Eight years ago, Petaluma’s Kathy Walker began making soaps as gifts to family and friends. “We have a huge family,” said Kathy’s daughter, Rachel Walker, who was filling in for her mom recently at the Tuesday morning East Side Farmers’ Market. “It was just something she did for fun.”
But three years ago, that enjoyable hobby became big enough to morph into a full-time business, Swan Haven Soap.
Kathleen Walker creates the soaps out on Skillman Lane, west of town, working in Brooder House No. 2 on what remains of Krout’s Pheasant Farm. It’s “no-frills” soap as far as packaging goes, Rachel Walker said. “She puts her time and energy into making really good soap.”
Soap fragrances include almond, lilac, lemon chiffon, rosemary and tangerine – and also beer. Kathleen Walker creates beer soaps for Lagunitas Brewery – both oatmeal stout and IPA – with a fragrance like sweet mash before the beer is brewed, said Rachel Walker.
Ingredients are simple: water (or beer), lye, oils (coconut, palm and olive), shea butter and essential oils for fragrance. Any color is natural. There are also unscented Bare Bars for those with allergies, larger Man Bars for male hands and cupcake-shaped soaps.
Swan Haven Soap holds a holiday open house from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 to Sunday, Dec. 15 at 3236 Skillman Lane or visitswanhavensoap.com.