When Registered Nurse Kathy Notaro picked up a women’s home magazine at the grocery store 14 years ago in New Jersey, little did she know the purchase would change the direction of her life.
But, after responding to a small advertisement and in turn, receiving a book that instructed her how to make her own soaps, Notaro said that little book inspired her to quit her job in the medical arena and start a business, the Little Egg Harbor Soap Company, with her new skill.
“I saw a little ad in the back of the magazine for a book on how to make soaps and I sent for it,” she said. “I read it a lot and I knew I had to make soap. So one day I walked away from my nursing job to make soaps full time and the business has been growing ever since. I’ve been very, very fortunate.”
Though the business began as an experiment in her kitchen, the success of her all-natural soaps, lotions and balms has allowed Notaro to expand her little soap company from New Jersey to Delaware, opening a small shop in Rehoboth Mews before Memorial Day.
Already, the shop is developing a following.
Harrisburg, Pa. resident Rich Basso made a return visit to the store recently to re-stock his supply of Henlopen Pine soap, just one of Little Egg Harbor Soap Company’s 90-plus soaps that rotate through the store inventory seasonally.
“I bought a lavender soap and the Henlopen Pine, which reminds me of bike rides through the Cape,” Basso said.
In addition, the repeat customer said he was impressed by the quality of the soaps, which are available as bars by the ounce, or as lotions and balms.
“It was very good soap,” he said. “It was very aromatic and it didn’t dry my skin out, especially after the sun. It was very nice after a day on the beach.”
Notaro explained that her soaps are made with all-natural, plant-based, food-quality ingredients as opposed to a majority of commercial soaps, which often contain harsh detergents and animal fats.
“All those commercial products are made with animal fat and detergent,” she said. ”When you see callow, that’s animal fat and when you see sodium laurel sulfate, that is detergent. We have a wonderful thick lathering soap at Little Egg Harbor Soap Company that will lather in salt water. We use all luxurious butters for your skin.”
Palm, coconut, olive and sunflower seed oils, shea butter and organic aloe vera juice - these are just examples of the ingredients in Notaro’s soaps, she said.
In addition to scented butters, balms, lotions and soaps, employee Katie Holland said the all-natural approach has helped her clientele with skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea. Little Egg Harbor Soap Company also offers a therapy line that has helped their clientele stop taking expensive medications for skin disease.
“We have a whole therapy line, geared toward people with problematic skin,” Holland said.
And even though Notaro is no longer working as a nurse, she said she still gets the satisfaction of helping people through her new vocation.
“All my friends thought I was crazy; now they tell the story and they are like ‘We are so proud of you!’,” she said. “It has been a really fun adventure. I love teaching people about skin care; there are so many people with skin problems.”
The Little Egg Harbor Soap Company is open in Rehoboth Mews in downtown Rehoboth Beach from 9 a.m. to noon and 3 to 9 p.m., daily. Products are available online at www.littleeggharborsoap.com or by calling 302-260-9813.