It all began a few years ago while Brittany Sinclair was taking a shower. As she casually glanced at the label on her body wash, she discovered a slew of long and sinister sounding ingredients. While you or I might suppose that “Triclosan” or “Diethanolamine” could be the names of Martian invaders, a chemistry teacher like Brittany couldn’t arrive at so cute a conclusion.
That Brittany was pregnant with her third child at the time didn’t improve her willingness to douse her skin in weird things. She also admits a certain mania takes hold of her whenever she is with child. Brittany’s scientific curiosity and maternal instinct thus met like two storm fronts. She determined to make her own healthful soap.
“As soon as I started learning how to make soap, I quickly realized it all just boils down to basic chemistry,” said Brittany. “Within a matter of weeks I had crafted hundreds of bars of soap. My husband is very supportive and went along with it, but at some point he gently pointed out that our entire family couldn’t use all the soap I had made even if we spent every waking moment bathing.
“This was true, so I went to a little craft fair to see if I could sell some. I made $60 that day – and I was over the moon. I got a business license and officially started The Honey B Soap Company almost immediately. I became like a more wholesome version of Walter White from Breaking Bad. I am the one who lathers!
“Most factory-made soaps are really only soap in theory. They are devoid of glycerin, a very important ingredient that draws moisture into your skin. That’s why so many of them leave your body feeling all tight and dry! They also tend to lack enough fat to truly moisturize your skin.
“My soaps are primarily made with water, coconut oil, olive oil and lye. Unless they contain honey, my soaps are typically vegan-friendly. These simple ingredients create a rich, healthy soap, and because it’s ‘superfatted’ (a soapmaking term) its lather is amazingly soothing. Fats are usually left out of soaps to keep them shelf-stable, but I find my superfatted soaps age like fine wine. Some that have cured in my basement for years are only getting better.
“A lot of soapers like to fill their soaps with all these crazy oils and dyes, but I believe simple is best. I mostly use essential oils and a few phthalate-free fragrances, and I color my soaps with plant pigments or clays and micas.
“Making soap pretty is a matter of practice and luck. After a lot of trial and error I figured out how to create those beautiful swirls you like to see when you get into the shower, as well as the delicate balancing act of layering separate colors. Each layer you add to must be just the right consistency so it adheres without blending. But when I made my first successful Rainbow Brite soap, it finally felt like all that hard work paid off!”
Brittany’s soaps do beg comparison to beautiful things. Many look like Art Nouveau stained glass, while others could pass as modern art. Her Woodstock soap does indeed resemble what you’d see if you dropped the opposite of an alkaline, her Das Blumen soap is something you’d be happy to have plunked before you toward the tail end of a wedding reception, and her One Eyed Purple People Eater has a horn and little eyeball somehow placed smack dab in its center. You could feel heartless wearing such soaps down into nubs – if you didn’t also feel so good in the process.
Brittany is a Renaissance soaper. She makes beer soaps, honey soaps, goat milk soaps, shaving soaps, shampoo bars, lotion bars, lip balms, bath bombs, sugar scrubs, and more.
“Soapmaking helps me pay some bills,” said Brittany, “but it’s also a great way to spend time and have fun with my four kids. This little business is teaching them people skills, organization, money management, and more than anything how to work hard – all right here at home.
“People often ask me where I’d like Honey B to take me one day. To be honest? I think it has already brought me there.”
If you can resist the temptation to eat such beautiful soaps, then you can order them online at thehoneybsoapcompany.com. You can also find Brittany’s husband, Eric, manning at the Honey B Soap Company’s table every Saturday at the Red River Market in downtown Fargo.
By David Scheller