Boulder Soap Maker

New way to clean up

Unlike most flood-stricken businesses owners, soap maker Lisa Melli Gillespie was, to some extent, helped by the natural disaster.

When Gillespie was testing her soap-making idea last fall, her home in South Boulder was hit by the flood, with water seeping into its lower level.

Gillespie hired a reclamation company from Chicago to dry out the area, a process that – to her surprise – turned her from a hobby soap-maker to a startup owner.

“This turned out to be helpful,” she said. “Humid conditions are not ideal for soap making, as it increases cure time, but, I figured I’d take advantage of having a giant dehumidifier situated in our lower level.”

In part because of the floods, Gillespie was able to sell her soaps to various people, including the flood cleanup company.

“The reclamation company did a great job and ended up charging us less than their estimate,” Gillespie said. “As additional thanks, I gave them a couple of bars of my workman’s soap, They looked at me as though I was from the moon. Though they politely accepted the gift, I could see it in their faces: ‘Oh, this is Boulder. They give you soap, here,’ ”

The next week, the reclamation company called her and ordered every bar of that type of soap in stock.

“I didn’t have that many, being still at the hobby stage and what with floods and all, so they ordered other varieties,” she said.

Gillespie said it was at this point that she realized that this activity might have more potential. Her hobby turned to an actual business early this year.

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