Balms not bombs! Thank F*** it’s Friday with Jennie Taylor of Sweet Cheeks

 

Keeping it lubed and local--Jennie outside her Hawea Flat workshop.   PHOTO: Box of Light

Keeping it lubed and local–Jennie outside her Hawea Flat workshop. PHOTO: Box of Light

 

LAURA WILLIAMSON met with Jennie Taylor of Sweet Cheeks to find out about the locally-made balms in the Challenge Wanaka athletes’ bags. 

You might have noticed a bit of Lycra around town as of late. A shaved leg or two. The odd toned shoulders. This is because tomorrow about 2000 athletes from over 20 countries will line up to take part in the Challenge Wanaka long-distance triathlon, in which they will swim 3.8 kms, cycle 180 kms and finish off with a 42.2 km run.

Distances like those come with a certain amount of pain, and for those taking on tomorrow’s tri, Jennie Taylor may be the angel they’ve been looking for.

The Challenge athletes will all get a sample of her Sweet Cheeks products in their goodie bags. Hand-made in Hawea Flat will all-natural ingredients (like beeswax, comfrey and apricot oil) Jennie’s balms and creams—Butt Butter, Hot Cheeks and Super Balm—are all about soothing, warming and healing for athletes who like to take to the road, to the tracks and to the water for the long haul.

Being fully in favour of local lubes, I had a go on a recent ride with her Butt Butter, using it as a chamois cream. (Chamois what? Basically, it keeps your wedding tackle in good shape over long hours in the saddle. Bike seats can do bad things to your bits.)

To be honest, I really just liked the idea of saying, “anyone want to try my Butt Butter?” while we were getting ready to ride, but the stuff turned out to offer far more than a cool name. It keeps working beyond the first couple of hours, and doesn’t have the harsh medicinal smell that some other ointments do—nice to show up for my post ride beer not smelling like an apothecary. I also rubbed Jennie’s chili-based Hot Cheeks warming balm on my sore legs the next day (mmmmmm, chili), and her Super Balm was just the thing when one of my riding mates got a bee caught in this helmet. As you do.

All in all, good guff, and I thought it was time we met the lady behind the lubes.

 

So Jennie, you’ve got a bit of an accent, where are you from?

Minnesota.

What brought you to Wanaka?

Skiing with my husband, David. We worked at Cardrona and then we bought some land here. We didn’t end up coming back for five years, until we had our first son–we thought Wanaka was a perfect place to raise boys.

What inspired you to train as an herbalist?

A beautiful shop in Southern Colorado–Dancing Willow Herbs. I worked and trained with an herbalist there. I have always leaned towards natural medicine and skin care.

We do love the name Sweet Cheeks. Who came up with it?

Me, my nickname for my husband! I made the Butt Butter for him–he was doing long rides and using heaps of it. I didn’t like the ingredients in the product he was buying.

What was it about other products that was not working for him?

They didn’t last for long rides, and were expensive!

Was the Butt Butter the first Sweet Cheeks product?

Yes, I thought there was a need for an all-natural anti-chafe cream. I couldn’t believe all the un-necessary chemical ingredients in the other anti-chafe creams. Butt Butter is pretty simple–beeswax and a few herbal oils.

Tell us about your involvement in sport. Do you cycle or do your passions lie elsewhere?

Love biking with my boys, as well as running, yoga, telemark skiing pretty much anything that gets me outside. My son is teaching me how to do jumps on my bike!  I am not competitive, but enjoy supporting my friends … there are so many amazing athletes in Wanaka.

You make your products by hand. Can you describe the process for us a little? 

Again, a pretty simple process. I get huge blocks of beeswax from Milburn Apiaries (the only person I could find that hasn’t gotten the Varroa mite). I make the herbal oils from herbs grown in Canterbury, melt everything together and add some NZ lavender and manuka for the nice smell and antibacterial properties, and there you go. I love making it, it’s my favourite part of the business. David usually puts it into pots and puts on the stickers–he says I don’t put them on straight!

You use some unusual ingredients, such as chili seeds for your Hot Cheeks Balm. Tell us about the properties of some of these natural ingredients. 

I am passionate about my balms … love them. The herbs I use in the Hot Cheeks are healing for skin, anti-inflammatory and smell amazing. Super Balm is my favorite product – it’s the all-round superhero for lips, cracks, eczema, dry skin, you name it! I use simple but highly effective herbs, while calendula and comfrey–the king and queen of skin healing–are the base of all of my products.

As a cyclist myself, I’ve had some fairly horrible moments to do with, um, chafing after long rides, and I can tell you I once almost wept in gratitude when a nice French pharmacy lady hooked me up with some particularly effective cream. Do you get similarly strong responses?

Yes, especially from serious cyclists who have had problems with sores and such! They are so grateful and happy to have found a product that works. I laugh because they are riding a $10,000 bike, and rave about Sweet Cheeks making all the difference to their riding. It makes me happy that Sweet Cheeks has helped people out.

What’s ON these days, MTB, road or urban cruising? 

Electric bikes! Two companies have just started using them to deliver their products: The People’s Bread and Cherries, I believe. They are so awesome, my friend delivers the bread she makes with three kids riding on the back of her bike. I am all about a bike revolution.

Please tell us how to pronounce chamois correctly.

Ha ha! Well, that’s why I called it Butt Butter.

We thought of a good slogan for you: Drop balms, not bombs. Well, maybe it’s not that good. Any final thoughts?

Love it!!!  Sweet Cheeks –keeping it local and lubed. Wanaka has been so supportive of Sweet Cheeks. I am really grateful to everyone who has helped me out along the way.

 

Want Sweet Cheeks? Get it here: www.sweetcheeksnz.co.nz.

 

As for this weekend, it’s all about the tris, with Challenge Wanaka and the Lake Wanaka Half kicking off at the lakefront at 6.30am tomorrow. Later on, hang out at the finish line, which will be pumping until well after dark as fireworks welcome the final athletes home.

If music’s more your bag, DO NOT MISS Danny’s amazing pedal loop set tonight at Woody’s Bar from 10pm, or cross over to Opium to catch DJ Chris J—drinks are $5 all night long.

Meanwhile, if you miss the snow, join us in watching the live webcast of the Freeride World Tour at 11.30pm tonight at www.freerideworldtour.com. Local boys Colin Boyd and Charlie LyONs will be showing the Euros how to chop lines like Treble Cone and Kiwi backcountry riders they are, and we reckon that deserves a cheer or two.

Saturday, Wanaka favourites Rock Hopper will be getting the crowd rowdy at the Bullock Bar and it will be Leeroy Brown’s turn on the Opium stage. And, of course, tomorrow the inaugural Bannockburn Music Festival kicks off from 12pm at the Bannockburn Hotel—free music, Central scenery, what’s not to like?

And for your weekend wind down, Sunday sees Tin Flowers take over the garden bar at the Luggate Hotel, while, in town, Trout Bar has live music from 4pm.

Love your work, Wanaka, love your leisure!

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