When she received a bar of handcrafted soap, Andrea Badgely marveled at how her skin didn’t dry out after using in the shower. She could tell it was made with good ingredients and love and soon started making her own soap at home. She started her business, Sacred Suds, as a creative outlet while staying at home with her young children. Each bar of soap combines Andrea’s knowledge of aromatherapy, carefully chosen ingredients, and spiritual inspiration from her interest in the sacred feminine.
For example, a bar of cook’s hand soap is named after Vesta the Roman goddess of hearth and home. The orange and cinnamon scented soap includes coffee to neutralize odors, like garlic, that might be on a cooks fingers, coconut oil for protecting the skin and creating lather, and olive and wheat germ oil for conditioning the skin during frequent hand washing. Each bar is named after a goddess and made with its own combination of ingredients to benefit body and soul.
Andrea creates each formula and is very careful to use the best quality ingredients in her soaps. She uses natural essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances and chooses her oils carefully from sustainably grown sources. Each ingredient is chosen intentionally to match the purpose and inspiration for the soap. Even while making a batch, Andrea tries to create a sacred space in which the soap is made.
Andrea also explains that the process she uses results in a better quality soap. Making soap is kind of like cooking, she says, and it is also kind of magical the way the oils are transformed into a solid bar. The actual process relies on a chemical reaction between fatty acids (which are in the various vegetable based oils) and the base, which in soap making is lye. The chemical reaction between the acid and the base results in soap and glycerine. Most commercial soaps do not have glycerine in them because companies want to use it elsewhere as a valuable ingredient in cosmetics.
Soaps from Sacred Suds still have the glycerine in them making them even better for keeping skin soft and conditioned. Instead of pouring off the glycerine, Andrea mixes it in and pours the whole thing into a mold. As it cools it hardens into the bars that she sells. The combination of quality ingredients and a careful, intentional process results in a bar of soap that smells good and feels great.
Andrea currently sells her soaps in an online shop but in the past she has sold at craft fairs and through wholesale accounts. When she first started the business she it was a creative outlet, but she also hoped she could earn some income to support her family. Although she didn’t really enjoy the business aspects of selling soap, she was determined to be as successful as she could. Crafting handmade soap with careful intention and then promoting, marketing and filling orders began to cut into the time she wanted to spend with her family.
Passionate hand crafters often have to deal with the difficult reality of starting a very small business. There is so much more to it than just following your passion and making something you love. Sometimes you have to stop and reevaluate your definition of success. As Andrea tried to find the right balance between her creative work and her family she realized that the process of combining inspiration, oils, and scents was what she was really passionate about. She decided she would let go of many aspects of running a business and change how she measured success. Instead of trying to produce more and make more money, she decided to “think of herself as an artisan who sells her work.” She shifted her thinking to “whatever I make I sell” and gets to focus on the process, which is what she finds most gratifying. Just as she creates her soaps with careful intention, she has found an intentional way to run her business.
All photos courtesy of Andrea Badgely