Based in Inglewood, Taranaki is mother-daughter duo, Susan and Sarah Lucas, passionate about making soap. Their soap, Be Natural Soap, is handmade, natural, organic and palm oil-free, with the range including traditional solid soap bars and liquid castile soap.
Susan coordinates and undertakes the soap production, drawing on years of creative cookery, and Sarah manages the packaging, sales and marketing. The idea to venture into soap making initially came from a book Sarah had been reading.
“In the mid 2000’s whilst living in Ireland, I stumbled across a book titled Cleaning Yourself to Death by Pat Thomas,” says Sarah.
“The book highlighted how some of the home and personal care products we are using can have adverse effects on our health.”
“One super easy way to reduce chemical exposure is to use a good quality natural soap. That led me to think about how soap was made… the rest was history as my Mum and I started making soap for our own use.”
Sarah and Susan soon found soap-making an enjoyable and fascinating creative outlet that could make the basis of a small home business.
One of their biggest challenges over the past year was the tremendous upsurge in soap sales during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and New Zealand’s subsequent lockdown.
“At first it was really confusing as to whether we were even allowed to trade but eventually we became classified as an essential business and could keep up production,” says Sarah.
Like many small business owners with children, Sarah and her family had to juggle multiple aspects of the business alongside homeschooling during the lockdown.
“Juggling homeschooling three children in the mornings, and then soaping like madwomen in the afternoons, kept us busy and engaged right through lockdown,” says Sarah.
“As soon as lockdown finished business crashed back to usual, which was a bit of a letdown in some ways - keep handwashing people, it saves lives!”
Proudly NZ Made
During the busy lockdown period, Be Natural Soap obtained a licence to use the “New Zealand Made” Kiwi trademark.
“Being part of the New Zealand Made Campaign, has become really important as it is now part of the identity of Be Natural Soap. New Zealand Made means great quality, good service and supporting local communities,” says Sarah.
“I grew up with the Buy New Zealand Made Campaign - and have always been acutely aware of the importance of supporting local and national businesses, especially those who still make in Aotearoa.”
“During lockdown, I felt it was finally time to jump on board - that we were large enough to warrant being part of the campaign. Not many other businesses produce Liquid Castile in New Zealand, which makes it so much more important to point out the difference.”
Be Natural Soap added the “New Zealand Made” Kiwi trademark to their website and are applying labels to their products and including it in signage in retail spaces they occupy.
“We have been able to add the New Zealand Made Logo to our website, which was really exciting. I believe that logo adds an air of quality to the product we sell,” says Sarah.
“People were excited to see us as part of the campaign, especially as since the pandemic, it has become more important for people to spend money in New Zealand businesses.”