as it hits hot sand, other than enchanting fragrance. Why did Kamia decide on soap as an art form?

I always loved arts and wanted to create something. And not only that, I lost my dad back in March in 2019. And I saw soap making as a coping mechanism. And that's when I got the idea of giving it a Navajo flare by adding different herbs that we use, including Navajo tea, Sage, Yucca, and Sweet grass, and many more.

Begay says her mother's support has meant everything to her. She's taught her how to work hard be helpful and kind and all that good stuff.

I'm always pushing her to do well. And so far, she's done so. And , sorry. As a mother, I'm super proud of her. She's done a lot and I keep pushing her and I tell her to stay humble. Tell her to focus on her school. Her school comes first before her business

But by what means does a 12 year old volunteer to get up at 5:00 AM, work on soaps in her backyard warehouse, clean the house, make breakfast for the family then get started on homeschooling all by 9:00 AM.

I'm strict with her. I've always told her she doesn't need a phone. She doesn't need a tablet. I always enforced drawing. I call doodling and my daughter has amazing artwork as well. She's very artistic at heart.

An honor, student Kamia also plays the violin, basketball, and soccer. She's saving her profits from the soap business to put herself through college. Not to study art, but business at the University of California at Berkeley. At the same time, like any 12 year old, she's a bit shy when asked what her friends think about all her accomplishments.

I think it's nice, I don't know.

Nizhoni Soaps not only make your face and hands feel fresh. They're herbs infusions might even cure what ails you. Nizhoni means beautiful and Navajo. Her soaps of all colors are certainly that. They look like Muda jewels from the surrounding desert. Inexpensive and artfully wrapped in corn husks. They make the quintessential Southwest gift perhaps for Mother's day. Follow the dine soap maker @nizhonisoap for her latest creations or buy her products online at nizhonisoap.com. Store hours vary, check out facebook.com/nizhonisoaps before making the trip. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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