October 20th, 2011

36 Hours in Minnesota with J.R. Watkins Naturals

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J.R. Watkins Naturals Building

It was a whirlwind of a trip, but so worth the journey.  J.R. Watkins Naturals invited me, along with 4 other bloggers, to visit their breathtaking headquarters located in Winona, Minnesota. Midwesterners are often viewed as friendlier than your average American and the employees of J.R. Watkins proved this to be true with their endearing Midwestern accents and gracious hospitality.
J.R. Watkins Naturals Blogger Visit

J.R. Watkins has been America’s pioneer in natural living-they’ve been around since 1868! The company’s line of personal care products is one of very few lines to be certified by the Natural Products Association.

Our day kicked off  with a tour of the J.R. Watkins  factory led by John, an extremely knowledgeable archivist,  who works for J.R. Watkins Naturals. During the tour we were able to watch a few of the production lines in action. It was fascinating  to see how the products are packaged, sorted and sealed.

J.R. Watkins production line

After the tour we sat down with the company’s President, Mark Jacobs and J.R. Rigley the VP of Sales and Marketing, along with several other J.R. Watkins team members. This was one of the highlights of the trip. We were able to speak candidly with the company about ingredients in their products and what it really meant to be “all natural”. I walked out of the meeting feeling very impressed by their openness and dedication to creating a true standard for all natural products. They company is committed to their community and works hard to practice “green” manufacturing.

Another highlight was being invited into the company’s test kitchen for an introduction to some new product lines that are being launched. Their baby products should  be hitting the shelves just in time for the holidays.

J.R. Watkins All Natural Baby Products

We were treated a bit like royalty and stayed in the Alexander Mansion, run by the fantabulous Richard.

Alexander Mansion

My room was pretty spectacular. It belonged to Mary, the well-loved maid of the Alexander family. My kids would have loved jumping on the bed. I had to resist the urge.

Alexander Mansion roomThe trip wouldn’t have been what it was (fantastic) without the wonderful people along the way. The employees of J.R. Watkins didn’t make it into any of my photos (how did that happen???), but I can’t say enough good things about them. The five bloggers came together from an eclectic assortment of blogs, and what a great group of women.

Watkins bloggersFrom left to right: Kiersten from The Type A Housewife, yours truly, Jennifer from Savoring the Thyme, Micaela from Mindful Momma and Jodi from Mom’s Favorite Stuff.

J.R Watkins Natural’s products are sold in quite a few retail shops. I recently spotted them at my local Whole Foods Market.

Have you spotted J.R. Watkins Naturals products?

[Photo of Watkins building, sign and production line courtesy of JodiGrundig/Flickr]

Disclosure: I was provided travel, lodging and J.R. Watkins products as part of this Behind The Scenes Tour at J.R. Watkins Headquarters. The opinions are my very own.

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20 Responses to “36 Hours in Minnesota with J.R. Watkins Naturals”

  1. This is the company you’ll be blogging for? How exciting to know they walk their talk about green manufacturing :)

    And a much more fun post than the lice one. Take the good with the bad, right?

    Can’t wait to learn more about JRW and what you love of theirs!

  2. Was it really only 36 hours?!

    It was definitely a great time–I learned so much and I have about a dozen new favorite products now (even my husband is using the lemon hand cream!). It was great meeting you!

  3. It was a whirlwind of a trip wasn’t it? Especially for you guys who had to fly across the country. So fun though – especially the factory tour!

  4. Hi Amity-yes, I am writing for them. It was great to visit the company and have the chance to ask questions and find out what they’re all about. Much more fun then dealing with lice!!

  5. It was a quick one Kiersten! I love that your husband is hooked on the lemon hand cream. It was so nice to meet you too!!

  6. Hi Micaela! It was a quick in and out-but I loved having the opportunity to really get to know the company. The tour was amazing. I have an entirely new perspective on how products get on the shelves.

  7. Lori, I love their products. I have been using the Lavender Hand Soap (Lavande Savon Pour Les Mains) and the Lemon All Purpose Cleaner (Citron Agent Nettoyant Universel). I always found them in Target but was recently there and they didn’t have it any more. What happened? I will have to try my local Whole Foods to see if it’s there. Not sure I can live without them. :)

  8. Hey Renee! I have no idea why you can’t find them in Target. I’ll ask the company and let you know. Whole Foods had a small selection-I’m guessing Target had a larger sampling? We will try to get to the bottom of this!

  9. What an awesome opportunity and experience Lori! I am super happy for YOU!!!! I will check out their products at Whole Foods.

  10. Thanks for all of your support Yoko! You’ll have to let me know what you think of the products.

  11. Lori, PLEASE find out where we can get these products! I went to Whole Foods in Andover today and they didn’t have it either? Do they sell it online?

  12. I will check for you Renee. Yes, you can find it online at a number of retailers. Try Amazon and Drugstore.com.

  13. What a cool opportunity. Congrats!!

  14. Thanks Ann!

  15. happened to be at another Target and they had a shelf full of products until I cleared them out! :)

  16. Yesterday I noticed a small variety (5 or 6 products) at Copps, a local chain grocery store.

  17. Glad you found some Renee! Hopefully they’ll restock for the next visit :)

  18. Nice to know they carry them at Copps Marsha. Have you seen them at any other local stores?

  19. So jealous! I’d love to go on a tour like that. Thanks for sharing the photos. I’m glad I can find J.R. Watkins Naturals products here in Toronto.

  20. It was pretty cool Andrea. I was amazed to see how the product lines work. I had never really given it any thought before. Glad you can find them in Toronto!

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

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