Some people assume that the bath and beauty market is a women’s world, but Burly Stone Soap Co. proves this is not the case. Created by Gates and Maurice, Burly Stone is cleverly marketed towards men with rustic packaging and masculine names. In addition to cold process soap, Burly Stone also specializes in other products for men, such as beard elixir and hand balms; they even have soap for mans best friend! Read on to learn more about Burly Stone, and how they developed their niche market. – A.M.
A collection of Burly Stone’s cold process soap, wrapped and ready to sell.
How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
I’ve been soaping for just over 2 years now. It sounds weird, but I started soaping because I was frustrated. I was frustrated that I couldn’t find a big enough bar of soap in scents that I wanted.
What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
There’s a lot of competition out there – you need to find away to make your product unique, to find a slightly different niche that gives you a foothold in a crowded market. But don’t let this stop you from going for it. There’s so much success to be had for people who believe in their product – who have passion & let it shine through.
Top: A collection of Burly Stone’s beard elixirs. Take note of the creative names!
Bottom left: The beginning of a gold mica line. Bottom right: Burly Stone’s “The Mechanic” soap, made with peppermint and tea tree essential oils
What is your favorite type of product to make?
Right now we make soap, beard elixirs & hand balms. Hands down soaps are my favorite to make, and likely always will be. They’re a crazy mix of chemistry and art, and once they are poured, unmolded & cut, a great looking bar of soap is like a small canvas that shows your work.
What inspires you to create?
I’m inspired by all sorts of things. I’m pretty texturally driven so I find beauty & inspiration in strange places – old brick walls, weathered wood, ancient stone walls. It might be part of why I love working on swirls & pours so much… I love to cut the bars open to see what sort of texture occurred.
How did you come up with the name for your business?
We knew when we started that we wanted to make big bars of soap. When we were brainstorming names, we cycled through all sorts “big” words – huge, chunky, hefty, and so on. The word “burly” was on that list, and we really liked the sound of it. Burly Soap didn’t feel right, so we kept at it. About that time, we made our own mold (a larger version of your 5 pound wood mold). When we finished our first pour, we weighed it – it was just about 14 pounds. I knew (because I know tons of weird trivia) that 14 pounds is 1 stone in England. Burly Stone – we thought it was a great name, and it stuck.
Burly Stone’s cleverly named “The Mariner” soap.
Your products are cleverly branded, with fun soap names like “The Mechanic,” and “The Chef.” What branding tips do you have for other soapers?
We took a slightly different approach to branding our products. We worked up a broad palette of scent profiles – some warm, some cool, some woody, some spicy, so that we would have all of our base covered. Then we said, “Who would like this particular scent?” Something with lots of Citrus & Smoke, for example? Seems like a Chef would like that. So we started tying it all around the idea of a Chef. The name, the scent, the colors, the packaging – all of it. Then we worked our way through all of our scents and before we knew it, we had our line.
As you start to look at your branding, you need to make sure that it hangs together, that your entire collection is cohesive. Each piece, besides being strong by itself, needs to tie in with every other piece in your collection. Let colors, or certain design elements act as the glue that helps to tie disparate elements together. Also, never overlook the power of language in your branding. Words matter.
What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
Sophie’s Choice. I don’t know if I can do it. But I can say this much. Out of the literally dozens of Bramble Berry fragrance & essential oils I have, there are three that stand out. Your “Bay Rum Fragrance Oil” is top of the line. Seriously outshines the competition. And then (swoon) there’s “Ancient Sedona” and “Shave and a Haircut”. BEST. SCENTS. EVER.
Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
Uhmm…. I’m an award winning screenwriter? Granted, it was a very, very small award, but still, I won!
What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
I devour media – books, TV, movies. I love to entertain – to me a perfect night is having 6 or 8 friends over for dinner, popping open a few bottles of wine, and just laughing all night long.
What is your number one soaping tip?
Knowing what trace you want to pour at is crucial. When I started, I would inevitably over mix. Things would go to thick trace & I wouldn’t have the time to experiment with pours, or swirls, or anything. I’ve learned, over time, which pours/swirls need what type of trace. Want a luxurious top to your bar you can shape with a spoon? Thick trace is fine. Want to play with swirls, or layers? Then start with as thin a trace as your comfortable with. For a lot of my stuff I stop blending the second my mixture emulsifies. I’d rather spend an additional five minutes mixing by hand then winding up with glop on a spoon.
Top row, left: A beautiful swirl in “The Executive,” soap. Top row, right: Cold process soap ready for purchase.
Bottom row, left: “The Yard Master,” soap made with goat milk. Testers of Burly Stone’s hand balms.
Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
I don’t know of a single soaper who hasn’t had at least one horrible fail. Early on, before I really had my formulas locked down? There was so much inconsistency. One time I actually forgot an entire oil), and the batch was just a mess. I’ve kept one bar of it around to serve as a reminder – Have well documented formulas that you’ve honed over time. Knowing them like the back of your hand makes it so much easier.
What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
A couple of things stand out to me. One is that everything in my life – the bathroom, the kitchen, the car, the dining room, the basement – all of it smells incredible (and currently like a mix of Peppermint and Shave & A Haircut.) But the number one thing I love? Having guys come back again & again, telling me how good my stuff makes them feel. I feel great knowing that my soaps are helping folks get through the day a little better.