Pip & Lola’s: Soap Star
by Natalie Bencivenga
March 31, 2021
Pip & Lola’s Everything Homemade Vegan and Vegetarian Bar Soaps was borne out of the crazy notion that one should “follow their bliss.” Sure, you may hear that often, but how many people do you really know that can turn their bliss into a thriving business? Enter Samantha Story-Camp, the self-proclaimed “Goddess of Soap.” “I get a lot of funny looks and awkward silences over that one,” she joked.
And while she may take her title lightly, she takes soap-making seriously. After reading an eBook on how to make soap in your own kitchen, Story-Camp decided to start making gifts for her family, who appreciated handmade gifts. “Over the years, I just adapted recipes and would experiment. I would frequently give the soaps as closing night gifts — I do a lot of theatre — and over the years people would start requesting batches from certain shows,” she said.
You could say a “soap” star was born.
After recognizing the growing interest in her soap, and with her own son’s topical allergies and sensitive skin, she decided if she was going to make soaps to sell, they would have to be ones her son could use. “I knew that I wanted them to be more lightly scented because there were no lightly scented soaps on the market at the time and scents are a huge migraine trigger for folks — myself included,” she said. And Pip & Lola’s was born.
She noted that while our skin is the largest organ of our bodies, most people don’t think about what they put on it. “A lot of commercial skincare is just chemical after chemical and I think a lot of people forget that. All of that stuff starts to accumulate and can cause issues.” Furthermore, if she was going to start creating soaps, she couldn’t stand the idea of working with lard and rendering fat. “I wasn’t keen on the notion of rubbing Bessie all over my body,” she added.
But what are some of her favorite bars that she will lather up with?
“We have two lines: The all-natural line and our Soap Goddess Loves Shakespeare line which utilizes fragrance oils and mica colored. Naming and making them is super fun. I am obsessed with rosemary, so Rosemary, Orange You Lucky is probably my favorite although lately Nasty Women Get **It Done has been getting a lot of love. My husband is all about the nettle soaps and is currently obsessed with Lady Z’s Ginger Limeade. We definitely go in phases,” she said.
And with more than 250 types of soap to choose from, the possibilities are endless. Story-Camp recommends becoming a part of the Soap of the Month Club to avoid decision paralysis and to try as many soaps as possible, with one or two soaps being delivered to you each month.
As the company grew, Story-Camp began to recognize the importance of leaving as little impact in the environment as possible. “We only have one planet. We should try to leave it better than we found it. We buy in larger and larger quantities as money allows because that reduces the amount of packaging our materials require. We source organic and sustainable oils wherever available. We are doing what we can to reduce the damage,” she said.
How does that collective thinking inspire her to give back in other meaningful ways?
“Since our first year, we have had our ‘Suspended Soap Shelf’ for which customers can purchase soaps which we then match and donate. During lockdown, our customers really brought it and we were able to donate 500 bars to food banks and homeless shelters in just a two-month span. We were also increasingly aware of the growing needs of domestic violence shelters. We wanted to do whatever we could to help.
Starting in August of 2020, for every two items that we sell, we donate one full-sized bar of soap to a local, regional or national domestic violence shelter or charity. In 2020, we were able to donate 3,000 bars to Pennsylvania domestic violence shelters. Our goal for 2021 is 10,000 bars with the hope of growing to 50,000 bars per year by 2030.
Need a further incentive? “Until each community in the United States is out of some form of social distancing guideline, we have a 25% off coupon code on the website. Things are hard enough. Don’t use bad soap when you have to wash your hands 30 times a day,” said Story-Camp.
To learn more and to purchase, visit: PipandLolas.com or check them out in their Homestead location at 134 East 8th Avenue or inside the Mall at Robinson (starting on April 21, 2021). They can also be found on Amazon.com, at Janoski’s Farm in Clinton, PA, Curio Cool in Zelienople, PA and Giant Eagle in Bethel Park among others.
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