Expansion for Torrington soap business

Lesley and Richard Phillips with Mike Vosper, from Natwest. Lesley and Richard Phillips with Mike Vosper, from Natwest.

Monday, May 19, 2014
9:55 AM

The Soap Kitchen has secured a new warehouse in Bideford after 14 years of trading.

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Lesley and Richard Phillips with Mike Vosper, from Natwest.Lesley and Richard Phillips with Mike Vosper, from Natwest.

A TORRINGTON business has produced bespoke soaps for a Vogue fashion shoot as it celebrates moving into a new warehouse.

The Soap Kitchen started out of curiosity 14 years ago when owner Richard Phillips began his hobby of making soap in the family kitchen.

The business runs from a shop in South Street, Torrington, and has now taken on five new employees, moving into a new warehouse in Bideford.

Richard started making soap for family and friends and then began selling it at craft fairs and markets before he and wife Lesley bought a shop in Torrington to sell his wares.

“We found that people started to ask us how to make soap and what you needed, so we started to sell ingredients as well as hand-made soap,” said Lesley.

“We built a website and it became a niche business which has grown year on year.”

As well as their shop the couple rented a warehouse where they made their soap and from which they distributed their internet orders.

But they quickly grew out of it despite taking on more space and with a loan from Natwest have now taken on the unit in Caddsdown, Bideford.

“In the short time we have been here we are finding it more suitable and we are continuing to grow,” said Lesley.

“We have recruited four new members of staff in the warehouse, in the office and on the creative side, as well as a retail apprentice.”

In addition to finished soaps and ingredients to make soap, the company plans to run soap making workshops demonstrating how they still make soaps by hand.

Between its shop and warehouse The Soap Kitchen now employs 20 people, and it has just made bespoke soaps for a photo shoot for fashion magazine Vogue.

Lesley said: “It just shows what you can do.

“We started the business in a small, manageable way and it has grown organically – it has been customer-led.

“We have never taken a gamble thinking ‘let’s do that’ – we’ve always responded to what the customer wants.”

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