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Long Island boutique soap makers selling gift-worthy bars

Pictured: Soaps from the Finch Berry collection at The SoapBox in Port Jefferson. In the video above: Margaret Connor, owner of Warm and Fuzzy Soapery, started making soap to help her daughter's eczema and turned it into a homemade soap making business.   Credit: Johnny Milano

With all the emphasis on washing hands, Long Island bar soap companies say they’re cleaning up in terms of sales, and that beautiful soaps featuring intense colors, gemstone-like designs, glitter and more have become an "it" thing.

"Of course, it’s a pandemic," Deborah O’Shaughnessy, of Water Mill, says when asked if bar soaps have become more popular in recent months. She and her husband, Chris, are the owners of Southampton Soap Co. The business is being transformed from a brick-and-mortar operation into an apothecary truck business beginning Thanksgiving weekend and will travel throughout Long Island selling soap and doing special events such as spa parties. "There’s definitely an increase in sales and an interest in wellness," O’Shaughnessy adds.

Prices for upscale soaps from many companies can start at around $5 per bar and go upward of $15.

SOAPS THAT SPARKLE

The O’Shaughnessys started selling oversized natural bar soaps about 10 years ago after Deborah, a former art teacher, started making her own soap at home because of issues with her skin.

The company’s nearly 30 soap designs are inspired by the sights and scents of the East End and Water Mill. Plant-based colorants are used to provide vivid and rich hues such as reds, deep blues, dark greens and even black, and all bars are scented with essential oils to produce floral, citrus, earthy and spice aromas. The couple’s felt soap bars, wrapped with wool so they can be used to exfoliate the skin like a loofa, come in gray and white and gray and black, and have a marbleized look that resembles that of some rocks.

"All of our products are inspired by the idyllic setting of our seaside town … the palette, the scents … all meant to evoke a feeling of respite and calm that one can experience at the shore," says O’Shaughnessy.

Marianna Cucchi, owner of The SoapBox in Port Jefferson, says men looking to get their looks back after not grooming themselves regularly during the earlier days of quarantine are some of her newest customers. Cucchi adds that better soaps that are more soothing to the skin can provide for a calming experience in the shower and bath, perfect for an escape from stressful times. She sells handmade and manufactured scented and unscented soaps from throughout the country and as far away as Italy and France. Some of her most eye-catching soap bars are made to look like gemstones including moonstone, opal, jade and turquoise. Some of her FinchBerry selections literally sparkle.

SOFT ON SKIN

"Triple-mill soaps last so much longer" than a regular soap that would be found in a supermarket or drugstore," Cucchi explains. Triple-milled soap, also known as French Milled, is made from a soap mixture passed through stainless steel rollers three times to ensure the soaps have a consistent color, fragrance and texture. "There’s more fragrance content, therefore it lingers on your body longer."

Margaret Connor of Lindenhurst, who owns the online Warm and Fuzzy Soapery company that she created after she and her daughter had skin problems, says that in March she started posting 60-second videos on TikTok about her bar soaps and how they’re made "and a couple of them went crazy — I’m getting orders left and right." She says she now has about 57,000 followers.

"Everyone’s washing their hands all the time now so people’s hands were getting dried out and crackled," Connor, who co-owns Warm and Fuzzy Soapery with her husband, John, says. "Real soap has glycerin, and glycerin is moisturizing." She has a natural line of soaps and makes others with fragrances and in colors.

Renee Goldfarb, 47, of Copiague, who shops for her bar soaps at The SoapBox, swears by upscale soap bars. "Regular soaps contain a lot of water — that’s why you get that messy glob [left behind] every day — and it dissolves quickly in the shower." She adds, "I’m also into sustainable, so that’s a big appeal of triple-milled soaps that use essential oils."

MORE INFO:

Southampton Soap Co.

Most single bars are $10; gift boxes start at $35; felt soap bars are $22; Shop online at southamptonsoapcompany.com.

The SoapBox

Prices vary, but many single bars are $8.99 and up; most gemstone and rock-style bars are $11.99 each; Shop online at soapboxny.com; 18 Chandler Square, Port Jefferson.

Warm and Fuzzy Soapery

Prices vary per homemade bar. Some start at $5; most are $9 to $10; Shop online at warmandfuzzysoapery.com.

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