Fifteen years ago, Angela Youngs worked in the service industry. If you had told her that in 2023, she would be the owner of an internationally successful organic plant-based soap company she probably would have laughed – but that’s exactly where she is today.
The name Ground Soap comes from Angela’s love of everything that comes out of the ground. Their new slogan, “Making soap since 2009 using ingredients from the beginning of time” is a testament to this.
This Meet the Maker feature shows how, with ingenuity, purpose, and support, you can go from being a maker selling your products at local vendors markets to supplying retailers in Canada and abroad!
How it started:
After working in the service industry for 17 years, Angela needed a change. Her husband suggested making soap because of her love of scents and essential oils.
Their first batch was made the old-school way with lard and sodium hydroxide. Because sodium hydroxide heats on its own they mixed that first batch very cautiously on the front porch with a long spoon. It was horrible. Yucky, hard to cut… and they made 70 bars.
Angela was discouraged but said the experience was a good lesson in persistence and consistency. After about 3 months, she started incorporating her passions into the process and committed to seeing it through.
As her soaps began to improve, Angela started handing them out to co-workers. To her surprise, when she left that job her coworkers kept messaging her for soap. Some shared that it even helped with their complexion.
“I was shocked, simply because I was the type of person who thought, you don’t wash your face with soap, it’s body soap,” Angela explained, “But the ingredients that I used from the get-go were unrefined organic oils and butters, my scents are all pure essential oils, all of the flower powders and aloe vera and stuff like that that I use are all provided by an ayruvedic supplier. Everything has a batch number; everything can be traced.”
In the spirit of slow, sustainable growth, Angela’s husband and his family of engineers made a lot of the equipment they use today, saving tens of thousands of dollars. If you take a walk around the shop, Angela can point out many things made by her husband (a stringer, silicone molds, soap cutter, stabilized rolling racks… the list goes on), who helped out over the years in between tours as bassist for the Barstool Prophets and during Covid.
“I’m really lucky, my ENTIRE family on my husband’s side and on my side are huge supporters and I honestly couldn’t do it without them, seriously,” said Angela, whose mother also comes in to help out at the shop.
How it‘s going:
These days not only does Ground Soap make their own products sold in retail in Canada, the US, and France – they also do contract manufacturing for two large companies.
“We create the product, they’re our recipes. Basically, a company comes to us and says, ‘I want this kind of lip balm.’ We send them 10 different versions, different scents, and stuff like that, and they narrow it down until they get the right kind of lip balm that they wanted.”
Having her products in franchises and shipping internationally means Angela is always learning – about REACH criteria, EU standards, and other requirements to send her products to different places.
Ground Soap recently launched a new product of their own – the Kitchen Bar – a great all-purpose kitchen soap for dishes, hands, fruits and vegetables, stains, and more.
“That again was another recipe that went through a lot of trial and error to make it really hard and long lasting. Everything we use has a purpose. We don’t use fillers, emulsifiers, or synthetic ingredients to stretch out our product.”
In the spirit of sustainability, Ground Soup offers package free products to regular customers. Most of their soaps are wrapped in hand stamped batik fabric fairly sourced from Indonesia. Over the past 12 years Angela has wrapped close to 200,000 bars of soap.
“Like I said I am addicted to scent, and I respect the Earth. Hardcore against plastic packaging and I wanted packaging that you could smell the product through but not open it. If I can’t smell something I’m not going to buy it.”
Through an initiative called Piece by Piece, customers can now collect and return the batik squares, which are made into quilts and donated to local charities, including United Way SDG, to auction off or donate to a family in need. Ground Soap pays for the backing, batting, and thread for the quilts, which are made by the talented quilter, Debbie Fraser.
Where to shop Ground Soap:
Ground Soap can be purchased on https://www.groundsoap.com/ where you can also find a list of in-person retail locations. Angela is considering opening up a space at her shop for retail during peak seasons, so keep an eye out on social media @groundsoaporganic for the announcement!