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Irish Twins Soap
Mar 13, 2014
Erin Nelson, owner of Irish Twins Soap Company, grew up in a health-conscious family. Her father’s law office was above Black Hills Staple and Spice Market, a natural foods store in Rapid City. She’d go to the Y for ballet or swimming after school. “Then we’d head over to the store to get licorice and go up to my dad’s office,” Nelson remembers. “My dad always shopped there. There were all kinds of things that nobody else eats or uses — like granola, chlorophyll and cleansers — but it was kind of normal to me.”
Nelson continued that healthy lifestyle into adulthood, striving to avoid chemicals and impurities. “It’s made a huge difference in how I feel, how my body feels and how my skin feels,” she says. So when she couldn’t find the type of soap she wanted in local stores she started crafting her own. “I decided people have been making it for hundreds of years and I just wanted to know how,” Nelson says.
Nelson turned soap making into a full-fledged business in 2009, when her boss died of cancer and she was left without work. “I looked for a job for several months and couldn’t find anything, so I just started [Irish Twins Soap Company] and never looked back.” She now creates all-natural soaps, household cleaners, deodorant, body butter, lip balm or sugar scrubs daily in her farmhouse kitchen near Beresford and buys local ingredients when possible. “I’m super fussy about where they come from and what’s in them,” Nelson says. Her honey and beeswax come from a farm about a mile outside of Beresford called Dahlberg Farms. She buys herbs and botanicals from the farmers market, goat’s milk from a local farmer and essential oils from a company in Minnesota.
Nelson handcrafts over 35 bar soaps, including varieties for acne, psoriasis and eczema. All soaps are hand-stirred and produced in small batches. Last week she made eight 11-pound batches, at 40 bars each. Many contain French green clay and red Moroccan clay, and soaps like Metamorphic Rockstar, BadAss Biker, and Dakota Gunsmoke contain activated charcoal. “The clays pull toxins out of your skin and activated charcoal does too,” Nelson says. “When people are poisoned they feed them spoons full of charcoal to draw out the toxins. It’s the same thing with your face or anywhere else on the body.”
Customers are responding to Nelson’s good-for-you philosophy. Her business is “on full blast” with wholesale clients, web orders and arts and craft shows. Nelson plans to expand into a larger studio and she’ll soon have a tiny soap shop on wheels. “I love my outdoors shows, but soap and rain don’t mix,” Nelson says. “Last summer I bought a 1965 Yellowstone old-school camping trailer that we gutted, so that is in the works to be my little pop-up.” Look for her at the Brookings Summer Arts Festival July 14-15. She'll also be handing out samples at Pomegranate Market in Sioux Falls Saturday, March 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.