East Tennessee Soap Works started in our garage in 2016. Our oldest son was diagnosed with eczema and we began to look for a gentle soap without any synthetic fragrances or additives to soothe his skin. After watching hours of YouTube videos, collecting supplies (and our courage), and finding a community of makers online, we made our first loaf of soap. It surprisingly went off without a hitch, which would not be the case for all of our following batches!
After that, we were hooked. We started testing fragrances and colorants. Soon we were overrun with more soap than we could possibly use so we began sharing with friends and family then selling at small local events.
Soon we started making other products. Sunny has always been pretty earth conscious (Girl Scout all the way through High School and president of high school Environmental Club) and really wanted to make the switch to solid shampoos and conditioners. Every store brand bar we could find made her scalp itch and break out. After awhile we realized it had to be the harsher cleansers found in those bars. Doing more research, thank goodness we're nerds, led us to finding some more gentle cleansers and developing a bar that not only left her hair feeling soft and clean, but did so without any side effects! Soon our whole family made the switch to solid shampoo and conditioner. It's now our top selling category!
In 2022 our business had grown too big for a side hustle and we either needed to stop altogether, or one of us would have to make the leap and take it on full time. On April 1, 2022 Sunny turned in her notice at her full time job in the performing arts and on July 1, 2022 took on the role of full time small business owner. It has been an exciting journey and we have met some fantastic folks along the way.
One of our missions is to give back to our community, for the last few years we've released a Pride collection and the profits from those sales are donated to a local organization that supports LGBTQ+ youth in the Knoxville area. We've also donated to our local youth Parks & Rec organization and sponsored local LGBTQ+ events.
And that's how we got here! It's a bit unbelievable as I never intended to become an entrepreneur or small business owner. My background is in Theatre and American Sign Language, Phil is a web developer by trade, but we sure do love this little business we've created together.