American Made Profile | October 4, 2015
The Men's Soap Shop
Near Boston, the town of Worcester, Massachusetts, is in the heart of one of America’s most historic regions. Now, among the rolling hills and thick forest, the town boasts a new way for Americans to reconnect with their past…The Men’s Soap Shop.
A CLEAN START.
In 2010, Sam Lopez was an economics major from Boston University working at the United Nations. While he was honored to be part of the truly global organization, there was something missing.
“I was trying to transition to something else at that time. But the job market was still pretty tight at that point. There just weren’t a lot of good jobs out there.”
That’s when Lopez discovered his next career move by looking at home first. Lopez’s wife, an engineer, also has a passion for crafts.
“At the time, she was making different kinds of soap,” Lopez remembered. “I looked at that and decided that I could build on that and maybe try to sell some of the soap at local farmers’ markets. I did that for about a year.”
That’s when Lopez took an even closer look and decided to take an even bigger step.
“I took a look at the market and I saw a need for this type of product. It took me a couple of years to really get going,” he said.
The Men’s Soap Shop was born.
“In 2012, we were making aftershave lotions and body soaps,” Lopez says.
Lopez created a product that used natural, high-quality ingredients. It was a time of experimentation. Like the early colonists who drew from the bounty of this rich landscape, Lopez honed his craft and business, making changes as needed along the way.
“For example, in 2012, we had one set of ingredients for our soap. It was a good soap, but we tried some different things and made a change there.”
There have also been changes and growth in the manufacturing process Lopez uses itself.
“All of our soaps cure for one month, so we need to have a lot of space where we can lay the soap out. I remember when we started; I was using one small shelf. It would take me two or three weeks to make that first batch.”
Today, The Men’s Soap Shop takes advantage of a spacious building in Worcester that was originally a factory making components during World War II.
“Now, I can make a thousand bars of soap in one day,” Lopez says.
THE PATH TO SUCCESS IS RARELY SMOOTH.
“It’s been a true process of learning the production process,” Lopez explained. “And I’d say it’s been a very challenging learning curve. But it’s like any business that you start… where you learn, and get ahead, then you meet a challenge, then you move ahead, and so on. It’s a roller coaster. But it’s been a good one.”
Since Lopez made his start with aftershave lotions and soaps, he’s expanded his offerings to include fine, hand-crafted shaving kits that harken back to the earliest days of the republic—with badger hair shaving brushes, and an array of shaving sets that bring the traditions of yesterday to today’s man. In fact, The Men’s Soap Shop offers aftershave, body soaps, shaving soaps, shaving sets, beard oils, accessories, and more.
The Men’s Soap Shop website gives a rich, historic tone to its sleek, timeless approach to men’s grooming, with passages like:
Once upon a time, a man started the day by taking a proper razor, straight or double edge, to his face.
Shaving was a deliberate exercise requiring skill and the right equipment.
As life sped up in the twentieth century, men’s grooming rituals began to revolve around disposable blades and plastic bottles.
Boys stopped learning how to hone, strop, and polish a blade or brush on soapy lather. Classic shaving implements, however, are making a comeback…
The feedback has been as smooth and refreshing as a clean shave itself.
In fact, in the December 2014 issue, Oprah Magazine called the products from The Men’s Soap Shop, “The Ultimate Shaving Set for Him.” Lopez also has taken a great sense of pride in the fact that stores, barbershops, and a blend of individuals have actively tried — and continually resupply — their shelves with his products.
In just five short years, Lopez has been on a journey to more than just a career.
“When I was at the UN, there was a sense of achievement. But there’s nothing like the feeling of being able to succeed in your own company. There are very few things in life you can say that about. But it doesn’t come easily. When you have your own company, you also have all the mistakes and complaints. It’s all you,” Lopez cautions.
“So it’s not easy. I do recommend it, but not to everyone. You have to not mind working hard, and working long hours. That sometimes means sacrifice in the amount of time you can spend with your family and friends.”
Still, Lopez is confident, he knows he’s on the right path for him.
He confirms by adding, “If someone were to come to me today and offer me any job in the world as an economist, I would not take it.”
Learn more and shop at www.TheMensSoapShop.com.
Credits // Author: Dave Danielson Photos Provided By: The Men's Soap Shop