Bryn Mawr’s Karen Soderberg began making her own natural soap three years ago as a way to fix her dry skin problems. (She had tried some natural soap on a vacation and it made a tremendous difference, she said.) Encouraged by her partner Steve Harvey, a chemical engineer, Soderberg started making her own soap to save money, and the hobby soon became a business. She now makes roughly 4,200 bars a year out of her basement, and hopes to move into a commercial space soon.
She uses essential oils — extracted from plants such as peppermint, lavender and rosemary — instead of synthetic scents, Soderberg said. Her soap is mildly scented, because "a lot of people don’t like heavy scents."
She uses no animal products in the soap, only vegetable oils: olive, coconut and castor oil, with cocoa butter and palm oil to harden it.
Price: Roughly $3 a bar. Gift sets available online.
Where available: Wedge Coop, 2105 Lyndale Ave. S. (M-F 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sa-S 9 a.m-9 p.m.); Linden Hills Coop, 2813, W. 43rd St. (8 a.m-9 p.m. daily); Tao Natural Foods, 2200 Hennepin Ave. S. (M-Th 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; F-Sa 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Su 11 a.m.-6 p.m.); and Bryn Mawr Market, 4125 Cedar Lake Rd. (7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily). Online at www.brynmawrsoap.com