If you walk into the Soco Soaps studio, on any given day, you may be run over with pretty smells, colours, and textures from a dozen or more soaps or by little blonde kiddos running around. Karey, the owner of Soco Soaps studio, can be caught chasing around her little ones or with her hands jumbled up in a soap making project that looks like something that would only come out of a science experiment. To me, it’s a neat sight to see. Stacks and stacks of soap sit upon shelves, their different colors gleaming in the light. There are baskets of chapsticks and more shelves filled with body butters, bath bombs, shower tabs, and more. Meanwhile, you can hear sweet giggles from the shops helpers, Karey's little ones, who seem to bring an entirely new level of energy and fun into the studio. But no matter the day or the craziness involved, Karey always welcomes guests into her studio with a heart warming smile.
I've been working extensively with Soco Soaps this fall to create beautiful custom soaps. Karey is so accommodating to custom requests that she brought my vision to life. After spending time with her during the creation process, I asked Karey if she could spare a few minutes from her schedule during this extremely busy holiday season to spend some time with me completing another “Small Business Owner Spotlight"!
So how long have you owned Soco Soaps?
"Well, that’s a tough question. I started making soaps in 2009 but Soco Soaps wasn’t actually a business until probably 2013."
Tell me about the products that you offer?
"I offer an array of different products, such as cold processed soaps and whipped body creams, lotion bars, chap stick, shower tabs, bath bombs, and all sorts of amazing goodness!!"
So where do you source your ingredients? Are you more holistic?
"So I source my ingredients from Canadian companies where I can. I focus on as natural as possible, but I believe that soap and such should be super duper fun and awesome to use and beautiful to look at... I like to think of soap as kind of canvas for me to create something beautiful out of for the skin… and for the eyes!! So I use both fragrance oils and essential oils. Essential oils would be considred 99.9% natural and any soap with fragrance oil is 96.9% natural which is still pretty natural."
What inspired you to start Soco Soaps?
"Well, I just all of a sudden, on a whim, decided I wanted to try something new and so I decided to learn how to make soap. And I promised myself though that it wouldn’t be another one of my hobbies that I start and then quit really quickly; I promised myself that if I was going to try something new I was going to stick with it until I really learned it inside and out and learned how to make all of the beautiful things. So I started making some soaps. I made some very terrible terrible batches that were disgusting and I wouldn’t even use them but they were fun anyway. So I kept just making more and more and more, fixing all of my errors and seeing what the problem was and fixed it, improving recipes… then I just started to make prettier soap!"
Cool! And I would definitely say you’ve accomplished your goal with it not being a hobby!!
"No, after having kids is when I decided ‘okay maybe I can sell a little bit at the local market to try to get extra cash’ while on maternity leave. There was a great response to it so I kept going back and always in the back of my mind I was always like “wouldn’t it be cool if this was like my full time job” not just something that I did as a hobby. I had my second baby in 2013, that’s when I decided I didn’t want to go back to work with two little kids and I like being present in their lives, so maybe I could actually give it a go! And now its my full time job and I love it!!"
So what did you do in your past life for your full time job?
"Full time job… well, I moved to Fernie when I was 18. For years, I would work for Viarail out of Winnepeg in the summer times. So I traveled on the trains to Vancouver, Toronto, and Churchill serving 5 star meals on trains. Then in the winters I would come here. I kind of did all sorts of things at the ski hill. I started in the day lodge and ended up being the lift supervisor, rental assistant manager, food and beverage mountain manager for years. Then I finally ‘retired’ from there after having my first kid."
So you are very multi-talented!!
"Well I wouldn’t say that! I like staying busy is all."
Cool! So everyone in Fernie would knows you for making soaps… what would you say your family best knows you as?
(This is where Karey’s daughter answered: A good Mum!!”) "I’m a pretty happy person with a lot of energy!"
That’s awesome! So if you were a new crayon to the crayon box… what color would you be?
(breathes deep) "Unicorn Color!!!"
we both pause for tremendous laughing
That is amazing! Best answer ever… so like a mix of pastels and blues and purples?
"Or potentially rainbow color! I’d be.. yeah. I’d be like the whole box of crayons melted into one!"
That’s so awesome. Hahah! So if you could hear only one song, every time you walk into any room, for the rest of your life what would it be?
" Oooooooh I don’t...!" (pauses) "Sittin’ on the dock of the bay!! Totally."
Perfect. So how long have you lived in Fernie?
"Since the year 2000 because I’m really really old…."
So what is your favorite part of Fernie?
"Soco Soaps studio!... Favorite part of Fernie, I’d say the people here. The awesome family that I’ve made. Fernie is so nice for the reason that nobody really has families here so you kind of make your own adoptive family."
What inspires you and motivates you to work soo much and why? Why do you get out of bed everyday and keep the grind going?
"My little tiny human beings! I have no choice but to get out of bed every morning (“Like meeee!” Karey’s daughter) These guys motivate me to get out of bed every morning. And this little one, when she grows up, what do you want to be? “ A SOAP MAKER like my Mommy!!!!” So the look on their faces when they see the cool new things that I make and stuff, it’s pretty fun to see. So it absolutely gets me inspired for making super cool new things and different things! With different smells and trying different things. Honestly, I just absolutely love what I do and so even though, ya know, it’s midnight and kind of part of you wishes you were just a normal person that would just watch tv at night or read a book… I get really inspired! I love what I do and I wouldn’t change it for the world! And if you love what you do, you don’t ever want to stop doing it. You gotta live and breathe."
What is your philosophy toward your work in general?
"Whew! Philosophy of work… honestly I think I might be a bit different than a lot of businesses. My goal is not to make a billion dollars, sell the place and retire. My goal is to bring a smiles to peoples’ faces when they see or smell any of my soaps. I just love creating. And I love happiness and I feel that it’s contagious. I feel that whenever anybody looks at any of my soap, I just want to imagine them breathing in a nice breath of delicious soap and a smile on their face!"
Tell me one thing that you want your loyal customers to know:
"Dramatic and humorous voice: I’m working as hard as I can! And I am so thankful for the amazing support that I have had from all of the local people who have been with me since day one. It has grown so amazingly and I’m soo thankful because without all of these amazing followers who love my stuff, I would just be some crazy old cat lady who wouldn’t have cats but just a whole lot of soap… I would be a whole lot of crazy if I didn’t have soap."
Beautiful! Okay so if you were left in the woods with only three items to survive what would they be?
"My family and my dog? …. Can my family count? Can they be one thing?"
I mean…if people are an item.. then yeah!
"Well yeah! Three things in the woods… I don’t know! A flippin bar of soap cause you can wash yourself and then eat it too! If… you get hungry? Bar of the honey oatmeal soap! Anndd… (comical muttering…) we’re gonna: my family, bar of soap, and a 6 pack of cold beer!!"
Perfect! This is the most amusing interview that I’ve ever done.
"Which is absolutely and totally true!"
So while we are talking about the family, tell me about them a little bit!
"I have two beautiful little girls. Evyr Lane and Luna Prairie. They are 6 ½ and 3 ½ . I am married. These kids are basically the entire reason that I started doing this… because I wanted to be available for them and and anything in their life that I could go to and be a part of and not have to work full time and be gone everyday. So besides that married with two kids and a beautiful handsome dog."
So lastly, if you could give one piece of advice to our youth what would it be? Coming from a small business owner, successful person, entrepreneur…..
"There is math in EVERYTHING. Always. Always. Always pay attention in math. Because no matter what direction you go in your life, you will always. need. math. And science."
You were the person that when I was in elementary school I would have been like “I want to kick you! I don’t like you” (joking of course!) But it's so true!!
"No, I was terrible with math! Could not do math, could not do science, but I will tell you that serves as artistic as soap making it it SUCH a science, there is SO much math in it! That’s the one thing that I really really really wish that I had paid attention to. But also that follow your dreams and if you do what you love and you do it for the right reason – you will always be successful. The universe will always have your back."
Thanks so much for joining me Karey! I really have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know you more! You make such stunning soaps, our community is very blessed to have you available to us!!