Cleaning Up In The Soap Business

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - December 10, 2008
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Ashley and Holly Harding prepare soap bars at the warehouse

The husband-and-wife team of Ashley and Holly Harding are on top of their game with their company Bubble Shack Hawaiian Soap Company.

“It’s been a little crazy the last couple years,” Holly admits. “We feel like we are on a treadmill and we can’t stop the button. I’m not complaining.”

With a line of soaps, body washes, loofah soaps, lotions and candles, the Mililani residents are proud their products are in stores across Hawaii, as well as the Mainland, Japan, Canada and Sweden.

Their 3,000-square-foot Pearl City warehouse is the heart of the operation.

Among the 22 scents they offer in sets are Hawaiian Super Lavender Tropical Trio and Juicy Pineapple Tropical Trio. Sets include body wash, lotion and soap. There also is a line of loofah soaps that come in 13 different scents, such as Coconut Cream, Coconut Lime Verbena, Gardenias by the Sea Shack and Hawaiian Waters Ocean Bliss.


Their presence on Oahu includes some Star Markets, Walgreens Kaneohe, Down to Earth, Dole Plantation, Surf and Sea, Coco Cove and more. They also will be available at Target when it opens in March 2009. A complete list of stores that offer the soaps is on their website,

One of the challenges the company faces is keeping up with the demand.

“We are able to get the orders, but people are paying slow in this economy,” explains Holly. “You have to make decisions and prioritize things you wish you didn’t have to. We will buy supplies to keep the orders up versus getting other things.”

The Hardings, both professional musicians who previously owned a music entertainment agency, moved from Boston to Hawaii in 2003. It was his music job that brought the couple to the Islands. He plays saxophone with several groups, and she plays clarinet on a fill-in basis with the Honolulu Symphony. Needing to supplement their income, the couple decided to fill a niche that was missing at the swap meet at the time. Their soaps were made within a week.

“Starting up at the swap meet was such a great thing,” Holly says. “It gave us so much exposure. People would come to the swap meet on their vacation. They had stores on the Mainland, and they ordered. It gave us a lot of freedom to expand and go into wholesale. The swap meet is an awesome place to start a business. It gives anyone the chance to start without a lot of overhead costs.”

She credits discipline in music for their strength in business.

“We were in the mindset that we were going to be workaholics,” she admits. “As a child, I practiced music six to eight hours a day. So I went from juggling schoolwork and music to juggling a side business and music. That’s how we’ve always been. We love to work, and we love to have fun.”

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