Sudsy Expressions started as my Future Farmers of America Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). The SAE program encourages students to choose an entrepreneurial project to assist them in learning how to run a business related to agriculture.
Crafting natural soap sounded like an interesting idea. My mom, who had quite a bit of organic gardening experience, naturally became my SAE supervisor. She also had business experience from her design and production of her original line of silver jewelry, sold mostly to galleries and museum gift shops. With family obligations having put the jewelry business on hiatus, my mom and I decided to begin this new venture as a team. Although we knew how to grow herbs from the organic garden, we needed to master the art of soap-making. We ultimately decided to distinguish our handmade soaps from those of our many competitors by using only top quality ingredients and scents and by offering our scented soaps in artistic and whimsical forms.
My mom had concerns about having a fourteen year-old use lye in cold process saponification, so we decided to use the melt-and-pour method instead. We ordered all natural vegan soap bases that included the very best oils and a high content of glycerin. We experimented with our herbs as well as with beneficial additives such as shea butter, cocoa butter, essential oils, raw honey, and pure maple syrup extracted from our own trees. We kept improving our formulas until we became completely happy with the results. We started selling our natural soaps at local craft fairs, school fundraisers, and the local food coop. Increasing numbers of repeat customers seemed to hint that we were going in the right direction.
Since I started my SAE, I have received several excellence awards from my school’s agriculture department. Last year, I got the Connecticut State Bronze Award for proficiency in agricultural processing. This year, I received 'star in agribusiness' recognition from my chapter and placed silver level nationally for proficiency in agricultural processing. Although my involvement with Sudsy Expressions will probably curtail upon graduating from high school this year, the adventure will continue with my enthusiastic sister, Abigail, joining the enterprise as part of her own SAE.
My mom and I thank all of our customers for their encouragement and support. We couldn’t have done it without you!