I have been a longtime fan of Single Barrel Soaps. Made by Lauren, Single Barrel Soaps are instantly recognizable from the cute barrel stamp in the center of each bar. This clever marketing technique really helps set Lauren’s amazing soaps apart! In addition, Single Barrel Soaps’ work is full of different techniques and eye-catching designs. Keep reading to learn more about Lauren’s branding, creative process and how she started soaping. -A.M.
Single Barrel Soaps’ Shea & Cocoa Butter Soap, scented with Energy Fragrance Oil.
How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
Bubble baths and handcrafted soaps have always been my area to splurge on. After having two kids, I figured a great way to save money would be to try to make my own bath fizzes and soap, and since then I have been hooked! I did tons of research online, bought books, read blogs (SoapQueen.com), watched videos and started making bath products and melt and pour soap. At first I was really intimidated by cold process soap and the ever scary lye! But I quickly got over that fear and I haven’t looked back since!
Last Christmas I made tons of soaps, bath truffles and candles as presents for my family and friends. There was such an amazingly positive reaction from them that I had enough confidence and support to start Single Barrel Soaps, LLC in the beginning of this year.
What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
This can be a really hard business to start, and be successful in, since we have to make our products so far ahead of time and pay for our supplies upfront. So, take a good look at where you want your business to go and take the time to write a business plan. For all the creative people out there this can be a very hard thing to do (speaking from personal experience). However, in the long run, it really gives you a blueprint to work from and be successful. Also, keep really good records of all of your expenses because they can add up very quickly!
I truly believe if you love and are enthusiastic about what you do, it will show in your overall business and people will be drawn to your products.
What is your favorite type of product to make?
That is a really hard question!! I think hot and cold process soaps are my favorite products to make because there is so much variety in what you can do! You can make so many detailed and different designs with cold process soap that you’ll never run out of ideas. When you make hot process soap you are able to see the saponification process as it happens and that is something I never get tired of.
Lauren’s beautiful rainbow soap! I love how the barrel stamp creates a cohesive appearance throughout entire Single Barrel Soaps product line.
What inspires you to create?
Everything!! But I usually work backwards from the scent to the design. For me, the scents that I choose to work with are really important and usually make me think of a design or theme. One of my best selling soaps is scented with Bramble Berry’s Energy Fragrance Oil. It always makes me think of bright, happy colors, so I always use bright yellows and oranges and a little green color to make that soap.
Also, if I read something about an interesting ingredient (coffee for example), I usually spend the next few hours researching and making new soap recipes and designs. Even if it happens at 10pm, my brain is always going. Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband!
How did you come up with the name for your business?
When I moved to Kentucky five years ago I had never tried bourbon before and I was pretty much hooked after my first sip! So, when I decided to start my business, my husband and I sat down and talked about things we liked and what would be a great name. He came up with the name Single Barrel Soaps since we wanted to include something with a Kentucky feel. Also, my favorite type of bourbon is Single Barrel, so the name was perfect!
Your products are immediately recognizable because of your barrel stamp! What tips do you have for other business owners looking to create a signature style?
When you start thinking about turning your soaping hobby into a business, try to take a step back and really look at how you want to brand your business. In my case, after I decided to make the transition from hobby to business, I figured out the name for my company first. Since I wanted to incorporate the barrel design in someplace, the soap stamp was the perfect vehicle. That way, even if you don’t have the label on your soap, you can still remember who you bought it from. As an added bonus, the barrel looks really cool when the soap is wet. 🙂
I think the best advice I can give is to not only put work into an amazing product but also make sure your labels, design and name all work together cohesively. This can take a lot of work but it will really make you stand out. Also, be sure the style will work for you in the long term. As your company grows, many things will change, but it’s important to stay true to your core values and branding so your customers will recognize and purchase your products in a crowded market.
What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
The fragrance oils!! They are amazing, behave wonderfully, hold the fragrance and there are so many of them that you can always find a new one to love (sometimes not a good thing for me!) Also, I love that you can look on Bramble Berry’s website to see how the fragrance oil performs and if it discolors. Usually you can see a picture that shows the color the soap discolors to, which is always super helpful for me when I’m designing a soap. The 10″ Silicone Mold is another favorite because it’s so easy to use and perfect for small or test batches before moving to larger batches.
Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
In what feels like another lifetime, I was a zookeeper and wildlife rehabilitator. I worked with giraffes, lions, warthogs, bears, raptors and many more animals. Since I don’t have a business background, I really look to my family (which includes many business people) to help and advise me. My family is a huge part of Single Barrel Soaps! My husband and kids support me on a daily basis and my daughters always love to smell the soaps. 🙂 My dad is my photographer and website designer, my mom is my go to person for help at festivals and talking me down from the ledge, my mom-in-law and soon to be sister in law are huge promoters and supporters of Single Barrel Soaps and my dad-in-law and my brother are my go to people for business advice. My husband and sister-in-law are always coming up with amazing new soap ideas and names. I also have an extremely supportive group of friends who always fill me with confidence, remind me why I started this business in the first place and celebrate how fast it has grown. So even though Single Barrel Soaps is a one person business, I have a huge support team that helps me every step of the way!
What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
I love to read, exercise (when I have time), take baths, spend time with my family and friends and try out new bourbons.
What is your number one soaping tip?
Plan and prep! Keep notes on every soap batch, ingredients, temp, colors, etc. and always be ready to change your design! Every time you soap, things can go just slightly differently and you may have to change what design you wanted to do. For example, soaping in the summer in Kentucky is very different than soaping in the winter, and sometimes your batch moves faster than you like and you have to change your design.
All of the time it takes for my prep work (measuring ingredients, prepping molds and colorants, etc.) and writing detailed notes easily doubles the amount of time it takes to actually make the soap. But it is all worth it to not have to stop in the middle and find something you need. Notes are critical when I want to replicate an awesome soap that I made six months ago and can’t remember exactly what I did.
Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
Of course!! I think every soaper has, and I am always thankful that I am used to hot process soap, so if a cold process batch doesn’t work out well, I’ll give it a day or two and then rebatch it in the Crock-Pot. I always try to find a way to fix or reuse an “oops,” but once in a while I’ve had a batch that I just couldn’t save. There was one batch that I made with a new fragrance oil and I didn’t read the reviews first. It seized up the batter and then oozed oil after it was in the mold. At that point, I figured I would just learn my lesson and get rid of the batch. Now I’m very careful to either read reviews or do a small test batch first!
Single Barrel Soaps’ Spearmint & Eucalyptus soap. I love the calendula petals on top!
What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
I have a lot of family members, including my youngest daughter, brother and dad that have sensitive skin. I love being able to make things for them that helps their skin and they can use without breaking out. It’s a really awesome feeling to be able to see someone you love benefit immediately from something you made.