Through the wonders of social media, I stumbled across Harlem Soap, a New York based soap company run by Jammie Waldron. I’m always about showing supporting for small businesses, and considering some of the positive reviews of the company, I was eager to try out Waldron’s products.
The soaps come in an array of scents, including Orange & Lemongrass, Patchouli & Lavender, and Spearmint & Orange. Additionally, for those with sensitive noses, the soaps are available in Unscented Oatmeal and Unscented Castile; all soaps are priced at $6.
Not only do benefits include the natural powers of goat milk (lactic acid helps skin rejuvenation and moisturizing), coconut oil (well-noted moisturizer), olive oil (acts an antioxidant), sunflower oil (similar properties to olive oil), and shea butter (heals, softens and moisturizes), but Harlem Soap does not add parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, unnatural preservatives, genetically modified oils, or petroleum. All of the soaps are handmade in batches of 180 bars.
I picked the Orange & Lemongrass and Patchouli & Lavender bars. Both soaps were gentle on the skin and left a subtle fragrance. The clean, classic packaging reflected the brand’s utilitarian functionality and no-frills yet powerful skincare benefits. Both bars worked just as well as my Dove body wash, even improving the staying power of my post-shower body oil.
I had the opportunity to speak with Jammie, who has been pursuing his dream of owning a business since a young age.
“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur as a child,” says Jammie. “Growing up my family always owned their own businesses; being a business owner was instilled in me from a child. If I wanted to be successful I needed to build my success.”
Jammie is also the co-owner of Harlem Heirloom, a home décor shop based in Harlem.
The incentive to start a natural skin care-orientated business formed from equal parts personal necessity and personal interest. Jammie says, “I always wanted to be in the natural beauty world and for a while didn’t know where I’d fit in. I have really bad eczema, and so soap just made sense.”
The company was officially launched last November and Jammie is not only the founder but the managerial team, the production team, and everything in between. In order to initially fund the company, Jammie says, “I used my last paycheck before quitting my last job and brought the products I needed for the launching, logo and label designer.”
The company has grown due to aid of social media, namely via Instagram. Jammie credits the Instagram demographic as 90 percent of his customer base. He adds, “It’s a social media age that we live in. Harlem Soap is entirely social media driven.”
When I ask Jammie about the philosophy behind Harlem Soap, he emphasizes the importance of high quality over distracting hype. He says, “There is no real philosophy actually. I just want the soap to speak for itself. My customers return because of how the soap makes them feel; not because of some ‘story’ I’ve created.” He is not a big fan of drugstore facial cleaners, adding, “I wouldn’t recommend anything from a drugstore unless you can eat everything inside of the bottle (or bar in our case). Our soaps do help acne as they help your skin deeper than the surface because of the natural oils that moisturize.”
Harlem Soap certainly doesn’t need flashy gimmicks or deceptively flattering advertising to win over customers. With ingredients such as goat’s milk, Harlem Soap can provide relief for dry, sensitive, and/or itchy skin. Jammie explains, “Goat milk is great for the skin because it has a pH balance very similar to that found in healthy human skin.”
Owning a business has provided both valuable lessons and hard-won rewards. Jammie says, “My favorite thing about being a business owner is the fact that I never have to answer to someone else. The accountability for your work is left to you and only you.”
What does the future hold for Harlem Soap? The debut of a charcoal-based soap is not far away, in addition to a new product line set for a release this summer. The first two items will be a body scrub and then bath salts. Although Jammie can’t reveal all the details, he mentions “a very exciting partnership in April” that new and old customers are sure to love. The internal team will face changes, as well. Two interns will also become members of the team this summer.
To purchase Harlem Soap products, visit the namesake website or the selling platform Blktown.com. Check out Harlem Soap’s Instagram (@harlemsoap) and their Twitter (@harlemsoap) for the latest updates.