By Mackenzie Hurlbert
Australian Natural Soapworks, run by David Nichols, sells natural products created using a certified, sustainable soap base of vegetable oils, including organic shea butter. Nichols refuses to use animal fats or petro-chemicals in his soap production. “We started about 15 years ago. The company has grown every year. All of our soaps come from one Australian artisan soap maker. Our two brands, Wavertree & London and Simple Scents Australia are selling very well,” said Nichols. “The Wavertree & London line was first released in January last year and between the packaging, fragrances and retail price point, our stores find it very easy to sell. The quality of the soap, which is second to none, makes people come back to buy it again. The amount of repeat business is amazing.”
Nichols said about 50 percent of consumers purchase the soap as gifts, while the other 50 percent buy for personal use. “A beautifully packaged soap bar with a great fragrance makes an ideal gift – everyone loves quality soap and you cannot go wrong.” The new Wavertree soaps with the embossed paper and beautiful graphics also make an outstanding presentation in a retail store. “Consumers are looking for natural products more and more,” said Nichols. “Our French-milled soaps have a creamier lather, last longer than poured soaps and are non-drying.”
The smell of the soap is the first key point of interaction with customers, according to Nichols. “The first thing someone will do when they see a soap line is pick it up and smell it. If the fragrance is like ‘Wow, smell this!’ you are half way there. Our fragrance is second to none, and the price point is low enough where people say, ‘I will give this a shot.’ “While the scent of the soap may be enough of an incentive for consumers to purchase, the quality of the soap is the deciding factor as to whether or not they will buy the product again. Nichols’ Australian Natural Soap is unique in many ways. “All of our exquisitely crafted fragrances are uniquely formulated by one of Australia’s leading perfumers, blended with natural oils and pure fragrances,” said Nichols. “We make our soaps using a chilled extrusion process that infuses the fragrance right through, meaning that the soap bar is just as strongly scented from the day you purchased it to the very last.”
Nichols explained that there are two main ways of making soap. One involves mixing various oils and chemicals including caustic soda in vats then pouring the mixture into moulds to allow hardening. These types of soap are made by mainly home operations that do not have proper equipment for testing PH levels or have any quality control checkpoints. This method makes for a lower quality soap that melts easier, breaks apart and cannot produce a superior lather. Australian Natural Soaps creates French-milled soap that is made using larger, more complex equipment for a higher quality product. The process for French-milled soap is actually similar to the process for making fine Swiss milk chocolate.
“The ingredients are mixed, refined via milling and then compressed into one continuous soap bar,” said Nichols. “The extruded bar passes through a die that gives the final soap bar its shape all while removing excess moisture and air. The advantage is you produce a more refined, longer lasting and a better lathering product.”