What We Do:
SoapWorks makes natural and therapeutic soaps. We strive to make a quality bar with no shortcuts and minimal wasteful packaging. All our products must be biodegradable. With the two exceptions of Safe bleach and Bentonite Clay Facial Powder, everything we make is a soap; that distinguishes us from products that are “derived” from natural ingredients; if it doesn’t say “soap”, it is probably a detergent.
The Soap Works was started by Bob and Mike. Both had sensitive skin easily irritated by mass market soaps and washes. In the 1980’s they formed The Soap Works starting with a few basic soaps. Back then health food stores sold herbs and ingredients for brewing teas, and had bead curtains. Staff considered themselves “hippies” and “earth mamas”. Our original logo was a market scale because we sold our soaps exclusively by weight. We still make our original bulk glycerin recipe and it remains one of our most popular soaps.
How we do it:
We make soap in a variety of ways. We select the process to maximize the effectiveness of the soap. We use a cold process to make our Goat Milk soap because we use fresh, fluid whole goat milk; this process ensures that all the goodness in the goat milk is never “cooked” out. Some soaps, like our Sea Salt soap, require an accelerated process as the bars form so quickly that they must be cut within hours of mixing; other soap bars need to cure in order to firm up for extended use.
Who does it:
SoapWorks has been providing natural soaps since the 1980’s. We are a third-generation family business with a number of long-term staff, and long-time suppliers.
What we like best:
The favourite part of our work is the responses we get from people who have discovered a bar of our soap. “Discovered” means that it helps them deal with eczema or reduce their acne or prevent their hands from chapping; or it just might mean that the bars feels superior and lasts longer than the mass market soaps they have been using; it is when someone has been dealing with a skin issue or allergy, and after trying all kinds of treatments, they find that a $2 bar of our SoapWorks’ soap helps or even remedies their situation without side effects or special instructions, and no extra procedures to add to
their daily washing.
The hardest thing we have had to do:
Probably the hardest decision for us was the necessity to add bar code stickers on each soap bar; it was about 5 years ago; up to that point in time, our bars had no packaging whatsoever. We were so proud that we made a useful, everyday product that when you brought it home and finished with it, there was nothing that went into either waste or recycling bins; accordingly, our soaps have a minimal environmental footprint. But 21 st century retailing requires bars codes, so we use the smallest bar code labels available that would adhere to the soaps’ surface. These are recyclable in most jurisdictions andprinted with vegetable-based ink.
What have we learned over the years:
One of the lessons learned is the importance of listening. Our customers suggest new products, give us feedback on the effectiveness of our soaps when dealing with their needs, and help us improve our knowledge base of uses for our soaps. We listen to our staff and try to have the best working conditions possible. Making soap is as much part science as it is an art; natural ingredients do not always perform the same from season to season so last second changes and tweaks are typical for most batches. The long-time experience of our staff is a valuable asset and we think it makes SoapWorks’ products unique.
When the second generation started working with the founders, our invoices were hand written in triplicate paper, and added on a calculator. Our point of sale signs were black ink on coloured paper with basic clip art for razzle-dazzle. Over the past decade and a half, we computerized our invoices and colour coded our marketing materials. However, many things have not changed. Our displays are still madewith locally milled pine. We still cut our cold process bars by hand with piano wire. Some of our machinery dates back to early 1900s vintage. If you want to use old fashioned recipes, sometimes you have to stick to the old-fashioned machines.
What keeps us motivated:
There is always something new that keeps us going; mostly it is the fact that we make a product that once people try it, they don’t want to use anything else. We like to believe that we make your everyday act of washing a little better. We believe our soap helps people deal with everyday skin problems; it is superior to mass market soaps; it is value priced and lasts a long time; and it has a minimal environmental footprint. At SoapWorks, we make soap for keeping you and your environment clean.