Little Soap Company was conceived several years ago by Emma Heathcote-James. Starting life as an insatiable one-woman band, Little Soap Company has been passionate about reducing the amount of chemicals and synthetics people unwittingly rub into their skin since day one. Baffled as to why you couldn’t pick up a bar or bottle of pure organic soap amid the weekly supermarket shop Emma wants to do for the cosmetics industry what Jamie Oliver has done for food; Emma wants to get the world back to basics, creating the purest organic soap she believes possible and making it accessible to everyone. From hand-making soap on the Aga and selling in subzero temperatures at farmers markets, the business has grown from producing 350 handmade artisan bars a day to runs now in the tens of thousands for the Everyday range on the machines – producing the first organic soap bar to hit supermarket shelves. Launching on a small scale in Waitrose in 2010, then regionally in Tesco’s in 2012, nationally in Waitrose 2013 (best beauty launch and fastest selling bar soap) followed by Booths in the North. The range then rolled out into other major national supermarkets including Sainsburys and Boots the Chemist in 2014.
It was at this stage Emma moved off the kitchen table and into the buildings in Broadway. With a small team now around her, Emma was able to concentrate on new product development and a year later, in November 2015, an exclusive and exciting range of Lavender & Rose Geranium lines were launched in Waitrose, bringing new organic bar soaps,, Liquid Handwash, Foaming Bodywash and Bubble Bath to the market.
Amid all this Little Soap School operates from the Little Workshop on weekdays and Emma and the team continue to make and sell the original artisan handmade range which both underpin the roots of the company.
Emma’s background is a far cry from the cosmetics industry, though the skills and experience she’s acquired along the way seamlessly flow into it. With her first after school and Saturday job at Lloyds Chemist from the age of 14-19 and then freelance work with some of the global cosmetic brands such as Guerlain, Rimmel and Calvin Klein as a ‘spray girl’ in House of Fraser whilst studying at The University of Birmingham certainly sowed some seeds. A quick diversion entailed with Doctoral research in Theology and 4 best selling non-fiction books (two making the top 20 lists), Emma then worked as a researcher in broadcast TV and radio. Fed up of the long commutes and nights away from her beloved Cotswold cottage, she craved rooting closer to home in the countryside. One New Years eve she made that snap decision of only taking contracts within an hours commute and mid-January was at the helm of the newly created Gloucestershire Media Group based back then at Cheltenham Film Studios, overseeing training for the creative industries in the area. Emma also consulted in the area of Knowledge Exchange/Public Engagement at the University of Gloucestershire, SWScreen and The South West Design Forum. Working hands on in the creative industries Emma learned that amazingly good ideas were ten a penny but that very few were able to convert good ideas into a commercial reality.
In 2008, often working a 100 hour week, burnt out and desperate to find a hobby to get her off the laptop she went to a village fete and bought a handmade bar of soap as her Grandmothers stash was fast dwindling. She was astonished to find you couldn’t buy anything like it amid the weekly shop. The rest, as they say, is history…