About Herbaria

Meet Our Team

You might like to have faces to associate with the names of those who make the products you love, answer the phone, and sign and ship your orders. Together, we make, sell, and ship over 100,000 bars of handmade soap a year.                


LaRee DeFreece, Founding Partner

It was LaRee’s idea to make all natural soap back in 2001. Though not involved day-to-day, she still counsels the team with legal and ethical guidance. Married to Ken Gilberg.


Ken Gilberg, Partner

With a background in graphics and communications, Ken creates and illustrates our website and social media, helps with the shop, comes up with new product suggestions, and usually makes lunch for the crew.

Blake Larson, Partner

Blake is in charge of production and purchasing. He’s a whiz with IT and many useful programs. Married to Melissa Gibbs, they share a love of Ultimate (Frisbee). Both are champs.

Melissa Gibbs, Partner

Melissa is the Swiss Army Knife of Herbaria. She’s the interface between us and all of our customers—online, in-store and in retail. She’s our HR department. She’s our graphics designer, making labels, personalized favors, signage and more. We like to brag about that Melissa was on the winning team of World Champion Masters Beach Ultimate 2017.


Kimmy Fordyce, Senior Customer Service Representative

Kimmy has been with Herbaria since 2007 when the company was still in the basement of LaRee and Ken’s home. Kimmy is always kind and considerate, and has a good sense of humor.

Renee Farmar, Customer Service, Tour Guide and Production Assistant

Renee is a good listener. She cares and is reliable, efficient, organized and confident. After retiring from a career in social work, she’s found Herbaria to be a low stress and enjoyable place to work.

Tom Chulick, Customer Service, Tour Guide and Production Assistant

Tom, an Eagle Scout, takes an interest in many aspects of Herbaria. He has a bachelor’s degree in history and German. He began working with us in 2017.

Soapy, Customer Service Specialist

Soapy is a Catahoula Leopard Dog, state dog of Louisiana. She came to our door as a puppy in 2011 and took to her job greeting customers and modeling for photos. She gets plenty of attention and love. Follow her travels on Soapy’s Guide to St. Louis or on Instagram @herbariasoap.

How We Started
LaRee DeFreece made our first batch of soap in 2001. She suffered from dry, sensitive, sun-damaged skin and was fed up with store-bought soaps. Nearly all contained harsh detergents and synthetic fragrance. She set out to craft a gentle, moisturizing, all natural soap.

After much research and numerous experiments, she created the basic recipe all Herbaria soaps are made with today. LaRee gave samples to her friends to try. “Best soap I’ve ever used,” they’d all say.

Fair-Unique Boutique

LaRee and Ken at an early craft fair.

The first Herbaria soaps made a splash in the Best of Missouri Market at Missouri Botanical Garden. Soon after, LaRee returned to her law career and her husband, Ken Gilberg took over. His background in botany, cooking, photography, graphic arts and marketing continue to advance the business. Ken moved production from the kitchen to the basement of their home.

In 2009, Herbaria moved to our current location, a large, bright store and workshop on the much-visited old Italian section of St. Louis, the Hill. We began offering tours of the soap making factory.

Herbaria ships to all fifty states and numerous countries. Many customers are Herbaria addicts. They insist our soaps have solved their skin problems, such as eczema and rosacea.

We love what we do and are grateful for your support. Herbaria is devoted to creating all-natural vegan products healthy for people, pets and the environment. We believe in what we make and guarantee your satisfaction.

Visit our Store

2016 Marconi Ave
St. Louis, MO 63110
Monday - Saturday
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Holiday Closings
New Year’s Day
Memorial Day
Independence Day
Total Eclipse 2017, August 21
Labor Day
Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Eve- close at 2 pm
Christmas Day
New Year’s Eve- close at 2 pm
If Christmas and New Years fall on a Sunday, we'll be closed on the following Monday




We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, PayPal, personal checks and money orders.
Phone orders are welcome.

Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild logo
Whole Foods Market Premium Body Care logo
Best of Missouri Hands logo