Sara Rhoades wasn’t supposed to be in a soap making class — she had purchased the spot for someone else as a gift, but instead she found herself taking the course in 2017.
“I didn’t even know what soap was made of. I mean, it just never occurred to me to even think about it,” the Evansville native and mother of two young daughters says with a laugh. “It’s soap; I can’t believe you actually can make it. I was just buying it from other people.”
Participating in the class lit a fire in her, says Rhoades. The next day, she began researching places to buy the ingredients she would need. The day after that, she made her first batch of soap at home; and the day after that brought two more batches.
“The first soap bar I made was chocolate,” she says. “I started to post pictures of them to my Facebook page and my friends said they wanted them. That’s kind of how it started.”
When she lost her job shortly after, she became determined to make a career creating soaps (along with her jewelry line, which she has crafted for 16 years). Now her shop, The Confectionery Sweet Soap, offers around 20 varieties of “zero-calorie indulgence” bars. Each of the soaps has a food theme or element incorporated with it — some sweet, some savory, and others even look like cupcakes and doughnuts. She also offers bath bombs and body scrubs. A graduate of the University of Southern Indiana with a bachelor’s degree in studio art and a master’s in liberal studies, Rhoades admits while there are many natural soap makers in the area, her soaps truly are different in an artistic sense.
“I feel like these soaps are my painter and sculptor coming out and playing,” she says.
Rhoades says making her soap is similar to baking. She incorporates many high-quality essential oils, fragrances, and cocoa butter as well as fresh ingredients such as coffee, cocoa, honey, wine, and more to create combinations that resemble delightful treats from dark chocolate wine and fresh harvest apple to cucumber melon and toffees.
“Baking, cooking food for your family is like an act of love. I feel like the soap is that same way,” says Rhoades. “It’s this gift I’m giving people. It makes them happy; it makes me happy. It’s just a joyful thing.”