Soap isn’t just a personal care necessity. It can also be the basis for a successful retail shop. In fact, artisan soaps and similar products have really taken off in the past several years. And creative marketplaces like Etsy have been at the forefront of that growth.
For that reason, Etsy can be an amazing place to look for inspiration before you start a soap making business. Of course, you’ll need to come up with your own unique niche and make your products stand out from the others that are already available. Aside from creating a product array, you’ll also need to research marketing, sign up for social media, and get any necessary licenses and permits. But seeking general inspiration from other handmade soap makers may provide a solid starting point.
If you’re ready to turn your soap making hobby into a successful venture, here are some soap businesses to inspire your own small business plan.
Here are the best soap businesses to use as examples for your own.
Rhonda Ramos, Premier Bath & Body Care
Premier Bath & Body Care features a wide array of bath and body products, including lotions, essential oils, and scrubs. The handmade soaps come in a huge array of scents. And she even offers small samplers so shoppers can try out different options and find the ones that work best for them. This is a perfect example of offering variety to attract a wide array of potential buyers.
Anastasiia Amundsen, Key Lime Pie Milkshake
Key Lime Pie Milkshake is a bath and beauty shop focused on natural and sustainable materials. Soaps are made with shea butter and many only use vegan ingredients. The shop also features plastic free packaging to appeal to eco-friendly shoppers. And other products in the shop — like waste-free toothpaste tabs — mirror this messaging. Sustainability, vegan and cruelty free items, and natural ingredients are all major talking points for today’s consumers. So making your offerings stand out in this way can potentially attract extra buyers.
Stacey Casey, The Suffolk Soap Co.
The Suffolk Soap Co. Offers soap and accessories that are visually appealing. Some items are shaped into molds that look like flowers or hearts. Others include add-ons like dried fruits and flower petals. The soap business even offers accessories like wax burners and soap holders. Though soap is generally considered a utilitarian item, business owners shouldn’t underestimate the importance of powerful visuals. These images can grab the attention of Etsy shoppers and even make soap more appealing as a gift option.
Sharon Deane, Dandy Soap
Dandy Soap provides goods ranging from traditional bar soap to shampoo and lotion bars. The shop also offers bundles, where buyers can choose a wide array of scents and options. There are also sample packs for those who want to try different soaps without making a full commitment. Since soap making often is done in bulk, this is a perfect way for shop owners to increase the average order size and make use of items or materials that haven’t yet sold. Those who want to start a business making soap should think about adding various listings like these to their business plan to increase revenue and provide more value to buyers.
Jesse and Carol Howe, Wild Herb
Wild Herb bills itself as a healthy choice for natural soaps and personal care items. The small business features products made with organic ingredients. They also provide essential oils, facial cleansers, and even hair care. The company has been in business for years and has done research to find the ideal mix of ingredients for various skin types. Finding your own unique soap recipe and demonstrating your quality offerings over time may be key to building a long-lasting soap making business like this one.
Sara Mele, 567Crochet
Everyone loves a mystery. 567Crochet is an Etsy shop that actually sells a huge variety of items. But focusing just on the soap business, the owner actually has some unique listings that entrepreneurs could learn from. One is called “mystery money soap,” which includes a mystery amount of money with each order, from $1 to $100. Obviously, buyers are much more likely to get back $1. But this tactic, similar to what other contest ideas businesses have used through the years, can get them excited about receiving their order. Entrepreneur Sara Mele also offers a “mystery box of soaps,” where buyers get six random scents. This is perfect for those who aren’t sure, and can be a helpful way to control a shop’s inventory.
Lisa Sterling, Butters & Black Soap
This company specializes in African black soap, which is generally made using ingredients sourced from Africa. These soaps have antibacterial qualities and can treat a variety of skin conditions, from acne to eczema. Butters & Black Soap features unique soap making ingredients like turmeric and oatmeal. The shop also features other specialty items like sea moss and root powder. Since the type of soap featured in this shop varies from much of the other items featured on Etsy, this company is more likely to stand out with those who need to get this specific type of item.
DeeDee Glen, Grandma’s Farm
Grandma’s Farm specializes in cold process soap. Many of the items are made using soap recipes with farm fresh ingredients like goat’s milk, lavender, and shea butter. The family feel of this business provides a great way to stand out from some of the other shops in the beauty space. Everything from the business name to the soap making information helps this small business stand out with customers looking for something really simple and family friendly.
Leeana O’Cain, Love Lee Soaps
The product line from Love Lee Soaps doesn’t look like that of other Etsy shops. Instead of offering simple bars made of luxurious ingredients, the company has found different ways to stand out. Namely, the soap making business uses silicone molds in various shapes to create handmade soap that looks like a variety of other items. There are soaps shaped like broccoli, cameras, cupcakes, and bowls of cereal. This can make for eye catching shop photos and make the items perfect for those who may need fun gift ideas.
Sarah Cabrera, Naturally Enchanted Soap Works
Naturally Enchanted Soap Works features cold process soap made with mainly natural, vegan ingredients you might find at farmers markets or natural food stores. The soaps are made in small batches, so no two bars are exactly alike. This may really appeal to people who enjoy the variety and one-of-a-kind nature of shopping with handmade small businesses.
Erin Csernica, Mt. Lebanon Soap Company
The banner of this soap making business shop page includes the description: “We are a handmade soap business wrapped with purpose. Our purpose? to support and educate our daughter with Down Syndrome.” Adding a purpose or mission can be a wonderful way to set a shop apart. The actual product array from Mt. Lebanon Soap Company features natural soaps at affordable prices. And customers rave about the quality and customer service in the reviews. Overall, the mission and the positive experience can really help small businesses keep their target market happy.
Emily Denison-Starcher, Emily’s Soaps
Emily’s Soaps features a wide array of soaps, sprays, and body oils made with natural ingredients. In addition to the quality goods and service that customers rave about in the reviews, the shop also features some personal details in the description. Explanations about local events and life happenings, along with social media handles and contact information, can help sellers connect personally with customers.
Stacy Thornton, Suds By Stacy and More
Suds by Stacy features cold process soap recipes with simple, familiar scent options. Some include vanilla bean, blue slushy, and raspberry lemonade. Since scent is one of the senses most closely tied to memory, these options may appeal to buyers through nostalgia. The cold process soap making shop does have a huge variety of product to choose from. But these are just a few of the options that aren’t common from other sellers.
Lorraine Bragg, Blissful Home Goods
Blissful Home Goods is a small business that specializes in repurposed home decor and high quality soap product. The soap making business features unique shapes and scents, perfect for creating eye-catching photos and promoting items as gifts. For example, there are emoji-shaped bars and Valentine’s Day gift boxes. There are even “adoptable” soaps that feature a small figurine like a rubber ducky — perfect for kids’ gifts that are both cute and practical.
Stacey Leveque, Jillian Scott Soaps
Jillian Scott Soaps features both soap and lotion bars. The soaps are glycerin based and made with moisturizing oils. they also include decorative elements like colorful pieces and swirls that make each item look like a work of art. Since people tend to purchase handmade soap is gifts or unique decor elements in their bathrooms, these small visual additions can really make a soap making shop stand out.
Terra James, Terra Vibes Creations
The soap featured in the Terra Vibes Creations shop really stands out from anything else on Etsy. The handmade soap is shaped into truly unique options, like meditating French bulldogs, mermaid tales, and even the Fight Club soap. These items can be used as unique decor elements and party favors, as well as actual soap.
DeShawn Marie, DeShawn Marie Soap Boutique
DeShawn Marie Soap Boutique offers cold process soap along with bath bombs and other unique gift items. The soap making business has a funky vibe. The handmade soap comes in bright colors and patterned packaging. The shop also specializes in making soap in small batches so each soap recipe is unique. Finally, the shop even offers subscriptions, which can lead to a more predictable sales schedule and more convenient buying options for customers.
Keitha Cloudt, Keitha’s Artful Garden
Keitha’s Artful Garden mixes the art of soap making with natural beauty. In addition to making soap, the shop also provides oils, lotion sticks, lip balms, and facial masks. Many of the soaps feature dried flowers and other natural ingredients. These can appeal to those who are looking for clean beauty and personal care options. Of course, there are plenty of shops that cater to this niche. So it’s up to each shop owner to create their own soap recipe and find different ways to make their product or process stand out.
Rolanda Tarble, Atlantic Winds Soaps
Atlantic Winds Soaps is a soap making shop that uses organic and sustainably sourced materials to create visually interesting items. The shop can make soap in the shape of beverages like coffee, milkshakes, and iced tea. And the variety of flavors compliments the unique style. The team even offers wholesale listings to increase order size and work with retailers who may want to carry their unique bars.
Tiggy Fiander, Future Primitive
Future Primitive specializes in cold process soap inspired by the English countryside. The shop only features a few main products on Etsy, and sells other items elsewhere. This can be a popular way for soap making businesses to operate after they get started with a solid base of customers. In addition to actual soap, the shop also features cold process soap making recipes to help other aspiring entrepreneurs and hobbyists get started. This is a niche market. But it allows the shop to sell digital products, which can be easier to distribute and sell in large quantities.
To learn more about selling on Etsy, read: How to Start an Etsy Shop