For the past two years, the nuns at All Saints Greek Orthodox Monastery in Calverton have supported themselves in an unconventional way: by actively marketing and selling handcrafted soaps, candles and toiletries.
“All for Nun” products, which until now were only available for purchase at the monastery’s Middle Road gift shop, the Riverhead Farmers’ Market and various Greek festivals, can now be purchased online at the sisters’ new website, allsaintsmonasteryny.org.
“Most of the income we have to support the monastery is from our soap business, which is good because then people feel happy,” said Sister Theonymphi, one of three nuns living at the abbey. “Something they’re buying is keeping the lights on.”
Sister Theonyphmi, who grew up in Detroit and moved to the monastery in 2009, said another nun’s aunt taught them how to make soap and other products. They then watched Internet video tutorials to perfect their craft.
“It’s easy enough to do,” Sister Theonyphmi said. “It’s not a special skill.”
“All for Nun” products include scented bath soaps and organic soy candles, all-natural deodorant, argon hair oil, face cream made with white tea extract, cleansing clay with tea tree oil, sugar and hibiscus facial scrub, anti-bug balm and a medicinal black salve. Liquid hand soap is sometimes in stock and the sisters can personalize soap labels for special events.
Each sister, no matter her skill set, assists with some aspect of the business, whether it’s making soap, attaching labels or gift-wrapping custom orders, Sister Theonyphmi said.
“We enjoy it, especially because we’re doing something that’s bigger than ourselves,” she said. “We’re contributing to something bigger than us personally.”