Skin Win: Walden’s journey into soap making was born out of necessity. After a slew of prescribed medicines failed to relieve his dermatitis, he did what any good entrepreneur would do. He created his own solution, an oatmeal honey soap made with a base of coconut and olive oils, which is still sold at the shop. “Most things, like my face cream for instance, I probably made well over 100 batches until I got the right recipe,” he says. “But with this soap, the very first batch that I made cured my dermatitis.”
New Spaces: Walden first started making soap in his apartment, the same place he also prepared meals for the Love Truck. As requests for orders went up, he outgrew his space and decided to give Hope Soap a physical home. After finding his dream spot in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, a bit of coincidence helped seal the deal. “The guy took my application, and I came to find out his wife was my customer,” Walden says. “They called back and said, ‘You’re approved.’ So I ran to my car and right then and there I signed the lease before I could talk myself out of it.”
Face To Face: Walden’s brick-and-mortar location gives him a chance to interact with his customers in a way he couldn’t online. People can smell one of 40 different candles or try a hand cream now. “I’m an extrovert,” he says. “I love to interact with people, and so when they are looking for help with something, they wouldn’t reach out online. But if they’re driving by and see a store called Hope Soap and it says ‘natural skincare,’ they’re going to stop in and ask for consulting.”
Value Propositions: Ethical practices are at the core of Hope Soap when creating new products, which can make Walden’s job harder in the long run. Every product has had its recipe checked, researched and verified. The palm oil used in their soap, for example, is harvested from a farm instead of the rainforest. “It’s a big part of our value system that everything that we buy is fair trade,” Walden says. “So we go back as far as we can to try to find the source of it where it came from.”
When You Go: 125 Portage Trail, Cuyahoga Falls, 330-203-1316, hopesoapohio.org
Editor’s note: When shooting portraits of shop owners, photographer Matt Shiffler wore a mask and worked at a safe distance.Click here to explore more than 30 local shops and boutiques as part of this month’s “Shop Local” package.