In my first life I earned a degree in chemistry and biology and started my initial career as a medical technologist in hospital clinical laboratories in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I loved being able to contribute laboratory analyses that provided medical knowledge to physicians concerning the nature and extent of disease within individual patients.
A few years later while working on my master’s degree in microbiology at the Medical College of Virginia, I studied epidemiology and infectious diseases and did research on streptococcal bacteria. This culminated in a comprehensive identification schema for medically important strains of streptococci, contributing data that was useful in the development of rapid identification tests for pathogenic “strep throat” strains that could be carried out in doctors’ offices.
I retired from clinical work for several years but as my three sons grew, I was asked to assist in the science program in a local school. I quickly recognized the need for classroom science teachers, and entered a “second life” in education, teaching laboratory-based science to middle and high school students. What I thought would be a temporary endeavor lasted more than twenty years. While in the classroom, I was honored to be the recipient of the Science Teacher of the Year for the State of Virginia Award, given by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, and to be included in numerous listings inAmerica’s Who’s Who, including American Women, Outstanding Women of the Eighties, Outstanding Educators, and Outstanding Southern Women.
Being in the classroom was always more of a mission than a job. It was a mission to promote scientific principles and processes for the development of a core of lifetime knowledge. It was a mission to instill habits of mind that would transcend science. It was a mission to encourage critical thinking that would enable future citizens to differentiate valid scientific data from junk science only meant to persuade towards a political end. It was a mission to instill an appreciation for the historical forefathers (and mothers) whose work has eradicated disease and enhanced standards of living wherever implemented. The decision to leave the classroom in 2007 after twenty-two years as an educator was difficult, and education remains a priority.
Through all my “lives” I’ve been an ardent gardener, one who was not afraid to get her hands dirty. I am happiest in the garden as I change my flowers year after year to experiment with combinations of plants, colors, textures, and aromas. I did this as part of teaching science and horticulture and a love of nature to my students and my own children. Perhaps it was inevitable that I developed an interest in herbs, herbal healing, aromatherapy, and natural alternatives for beauty and wellness. While still teaching, I was approached by a local aesthetician to develop a line of anti-aging skin care products. My passion for nature was about to join with my interest in science for my “third life.”
So from this request, chemistry met nature and initiated the foundational philosophy for the Abbey St. Clare line of products that focuses on combining cutting edge cosmetic science with nature-based healing for clear, beautiful skin, healthy scalp and hair, skin friendly natural cosmetics, and natural based formulas that incorporate the healthiest skin care actives from the laboratory. Most of the products were-and continue to be – a result of someone’s asking, “Do you have anything that would help….” I continue to use my interest in nature’s therapeutic pharmacy to create nature based wellness solutions for what ails you in the daily aches and pains of life.
My overall goal with Abbey St. Clare is to help you become the best you can be with minimum expenditures of time or treasure. Becoming this “Best You” entails educating you about ingredients that enable you to make wise product decisions. I want to teach you about effective skin care protocols and cosmetic applications so you can achieve professional results in the privacy of your home, in front of your own mirror. I am convinced that this knowledge will ultimately promote that innate happiness that comes from looking and feeling your best, within and without.
Now, let’s go out and have a beautiful day.
Wishing you health and happiness —–
Margaret A. Hardy, M.S.
Founder and President
Harrington House, ltd / Abbey St. Clare
Abbey St. Clare is dedicated to the memory of Brother Thomas, OFM, Cap., my uncle, who was a Franciscan friar for fifty years before his death in 2002. His unselfish dedication to a life of prayer and service to others is a daily source of inspiration.
St. Clare was a friend of St. Francis who left her life of wealth to follow his example. She became the first Franciscan nun and abbess to the community of women who joined her in prayer and service. She was known for her dedication to caring for her fellow sisters and used healing plants grown in her abbey’s herb garden.
Abbey St. Clare donates a portion of all proceeds to support Franciscan programs to feed the hungry, as well as charitable programs and shelters.