When you lift a bar of Jenny Frech’s soap to your nose and inhale deeply, you’ll be transported.
The lemongrass buttermilk soap will make you think you’ve climbed right up a lemon tree and the cranberry orange variety will carry you home for the holidays.
Frech’s soaps, which have been sold to customers on every continent (yes, even Antarctica!) are all handcrafted in Goshen using only the best ingredients. Each bar includes premium oils and maintains earth-friendly practices.
Frech is proud that her soaps help customers find peace and comfort – but her products also help build community.
“It’s not so much the soap, it’s like the community around it, getting to know our customers,” Frech said when asked what makes her soap cool. “I love the retail brick- and-mortar piece of selling soap to people, because we really get to know our customers well. We see them on a super regular basis, we know what they like, and I think their skin feels better when they are using it.”
However, engaging the community goes even deeper at Soapy Gnome.
Several years ago, Frech teamed up with local breweries to make a line of beer-inspired soaps.
“It’s really fun to work with brewers because they think a lot like soap makers,” she said. “They are always trying to tweak collaborations and try something new, so it’s super fun.”
Working with breweries opened up a connection with Menno Tea, which is a local tea company started by two Goshen College students from their dorm room. The Menno Tea soap is a combination of spearmint and lemongrass.
And in 2018, a collaboration with her neighbor, the Electric Brew, added coffee infused bars to her lineup.
“Collaboration is more fun than competition,” Electric Brew Owner Myron Bontrager said.
In true collaboration, Frech finds the underlying hints in the beer, tea or coffees she uses and adds scents that enhance or compliment them. While these collaborations promote commerce with local businesses, Frech’s partnerships with local charities is pure altruism.
She’s worked with Race for the Cure, creating a special soap label. She also worked with artists from ADEC’s Day Service at Goshen to design soap labels, with $2 of every bar sold going back to ADEC’s art program.
“I love doing give-back soap,” Frech said. “That’s really fun for me. I like to pick a couple of organizations to really support. I like long-term collaborations.”
In 2013, founder Jenny Frech, a former science teacher, made her first batch of soap intending to send the soaps out as Christmas gifts. A lifelong DIY enthusiast, she fell in love and began selling her soap at the Goshen Farmers Market.
This hobby started to grow into a business and Jenny opened up a little downtown basement shop. After a couple locations, she found herself expanding into a proper storefront, jumping into soap-making full-time.
Soapy Gnome chooses not to market their soaps as “beauty” products because they believe that everyone is beautiful and refuse to profit from letting their customers think otherwise.
111 E. Washington St.
Goshen, IN 46526
“It’s not so much the soap, it’s like the community around it, getting to know our customers. I love the retail brick- and-mortar piece of selling soap to people, because we really get to know our customers well. We see them on a super regular basis, we know what they like, and I think their skin feels better when they are using it.”