When Lara Lamb talks about recipes, she’s not talking about dinner.
Instead, her recipes are for products like soap, bath balms, lotions, scrubs and body butter.
Lamb launched sales for Lamb’s Soapworks in March 2015 and has since seen her products on store shelves across Alberta and into B.C.
“I started dabbling in it in December 2014, but didn’t really start selling till March – I took a bit of time to play with and perfect some recipes,” she says.
“I have some culinary roots and I really wanted to go back [in that direction] and do something creative,” says Lamb. “But I didn’t want to go back and work in kitchens … it’s a pretty rough life, not very conducive to family life.”
Instead, Lamb turned her attention to handcrafting artisanal soap and natural bath and beauty products in her kitchen at home, using unrefined vegetable-based pure oils and butters.
“This is kind of like cooking,” she says. “You’re blending flavours and I use botanicals to top my soaps. There’s a lot of plant-based material and I wanted my product to reflect that.”
Consumers are looking for “natural alternatives” to factory-produced soaps and bath products, says Lamb, adding that skin is the body’s largest organ.
Everything you put on it enters your bloodstream and affects your health.
Lamb balances her work as a school librarian with long hours spent in the kitchen creating her product and perfecting her recipes. After filling a mould (she might make up to 28 pounds of soap at a time), it can take up to six weeks for the soap to cure.
“The production gets a little mad in our kitchen,” she says, adding it’s become a family affair; her daughter assists with packaging and shipping when she’s not at university, and her son helps with deliveries.
Among Lamb’s most popular offerings (which, she says, depend on the season) is a lemongrass mint soap. “People love it, especially at this time of year, because lemongrass is part of the same family as citronella, so it keeps the bugs away a little bit,” Lamb says. In the fall, gingerbread and pumpkin scents are popular.
Her advice for people looking to start their own homebased business: “Do your homework. This is my baby. I started from scratch and fought really hard to get it to where it’s at and build relationships with customers and our community.”