From the street, Laramie’s newest bath and body shop, Laramie Soap Co., 208 Grand Ave., might appear as a pleasantly decorated, albeit empty store front.
A handful of products dot sparse shelves mounted on lavender walls.
Prices for less than a dozen items are neatly chalked on a black sidewalk easel resting in the entryway.
And the sales floor’s sole occupant is a chic hand-wash station resting on a petite wooden table.
Inside the boutique, however, customers are greeted with an emporium of fragrance.
Aromatic soaps, lotions, lip balms, beard oils and sugar scrubs permeate the air with a tangible bouquet of scents.
Three of the shop’s four co-owners gathered around the checkout counter Tuesday to discuss opening the store Oct. 1.
“The first rule of soap club is you always talk about soap club,” Laramie Soap Co. Co-owner Ryan Lowe joked.
Co-owner Tiara LeCheminant credited Lowe with the idea for manufacturing soap, but Lowe was quick to share the credit.
“Part of it was Tiara saying she couldn’t find good lotion in town,” Lowe said. “We knew we could manufacture soaps and lotions, so we figured we’d give it a shot.”
Teaming up with co-owners Spencer Pittman and his wife, Amanda, the four set to work researching soap creation in April and by June were ready to pitch their products to the public.
“We started with the farmers’ markets in town,” Pittman said. “We used those as a sort of soft open.”
Through the market sales, they were able to poll their potential customers about what fragrances were most sought after, whether all-natural ingredients sold better than products with some mainstream chemicals and most importantly, premier the bath bomb, Pittman said.
“We had no idea how well bath bombs would do,” he said. “But they sell like crazy.”
A bath bomb is a grenade-sized ball of ingredients that can be dropped into a bath before or after filling the tub, Pittman said.
“It fizzes a bunch,” he explained. “It releases Epsom salt and fragrance oil into the water. We have some that release color, some that do flower petals and one that creates bubbles like a bubble bath would.”
While testing their products at the markets, LeCheminant said they were also renovating the Grand Avenue location.
“Spencer is kind of the handy man of the group, he put a lot of work into the shop,” she said.
“He built the counter, painted the walls, put up the shelves.”
Preparing the storefront, refining the manufacturing process and promoting the products at the farmers’ markets were all done while balancing home lives and working day jobs, LeCheminant said.
“Time was probably the biggest challenge to starting the business,” she said. “We never seemed to have enough of it.”
The Laramie Soap Co. learning curve not only included becoming adept at manufacturing products onsite by hand, but also creating the product labeling in-house.
“My wife is our graphic designer, and it can get a little interesting,” Pittman said. “Communicating all the ingredients on the list, what order they should be on the list and getting all that to my wife in the same order every time has been difficult.”
Donning a shower cap, surgical mask, rubber gloves and apron, Lowe stepped behind a curtain into the company’s manufacturing space — a small room with two stations serving as both storage and work space.
In a stainless steel cooking pot, he used a hand blender to mix witch hazel into an unformed bath bomb.
“We use witch hazel as a hardening agent,” Lowe explained through his mask. “But if we don’t mold it soon after adding the witch hazel, the batch hardens and becomes a waste.”
Once thoroughly blended, he poured the powdery ingredients into a bright pink mold Pittman created with a 3-D printer.
“And there it is,” Lowe said, removing the finished product from the mold. “A Pacific Rim bath bomb.”
The Laramie Soap Co. is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.