The Early Days
We are often asked who we are and how Chagrin Valley Soap got started.
The story begins in 2001 when I decided to find an interesting hobby.
My husband Howard spent his weekends in his wood shop making furniture and lots of sawdust. I wanted to do something equally interesting and creative.
When I could drag my husband away from his tools, we went to weekend craft fairs where I saw many sellers of handmade soap. However, most of these soaps were still made with artificial colors and fragrances, which did not make sense to me.
In my “prior lives” I was a registered nurse, earned a master’s degree in biology, minored in Chemistry and later, taught middle school science.
Making soap is all about science so I knew there had to be a way to make a lovely all-natural soap without artificial or synthetic ingredients that would be effective, safe and wonderful to use. I started researching the subject of “soap” and my hobby was born. I never dreamed that this “hobby” would become a business and my third career.
Howard made me a small wooden mold, I gathered some ingredients, appropriated my kitchen mixer, spatula, and pots, and began. We still laugh about how long it took and what a mess we made to create our first successful batch of soap - eight bars of Goat Milk and Oatmeal soap.
Then came a great discovery. After using this new soap for only two weeks my husband’s eczema disappeared. Now I knew I was on to something special.
With this success under my belt, I developed other natural soap recipes, continued the learning process, and made soap whenever I had time for the people I love! I was fascinated with the science of soapmaking.
Studying the chemistry of fats and oils, I learned how the variations in their fatty acid composition would result in soaps with different characteristics. It was quite exciting.
Our kitchen became overrun with soapmaking supplies to the chagrin of my husband who loves to cook. So he enclosed a porch under the deck of our home and the original “soap factory” was born.
In the summer of 2002, I took a course to learn about making a website to use with my science classes. For practice, I made a small website for the several soaps I was making and published it - just for fun and to see what would happen.
I got my first online order! By the summer, of 2003, we were getting several orders each week and our reputation for our quality and customer service was circulating around the internet.
From Hobby to Business
As my research continued, I became increasingly concerned about how many chemicals were present in other skincare products and the possible adverse effects these chemicals were having on us, our children, and our planet.
So at age 50, I set out to create a line of wholesome natural products that would nourish our skin and be kind to our planet.
I formed a corporation for my new business which was named Chagrin Valley Soap & Craft. (I was the soap and my husband was the craft.)
By the summer, of 2005, my “kitchen hobby” was a growing business. I decided to take a sabbatical from teaching with the intent to return to teaching and use my hobby to supplement my income.
Thanks to our loyal customers, the business grew so fast that it was clear that I could not both teach and operate the business. I was torn between my love of teaching and the exciting prospect of creating a truly all-natural soap company. My husband, Howard, encouraged me to concentrate on the business, and here I am.
We have now expanded into a full line of natural and USDA certified organic skin and hair care products. We are shipping to every state in the US and, at last count, to over 80 countries, worldwide.
In September 2007, my son, Sam, returned from Spain and joined the business together with his then-girlfriend, and now wife, Lindsey. Then came Christine and Ben. My husband, Howard, has always been there to help, build, repair, and most importantly, offer support and encouragement (he also makes all the soap decks). My 90-year-old mother, Sophie, helped with product labeling and a few years later my daughter Sarah and her husband David joined the team.
Chagrin Valley Soap is truly a small “family business.”
As our business grew and the dream became a reality we never lost sight of our vision to create a truly natural, authentic skin care brand.
We are proud that we have adhered to our original mission and goal - to make natural and organic skincare products with nothing artificial or synthetic, no GMOs, just wholesome ingredients you can trust.
We will continue to pursue this mission without wavering. You, our customers, deserve nothing less.
Watch as Ida explains who we are and how Chagrin Valley Soap got started.