Written by Lauriston Brewster
Houston is home to many industrious spirits, and people that maintain cool dispositions during times of duress. Tanya-Makany Rivera is one such person. Working closely with Mayor Sylvester Turner as the Deputy Press Secretary for the City of Houston, she is responsible for keeping Houstonians in the loop in regard to City business using various strategic communication strategies.
But when she’s not working as a dedicated city boss, she finds time to pursue one of her crafty hobbies: making soap with her start-up company Preen.
Tanya explained that the inspiration to start making soaps and beauty products stemmed from a conversation she had with her husband regarding hobbies.
“Besides watching movies, writing occasionally and loving salsa music,” Tanya said “I really didn’t have anything that I could call my hobby or something I truly enjoyed doing in my spare time.”
That led Tanya, who has been a longtime fan of handmade soaps– finding inspiration during drives to hill country and visits to farmer’s markets– to take a course at Leisure Learning and learn the basics about making soap. After reviewing recipes and videos online, she decided to try her own natural recipes with Preen, staying far away from the preservatives and chemicals used in most store bought lotions and soaps.
The name ‘Preen’ was inspired by Tanya’s love of birds, especially Peacocks. “When I discovered that preen actually meant to ‘take care in how one looks and to keep clean,’ I decided it would be perfect for the name of my company.”
Q & A with Preen
Bayou Current: How do you find the time to work on Preen?
Tanya: Honestly, after a stressful day either at work or with my kids, I will often be found making soap in the middle of the night. I have found that we make time for the things that are important to us.
I went back to school to get my Masters of Business Administration while having a young child and with one on the way.
It was difficult to balance all of it but when there is a will there is a way. I need to make more time for Preen so that I can have product on hand at all times.
Bayou Current: How do you create your scents?
Tanya: All of the scents that I use are essential oils for the most part and on occasion I will use fragrances. All of the oils that I use are natural and the ones I use most often are coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, shea butter and castor oil.
In terms of scents, lavender is my all time favorite. I try different brands to see the ones that I like best. For the most part I get feedback from buyers and it seems that Brazilian Orange, lemon, mint and patchouli are the most popular. I will often mix lavender with patchouli or other scents to come up with a fresh combination.
Bayou Current: What are your plans for Preen?
Tanya: Right now, I love making small batches and giving it to my friends and selling the product at small markets. One day, I would love to have a good number of Instagram followers and be able to open up an online or brick and mortar store that would sell naturally made products and to incorporate a Latin flavor to Preen’s product line.