Handmade soap has become increasingly popular as a chemical-free alternative for the green-conscious crowd. Some enterprising people, like Edie Buchanan, have made a career out of it.
Photo and story originally published in Taos News
Buchanan started her soap company, Beaudacious Bubbles, in 2012, in Phoenix, Arizona, as a creative outlet.
“It was really a transition period for me,” she said. “I had just finished my MA degree from Arizona State University and was working as the Writing Center Coordinator on the Polytechnic campus. I loved my job, but my mother was weakening from her struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and I feared that her life, here, was ending.”
So Buchanan made the decision to be with her mother, resigned from her position at Arizona State University and used the time and opportunity to engage in arts and crafts.
It was then when she discovered soap making. That was also the beginning of a totally new venture, which she has brought to her current home in Peñasco.
“I come from a long line of creative and talented women, so arts and crafts have always been a big part of my life,” Buchanan said. “And four years later, what started as more or less a hobby, is now a budding small business.”
The joys of soap making
It may look complicated at first sight, but soap making is a fun and a relatively easy craft, Buchanan assures me.
“If you have any baking skills at all, you will have no trouble,” she said. “One of the most joyful aspects of making soap is playing with the wonderful ingredients that we use to make soap and having fun with them. For example, I make a Gardner’s Soap with organic poppy seeds for extra scrubbing. I use organic calendula, lavender, rose and lot of other dried herbs in my soaps, and the aromas from the essential oils fill the house.”
Since the very first day Buchanan began making her own soap, she used only natural ingredients, wholesome and healthful, and organic when available.
“I use oils such as olive, sunflower, coconut, hempseed, castor, and passionately sourced palm oil,” she said. “I also use only pure essential oils, never fragrance or artificial scents. These essential oils not only smell cleaner and lighter than traditional fragrances, but they have many, many benefits for the skin and hair.”
She plans to share the craft with others and maybe offer a workshop.
“But that’s in the early stage of development,” she said.
Four paws of inspiration
Shortly after she began learning how to make soap, Buchanan also started to search for ingredients that worked best together and to develop her own recipes. But it was her huge St. Bernard dog, named Beau, and his massive fur coat who led her to develop an all-natural shampoo bar for dogs: Beaudacious Bubbles, which has become her signature product.
“After the shampoo, I developed a between-baths spritz,” she said. “It adds shine and conditioning to the fur as well as fresh scent.”
Looking for a homestead
Buchanan and her husband Lou Birkel fell in love with Taos and northern New Mexico after visiting several times. They moved to Peñasco a month ago.
“We decided we wanted to live here,” she said. “So, I guess Taos brought me to Taos! But we really wanted a homestead too, so we found a country spot in Peñasco and absolutely love it. It’s just a few acres and an old adobe, but it feels like a little piece of heaven to us.”
The shy entrepreneur
Even with the turmoil that an interstate move entails, Buchanan has continued making her products.
“And now I want to start sharing them with the Taos community as well,” she said.
Like many other entrepreneurs, she sees marketing as her biggest challenge.
“Marketing can be an expensive necessity for a small business, so one has to get creative,” she said. “I like to call guerilla marketing: anything you can do to get your name out!”
She often finds it “a bit difficult” to sell her own creations.
“Other folks sell my soap much better than I do,” Buchanan said. “Now, I do love
hearing from happy customers! Many moments of frustration and self-doubt were eased by a customer saying their dog finally stopped itching, so success stories from customers are very rewarding. Also, seeing a creative project to fruition is very rewarding, on a personal level.”
Where to find Beaudacious products
Buchanan offers Beaudacious Bubbles and Spritz on Etsy and posts announcements of new products on the company’s Facebook page. She also sells wholesale.
“In fact, most of our business has been wholesale, as well as farmer’s markets and craft shows,” she said. “We hope to get into a farmer’s market and craft shows around the area as well.”
For inquiries, contact Lou Birkel at 216-650-9520, visit “Beaudacious Bubbles Canine Shampoo Bar” on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BeaudaciousBubbles
or shop at magicalmichaels/etsy.com.