Becoming a Soapmaker

Posted by Colleen on May 24th 2018


A funny thing happened last year - my friend Rebecca texted me and our other friend, Monica, while I was on vacation and asked, “Wouldn’t it be fun to make soap”? My answer – “I don’t know, sure”? I have a sensitivity to most commercial soaps and had been using Ivory for years, so I figured it would be fun to see if we could make soaps that smelled good, felt luxurious and didn’t cause a rash. Hence a soap making company (empire?) was born.

On May 30th, 2017, we held the first meeting of the Kelleys Island Soap Company. With big ideas and a lot of wine, we started a fun new adventure. It quickly became apparent we were a good team because we had a nice mix of creative ideas, business savvy and a Midwestern can-do spirit. That and we cracked each other up. We all agreed our vision for the company should be to make natural soap without artificial colorants or scents. This would enable us to make the island and world a better place.

Many classes, experiments, research, online videos, books, articles and Pinterest boards later, we started making soap:real soap from scratch. As we started figuring out our interests and strengths in the business, I was drawn to the science of making the soap. I’ve always been crafty and the idea of learning a completely new skill was exciting to me.

We roped a bunch of our friends into an early trial as we perfected recipes and their feedback was essential to refining our brand and vision for the company. Ingredients were tried; experiments in natural colorants were held, and essential oil blends were sniffed. I can think of worse ways to spend my evenings and weekends.

After many trial batches, the first time we cut full sized bars I had a moment of “Holy Hannah, we’re actually doing this!” It really sank in that we were on the verge of a quality product that I was proud to offer to the public and friends, and we were having fun at the same time. My second Holy Hannah moment was when I saw the promo picture of all of the soap I had made; heck, I’m tearing up just thinking about it!

So where are we at today? We’ve got our website ( up and running and we have stocked Chicklet’s Closet on Kelleys Island with quality products. I continue to go down rabbit holes of YouTube videos eating up hours that probably could be used more productively, and oh yeah, we’re learning about things like market demand and social media. Thank goodness I’m in this venture with smart ladies who are much more interested in marketing than I am!

The KISC story continues as we experiment with new seasonal soaps and products.Stop by our many online presences such as FaceBook, Twitter and/or Instagram and be sure to like/follow us so we can keep you in the loop on our fun soap making journey. Until then, if you need someone to explain to you what saponification is, I’m your lady!