Women Biz: Abundance Soaps

Different is good. Different is beautiful. I like different. From architecture to faces to shops, I have an affinity for and gravitate toward what I consider unique. Which is probably why I love handmade soaps.

Unlike pre-molded traditional boxed soaps, handmade bars are rough cut, not perfectly shaped. The scents have imagination and appeal and the texture is inviting, tempting you to touch. But beauty is only skin deep and the appeal needs to go deeper than aesthetics and the sensory qualities they offer. In short, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

And Abundance Soaps has what it takes on the inside. They use only high-grade ingredients in their handmade soaps and beauty products. Karin McGilvery, owner and creator of Abundance Soaps was kind enough to answer my questions about her products.

GW: How did you become interested in natural soaps and beauty products, and what led you to create your own?

Karin: I’ve always loved Essential Oils and herbs/plants. I made my first concoction 22 years ago using rubbing alcohol (which I’d never do now – it was all that was in the house) and rose petals. Can you believe I still have that concoction meant to be a perfume/cologne? The petals are still floating in the murky brown liquid.

Fast-forward 12 years: I have three kids and we travel on business all around the USA. I love handmade soaps but they are wearing on our budget. So I ask myself, couldn’t I do this? After several LEARNING experiences I succeeded!

GW: Your soaps are all natural made with food grade oils…olive, coconut, avocado, etc. why are these better for your skin than the traditional petroleum based soaps on the store shelves?

Karin: Your skin absorbs whatever you put on it – instantly. It is porous. That is why transdermal patches work. Paraben and petroleum are endocrine disrupters (they stop your hormones from functioning properly) as well as carcinogens. They also don’t process out of your body well, meaning they aren’t easily filtered out by the liver. There is concern that the levels just build in the body. Many Bath and Beauty products contain harsh detergents, animal fats, heavy mineral oils, preservatives and artificial colors and fragrances that play havoc with your skin instead of support it. This site is awesome in explaining in detail the effects of petroleum products http://www.ecologycenter.org/erc/petroleum/body.html

GW: You use cold processing to make your soaps. What does that mean and how is it different from the way most soaps are processed today?

Karin: Excellent question. Cold process is a way that soap is made. For making bar soaps (as opposed to liquid) there are 3 main routes: Melt and Pour – you purchase a premade block of glycerine based clear soaps (some are dyed). These usually contain questionable chemicals like SLS.

Route 2 is Cold Process: the lye and oils are combined. The chemical reaction has no heat added to it. It generates heat enough to cook out the lye (only remaining . 03 to less if correctly made) and form skin softening natural glycerine as a byproduct. Cold process soaps need to cure from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. There are many variables in the soaping process. I teach classes at Sauder Village, located in Archbold, Ohio, if you are more interested in the process.

Route 3 is Hot Process: Oils and lye are combined like Cold Process then the soap is cooked in a crock pot or on the stove or over a fire (we re-enact pioneer soap-making at festivals, fairs, etc…). Soap created properly this way can be used as soon as they harden and are cut.

All soaps are created with lye. If someone tells you otherwise they are LYE- ing. (Bad joke, I know)

GW: Do you create your own recipes?

Karin: Absolutely. I do get feedback from customers with great ideas. I love input. Over half of the 35 soaps we make were created by customers or Facebook fans suggesting their favorite ingredient combos. Of course, they always get a free bar. We’ve had naming contests for quite a few of the soaps on Facebook. Two popular winners that come to mind are Orange Ya Sweet shampoo and body bar and Sunshine Soap.

GW: You gave me a sample bar of your Buckeye soap…chocolate and peanut butter, really unique idea and tasty scent. Do you take requests for custom soap scents?

Karin: Sure, as long as they use essential oils not fragrance oils. If you ask for blueberry soap I can put lots of blueberries in it, but I have to combine it with another essential oil as blueberry essential oil doesn’t exist. Fragrance oils are synthetics. Essential oils are the actual plant (plant blood for lack of a better analogy).

GW: How long does each batch of soap take from start to finish?

Karin: Anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes in my soap workshop. If I’m reenacting, the stirring can take hours. Then they cure for 12 to 24 hours. Then they are cut and placed on baker’s racks to dry and cure completely for 2-4 weeks.

GW: You make custom mini soaps and lotions for special events, bridal showers, weddings, etc. How early would I need to place my order to have it on time?

Karin: Depends upon how large the order is. 50 and below would require a week. During the holiday season double that as we are really busy. Orders over that amount, a month’s notice would be great. We have to create your wrapper design with you getting colors just so and text how you like then cutting and wrapping all of those tiny soaps. Very unique and fun favor though.

GW: Abundance Soaps is a family owned and operated business. Are your children involved? If so, what positives have they gained from taking part?

Karin: Yes. They are used to lugging oils in large quantities from the porch from UPS or from the car for me. They come on reenactments and dress in frontier clothes and sell. They help get bars of soap for me when I’m wrapping the hundreds of bars we sell every week. My daughter loves helping felt soaps (wrapping raw wool around a bar of soap. It creates a washcloth of sorts around the soap) and is the best at needle felting. They’ve learned how to set a goal and raise funds from working with me to attain it.

GW: Anything else you want to share about you, your products or your business?

Karin: We absolutely love making healthy products using food grade and local ingredients whenever possible for your family. Our family uses these products every day and are blessed. We are so grateful for the Abundance God has given to us and I ask Him to allow me to bless others as I have been so richly blessed. We happily care for bees, a goat named Honey, chickens, ducks, a dog, 9 cats. Our small farm is filled with wild plants like plantain and mullein as well as herbs like lavender, peppermint and French sorrel. We are very proud to live in rural NW Ohio and live off the land as much as possible.

GW side note: I’ve been using a bar that Karin made this past week and today, out of habit, I reached for the name brand body wash I typically use. I love the initial sudsy, creamy feel, but after using her product, I noticed that once the body wash was rinsed off I really didn’t feel all that clean. I highly recommend her soaps and encourage you to compare the results with what you normally use.

Abundance Soaps creates a broad range of soaps and beauty products and offers spa parties, gift baskets and custom made mini soaps and lotions for any special event.

Learn more about Abundance Soaps and find out where to buy:


http://abundancesoaps.wordpress.com/ (blog)



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  1. #1 by Deanna on July 30, 2012 - 9:34 pm

    Love Abundance Soaps! Once you’ve used her soaps, you won’t go back to box store brands. A bar of soap does go a very long way. Karin is a fantastic person. Thanks for the informative post.
    (Julie, the link for this on pinterest gives an error thinking it is a spam site, etc….just FYI)

  2. #3 by mary katherine meyers on August 1, 2012 - 12:13 pm

    great story! karin mc gilvery, of liberty center is a consignor in my shop (MKat’s Antiques & curiosities, in Napoleon)…henry county, ohio. She does share wonderful items to our customers. stop in all around northwest, ohio for ABUNDANCE SOAPS!

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