From a small one-acre piece of land grew a mom-and-pop shop geared towards products for men.
Alex and Joe Mena Moved to Tyler for a different kind of life. They desired to live sustainably on a little piece of land where they could have animals, a garden and the feel of a rural area.
They are always doing something, be it growing veggies, making caramel, welding or fixing things on the property. A lot of hard work is done one their little acre, as Alex Mena likes to call it.
On the land, they have goats who produce a lot of milk, Alex Mena said. Wanting to do something with the milk instead of wasting it is what first sparked the idea to begin a business making soap.
They searched for a locally made men’s product for her husband to use on his face and beard, but turned up empty handed. No matter how much they looked, all they could find were products for women.
Realizing there really were no products for men out there, she decided to make her own.
Together, Alex Mena and her husband came up with the name Humble Acre Works for her business, which for them is synonymous with their little acre.
The making of a product
During Alex Mena’s college years, she had a chance encounter with an Army recruiter that involved a flat tire. He told her about the Army, leading her to join and become a biochemical engineer.
For 13 years she worked in chemical, biological radio and nuclear warfare and fell in love with it, she said. The science others used to harm people, she got to use to help people.
After leaving the Army, she still had the drive to help people and do good.
“I wanted to do something good, something different, something joyful, something clean and still following my passion,” Alex Mena said.
She found her passion again in being able to create products that were clean and safe for men to use on their skin and beards, she said.
She started researching the process of making soap, and fell in love with it and the science behind it, she said. For a while, there were scribbled notes and sketches of molecular compositions all over the house.
After a bit of researching, Alex Mena decided to go to the professionals. She talked to them about the process of soap making because while she understood the science, they had the experience
“I could grab a paintbrush, but I couldn’t paint the Mona Lisa,” she said.
Others, like her father-in-law, allowed the couple to try numerous products out on them. It’s been six months since she figured out the formula and began selling her all natural product.
Most of Humble Acre Works products, especially the soaps, are named after blue-collar workers, Alex Mena said. They wanted to make masculine scented products for the hard working dude.
Current items sold include shave soap, beard oil, beard balm, mustache wax and beard butter, with names such as Harvester, Woodsman, Herbalist and more.
The first thing she ever came up with was the shave soap, Alex Mena said. It was exciting but difficult because the face is more delicate than the rest of the body. It was also a challenge because they wanted to make the soap suds up, which is not synonymous with cleanliness.
The shave soap is great for men to use for shaving, but can also be used for the body, she said. Each one has a natural element in it, like oatmeal, raw sugar, coffee grounds and tobacco leaves, that also exfoliates.
The beard oil currently comes in two scents: Humidor, which smells like tobacco leaf, and Valente, which smells subtly of oak and suede.
Humble Acre Works also sells items for beard styling. The beard balm and mustache wax are made up of coconut oil and beeswax. The difference between the two is the ratio of oil to wax and their hold.
“We have six scents and I’m limiting the amount of scents that we have to keep the quality well,” she said. “The bases are all very much the same and the scents are a little different.”
Scents include Beer Wench, which smells like raspberry ale, Harvester, which smells like coffee, Herbalist, which smells like eucalyptus, Humidor, which smells like a cigar with soft woody undertones, Subtle Night, which smells like lavender and Woodsman, which smells like cedar.
New scents are in the works, including freshly cut grass, fire wood and a surprisingly highly requested urinal cake scent, which Alex Mena wants to smell like cherry and citrus.
Alex Mena said using ingredients that are locally sourced or from the United States is something they strongly believe in.
She said she moved to the United States when she was 10 years old and loves it and the opportunities she’s had such as serving in the Army, this small business she’s created and more.
Where to find it
Humble Acre Works products can be found at First Monday in Canton and every Saturday at the East Texas State Fair Farmers Market in Tyler. They have also recently started selling at the Ranchers Market in the Cumberland Shopping Center.
Find more information at humbleacreworks.com.