Cool winds sweep the plains of Western Montana, where nature knows no bounds of concrete jungles of skyscrapers or the ever-growing urban sprawl. Vast fields and meadows are stitched by rivers and mountain foothills. Wild game is free to roam. And birds fly high with the crisp, clean air. Montana is beautiful, rugged, and full of untouched nature. Snuggled between five mountain ranges, Missoula, where out story originates, is a place of sheer magnificence.
Hard work stems from passion. And passion is what took a young couple from Missoula on a seventeen-year-long journey to bring the world a piece of Montana. The Soap Co. – a humble effort built from a desire to create all natural soap with basic organic ingredients.
In 2000, its owners began crafting soap in their kitchen and basement, inspired by the very nature of their home state. They started out simple – selling bars at the local farmers market. They made small batches of less than seventy bars at a time, mixing and stirring the ingredients by hand in five-gallon buckets. For soap molds, the owners collected and cleaned half & half containers from a local coffee shop, and poured the soap batches into them.
Customers, friends, and family all loved the soap, and The Soap Co.’s owners continued to experiment and adjust the recipes over the next several years. However, at the time, the young couple was pursuing other career paths and did not plan to develop and run a soap business. But the feedback continued to be positive, and everyone that used the soap wanted them to do more with the business.
People were in awe. The Soap Co.’s soaps helped mend cracked hands and heal skin conditions. A completely natural product will do that. And their mission was to provide soap as simple as it could get, to ensure their customers came as close as possible to nature.
Customers always told the same story: They bought a bar or two from The Soap Co. and loved them. However, when the bars were finished, they went back to buying soap from the supermarket because they wanted to save a little money. But once they started using the standard commercial bars after using The Soap Co.’s, their skin dried out, and they realized they hated the synthetic scents. They would throw all the supermarket soap away and swear they’d never use any soap other than The Soap Co.
This anecdote rings true for high-quality, small-batch products. The time, effort, and careful diligence put into a product has the power to heal and connect with people. The Soap Co. has always thought differently about the approach to organic products.
From this, The Soap Co.’s two guiding principles of a commitment to natural ingredients and a commitment to focusing on the quality of the actual product were developed. It became a priority to create the best soap.
On Small Batch Production
In 2006 through 2007, The Soap Co. received multiple inquiries about contract production of their bar soaps. Almost all soap manufacturing takes place in just a few large factories, using ingredients and processes designed for large scale. If a skin care company needs custom soap production from one of the factories, they need to order a minimum of 30,000 bars. It is challenging and inefficient for these factories to make smaller batches.
When customers started asking The Soap Co. for contract production in quantities of 1,000-5,000 bars, the owners recognized an opportunity to expand beyond the farmers market concept. Rather than shrink the factory methods to a smaller size, The Soap Co.’s owners decided to scale up their own small batch production systems. This way, they could maintain the soaps’ high quality by using the same methods, but they could also fulfill larger orders. It took many years to develop the processes and systems to accomplish this.
Incorporating True Nature
The term “natural” is problematic in the skin care industry. It has no official definition. Some companies use the term natural to mean they don’t use petroleum products as ingredients, even though their base ingredients are all produced in a factory. Some companies avoid parabens or sulfates or other controversial ingredients, but they still scent all their products with synthetic fragrances. At The Soap Co., they believe natural means the ingredients must be plant derived. Base oils, colors, and scents are all plant extracts.
However, since there is no definition or standard certification for natural, The Soap Co. has taken the additional step of being certified under the USDA National Organic Program. Commitment to truly natural ingredients is important. In the US, the market is flooded with companies claiming to be natural. The Soap Co. took the extra steps to stick out as a company that is 100% natural and organic.
A Lasting Impression
The owners at The Soap Co. know what it takes to produce a product that people will always return to.
Honesty, love, and organic ingredients are what make The Soap Co.’s soap one of a kind. Inspired by nature, and motivated by passion, the young couple turned a basement project into a flourishing business.
The Soap Co. is founded on two primary principles: A commitment to truly natural ingredients, even if this means a smaller market. And a drive to produce soap of superior quality, even if this means more costly production and not using economies of scale in manufacturing. What sets them apart are these basic principles. The owners went from working nights and weekends in their kitchen, to scaling up for more business (but maintaining integrity).
A business like The Soap Co. sets the stage for our choice of producers. We value the honest, rugged essence ofThe Soap Co. We like that they are in the top of their field, taking extra steps to ensure natural and organic mean something. They also use caution when sourcing their products. Palm oil is becoming a problem, because palm plantations in Indonesia and the mainland of Southeast Asia are rapidly taking over forests, contributing to deforestation. This is a concern to The Soap Co. because it severely diminishes animal habitats in these regions. In particular, it threatens orangutan viability. The Soap Co. Soap uses only certified organic palm oil from South American countries that is grown and produced using high levels of sustainability. Their suppliers are members of the Palm Sustainability Council. They don’t source any palm oil out of Southeast Asia or Indonesia.
This is dedication to a better world. Better products for you, better conditions for farmers and suppliers. The next time you use a bar soap from The Soap Co., close your eyes and feel the beauty of Montana. Use it to heal, to nourish, to awaken. Understand that this soap is not your average supermarket soap. It comes from the Earth. It’s a soap that cares.