Rural Missouri - October 2012 - (Page 22)

he pleasant scent of fresh peaches wafts through the hallway. You catch a hint of spice. With boxes labeled peaches and cream, banana coconut, spiced cranberry and pumpkin patch, you’d think you were in a bakery. “It’s a lot like cooking,” says Scott Haggard, one half of the Elk River Soap Co. “We tried a lot of recipes, adding a little more of this and a little less of that until we came up with a basic recipe we really liked.” While Scott and his fiancee, Laura Lewis, also run a successful mail-order bean-bag business, for the past two years, the duo has started to clean up in the soap business. With the recent additions of tea tree oil, grass stain and unscented oatmeal, Elk River Soap Co. now offers 29 handmade soaps to customers. “It’s really more of a hobby that’s turned into a business,” says Laura. “We both like natural products and over the years purchased soaps. Eventually we thought, ‘Why not try to do this ourselves?’” After lots of research, the couple began making handmade soap and offering it to friends and family for them to try. After requests for more and comments that they should sell their soap, the couple decided it might be time. But Scott and Laura quickly learned expanding on the basic soap recipe wasn’t as easy as it sounded. “We’ve had some good ones,” says Laura, laughing. “We thought honey oatmeal would be great. But honey is so high in sugar content that it burns in soap if you’re not careful, and it did. And we didn’t know that it was better to grind down the oatmeal before adding it to the soap.” “It was definitely something pretty horrible,” adds Scott, laughing, under his breath. Another soap Laura was excited to make featured patchouli, an aromatic herb. “It was the most disgusting mess I’ve ever seen,” she says. “We even tried cutting it down, cooking it again, and it was even worse the second time. But we got it figured out, and now we have a wonderful patchouli/lavender bar.” Laura says many soap makers use a melt-and-pour method, where bricks of pre-made soap are melted, scented with oil and poured into a mold. But that’s not the way she and Scott make their soap. “We use coconut, soybean and caster oil, shea and cocoa butter and blend them all together and combine the mixture with lye and water,” says Laura. “In the end, we have a soap that is moisturizing and lasts much longer than the bars you buy today.” T by Heather Berry Scott Haggard and his fiancee, Laura Lewis, pose by the Elk River, the namesake of their soap business. Their handmade soap hobby has now become a Noel-based business. Soothing Suds A hobby turns into a business for Noel couple Elk River Soap Co. currently offers 29 handmade soaps to customers. After mixing the basic recipe, the fragrance is added to the soap, using essential or fragrance oils. Laura then pours the mixture into long bars, which are cured for four to six weeks. Then they’re hand-cut and boxed. All of the 4.5- to 6-ounce bars cost $4.99. “We cure them quite awhile, but we think that’s the best way,” says Scott. “We really love the end product we’ve come up with.” For those who gasp at their use of lye, fear not. All real soap includes some amount of lye. “It’s like making the perfect banana bread,” says Laura. “You correctly measure every ingredient to get this moist, delicious bread. But if you leave out a key ingredient, it’s dry and tasteless. Soap wouldn’t be soap without lye.” Laura says lavender is always a popular soap because of its calming, essential oils and moisturizing properties. “It has little lavender buds in the bar, so it’s a bit like a massage bar,” she says. She also likes the new tea tree soap they’re getting ready to release. Laura recommends it for any skin condition — bug bites, acne, psoriasis or eczema. The soap maker says the therapeutic properties of the charcoal and tea tree oil in the soap help dry out the conditions, while the moisturizing oils don’t allow skin to dry too much. “Another popular soap is anise oil,” Laura adds. “A lot of people don’t like the licorice scent, but it masks the human scent, so hunters love it.” Scott enjoys a soap they call Energy, which smells like citrus, as well as oak moss and bay rum, both quite popular with men. And as the holidays draw near, look for specialty soaps, such as Sleigh Ride (an evergreen scent) or Christmas memories (an apple/cinnamon scent) to appear on the list of Noel options. • The company also makes a line of bath salts, lotion bars and sugar cubes (an exfoliating shower scrub). Scott and Laura, who have five boys between them, are happy to be teaching their kids how to be selfsufficient — even if that’s with something as simple as soap. “Everybody needs soap,” says Laura. “If we show them how to make soap, they’ve always got something they know how to make and sell. It’s simple, but hey, it’s a trade.” Right now, Scott and Laura sell Elk River Soap through their website and a few select stores. “We’ve cross-trained one of our bean-bag seamstresses to make soap in case we need help, so we’re just on the edge of needing to expand,” says Scott. “We’re getting repeat customers, so we know we’re doing something right.” To order, log on to Readers can receive a 10 percent discount off their first order by using the code “WELCOMERM” in the coupon code section. You also may contact Scott and Laura at 1-888-501-2511. 22 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2012

Rural Missouri - October 2012
Table of Contents
The future of food
A grotesque spectacle
Out of the Way Eats
Summon your stomach
Soothing suds
Hearth and Home
Out of the woodwork
Around Missouri
A heart to serve

Rural Missouri - October 2012