Laura Pipitone is the owner and founder of The Oakley Soap Co, a soap company that creates vegan and sustainably-sourced bath and body products, with an emphasis on palm-free, artisan bar soaps handcrafted in Cincinnati.
Long before she launched her own business, and for as long as she can remember, she’s been interested in handmade soap.
“At stores and markets, I gravitated to handmade bath and body products,” she explains. “After a few years of being a stay-at-home mom, I was feeling the itch to start creating. At first I decided to try my hand at making soap so I could have a hobby that would supplement my soap buying habit.”
But Pipitone was hooked from the beginning. She says that what she really enjoyed was learning how different oils and butters produce different properties and soap, and how she can apply that knowledge to write recipes that create soaps.
And more than just the science behind soap making, Pipitone says that she finds an artistry within it as well. “Every bar of handcrafted soap is different and I find it so satisfying to create both the perfect look and perfect scent for each bar,” she says. “Being able to make something both beautiful and useful fulfills a desire in me that wasn’t being tended to during those first hectic years of motherhood, when I didn’t have the time or energy to pursue that creative itch.”
However, after making several hundred bars of soap, Pipitone began to ask herself if there were other bath and body products she could start making in addition to soap. So, using her knowledge of how ingredients work on skin, she started to create those products such as body whips and sugar scrubs.
“I find immense joy in creating beautiful products that impart a little extra happiness into someone’s day,” she adds. “Hearing that someone went into their shower cranky and came out of the shower feeling better because of the sugar scrub I made feels so good and inspires me to keep creating. I gain energy when someone tells me my product provides relief from a lifelong skin condition.”
Pipitone is the one-woman show behind The Oakley Soap Co, although she says that she gets a helping hand from her husband and two children. “My kids love to earn a small allowance assisting in packaging products and making deliveries,” she says. “And, of course, my family is always the first to test new products and give brutally honest feedback.”
Before she became a stay-at-home mom and opened The Oakley Soap Co, Pipitone says that she worked in non-profit healthcare, so giving back to the community is important to her. That’s why she has a rotating “Bars that Benefit” program, in which part of the proceeds from each of that specific bar of soap sold goes to different organizations. And she also donates some of the soap to the program serving seniors at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries.
When asked what makes The Oakley Soap Co unique, Pipitone says that its the variety of products available that suit all types of lifestyles and skin types.
“I like keeping our blend of oils and butters in our soap simple and all our products are free from the detergents that you would usually find in commercial soaps,” she adds.
That’s why there are a variety of soaps made with natural colorants and are scented only with essential oils. But there are also soaps available for those who enjoy bright colors and unique scents that can’t be found in nature.
All of the ingredients used in the products offered by The Oakley Soap Co are free from parabens and phthalates, and the company is committed to working with suppliers with fair trade and sustainable practices. “The Oakley Soap Co products are 100 percent vegan and we work with suppliers to make sure we aren’t inadvertently using any ‘hidden’ animal byproducts in our ingredients,” says Pipitone.
Education is also an important part of the mission at The Oakley Soap Co, and Pipitone uses her social media platforms to share interesting information on the soap making process and what happens when soap making goes wrong.
“Our company mission is to teach people about the science of soaps and how handcrafted soap is different from products that are commercially made,” she says. “For such a ubiquitous product, most people don’t realize where soap comes from so I love passing along my soaping knowledge.”
You can purchase products from The Oakley Soap Co on the website. They offer free local delivery inside the 275 Loop. Pipitone says they can also be found at various markets and shows around town, and you can find a schedule on the website and Facebook page. There is also a selection of products available at the Fathom House Art Gallery in Northgate Mall, and Pipitone hopes to expand to other stores soon.
Pipitone says to keep your eyes out on the future of The Oakley Soap Co as they introduce new, more environmentally-friendly packaging for products. She says that they’ll also be releasing new autumn soaps, holiday themed soaps, and whipped body butters as the cooler weather approaches. She’s also tinkering with new product ideas and aims to introduce new skin and body care items soon.
To learn more about The Oakley Soap Co, visit www.theoakleysoapco.com. You can also check out products, the soap-making process, and Pipitone’s life as a small business owning mom on Instagram and Facebook.