November 15, 2012
You may have seen Renaissance Man Soaps on a display at your local pharmacy or market, but what you may not know is that they’re made in central Virginia. CBS19's Stephanie Satchell continues our series of products that are "Made in Central Virginia." She travelled to Barboursville to find out just what it takes to keep a local soap maker in business.
Soaps, lotions, massage oils are just a few items Barboursville resident Tom Curtis makes and sells locally.
“They're natural and they smell great and I get a lot of repeat business,” said Tom Curtis, Soap Maker/Owner, Renaissance Man Soaps.
Curtis says folks are always stocking up on the lavender soap.
“Everybody loves lavender. It's great for your skin. There are a lot of healing properties in lavender and a lot of people use lavender for potpourri… scenting their lingerie drawer. It's very popular,” said Curtis.
Curtis started his business, Renaissance Man Soaps about 20 years and takes a lot of pride in his work.
He pours until the measurements are exact, stirs the soap mixture until it's the right consistency and even creates his own soap molds and cutting device to make sure each bar of soap is the right size.
Although Curtis says making soap is easy he adds that there is one major challenge that comes along with having a small local business.
“You just don't get the exposure. It's a constant challenge to make enough money to keep going and in this economy that's not always so easy to do,” said Curtis.
Curtis has found success in a tough economy. He relies heavily on his product placement in local stores and online sales. He also takes his soaps and lotions on the road to farmer's markets and street fairs. That’s where he also gets a lot of customer feedback.
“They say oh I like that or I like it better than I used to or I don't like it as much as it used to be,” said Curtis.
Curtis uses that input to make his product even better. He comes up with new scents and tweaks the old hoping to keep his customers happy all while boosting the local economy.
You can find Renaissance Man Soap products at Foods of All Nations, Gordonsville Pharmacy, Beaverdam Pharmacy and online.