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Ever since she was a little girl, Trisha Lowthers has loved specialty soaps.
Her eyes twinkle as she recalls going to the store to pick up the latest items.
“Remember those little beads that you got at Woolworth’s? I couldn’t wait to go on a Saturday to get those. Or those little rose soaps? Anything that was put out in a mold that looked pretty (I wanted),” said Lowthers.
That passion for fragrant, colourful bath and body products hasn’t diminished over the years. The only difference is she now makes her own — and they’re made with natural ingredients.
“Making something and working with my hands is almost a thrill. And soap is almost an instant gratification,” said Lowthers.
“When you knit something, it takes a while before you get your project done. But with soap, the next day you’ve got your soap out of the loaf and you can see what you’ve made,” she said.
The soap then needs to cure for a month, but by then, she’s already created dozens of other beauty items so it’s a consistently gratifying process.
Lowthers is a professional nurse by trade, now working at Dykeland Lodge, a nursing home in Windsor. She first began experimenting with making soap as a student. But what started as a hobby has turned into a side hustle that is now a profitable business.
Lowthers owns and operates All Lathered Up Soap Company in Hants County. It’s been going strong for about six years, but really saw an uptick in sales over the last couple.
Lowthers’ soap products are available at Madison and Clover Boutique in Downtown Windsor, at the Windsor Community Famers’ Market (which typically runs from the beginning of June until December) as well as at several shops across the province.
Some days, she’s floored by the response she’s received from customers.
“When I see people coming to my table … and they’re vibrating with the same passion that I feel when I’m making it, it just excites me. It makes me happy because they love it like I love it,” said Lowthers.
While her typical clientele is from Nova Scotia, she’s had visitors from Ireland, Scotland, England, and the United States purchase some of her products.
She has a solid fan base in Cape Breton — she’s from Glace Bay — and interest from one end of the province to the other.
A healthy obsession
While attending Dalhousie University, a professor asked if she knew what ingredients were in the lipstick she was applying. That got her thinking — and researching. She says seeing the amount of chemicals and unnatural ingredients that go into every day cosmetic products helped set her on her current journey.
“We use butters, like mango butter, shea butter, cocoa butter, olive oil, sunflower oil — all real oils. There’s no crap. There’s nothing hidden,” said Lowthers.
All Lathered Up Soap Company is run by Lowthers with help from her husband, who is in the military, and her daughter, who hopes to become a dietitian after finishing high school.
They grow a lot of produce in raised boxes, including herbs that are then used in some of the soaps she makes.
“I infuse a lot of herbs into oils,” said Lowthers.
“Roman chamomile is like $2,000 an ounce. It’s a fortune. So how do you get chamomile into soap without having a high cost? You grow your own. There’s no other way.”
Dandelions may be considered a weed, but its beautiful yellow colour and medicinal properties makes it an ideal flower to work with, Lowthers noted.
Monsieur is awaiting the moustaches! This is scented in tobacco and cherry! I just love this scent! My Grampie Charlie smoked a pipe on occasion and this brings me back! He was a true gentleman!Posted by All Lathered Up Soap Co. on Tuesday, January 26, 2021
She said she’s amazed by people who say her products are too fragrant, but yet they use brand name soaps — many of which can be harsh on their skin.
“They have no idea they’re putting petroleum on their body,” said Lowthers.
All of the fragrances used in her line are phthalate-free, and the dyes aren’t harmful.
“If I’m going to put something in my tub, I want to know it’s safe for my whole body,” said Lowthers.
People who have just finished chemotherapy treatments often turn to Lowthers as she provides the gentlest soap on the market.
“I have people coming to me post-chemotherapy for castile … That’s the holy grail of soap: a bar that’s 100 per cent olive. That’s your mildest pH soap,” she said.
She also offers a specially formulated facial soap called Cleopatra, which she uses religiously.
“It’s pH balanced for your face that has kelp and sea salt and activated charcoal,” she said. “That’s the only thing I wash my face with.”
Lowthers said it’s important to take care of your body and using quality products is one way to do that.
“Your skin is your largest organ. What you put in it, on it, is important,” said Lowthers.
A creative outlet
Lowthers said when she’s had a hard day, making soap is cathartic.
“It’s not just for everybody else. It’s for me too. I need to do it,” Lowthers said.
“I make soap every day just like you would make your bed every day.”
Lowthers said being able to experiment when making new bath and beauty items is the highlight of her day.
“Have you ever unmolded soap?” asked Lowthers, her voice almost giddy.
“I love it. It doesn’t matter if I make that soap 10 times. I like when I can pop it out and cut it — and I love stamping,” said Lowthers.
“Honestly, I love stamping. I get to put that mark on there that I made it.”
Lowthers creates her own stamps and packaging for the products she makes, allowing her to further extend her creativity. It also gives her more freedom to create new lines as often as she likes.
“I think I deal with stress through creativity. That’s as much as I can explain to people about why I wanted to make soap.”
Lowthers has been a nurse for close to 20 years. When she’s on break at work, there’s a good chance you’ll find her brainstorming new soap lines and sketching out designs.
“I need to fuel the soul,” said Lowthers.
Lowthers said customers appreciate that she includes ingredients on the labels and can explain how items are made.
“I think knowing the product, being honest about your ingredients and just being passionate about what I want for me, has caught on for everybody else,” said Lowthers.
“It’s a trust factor and I think being a nurse has a lot to do with it.”
Looking towards the future
Lowthers likes to keep up with the latest trends and special occasions. She enjoys coming up with new lines and is excited by what she has planned for St. Patrick’s Day. She’s creating a beer line featuring Hants County brews and infused with local hops.
Christmastime always features some new and exciting blends. She sold out of several items in 2020.
“Every year we try to add different ones. Like Santa’s Pipe was tobacco cherry. Blizzard was spearmint (with sparkles) … we sold so much of that,” said Lowthers.
Christmas staples, like Candy Cane and Old Christmas Tree, remain hot sellers during the winter months. In October, she sells a lot of pumpkin-related products, noting that even without the Windsor West Hants Pumpkin Regatta in 2020, the demand was high.
Lowthers said it’s important to always be thinking ahead and planning accordingly. She knows in the summer months, coastal-themed products do well, especially if they feature mermaids, seashells or sailboats.
“You have to be innovative. You have to have something that someone else doesn’t have,” said Lowthers.
All Lathered Up Soap Company currently carries soap, bath bombs and smaller fizzies for children, shampoo bars, facial bars, lip balms, shave soap, emulsified sugar scrubs and a limited amount of body butter.
She said shave soap is starting to make a comeback as people return to wet shaving.
“Commercial shaving cream is rubbing alcohol. No wonder men don’t like to shave. Imagine putting that on your face every day? It's bad enough putting that on our hands every day,” said Lowthers.
She said there has been an increase in demand from men looking for all-natural products, so she plans to increase the men’s product line.
Down the road, Lowthers hopes to open her own soap shop. She has a good idea of how it would be decorated — think of a Parisian bakery painted black, white, and pink — but Lowthers said she isn’t ready to leave the nursing profession just yet. In the meantime, she will continue to dream about, and plan for, the day she eventually opens the storefront.
“I don’t know when we will be ready for that,” said Lowthers.
“I think it would be cute for Windsor.”