I first met Jason and Kim from The Soap Co in Keswick at the Lakes Hospitality Show, a trade show for Lake District accommodation businesses that takes place each year at the end of February.
I didn’t realise that just a few days later I’d be in Keswick, so I popped by to say hello and to see for myself this delightful shop that Jason had so enthusiastically described during our conversation.
The Soap Co is no ordinary soap business, but a social enterprise creating employment opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people – over 70% of its staff meet one of these criteria.
I was immediately impressed by this fact because I understand first-hand how difficult it can be to manage full-time employment when you have a long-term medical condition (I tackled this subject recently in an awareness day blog post connected to my LinkedIn profile). I think many people would agree that work not only provides a source of income, but self-confidence, a sense of achievement and a feeling of belonging, and it was great to hear the stories of individual members of staff who found employment through The Soap Co and then successfully moved on to new roles as a result.
The Soap Co makes a fabulous range of visually appealing soaps and bathing products (they have a very appealing smell too!), including hand washes, foot treatments, hand and skin creams, shower gels, bath foams, bath bombs, body butters, and shampoos and conditioners. Some of these have been given lyrical and fun names inspired by the Lake District such as ‘Mist over Derwentwater’ and ‘Borrowdale Apple Pie’.
All the products are lovingly produced and packed in a workshop above the shop, both for the Keswick shop itself and other retailers, and are also frequently in demand as wedding favours and conference giveaways.
The Soap Co also produces guest-sized products and bottles with refill options for accommodation providers, either with The Soap Co branding or a bespoke alternative, which the staff will build to your exact specification. Businesses and accommodation owners using The Soap Co products can display marketing materials through an annual certification scheme, explaining their support for The Soap Co’s work, and the social benefits of its products.
Kim, The Soap Co’s Business Development Assistant, has cerebral palsy and originally joined the Keswick shop on a six month placement. You can hear more about her time working with the business in Kim and Jason’s contribution to BBC Radio 4’s The Listening Project.
So next time you’re passing in Keswick, why not stop by The Soap Co and take a look at its beautifully presented range of pampering treats and gifts? And if you’re in the hospitality industry yourself, get in touch to see how Jason and his team can help you impress your guests with their very own authentic Lakeland welcome – phone them on 01768 775 900 or visit The Soap Co online.
If you liked this post, you may also enjoy my recent article on the temporary bus route from Grasmere to Keswick. I’ll be writing more about shopping in Keswick very soon!