North Texas Daily

Lathering Up

Lathering Up

Lathering Up
September 03
13:24 2013

Former UNT student is growing soap making business from the living room up

Carina Aquino / Staff Writer

Lauren Tatum put her education on hold to be a full-time mom and in the process turned a hobby into a small business.

In order to keep herself busy during the summer of 2012, Tatum began researching soap ingredients and how they benefit skin.

“I literally woke up one day and decided, ‘you know what? I’m going to learn how to make soap,’” Tatum said.

After completing her junior year as a chemistry major at UNT, Tatum decided to put her degree aside until her son, Han, was old enough to know that “mom needs to have a couple of hours for homework.”

With only 15 credits remaining, Tatum decided to fully devote her free time to strengthen her skills and knowledge in the formulation and oils involved with the entire soap making process.

Tatum said the decision wasn’t difficult because of the way her degree plan was laid out.

“None of the classes I need to graduate are offered during the summer,” Tatum said, “So when classes ended in May 2012, I knew that I’d be a stay-at-home mom until at least the next spring. I was hoping to go back to class in spring 2013 at least part time. But with a toddler, that meant paying for a sitter during class time, and we just didn’t have the finances for that.”

Over the course of that summer, Tatum began her research on oils and soap making.

“I spent a very long time figuring out what each type of oil does,” Tatum said. “I don’t want to just make the soap and hope that it’s good enough. I wanna know. I spent a lot of time researching what olive oil does, versus coconut oil and sesame oil or grape seed oil. Figuring out what each thing does, not only for the soap, but for the skin.”

Her first order was a special request from her mother-in-law to make soap sensitive enough for her husband’s younger sister.

Using only five ingredients — lard, sunflower, grape seed, corn and avocado oil — Tatum concocted what is now known as “Sensitive Soap.”

Mother Earth’s Soaps was then formed.

Tatum started making soaps at home with the help of her husband Luke. They transformed their living room into a workstation complete with soap racks and milk cartons of inventory.

“The beginning of what eventually became Mother Earth’s Soaps was really Lauren saying to me, out of the blue, ‘So, I decided I’m going to learn how to make soap,’” Luke Tatum said. “At that point, I think both of us were just looking at it as a hobby, and something that could save us a little

Green tea soap is just one of the many homemade soaps that Mother Earth soaps has to offer. - Photo by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer

money, since making soap at home is less expensive than buying it in a store.”

Luke, who said he was “cautiously excited” at the company’s inception, remains supportive of his wife’s initial investments in Mother Earth’s Soaps.

“It’s all about helping people. It always has been for her,” Luke said. “Before we got pregnant, she was going to be a doctor — not for the money, but to help people.”

Customers outside of Denton can access and order any of the products made available by Mother Earth’s on Etsy, eBay and Amazon.

Although they are currently working on a personal website for the business, which should be up prior to the holiday season, Tatum said keeping all previous shop accounts is what will help the business continue to grow.

Mother Earth’s soaps are also available at the Denton Community Market every Saturday through November. Those interested in the products can stop by for a 2-ounce sample of the scent of their choice.

To complete the constant flow of orders coming in online and now the Community Market, Tatum decided to hire employees.

Interdisciplinary art and design studies senior Camille Ritchie immediately responded to Mother Earth’s Craigslist ad.

“My grandma sold oil candles at trade shows,” Ritchie said. “So I’d go with her and help her and try to work for commission. So when I saw that’s what I’d be doing in the ad, it kind of sparked my interest.”

After an interview at the Tatum household, Ritchie was hired and has been a sales representative since June.

“It was fun to get back into that and get out there in the morning and meet people that live in Denton that are interested in recycling and natural products,” Ritchie said.

Caitlin Crawford, 27, owns Austin Street Apothecary, an apartment-based business that produces personal care items like lip balms, body butters and soap.

She said that the soap making process can be a bit difficult.

“With soap making, it’s a much more evolved process. You have to have a lot of space for it, because it kind of takes over,” Crawford said.

Her store has grown substantially since its opening last fall, Crawford said.

For now, Mother Earth’s Soaps owner Lauren Tatum said she hopes to continue increasing sales and to help those in need of a decent soap.

Feature photo by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer 

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