Nobody likes a mouthful of soap, but Laketown Soap Co. has a product line that looks good enough to—well—eat. At first glance, the beautifully created soap looks like artfully arranged bars of fudge at a confectionary shop. (Stop! Don’t eat the soap.)
With a full-time career as a parent to her three children between the ages of 3-8, Bailey Dubbe creates and sells soap from her Waconia home. Her Laketown Soap Co. product line includes about 30 soap varieties, used for bathing or hand washing. “I've also heard a lot of people talk about how they keep a small stock at home to give as simple, inexpensive gifts,” Dubbe says. “Other customers have told me they like to keep them in closets and drawers, like little air fresheners.”
The soap is made with clays, essential oils, fragrances and herbs through the cold process method, which is a chemical reaction between fatty acids (oils) and sodium hydroxide (lye), according to Dubbe. “When these are mixed together in appropriate ratios, it causes the process of saponification [roll that vocab nugget out at your next cocktail party] to begin. The mixing takes but a few minutes, but the entire saponification reaction time is generally four-six weeks. The longer the soap cures, the more the bar will condense, creating longevity and a more rich, nourishing lather.” Goat milk is used because Dubbe thinks it “does a better job of supporting a rich, creamy lather, and additionally does a better job of keeping the skin hydrated due to extra vitamins and minerals.” In this neck of the woods, keeping skin from getting too thirsty is important in all sorts of weather.
Dubbe speaks like a downright soap expert, but that wasn’t always the case. Making soap began as a school break project to do with her daughter. “I wanted to try something new that we hadn't done before,” she says. “I had no intention of continuing making the soap and certainly [didn’t foresee] it turning into a business.”
Dubbe eventually knew she was onto something special. “I was getting quite a stock of soaps, which my friends and family would notice when they came into our house,” she says. “Everybody gravitated toward the storage cabinet, eager to check out what I was making next, and asking a ton of questions.”
With a final recipe in hand, Dubbe began selling her soap online and to brick and mortar shops like Winnie Lu. “My customers love Laketown Soap, Co. and were drawn to it from the moment I set it out in the shop [November 2017],” says Patricia Sjulson, owner of the Victoria shop. “I have numerous customers come in just to restock their soap. It sells very quickly year-round.” Top sellers at Winnie Lu include lavender, lemongrass and eucalyptus-spearmint. “Anything fresh smelling,” Sjulson says. “The lemongrass and the tobacco-bay leaf are my personal favorites.” (Bars retail for $8.)
“The mission here at Winnie Lu is to support as many local brands/companies as I possibly can,” Sjulson says. “But it is always even more special to me to carry products from our own community. Waconia is only a few minutes down the road from Victoria, and many of my customers live there, so I think it’s super special for everyone to see the local connection in the products here.” (Laketown Soap Co. products are also available at Clearwater Clothing, Waconia.)
Despite her business success, Dubbe doesn’t have plans to expand. “My home is the perfect place to allow me to continue to enjoy my hobby without compromising time away from my family. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom to be available to my family, and right now, I want to be mindful of that and not let myself get carried away or over extended. I want to keep it fun because that's how it all started—as fun.”