I think my mind has always been one of a creative, it just took a long time to find my medium. I always was inspired by creating with my hands and would often try something new but lose interest quickly… until I started making soap, about 14 years ago. I randomly heard that it was possible to make soap at home and I was intrigued by the idea of making something so basic and necessary into something for all of the senses to enjoy. I wanted to make soap, and to use ingredients that were good for the skin, smelled delicious, and I wanted them to be pretty. I began my first batches on an outside patio table having no idea what I was doing, (these were the times before Googles and YouTubes) but loving every second of it, even though many of my first batches were nowhere near usable.
In 2011 when my daughter was three months old, armed with way too much soap for personal use, I decided to try my hand at supplementing maternity leave by slinging some soap at the local markets and was completely floored that people actually liked to use things that I made, with my own two hands, with my own heart. Every single sale was like magic to me, though I was so nervous that people wouldn’t like them. But then they started coming back for more.
Momentum seemed to grow organically and magically. I loved creating and having another dimension to my life while raising two tiny humans and I just kept making. I was approached by Carosella in Fernie to see if I could supply their store which started another side of things, turning it from being a hobby to a potential business. I worked every day while my babies napped and slept at night, with a monitor in my home workshop, ready to run in at the sound of a cry.
In 2017 life got busier with several wholesale accounts, and the opportunity to move into our first location. Terrified to take such a big leap, but unable to (sanely) continue working until 2am every night and be “mom” in the mornings, and having long outgrown my home workshop, we moved. I remember sitting in that empty room with my two small kids and wondering how we would ever fill it, and if this could actually become a real business, but so excited to have room to expand. Over time we filled that space, friends started showing up to help before a paid position was even available, the kids had their own room to craft/ nap and snack in between bouts of playing mad scientist with bath bombs.
With all of that space at our disposal, we began to diversify our product line, to include castile soap, bath bombs, deodorants, sugar scrubs, shampoo bars and many other things. All handcrafted from scratch (no bases!), with our own hands. That space filled quickly with the quantity demands, the sounds of laughter and memories made with helpers over the years. Recently, we began offering products in bulk to local hotels and Airbnb owners. We also moved to our new home on Second Ave which was always such a dream for me, and are blessed with a larger (and more accessible) retail area, as well as a much larger “maker space” with windows so folks can watch the magic happen.
Something magical happens when you’re inspired and take the time to do the research, to formulate and fail repeatedly until you finally see your visions come to life. Making products from scratch, knowing why every single ingredient is in there and its purpose, is incredibly important to us and is what makes us who we are. There is an art to combining science with love and whimsy, and our products are the result of this.
Karey Pion runs Soco Soaps, which is now located at 692C 2nd Ave in downtown Fernie. Visit socosoaps.com to learn more about her and the amazing creations she makes through Soco Soaps.
Photo by Matt Kuhn