A bath bomb business that started in a kitchen and soared throughout lockdown to offer more than 20 home-made products, has just opened a high street shop.
After studying childcare at Accrington and Rossendale College, Nicola McLoughlin, from Haslingden, realised it was not the career for her and began working at a bath bomb company, but left after they relocated.
She never had any intention of setting up her own business, and it was in fact after a suggestion by her partner Sean Kierans’ sister Emma that she set up The Soap Shack in June 2017.
Nicola, 30, said: “At first I was buying in from a wholesaler and selling on at craft fairs and through Facebook, then I created a new recipe and began making my own bath bombs.”
In those early days, Nicola and her nan would make around 200 bath bombs a day; now the company has a manufacturing mill in Cloughfold where family and friends produce 2,000 bath bombs and 3,000 other products every day.
Sean left his job to become a director in April 2019 – and is also studying business and management at UCLan in Burnley.
The company has just opened its own shop in a prominent building on the corner of Bank Street and Kay Street in Rawtenstall.
Nicola said: “From just the two of us, we now have Gemma France who manages our shop along with an apprentice, and in the manufacturing mill we employ 13 people in two teams and all but four are members of our family.
“We never had to furlough, moved our business successfully online and in fact grew through lockdown.
“Three of the people who now work for us had been made redundant.”
Sean, Nicola and Gemma fitted out the new premises, while Sign It Up from Haslingden created the eye-catching signs.
Sean said: “Our range is increasing every month and we are always evolving and developing new product lines.
“I think the UK needs more manufacturing companies and we have shown that it can be done and very successfully in Rossendale.
“We used to sell all over Europe, but Brexit has stopped that and even stopped us selling to Northern Ireland at the moment, but we sell wholesale to around 700 businesses as well as retailing online and in our new shop.
“All our products are vegan, child friendly and we ethically source all our ingredients to make sure they are animal friendly.”
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