Colette Collatt describes herself as competitive. Mix in a thirst for knowledge, a nose for fragrances, and a determination to succeed, and you have the story that is Salt Soap Co.
Step inside her store in Downtown Benton at 111 W. South Street and you will experience a treat for all your senses, especially your sense of smell. Soaps and other products with fragrances ranging from honeysuckle to espresso are there for the sniffing. If you are looking for a specific fragrance, just ask Colette.
For example, “Anytime a customer is looking for something to relax them, our first recommendation is obviously lavender. After that I’d definitely suggest chamomile.”
For those with sensitive skin, Colette can help there as well. “We have a specialty soap table with products that are specially formulated for specific skin conditions such as eczema, acne, feminine hygiene, and sensitive skin. Each of them is comparable in popularity, but if I had to choose the customers’ favorite, I’d definitely have to say the charcoal facial bar: very popular, and we have seen the results ourselves. It’s amazing what a natural soap with zero synthetic additives, and only using what nature gives you, can do for you.”
The products at Salt Soap Co. are popular with women, but men like them as well. “Our top three women’s soap fragrances are definitely Cashmere, Salt Signature, & Honeysuckle. The top three men’s favorites are Kentucky Bourbon, Antique Sandalwood, & Narcissist.”
Opening her own business is a dream come true for Colette, one that became reality a few years ago.
“We opened Salt Soap in March of 2019 on a whim, actually,” recalls Colette. “I had taken a hiatus from working at the time because my parents were getting older and sickly. I needed to be attentive to them. During that time, I began reading about cold process soap. After about a month, I felt I was invested so I should try my hand at it myself. I did and it was terrible.”
But that didn’t stop her. “I’m a competitive person, so I was back at it determined to make this soap that intrigued me so much. After the second go, it was a success, and I continued knocking out soap loaf after soap loaf until my entire formal dining room was filled with soaps. Cold process soap takes 4-6 weeks to cure, meaning it has to sit and rest to let some of the liquid evaporate to make it a harder, longer lasting bar. Therefore I had loaves of soap curing throughout my home. I decided to try and sell it at a local flea market, and it did well. Most of my adult life, I’ve always wanted to open a store in our charming downtown area, and luckily one day a spot opened up. I rushed down with big dreams and a little apprehension whether I could pull it off. I landed the perfect spot and the rest is history.”
Taking the leap with Colette was the store’s general manager, Haley Ziemski. “Haley, whom I call Hal, is the girlfriend of my oldest son, Keaton Collatt. Hal was around the house throughout high school. She’d end up in the soap room questioning me and wanting to get her hands dirty, so I taught her. She was a quick learner, and was addicted just like I was. When we decided to open up shop, Hal was a huge part of it and is still bringing fresh ideas and knocking out products every day.”
Colette says there is a lot of science involved in soap making. “Honestly, making soap is a lot of chemistry. It’s somewhat like baking and cooking. You must have a knowledge of the oils and their properties as well as whether you’d like to use essential oils only, fragrances, or both. The key to being a good soap maker is simply knowledge. The more you read recipes and learn oils, fragrances, additives, and textures & techniques of the soaps, the better and more fluid soaper you’ll be. Whenever we get a new fragrance in, Hal & I both try to get dibs on it, because whoever gets their hands on it first gets to design that soap. We’re competitive like that.”
The soaps at Salt Soap Co. have a distinctive look. Colette explains the design process. “We decide how we design our soaps by how the fragrance smells out of the bottle. For instance, a light floral fragrance I would imagine having light pink or soft yellow, or both. A coffee or espresso fragrance we’d obviously make different shades of brown and incorporate some tan or a cream color and because coffee grounds are used as a mild exfoliant in bath and beauty products, they’re added to our soap for both an exfoliant as well as design. Our fragrances are critical to our design, and sometimes the fragrance itself can completely dictate whether it’s a detailed one.”
Soaps are not the only products available at their store or through their website (www.SaltSoapCo.com). Along with goat’s milk soaps, they sell bath salts, bath bombs, face scrub, foaming sugar scrub, shower steamers, bubble bars, solid shampoo & conditioner bars, lip balm, hand sanitizer, wax melts, linen spray, body balm, and moisturizing body oils. They also have an entire men’s line of products such as beard oil, beard soap, shave soap, and an entire table of men’s fragranced soaps.
Since the beginning, Colette has maintained consistency in her products as well as her approach to business.
“We have been blessed to have the best customers literally from the very beginning. Even throughout COVID, our customers appreciate being able to get quality bath products and down-home service right around the corner. I can’t express just how much my customers have lifted me and supported us, both as a small business, and throughout some pretty big life changes. During the start of COVID, we were able to keep our doors open because we were “essential”. Our customers did not disappoint. We were able to provide free delivery within city limits as well as curb-side services for those apprehensive or at risk to come inside.”
Without a doubt, Salt Soap Co. is experiencing the sweet smell of success.