Making A Clean Living In Kaaawa
Virginia Lindgard’s Kaaawa Soap Co. booth is open
9 a.m.-4 p.m. on the third weekend of each month at
the Hawaii Handcrafters and Artisans Alliance fair in
Virginia Lindgard makes a lot of scents with her colorful line of soap - pikake, coconut, white ginger, plumeria and gardenia - in her home with her full-time business, Kaaawa Soap Company.
One of her most popular products is a round soap with a small slice of loofah in the middle.
“Since I’m from Australia, I had to make one in eucalyptus,” she explains, adding that other favorite scents include mango and tuberose.
Customers can find her glycerin soaps at one of 12 shops she wholesales to in Honolulu, the North Shore and on the Windward side. Clients also can purchase the soaps at her booth in Kapiolani Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the third weekend of each month at the Hawaii Handcrafters and Artisans Alliance fair. She notes that 85 percent of her business is from tourists, and her website generates 75 percent of reorders.
Wanting more handmade soap is exactly how Lindgard got into business in the first place. A friend gave her a gift of handmade soap, and when Lindgard asked where the friend got the soap, the friend said she made it herself. So Lindgard learned to make it and gave it to her friends and fellow nurses for birthday presents. Soon people started asking for more soap and placing orders. She started the business in soap production part time for two years in addition to her nursing career, and for the last four years the soap has been a full-time gig. These days, Lindgard is up to 1,000 bars of soap a month and in production seven days a week.
“I get to schedule my own time,” she says of one of the benefits to owning her own business. “If I want to do something with my children, I can do it.”
Her husband, Ken, who is a Kalaheo grad and a contractor, is presently building her another workshop in a new house on the same property. Their two daughters, Katelin, 11, and Lilli, 7, help out once in a while.
In addition to the various bar soaps she’s created, Lindgard makes liquid hand foaming soap, lotions and lip balm. She also makes soaps for wedding favors.
One of her challenges is finding wholesale products on the island with prices comparable to
soap makers on the Mainland. She admits that even with shipping prices on the rise, it’s sometimes cheaper to get the base product from the Mainland.
She advises other business-minded folks to start at the craft fairs to see what people are looking for.
“When you are going to wholesale, you need a solid product line,” she shares. “You can’t have something one week and then not the next.”
In addition to her booth at Kapiolani Park, she attends the Lanikai Craft Fair, which is held on a Saturday in early May, and the first Saturday in December.
“Someday I’d like to have a storefront on the North Shore,” she says.
For more information, call 237-7365 or log onto www. kaaawasoap.com
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