CEDAR RAPIDS — As the author of a green living blog, Katie Hamre decided to seek out healthier and more environmentally-friendly alternatives to her skin care regimen.
What she found led to her new business, Thumbprint Handcrafted Soaps.
“I started exploring skin care products that I could make at home and came across photos of other people’s beautiful homemade soaps,” Hamre said of her transformation from blogger to soap maker. “I had to learn how to make them myself.”
Initially uncomfortable handling lye, a chemical used in the soap making process, Hamre found someone who was willing to demonstrate the process to her.
“He sent me home with my first bottle of lye and I felt braver,” Hamre recalled. “I was ready to make my own batch.”
Hamre began experimenting with different recipes and ingredients and watched videos on YouTube to learn new techniques. Her projects became Christmas presents for friends and family, and their positive feedback fueled her desire to make even more soap.
Earlier this year, Hamre launched an online store and began selling her soaps at NewBo City Market and the Eastern Iowa Indoor Flea Market. Her soaps also are available at Rustic Treasures in Cedar Rapids and Timeless Collections in Marion.
Hamre makes her soaps with premium ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, and aloe vera and without palm oil, parabens, or harsh detergents. The soaps are colored with powdered herbs, natural clays, pureed foods and cosmetic-grade colorants and are scented with essential oils or high quality fragrance oils free of phthalates and nitro musks.
“Homemade soaps are more moisturizing and won’t strip the skin’s natural oils,” Hamre said. “Harmful ingredients aren’t necessary to make a quality skincare product.”
Hamre makes all of her soaps at home. She set up a basement studio where she melts, mixes and decorates the soap. A spare bedroom serves as her office and a soap curing room.
Hamre, who also works as a web marketing coordinator and freelance designer, would like to expand her business into other skin care products when she has more time.
“I would like to be in more stores,” she said. “It’s less time consuming than sitting at the market all day.”
With her free time so scarce these days, Hamre no longer is able to volunteer at local animal shelters, as she did before she started the soap business. Instead, she donates 25 cents from the sale of every bar to animals in need.
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At a glance
•Owner: Katie Hamre
•Business: Thumbprint Handcrafted Soaps
•Phone: (319) 481-1054
•Online store: thumbprintsoap.storenvy.com