Made in Tulsa
Tulsa is full of companies manufacturing widely used and specialty products. Here, meet four companies providing everything from school buses to uniquely scented soaps.
Amy Hallock and Jess Armstrong founded Snake Oil Shop, which produces a line of all-natural products, including a hot flash relief gel and a balm that can be used for hair or as a perfume.
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From shiny school buses to fresh homemade soaps, Tulsa manufactures.
From small-batch essential-oil cures to manufactured stone, Tulsa creates products that benefit the region and the nation.
Here, four Tulsa-based manufacturers describe the passion behind their products and their unique manufacturing recipes for success in a complex global marketplace.
The voodoo that you do:
Snake Oil Shop
In a Tulsa workshop, Amy Hallock and Jess Armstrong, who jokingly call themselves “snake oil salesmen,” cook up a little magic a hundred bottles at a time.
The idea started in 2005. Hallock’s mother had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia years earlier and began searching for pain relief because she couldn’t find relief from mainstream pharmaceuticals. Hallock researched holistic and natural alternatives and started mixing up a rub that helped relieve her mom’s inflammation and joint pain.
They called it “snake oil” as another little joke because it had so many uses, and the name stuck. Hallock’s friends and other family members began asking for the essential-oil blend.
But time and life passed until two years ago, when Hallock and Armstrong, longtime friends, decided to focus on building a product line based on all-natural remedies and essential oils.
They’ve made a little business magic happen with the Snake Oil Shop. Now, their products are sold wholesale in 10 states, and their online sales have skyrocketed as well. Buyers are snapping up the pretty tins filled with bright mood-altering or physically beneficial essential-oil rubs with simple names such as Calm, Energy or Stuffy.
Hallock uses Calm as an everyday perfume and hair balm; Armstrong swears that their Flash in the Pan Hot Flash Relief Gel (with an all-natural aloe vera gel that Snake Oil Shop creates) soothes sunburn pain, too. Manufacturing their products at a consistently high-quality level proved difficult at first. They tried to use local companies to help produce the product, but the results didn’t meet their expectations of quality.
They do smaller runs of 100 bottles at a time in their Tulsa workshop and use a larger bottling company for bigger orders.
“We want the quality control,” Hallock says. “We want the product to be all the same level.”
So they use their own bottling equipment to heat batches of melted beeswax and other carrier oils with complex blends of essential oils at exacting temperatures.
“We make our proprietary mixes and add it to our own bases,” Armstrong says. “We do everything.”
Armstrong designed the labels, and both women design and build their Snake Oil Shop wholesale displays.
“We print the signage and do the woodwork and silkscreen our logo and (then) sand them down,” Armstrong says.
From the company website to product delivery, Armstrong says, “We tried to have very consistent quality, which is one of the reasons we hold onto (production) so dearly.”
Hallock says many prospective customers ask them whether there are actual snakes in the rubs and gels (answer: No).
“This is old-school medicine,” Armstrong says. “And we’re coming back to that. It’s all natural, holistic and it works … and people are tired of popping pills for things, I think.”
Ziegler Art and Frame and Claire Fey Wellness stock the entire line of Snake Oil products.
And now they’ve developed a popular product line and thriving wholesale, consignment and Internet business on the company website. (Snake Oil Shop can also be found on Amazon and Etsy.)
Business has been brisk, and the Snake Oil ladies are getting the hang of filling big orders.
“We used to have a big order come in and panic,” Armstrong says. “Now, we’ve got this. We know what our capabilities are and are kind of ready to take on the world.”
They are developing a line of baby- and child-related products (with fun names such as Cootie Spray and Boo Boo), plus skincare, and they are expanding the essential-oil scents into bath products, lotions and candles.
“We are always saying, ‘Smell this, try this, do this,’” Armstrong says.