If you know me, you know the Bay Area of California is my absolute favorite place. I love the coastline with its jagged cliffs. I love the rolling hills. I love everything about it! In fact, my husband is from the Bay Area and I often remind him I married him ONLY because I thought we would get to visit the Bay Area often!
Turns out I have another item to add to my “Reasons to love the Bay Area”–The Joy of Soap! They’re located in Hayward, California, where Dear Hubby was born!
I always love the story behind a brand’s name, and this story is empowering. Let’s start with how the company came to be known as “The Joy of Soap”. This is the story as told by founder Melissa.
“I grew up moving often as a child throughout the US and was at a new school every two years, including college. This experience taught me the value of exploring new ideas and places, and likely had a big influence on my creative process.”
“It is a bit challenging to keep this answer ‘clean,’ but truthfully, it comes from two places. The first is from the joy and happiness I receive from making things by hand. I have always enjoyed crafts, baking and building – anything that allows me to be engaged physically in the creation process is exciting.”
It seems pretty standard until the REAL story unfolds! “When I began making soap my parents were visiting which bring us to the 2nd answer. We (my parents, husband, and I) were sitting around one evening brainstorming soap names – this evening was the origin of names such as Feeling Frisky and Two in the Shower Tea Tree – and we were reminded of the book The Joy of Sex. We decided not to follow too far down this path, but the original company name was partly due to this book title.”
Then the neighbors got involved!
“After making several different scents of soaps we had several dozen bars of soaps curing in the garage, and our neighbors started coming over asking questions. Once you make a batch of soap, you have many, many, many bars of soap sitting around, and with just two people in our home, we started to explore the idea of selling the soap because they had to ‘move’ somewhere. Several neighbors bought bars for holiday gifts, and shortly after this first holiday season I had my first wholesale client – a small spa in Pennsylvania. Also, my husband is an entrepreneur, and seeing his successes inspired me to take a chance.”
That soap-filled garage came from “reading a few books on the process and ingredients, and by taking a 2-day boot-camp class at The Nova Studio in Point Richmond, California.”
When you visit The Joy of Soap, be prepared to stifle a snicker, they use fun and whimsical names for their products: Manly Man Soap, Rosy Cheeks Rosemary, and more! I’m crossing my fingers soon they have “Julee’s Jumpin’ Juniper Berry”…doesn’t that sound fun?!
The Joy of Soap is also a certified cruelty-free and vegan soap company – approved by PETA standards. They also maintain a set of Green Practices and continually strive to become more green as they grow and find new suppliers and partners.
They are preparing to launch new body care products such as scrubs, cleansers, and creams. 2010 is going to be an exciting year for The Joy of Soap!
With so much humor to hygiene, I had to know what was their all-time favorite creation! “I really enjoy using our shaving soap, Elizabeth’s Wild Hair Shaving Soap, inspired by our acupuncturist. Reviews have said that people receive a smooth shave and that the peppermint scent is invigorating. For me, the color of this soap is pretty fascinating as well. When you pour the soap into the mold it is a light brownish color, and when it is taken out of the mold it has turned a purple-red color overnight – pretty cool!”
What’s behind the creating? “I am inspired by many things – natural beauty products, international travel (primarily visiting spas and beauty stores around the world), looking at websites, cooking, ingredients, feedback, and ideas from customers, friends, and family. I often have many ideas swirling around in my head. Whenever I can escape from my daily routine either through travel or by engaging in physical activity in a natural setting – hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking – I find that ideas begin to gel, and from there, plans and product ideas become real.”
We just finished a Science Fair Project at our house. My daughter was not impressed at all with “writing the long process.” It turns out there’s a process to making great soap too!
“I will research methods of production and ingredients first by reading, reading, reading – books, online articles, industry publications, etc. Over time I have begun to learn properties and qualities of natural beauty product ingredients (although there is much to learn still) so I now begin my research with a list of ingredients to try in a recipe, and a recipe outline that includes general measurements.”
“Before I pull out all of the possible ingredients I sterilize the area and the tools that will be used – this is critical in the beauty industry!”
“Then I begin weighing, melting, mixing, and pouring. Sometimes I can tell as I go along that the recipe is not going to work so I move on immediately. Other times I don’t discover the recipe is good, or not so good, until the product is ready to be used. The scent may have been nice before adding to the rest of the ingredients, and then in the rest of the ‘cooking’ process it has not set well.”
“Now that I have been making soap and other skin care products for a few years I make fewer mistakes, and I think it is also good to note that I am not afraid of trying something new. This is what keeps the process fresh and compelling. Plus there are always new ingredients to try and I love that!”
In addition to making soap and coming up with nifty names, Melissa has a diverse list of hobbies, “I enjoy cooking all types of food, snowshoeing, hiking, visiting our local art venues including the ballet, theatre, and museums, and I am always looking for behind-the-scenes tours in the area. I enjoy making necklaces and bracelets as well, and hope to find more time to create pieces this year. I am also learning how to sea kayak. When the weather is better I prefer to be outside as much as possible, and just sharing a picnic with my husband in a local park is a perfect way to spend an afternoon.”
Remember, she loves to learn and try new things. While her list of hobbies and talents is impressive, she wants to do something that she hasn’t yet. ” I really want to learn how to make homemade loaves of bread – all types of bread. This is an craft that I find fascinating, mysterious and kind of intimidating. I have the Bread Bible at home and haven’t made it past page 10 yet so I have a long way to go. Hopefully, by the end of 2010, I will be baking up a storm! I think the pattern here is that I am what you might call a creative nerd – I enjoy the research part of creation almost as much as the physical elements.”
On top of all this, don’t you wonder how she makes time for soap? “Yikes — whenever possible. Currently I have another full time job outside of the house, and with commute times (at least an hour in each direction), this is a challenge. When I take public transportation I will spend time brainstorming ideas, looking and websites for design, color, scent ideas. On the weekend I set aside at least a half-day for fun and the remainder of the weekend is for The Joy of Soap whether that be making soap, cutting soap, wrapping soap, working on our upcoming product line and all that goes with it. During the regular work week I will spend at least an hour on the computer each night working as well.”
While most people say their family or business is their greatest accomplishment, Melissa leans another way. “Wow – perhaps waiting until a little later in life to marry. There were so many places and experiences that I had on my own, and that allowhicho build mmeconfidence and be on my own before settling in to a great friendship and relationship. Also, being able to purchase a condo all on my own. I never thought that would be possible.”
Ten years from now, Melissa sees herself, “Enjoying life in a setting that is full of creative people and beauty, and that provides varied opportunities to be active outside. In a position that provides a good living – hopefully using my hands to create.”
The Joy of Soap has loyal and joyful customers. Their Press Page is impressive! Here’s a glimpse at what a few had to say:
I woke up this morning half asleep. Once I stepped foot in the shower and used SECOND BASE SAGE I felt awake and ready to start my day. It lathers up so much and the scent is mild and refreshing! I recommend the Joy of Soap line to anyone in need of a great start to their day.
…. Not only does this soap smell amazing, it does not leave you with that slimy film that other soaps with all their chemical ingredients leave on your skin.
Ever have one of those days when you just want to get home and take a long, relaxed soak in the tub? Add to the music, the candles, and the glass of wine, a bar of silky, scented soap from The Joy of Soap and you have entered a world of pure peaceful bliss.
I tried this soap and although I am not usually impressed by such items as fancy soaps and moisturizers, I really enjoyed THIS soap. I thought it would just disappear quickly in my tub enclosure but it is indeed, very long lasting. But that’s not all—- it is a very refreshing scent with the grapefruit, which also seems to last. Not to mention the moisturizing properties they put in this soap….my skin never felt so nice after a bath with only using soap—like I had also used a lotion! The names they give these soaps are really fun too, all takeoffs, seemingly, from the famous book The Joy of Sex. I’d get a collection of all the flavors for myself, as well as for a gift. Definitely recommended highly!
I’ve been using “The Joy of Soap” for almost 6 months now. I’ve tried a few different scents but the ones with lavender are my favorite. I highly recommend any and all “flavors”. I was never one of those girls that use a lot of special bath products (I’m more like a guy – showered and out of the house within about 30 minutes) but once I started using it (received it as a gift) I couldn’t bring myself to go back to my old soap. The worst part is, now my 4 year old won’t use anything but either!
This almond soap is my favorite. It is clean and subtle. Not too much of anything and plenty of quality. It leaves me feeling cleaner than every other soap i’ve tried. it is subtle and not overpowering like some other soaps, each bar lasts a long time (and doesn’t turn into mush in the ceramic soapdish – a nice extra).
It smells so good, i often feel like I want to take a bite.
try this, you’ll love it, i do.Dan, NYC
Disclosure: No monetary compensation was offered or accepted for this post. The opinions above are my own. Other’s experience may vary.