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Made in Idaho: Idaho Soap Company brings fresh scents of handmade soap to Downtown Caldwell

Made in Idaho: Idaho Soap Company brings fresh scents of handmade soap to Downtown Caldwell
Posted at 10:10 AM, Jan 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-24 12:10:16-05

Step inside Idaho Soap Company and Laneil Jorgeson is quick to greet you.

For years her colorful handcrafted soaps could be found in local boutiques, gift shops, and craft fairs, but last summer she also set up shop with a new storefront in Downtown Caldwell.

"I cannot keep huckleberry in stock, it is everybody's favorite," Jorgeson said.

The shape of Idaho is stamped on each bar, with scents inspired by the gem state's outdoors, and a unique ripple texture.

"I try to make my soaps acclimated to Idaho. They're about 40 percent olive oil because we have such a dry climate here," Jorgeson explained.

Jorgeson started making soap 10 years ago when she lived in California's Bay Area with the intent to start a business.

"I got ready to buy a business that was making lavender lotions, and in my soul I knew it wasn't going to be a good business deal. On my way to buy the business I turned around and said you know, I can do this myself."

Jorgeson took classes, learning business skills and the chemistry of soap making. Then, retired from her day job.

"I worked for the city of Santa Rosa for 25 years in the recreation and parks department," Jorgeson said.

"My husband said if you move to Idaho you can retire and I said, let's go. We knew nobody. My husband's an avid rafter outdoorsman and he wanted to be where that was appreciated more."

They've settled in just fine, making Canyon County their home, complete with a studio on their property just for Laneil's soap making. Her technique is through a science process called saponification, mixing a liquid, like water or goat milk, with oil and lye.

"It starts looking like pudding and at that point depending on what they call trace, you can then split it up and start coloring it, scenting it, and then you pour it in a mold. Within 24 hours it's solid and you can take it out and start cutting it. Then it takes four to six weeks to cure. All the liquids have to dissipate out of it so it's a nice hard bar ready to go," Jorgeson explained.

Jorgeson says one day she would love to teach soap making to area students to give them a real world chemistry and math lesson.

Among all her scents and varieties, she also recognizes Idaho's love for potatoes, creating a soap that looks like a potato.

"I wanted to make a potato soap, and I could not find molds to make it, so I ended up creating my own molds. I went over to Cliff's organic store and I would feel the potatoes," Jorgeson laughed.

"I got four potatoes and I let the family vote on the potatoes and I quickly over rode them."

The realistic potato soap was a best seller at Christmas. But more importantly, Idaho Soap Company is helping economic development in Caldwell. Jorgeson's store at 109 South Kimball Avenue is near Indian Creek Plaza.

"I just love Caldwell, and because in my career I was so involved with economic development I know in my heart that retail has to be part of the mix," Jorgeson said.

"I just think it's amazing. It's amazing architecture, there's a beautiful wine district, and the city has done just an amazing job of redevelopment."

And when the right location downtown opened, Jorgeson says she had to take the plunge from wholesale to retail.

"I don't have a retail background, I'm not really even much of a shopper, but I just thought, I have to do this. And I'm so thrilled that I did. It's been an amazing experience, I learn something new every day, and the people of Caldwell are just so supportive," Jorgeson said.

For store hours, retail locations, and more information visit idahosoapcompany.com.