Do you tell your story?
Early in our business we realized that our story is as integral as the quality of our products. As consumers, we have lost favor with big companies of facelessness, and we long for a time when we knew each other, and knew the story behind each other’s endeavors. One of the first questions we were asked was “How did you get started with soap?” or “What brought you to making soap as a business?” We love our story, and we love watching as the story continues to unfold.
As you may or may not know until 2010 our lives were much like most Americans – two income household, professional jobs, with the house, the cars, dogs, and a passion for travel. We had carefully crafted our adult professional careers, bulked up on higher education, and made a point to add value to everything we touched…. and then it happened. The bottom dropped out of our lives as first Steve, then I lost our full time incomes. And for reasons only perhaps God understands, we were not finding a replacement for our income. Doors seemed to slam shut in our faces. Yet the mortgage, and the bills continued. Challenging times call for innovation, for opportunity, for reinvention.
Call it happenstance, coincidence, or a clear vision – but one fateful day that May we took my Mother-in-law to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens for a special event to honor her for mothers day, and there on a shelf of the gift shop was the vision. Steve held a bar of handcrafted soap in his hands and asked me “What on earth could this be made of to be $10/bar? How hard is it to make soap?” I don’t think he remembered a year or two before that I was thinking about making soap, bought a few books, read everything about it, and then got nervous about the danger of working with lye…. so i never did anything with the knowledge. I remember handing Steve the books, and having a discussion. Within a few weeks he was gathering the needed supplies and made his first batch of soap – Gardener’s soap…. a fresh citrus herb soap blended with corn meal for scrubbing power. We gave bars to neighbors and friends to try… and when our one neighbor came back to ask how he could get more we realized we might have a business at hand. Our initial line was 6 scents of cold processed soap…. and we were amazed to see how it was received well.
Those initial offerings were in the fall of 2010…. and we have been growing and growing and growing. We now make 40 different scents and formulas of cold processed soap, along with a line of men’s shaving products (soap, after shave gel, shaving brushes, and kits), salt and sugar scrubs and an amazing pink Himalayan salt soap. And we are always researching needs, and formulating recipes with solutions. (Jewelweed soap, for those who are exposed to poison ivy – it is the natural anectode and it grows right next to poison ivy in the wild!!!)
We continue to climb out of our “great depression” economic reversal, and we are so thankful to see that what could have been so devastating was the spark to build a new life. It is a simpler life, and there is a lot more work involved, but it is a good life. We discovered the value of community, of telling our story, and of supporting others who are also operating small locally run businesses. While we recognize that the world is so large corporation globally focused, it is refreshing to be a part of something local…. to know people and to locally source goods from others who are local. It helps people, and it certainly helps our local economy to keep it here.
That is our story, and we are sticking to it. We love the adventure and we appreciate each of you for your encouragement and support.