San Diego – A San Diego soap business was featured by Yelp on their “Ones to Watch” list of standout local Black-owned businesses across the country.
The Old Town Soap Company is a Black woman and veteran-owned shop in San Diego offering natural personal care and wellness products, like soaps, body butter and shampoo bars.
Owner Ernestine Brown started soap-making back when she was on active duty with the Navy in 2012, exploring the craft as a form of destressing and mental therapy after stumbling onto it while looking for a natural cleanser.
“I got really fascinated with the craft, so I decided to give it a shot,” Brown said to FOX5SanDiego.com. “I bought my first soapmaking kit, which was like a lavender and peppermint blend, and I just fell in love with the craft. It just became a part of me over the years.”
After that, she started selling her soaps at local festivals and farmers markets across Southern California. But when the pandemic hit, a new opportunity opened up at the Liberty Public Market, giving way to Brown’s business as it is today.
“It’s therapeutic (because) it’s all by hand,” she said. “During that time is where I channel a lot of my thoughts, my emotions.”
It takes Brown about two to three hours to make the mixtures that become the hardened soap she sells at her booth in Liberty Public Market, using natural and responsibly sourced ingredients.
These ingredients, she said, give way for soaps that are safe for all skin-types. She particularly takes pride in her ability to help people with skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, that make finding compatible skincare products difficult.
“(We’ve) been trying to help as many families as we possibly can,” she said.
Another way that Brown said she hopes to support people through her work is by teaching people about soapmaking as a form of creative therapy.
“We like to see the creativity in other people,” she said. “It’s really about educating them on (components of soapmaking like) safety, ingredients, equipment and them also being creative in their own way.”
She currently offers private lessons about the craft and hopes to one day be able to offer larger classes for people looking to get into the craft.
But in the meantime, she’s proud to be one of the Black-owned businesses highlighted by Yelp on their “Ones to Watch” list.
“There’s plenty of other Black-owned businesses, but to know that I’m on their radar…it means a lot to us,” Brown said. “We just want to help as many people as possible.