Alaskan couple finds home in Loudon

Bridgit Lawson arranges items at her Personal Space Creations store in downtown Loudon.

One couple has discovered a “home away from home” in their new storefront location in downtown Loudon.

Darren and Bridgit Lawson trekked more than 4,000 miles from North Pole, Alaska, to Grove Street over the summer in order to open Personal Space Creations.

“I grew up out in Piney (Steekee), or Big Piney is the way it’s listed on the map,” Darren said. “I joined the Marine Corps in 1994, came back and got bored, joined the Army and we retired in Alaska in 2013, so we were reverse dang Yankees.”

The couple creates and sells unique essential oil jewelry to help soothe the body and alleviate pain. Bridgit launched the business in 2015.

“It came to be because I was retiring as a professional clown and balloon artist and decided to start making aroma therapy jewelry,” she said. “I started making the aroma therapy jewelry first in 2015 because I had gotten very into essential oils and wanted to have some way of carrying it around. In 2015, we opened a very small, well, we called it the booth, it was just an 8-foot table where we were selling my jewelry on and between 2015 and when we left Alaska in 2018, we had grown into a booth that my husband constructed, and he was doing the aroma therapy jewelry, and I was back to my love of upcycling and making upcycled jewelry.”

Bridgit grew up around essential oils and now prefers it over medication, which has been a big selling point for her business.

“Aroma therapy jewelry is a way to carry the scents of your essential oils with you wherever you go,” she said. “Essential oils are like a medicine, so we choose those over pharmaceuticals. We reach for the essential oils in the kitchen cabinet before we reach for the medicine cabinet. I’ve used herbal remedies my whole life. My grandmother actually got kicked out of her village in Italy, as the family story goes, because her herbal remedies were working better than the doctors’ remedies, and so they started calling her a witch and all that stuff.”

Darren had doubts about Bridgit’s business idea but soon hopped on board.

“I don’t know, I didn’t believe in it; I thought it was a bunch of junk, a bunch of hooey,” he said. “One night, she started rubbing some anti-inflammatory, some oils like black pepper, nutmeg, a couple of those ... and she’s rubbing them on my feet, what is that going to do? So I said, ‘Woman, all you’re going to do is keep my feet from drying out, splitting and cracking and bleeding and maybe make them smell better, so knock yourself out.’ She’s putting the anti-inflammatory oils along my lower spine where my bulged discs are and not even 10 minutes later, my back starts feeling better. It absolutely freaked me out ... so that’s kind of how I became a believer in the oils by just having that experience.”

Since opening Aug. 1 in downtown Loudon, the Lawsons have had a friendly and welcoming experience. They currently occupy part of the Greer’s Home Furnishings building.

The Lawsons expect to expand the store this month.

“I will say that Bo (Carey) is an amazing landlord. He rented us part of Greer’s and in January, he’s letting us rent even more because our business is growing,” Bridgit said. “Downtown Loudon is so much different than other places I’ve done business. I’ve had a business license in my name since I was 18 and I’m 50 now, so I’ve been in business a long time for myself. Here, all of the businesses work together. I’ve really found that even though there’s another essential oil lady up the street and everybody sells jewelry, they’re really supportive of us, and they’ll send people to us. We send people to them as well, but it’s a nurturing community for the business owners.”

The Lawsons credit the revived Loudon Merchants and Property Owners Association for early success.

“I really like staying here. Even though my granddaughter is still in Alaska with my daughter and her husband, I don’t want to leave Loudon because it really is just that kind of community,” Bridgit said. “It’s helped our business because we do refer and recommend people up and down the street. It’s a very supportive community, and the new LMPOA really is working to make it a supportive business community. It’s really strong with this new group of people in there.”