This April, Yelpers gathered at the Van Aken Market Hall in Shaker Heights to learn about the art of soapmaking from STEM Handmade Soaps. STEM Soaps is a small soap company in Northeast Ohio focused on making premium artisan soaps with 100% all natural vegetable oils and 100% essential oils. Since their beginning, STEM has expanded their plant-based product line to include soap, lotion, bath bombs, lip balm, pet shampoo, candles and more. After great success in Lakewood, STEM expanded to a second location in the Van Aken Market Hall. They welcomed Yelpers to see their new storefront and create a personalized soap with STEM soap with co-owner, Steve.
Upon arrival, Yelpers settled into the brand new Van Aken Market Hall as co-owners Steve and Dave welcomed the group. Taking us back to the roots of their story, Steve earned a degree in biochemistry and was working in a corporate environment when he came across homemade soaps at a farmer’s market and became inspired. Steve explained that to have a perfect bar of soap, you want a hard bar with a nice lather, a quality scent and moisturizing qualities. While experimenting, he mixed a base from coconut oil, shea butter and many other oils to create his perfect combination. This base is now found in all of STEM’s bar soaps. Steve gave this soap to family and friends to test and they kept coming back for more. He ran out of room in his basement and decided to open their first location in Lakewood. Since their opening, STEM has expanded their product line, taught hundreds of soapmaking classes and created a following of all-natural soap lovers.
After sharing STEM’s history, Steve explained the soap process Yelpers would experience. Yelpers first chose their essential oil, heated and stirred their base, and added a scent. Next, they poured the heated blend into a rectangular mold to set for 24-hours. Finally, it would be cut and cured for four weeks. After a month, Yelpers will return to STEM to pick up their custom bar of soap and four other bars at random from others.
Steve invited the group to smell and choose their essential oil and helped each working pair weigh the oils to the perfect amount for their soap. Groups chose scents like spa, rosemary and vanilla. Yelpers also chose a name for their creation and picked custom packing! Yelp Elite Jacqueline P. worked with Sheena W., writing, “Sheena and I opted for the very refreshing lemongrass and litsea cubeba, which comes from the may chang tree and is referred to as exotic lemon verbena. We appreciated the citrusy fragrance and ended up naming it Beautiful Awakening’.”
As the group waited for their turn to heat and mix their soap base and essential oil, Yelpers shopped privately in the STEM store. Steve and Dave graciously offered a 20% discount on purchases to the group. Yelpers shopped till they dropped. Yelp Elite Cindi R. enjoyed browsing the store, writing, “I purchased ten bars to pass out to my female family members this Easter Sunday weekend. Interesting to see who picks which scent. All of them are different.”
Steve and Dave were enthusiastic about their craft and amazing hosts for the evening. The accelerated soap making class was educational, fun and eye-opening for the group of Yelpers. If you’re interested in trying your hand at the art of soapmaking, check out STEM’s classes. Registration is quick and easy and you get to keep the soap you make! Check out the outstanding reviews and photos from the event here. For more information about the Yelp Cleveland Elite Squad, visit yelp.com/elite.
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