By| December 16, 2021
Most people look at soap as an everyday essential used without a second thought, but to Joanna Couch, it means more than smelling good and being clean.
In 2012, following the closing of a decorative finishing business she had with her mother, the Mesa woman began making products with the leftover goat’s milk from her family farm.
Soap became the main product and eventually, her passion.
After entering the Arizona State Fair with no great expectations, Couch walked away with multiple blue ribbons for her soap and the confidence to keep going.
“People don’t realize when they go and look at all that stuff at the state fair, there’s a person with a passion behind that product,” Couch says.
Continuing with her passion, Couch took part in the 2012 Gilbert Art Walk, selling out of her inventory of 2,000 soap bars by her second showing.
“I thought that would last me forever,” Couch says.
With the support from her community and family, Couch expanded her business into The Soap Gal, which now manufactures a minimum 800,000 bars of soap monthly and are sold wholesale only to retailers nationwide.
The Soap Gal specializes in cold-processed soap. Oils such as coconut, shea butter olive, and castor are combined with a sodium hydroxide lye solution and safe additives such as pure essential oils and colorants.
She studied and refined product formulas for some of the biggest names in the soap business and is committed to using only food-grade oils, pure essential oils and phosphate-free fragrances.
“Once people become customers of The Soap Gal, they become family,” a spokeswoman for The Soap Gal says.
The leftover scraps — which Couch calls “bubble bits” — are donated to those in need.
Last month, The Soap Gal donated 4,500 pounds of bubble bits, roughly the equivalent of 70,000 bars, to the Phoenix Rescue Mission to help people experiencing homelessness.
“The Soap Gal creates quality skin products utilizing food grade oils and all natural ingredients, so these individuals will be provided with high-quality soap,” her spokeswoman adds.
Couch sees her company — and her passion — as more than just a way to earn a living.
For one thing, she boasts on her website, “We support over 90 local families in our 33,000-square-foot facility in Mesa Arizona. We are proud to manufacturer our products here in the USA and support our local community. … Quality is our philosophy. Natural products and world-class service is how we set the industry standard.”
But Couch also sees a broader mission in her work.
“When it all comes down to it, the reason I make soap is because there’s still 29% of this world that doesn’t have access to soap and water,” Couch says.
Although her products are sold only wholesale to retail businesses, they will be available to the public soon.
Couch looks forward to furthering her soap business by opening two new storefronts in the near future.
Bubble Factory will be a storefront open to the public where consumers can create their own candles, experience the process of soap-making as well as buy The Soap Gal products.
Located at Mill Avenue in Tempe, her Rosebud’s Candle Bar and Bath Boutique will focus on self-love and self-care. Envisioning a feminine and girly atmosphere inspired by the women in her family, Rosebud’s is more of a passion project, Couch says.
“I think it’s important for us girls to show ourselves love,” Couch says.
Driven by the support of her family and community, Couch’s ultimate goal through her business is to make sure her community is taken care of.
“Soap is my calling, but my community is my No. 1 passion.”
And she isn’t leaving new entrepreneurs behind either. To this day, Couch still attends the art walk to support other new artisans.
“That was the encouragement I got from the community to get me to where I am today,” Couch says.
Information: thesoapgal.com or facebook.com/thesoapgal