The Little Green Dress - Watching Her Garden Grow
by Natalie Bencivenga
August 4, 2020
The saying goes, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” No one embodies that more than Cynthia Hill, founder of Third Day Luxury Soaps & Herbal Gardens. Hill started making soaps in the late '90s as a way to work through her grief following the illness and subsequent death of her mother.
“I was working as an executive, Downtown, with different nonprofits. Between my mother falling ill and my son experiencing his own health challenges, I had no choice but to quit working,” she said.
Unsure of what to do, she began making soaps to ease stress. Researching herbs, understanding flowers and growing her own, gave Hill a renewed respect for planet Earth. “It started to become a real passion. It was like cooking. Therapeutic. You can add herbs, rare oils...you can really get creative. Everyone of my friends just loved my soap,” she recalled.
As her son grew and she was able to work through her mother’s death, she decided to go back to school and get a degree in marketing and communications. Biology became of real interest to her and she went on to receive her Master’s in Cosmetic Science in 2008 from Penn State University.
“That’s when things went from a hobby to a business. I realized I needed to find space for my products and so I began selling at farmers’ markets all over the city,” said Hill. However, since Covid-19 hit, she has had to pivot her model. Hill was reminded of her mother during this time, who always taught her to be strong and independent.
“Believe it or not, it has been a bittersweet blessing for me. People are more interested than ever in their health and hygiene. You want to quit so many times because it is hard, but that encouraging voice inside my head led to this success,” she said. She hopes to share that wisdom with her grandchildren.
“My business is to build generational wealth because I see a lot of small businesses die after the person who created it dies. Black families, especially, we need to grow generational wealth. We can’t be scrambling to pay for a funeral when someone dies. I want to be the person that ends that for my family. That’s why I want to teach what I do now to others. The more that others learn to do what I did, the longer my legacy survives,” said Hill.
But it’s more than a personal legacy that drives Hill. She wants people to feel connected to the Earth again, to recognize the medicinal properties in plants, and how we can use Mother Nature to heal ourselves. She takes pride in growing most of the herbs and plant-based medicinal ingredients on her own property in her own greenhouse. This method allows her to grow organically and on-site. She then packages her products in biodegradable or recyclable materials in her home office in Duquesne.
The final product is something that Hill believes could have come from one of the earliest gardens on Earth. “I try to create things so pure and healthy for you. The name “Third Day” comes from the idea that on the third day Earth was created — God or whatever higher power you believe in — created the flowers, the trees, and the lush green landscapes around us. This is where I imagine my garden to be,” she said.
She notes that while everyone is talking about face masks and staying home to protect against Covid-19, she believes people aren’t speaking enough about preventative care and boosting one’s immunity through good diet, exercise, and sunshine. “All of this brings us closer to nature and strengthens us,” Hill added.
As for the future, she knows the only way forward is to think more eco-consciously. “It makes your life more whole. It’s common sense. I worship my plants and recognize the importance of every little thing happening in my garden. Every little bee has a purpose. Even if I didn’t have any customers, I would always make soaps, lotions, and still research because I love being a part of something bigger than myself,” she said.
Let’s all stand in the sun and grow stronger together.