Bubbling with products that are good enough to eat
 By Liz Dadson

It looks good enough to eat, but it's actually a soap cake created by Paula Urquhart

Walk into Paula Urquhart's house and you are enveloped by such wholesome, delicious smells that you're sure the products are good enough to eat.

Well, they would be if she were making food. But she's not; she's making soap and it looks so good you wish you could eat it.

The Kincardine Township mother of two is the owner/operator of Rustic Rootz Herbal Soapz which produces soaps and body care products out of the best and finest organic ingredients. The soap bars are cured for over a month, providing a longer-lasting bar, and each batch is hand-blended, hand-cut and hand-wrapped, giving each bar a unique feature - no two are alike.

Originally from the Niagara Region, Urquhart lived in Grimsby and was vacationing in the Kincardine area for a summer before deciding to move here in 2003.

"We were checking out places and then this home came up for sale (on the 11th of Kincardine Township)," she said. "It was so unique. And there was lots of space for me to finally have a workshop on site and a place to grow all the botanicals and herbs I needed. It was a perfect fit."

Urquhart began making soaps in 2000. Before that she worked as an education assistant and a product consultant, and was a visual merchandiser for HMV Canada, a music store.

All of these talents have held her in good stead in the development of her own product line, complete with proper ingredients and visually-stimulating packaging. She now does everything from creating the product to marketing and selling it.

"In Niagara, I started designing yard twig furniture for upscale homes and garden centres," she said. "That's where I got the name Rustic Rootz. In the winter months, I made soap." Her friend is a chemist and helped Urquhart develop her own recipes for organic soaps and body care products.

"I've been a creator all my life so I just come up with all these ideas," she said. "I bake a lot. In fact, I was considering a business making all organic baked goods. Then I just tied it into the soap business."

Besides growing such botanicals as lavender, clary sage, bergamot and echinacea, she uses 45 different organic teas and other certified organics to make the soaps. She colours them using fruits and vegetables. "It's perfect out here because the 100 acres around my two acres are certified organic and so are the 500 acres across the road," she said.

With the organic materials, the recipes and the finished soaps, Urquhart has one more trump card to her business, she loves packaging. "My goal is to provide superior product with minimal packaging," she said.

In 2000-01, she was selling her soaps at farmers markets and arts and crafts shows. Now, she sells them from her home through her Internet website at www.rusticrootz.com. She markets her product locally through an exclusive deal with JB's Lingerie in Kincardine; and worldwide - as far away as Ohio, San Francisco and New York.

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She is also conducting soap parties, with one scheduled for Nov. 8 at Malcolm Place in Kincardine.

So, what does the future hold for this promising soap creator?
"I want to complete my PhD in naturology through an on-line course," she said. "And I'd like to promote my product to boutiques and duty-free shops. My shampoo bar is great for airline travel." She also makes lip balm, shaving bars and dryer sachets.

"I believe in everything I sell because I use it," said Urquhart. "The soap bars go through a cold-process which means they last longer. One of my bars of soap will last six months as long as you keep it drained."

Her sons, Corbin, 15, and Evan, 11, love the soap business and tell their mom the product looks good enough to eat.

"I've actually had people eat it," said Urquhart. "It won't hurt you but it's salty."

Urquhart easily took her love for baking into her business, creating soap cakes - cupcake bath bombs, coffee cakes with icing, and soap skewers. Her hemp and brew shampoo bars have caught the interest of Steelback Brewery which wants to sell them at its retail outlet in Tiverton.

Packaging the product

Paula grows bergamot along the fence at her home in Kincardine Township

Paula grows her own botanicals including lavender along her front porch, for use in her soaps

Paula holds up some soak skewers she created