Soap making is an escape for David and Chad of Bittersweet Soap Works. The couple started in 2016 as a hobby, and now sell their bars online and in stores. They make sure it's something they can take pride in - they put love in every bar, along with plenty of skin-loving oils and vibrant colors. And their customers can't get enough! Get to know David and Chad below.
How long have you been making soap, and how did you get started? How long have you been selling your products?
We started making soaps in 2016. After our garden didn’t do so well one year, Chad decided to try out soap making as a hobby, with us gifting them to friends and family. (At that point Chad was consuming everything Bramble Berry to learn everything he could. It was such a valuable resource! We still follow the social and videos to learn more!) The response to our soaps was overwhelmingly positive and we were urged to try out online sales. Word spread quickly in our community and we also grew into some local retail shops that wanted to carry our soaps. We spent many months trying out different recipes and making adjustments to achieve a bar that we wanted, which was a nice solid bar that is long-lasting, lathers well, and provides great moisturizing. We eventually decided on a single recipe that we still use today.
What do you love most about making bath and body products?
Soap making is our creative outlet. We believe that everyone should have one creative outlet. We all work so hard and are so busy with our families, we believe you need an escape. Soap making is our escape! We love the variety of scents and designs we can make, but also love that simplicity can shine through as well.
What inspires you to create?
The wonderful reviews, feedback, and loyalty we get from our customers is what keeps the inspiration going. When we started Bittersweet Soap Works, we established a vision that we still adhere to today. We put LOVE in every bar, we take PRIDE in everything we do, QUALITY is placed above all else, we offer FANTASTIC scents, and we offer our customers an ENJOYABLE experience with every bar we sell. If a soap doesn’t meet this criteria, it doesn’t make it into our shop.
What is your favorite color combination at the moment?
Our favorite color combo at the moment is our Merman soap, we drop swirl three different colors; green, blue, and black. We achieve the black swirl by using activated charcoal. We just love how the black makes the other colors pop!
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get started?
Our advice would be to think about how you want your brand to be perceived. Ask yourself some questions…what is the emotional or visual message you want to get across to people? What do I stand for as a person and as a brand? Are there certain ingredients that I am not okay using? What is going to make me different from other makers? Stay with it and be consistent with your branding. A few things that were important to us from the very beginning; we wanted a recipe that did not use any animal ingredients, so even though we get requests for goat milk soaps, we stick with one of our guiding principles of not using animal products. We knew we wanted to use palm oil in our recipe because of the hardness it gives to the bar, but we made a commitment to ourselves and our customers to only use RSPO certified and sustainable palm oil that would not contribute to deforestation. We did not want to use any plastics in our packaging, so early on we evolved our packaging to the minimal representation you see today of using recycled paper and a cloth ribbon.
Who’s another maker you admire? What do you love about their work?
We have admired MOOD Soapworks for a while now. Not only do they create beautiful bars, but they tie in emotions to each creation. Their photography on social media is also very impressive, the simplicity is impactful!
Have you experienced a fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
We have lost full batches of soap due to the batter seizing. We learned the hard way that even though a fragrance says it performs well in cold process soap, it is important to also read all other CP soap makers' comments to see what their experiences are with that particular scent. When trying out a new fragrance, we started making small test batches, so if it didn’t work, we are not losing a full batch of precious ingredients.
What plans do you have for your business moving forward?
We recently moved to a larger production space to accommodate our growing business, we are looking to expand our wholesale business, and potentially one day have a physical storefront where folks can come visit! We are thinking Rose Apothecary from Schitt's Creek, but soap!
David and Chad's top Bramble Berry picks
- 5 lb. Mold with Sliding Bottom - We use it with the silicone inserts and this makes unmolding and preparing for cutting so easy! (Silicone molds are SO MUCH easier than lining molds with parchment!)
- Tobacco and Bay Leaf Fragrance Oil - We use it in one of our most popular soaps called Midnight. We blend it with another fragrance to create a one-of-kind scent (shhhh).
- Autumn Fig Harvest Fragrance Oil - We use this one in our best-selling Fig soap.
- Micas - These are second to none! They're found in many of our soaps, including our INspired soap and on top of our Mermaid, Merman, and Unicorn soaps.
What’s your favorite Bramble Berry project?
Our favorite project right now is the Lavender and Tea Tree Shower Steamers featured on Bramble Berry. We have made a batch of these and loved them so much, we kept them for ourselves for now! In our early days while we we still perfecting our base, we used the Lots of Lather Quick Mix, it provided us the safety to perfect our process and imagine our blends of scents and colorants with a tried-and-true formula before we perfected our recipe. Also, the lye and fragrance calculators are invaluable when just starting out!