Friday, May 16, 2014

We are building a new studio!

This week we finalized the plans for our new studio!  We move this fall.  Lume Soapworks brand launched almost a year ago and it has been such a fun ride!  This is what I do for fun.  When I first started making soap 3 years ago, I made soap with every oil I could get my hands on.  I started with Crisco and olive oil and every single container became a soap mold. Crisco actually makes a great bar of soap!  We thought about calling it, "The Help" and quickly realized that the hydrogenation process of the palm oil was not widely accepted among natural beauty product lovers.  I was more concerned about the petrochemicals in the "bathing bars" that actually meant they were detergents.  Detergents are a great way to clean your floors or scrub your patio, but stripped your skin of it's natural protective oils and made it more susceptible to the harmful synthesized fragrances and additives.  Even though cleansing bars are a rinse off product, as a physician I knew our skin is our largest organ and it can absorb chemicals quite quickly.  I am not opposed to Crisco and Olive Oil for a sodium lauryl sulfate free soaping experience, but have moved on to ingredients that offer a more indulgent and premium benefits.

With that endeavor comes a lot of homework!  Essential oils are very expensive and not all are created equally!  Did I mention they are expensive?? Would we go through 450 pounds each of coconut, palm and castor oil, shea butter, cocoa butter before it went rancid?  I had to try!  It was like breathing to me.  The soap must be made.  I love cooking and those of you who know me know how much I love the culinary arts and I love soaping more.  It's the instant gratification that comes like making the perfect dish.  After a day of soaping, I anxiously await the process of cutting the soap!  It is like Christmas in a way because each batch is a bit different from the next and it is so exciting to lift the lid.

We scent our soaps with 100% pure essential oils and some do not give us the time to create the beautiful swirls just the way I want every time.  We color our soaps with only mineral pigments like natural clays, micas and botanicals and some batches of parsley powder are a beautiful green and then the next seems more gray!  The temperature of the room, how many batches of soap we made a particular day all affect the way the soap gels and firms up which in turn affects the colors.  I love the unpredictable predictable nature of soaping.  It makes me happy.

My dad and I started this company and we continue to make every bit of our products in small batches. Small batches (30 pounds) means we have the freshest products to offer our customers and they notice the difference.  Our soaps are super-fatted 7% which means we focus on the moisture our soaps deliver to your skin.  Sometimes with increased fatting of soaps you sacrifice bubbles.  So....we use rich, thick castor oil in a very good amount to allow Lume Soaps to deliver the bubbles and lather too.
Ace at Whole Foods in St. Paul, Minnesota

So as we approach the one year mark of Lume Soapworks and look back ...we have come a long way.  As you climb a mountain the surroundings look the same, and it's not until you look down and see how far you have come up the hill.  We have added 20 stores, established a great website for our customers to order from, began doing private label for a store to be announced next month (very excited), wedding favor custom soaps:), big trunk show events at 3M and Best Buy here in Minnesota and created and added many new products that compliment our soap and mission of Bathing Well.  We celebrate our progress and lessons learned looking forward to the adventures to come (Costco Roadshow-fingers crossed).
                                                          Custom Wedding Soaps

We have a great team (Ace, Garin, Kerry, Randy and me) and as we have progressed in this small business adventure I know now that the  smallest part of formulating and swirling soap is the fun part.  The rest ...the business part...is the part that tries you as a business owner and makes you understand why so many small businesses fail.  We wont give up!

Just keep swimming, doing what we feel passionate about.  Stay true to our mission and it will all be okay.  We have a long way to go, but are super excited about the challenges ahead knowing we make great premium soap that sets us apart from the pack... Mr. Wonderful do read this blog?

Bathe Well,

Shannon@lumesoapworks.com