Maker of the Month: Monarch Soap Company

Marisa with Monarch Soap Company started making products once she retired from the US Navy. After 22 years of service, it was therapeutic and allowed her a creative outlet. Now she sells vibrant cold process soap with unique designs, as well as candles and other skincare. Get to know Marisa in this interview!

art0170 monarch soap marisa

How long have you been making DIY bath and body products, and how did you get started? How long have you been selling your products?
I’ve been making DIY bath and body products for 4 years, and I started out making natural deodorants and lip balms. I wanted to purge skin products that had toxic chemicals in them, and creating skin products by hand has been therapeutic for me since retiring from the US Navy in 2018 (22 years of service!) After a few months of making deodorants and lip balms, a friend taught me how to make hot process soap, which was the gateway to my love of all things soap! I was so eager to learn everything I could about soap making, and fell in love with the idea of cold process soap since I could create really pretty designs. I watched so many YouTube videos and read so many blogs about soap making, that I would often stay up super late being mesmerized by tutorials! I bought the Wild Rose Soap Kit from Bramble Berry and made my first cold process soap. It was so easy and beautiful, and I felt so proud of myself for taking the plunge! So that was it, I was officially hooked! I was making soap every week and I ran out of storage space very quickly because my family couldn’t use them fast enough to make more room for me! After 3 years of making soap and other DIY skin projects, I began making soy-blend candles, which is my second love.

What do you love most about making bath and body products?
After two years of soap making for friends and family, I finally created Monarch Soap Company in 2018 after retiring from the Navy. I love being able to customize my soap recipes for people with different skin needs, and being able to do this full-time has not only been therapeutic for me, but super enjoyable as well!

art0170 monarch soap fruity loops soap

Fruity Loops soap

What inspires you to create?
My inspiration for creating comes from nature; I love plants, colorful flowers, exotic fruits, art, and anything beautiful! Sometimes a certain fragrance I purchase will inspire me with design ideas. I am also inspired by other soap makers and their amazing creativity.

What are the benefits of goat milk soap?
Most of my products are vegan, but on occasion I will incorporate goat’s milk into my  soap. Goat’s milk has so many wonderful skin benefits, and creates a silky lather that feels great on my skin! I live next door to a small family farm that raises and cares for goats, and I often get fresh milk from them, which has been truly a blessing!

art0170 monarch soap co gift set

Candles, soap, and body wash

Who’s another maker you admire? What do you love about their work?
There are so many soap makers I admire! One mention is Julie Fain from Ophelia’s Soapery. She not only creates beautiful soaps, but she’s helped me along my journey by answering tons of questions I had! Also, Bee Iyata from Sorcery Soap who creates the most amazing art from soap dough.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get started?
Since I had no prior business experience, I was initially fearful of starting one. I was great at the hands-on stuff like making the soap, but my self-confidence was low when it came to starting or running a business. I mean, how was I going to manage the accounting, production procedures and timelines, inventory control, marketing, and follow the laws and guidelines of my state? It was so overwhelming to me, but my husband gave me some ideas and encouraged me to get my feet wet. Advice that I would give to someone who wanted to start a soap making business would be to read, research, plan, make lists, ask questions, and create a clear strategy on running a sustainable business. Soap making as a hobby is very different than managing a business, but if you stay focused and don’t rush yourself, it will be a less stressful process.

art0170 monarch soap high tide

High Tide soap

Have you experienced a fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
I’ve definitely experienced failures in soap making, and one that stands out to me is when I made my first batch of soap. I chose a floral fragrance from a random company, and had no idea what ricing or seizing was. I soaped pretty hot at the time, around 130 degrees... and as soon as I added the fragrance oil to the batter, boom! There were large chunks of ricing and the entire batch became soap on a stick. I couldn't even plop it into the mold because it was solid as a rock! I immediately learned to choose fragrance oils that behaved well and from reputable suppliers, soap cooler around room temperature, and hand-stir my fragrances in. That was a scary experience for sure! Lesson learned. :)

What plans do you have for your business moving forward?
One goal I have for the future is to become part of a non-profit, humanitarian organization that teaches women in developing countries to learn to make soap for their families and communities. Through hands-on teaching, I would want to help women in impoverished families attain economic opportunities through selling their handmade soap, as well as opportunities to improve their overall health and hygiene. Empowering women in underdeveloped countries has been my passion since public health was my college major.

art0170 monarch soap night violet

Night Violet soap

Marisa's top Bramble Berry picks

art0170 monarch soap japanese cherry blossom

Japanese Cherry Blossom soap

Find Monarch Soap Company

We're constantly inspired by the DIY bath and body community, so we'll be highlighting a different business owner or hobbyist each month. If you want a chance to be featured, share your photos with #BrambleOn!