Left Hand Soap Co.’s motto, “Keeping You Clean Since 1999,” says it all. Owner and soapmaker Soapy Jones, along with her husband and business partner Erik Hanson, are the folks behind the all-natural bath and beauty products at Tuscaloosa’s Left Hand Soap Co. Over the past two decades, Jones has expanded her offerings to include not only 35 distinct soaps, but also handmade scrubs, creams, butters, lip balms, insect repellent, liquid soap, sanitizer, beard care, and hair care. You can purchase Left Hand products from the couple’s Tuscaloosa workshop, through their online store, or from local stores around the state and beyond. We sat down with Jones to get all the dirty details about the work she does to keep Alabama clean.
How and when did Left Hand Soap Co. get started?
The Christmas after I graduated college, I made soap as gifts. People started asking for more, and here we are 22 years later.
How did you get into soap making?
I learned to make soap from my grandmother as a child. She was a stoic woman who worked hard to take care of her family. Soap was just a part of her day. She let me watch as long as I stayed out of the way. Luckily, I was a quiet child.
What inspires your products? Do you have any current favorite offerings?
I’m passionate about healthy skin and how it can positively affect the body and mind. We all work hard for our lives. We should have the resources to enjoy the life we create.
My favorites? That’s always a tough choice. I will say, no matter what experimental creation I’m testing, I will always return to the Rosemary Detox. The Coffee Under Eye Cream is magic in a jar, and the Hair Oil is a staple I can’t live without.
You guys have been slinging soap for quite a while now; how has your business changed over the years?
We strive to adapt to the needs of our customers, so feedback is our biggest compass. New products and new product lines have come from conversations with regulars who say, ‘What if…’. It keeps things interesting. The business landscape has changed just as much as we have. We are always comforted by the support network of small businesses that has risen up in the last two decades—so many cool people with whom to partner.
How has your business changed in the last year through the pandemic? Were there any big setbacks or unexpected silver linings?
We found ourselves in a position to be helpful when we started making sanitizer for the regional hospital system and its partners. During the shutdown, essential business status allowed us to keep producing sanitizer, liquid and solid soaps, and anything else the community needed. We went into the pandemic with a strong online presence, so we closed our workshop to the public and streamlined our no-contact pick up system through our website. It was full of challenges, but worth every moment of uncertainty.
What are your thoughts on the maker community in our state? How do you fit into that community?
I think Alabama has always been a state rich with creative makers, and that tradition is strong still. I think we’ve always been somewhere near the edge of the makers community. Makers are independent people. It’s hard to get us to group.
What are your plans for the future of Left Hand Soap Co.?
New products, new product lines, and new adventures are all coming into focus. We can’t wait for the days and months to come!