Peter Pan and the Lost Boys were never fans of washing up but the J.M. Barrie characters home of NeverNeverLand inspired the name for a homemade bath products business.
Kim Dahlke of Waterloo said her daughter, Ashley Rife, was a huge “Peter Pan” fan prompting the pair to name their small business Second Star Bath and Beauty.
During the months of March and April, at the start of Wisconsin’s initial shut-down due to the pandemic, Rife was looking for a new project to take on.
“We like to try different crafty things,” said 48-year-old Dahlke.
Rife began looking at recipes for making soap, bath salts and lotions.
“Ashley really did all the legwork,” Dahlke said.
The pair started making glycerin soap, which Dahlke said is fairly easy to create. She said people can purchase a glycerin block, which contains all of the basic elements needed to create soap. After the block is melted, color and fragrance is added before being poured into molds.
“That’s one of the methods most people use when they first start making soaps,” Dahlke said. “And you can use the glycerin soaps right away so they are great for children who want to make it and then use it right away.”
The mother-daughter pair decided to advance the process of making soap being the basics.
Second Star products are now mostly created using the cold press method to make more artisanal soaps. One of the major differences in the two soap-creating methods is the use of lye, said Dahlke. Lye is one of the main ingredients in cold process soaps along with water and an assortment of natural oils including coconut, olive, shea and camphor. Once the base is created, color and fragrance are added.
Unlike glycerin, the cold press method requires the soap to cure for four to six weeks to create harder bars that will last longer than the glycerin soaps.
However, Dahlke said the cold process is more user friendly, explaining it takes longer for the soap to set and giving the artisans more time to add more decorative elements to the products.
The Waterloo woman said her favorite part in the process is selecting the fragrances and colors for the soaps, which have names like Tranquility, Christmas Candy, Tropical Storm, Cozy Cashmere and Dark Forest. Dahlke likes to use scented or essential oils to create the scent for each batch of soap. Typically, the fragrance will determine what color the soap will be, she said.
Dahlke never expected the mother-daughter project to go beyond a hobby with the intention of just gifting the soap to family and friends.
The duo initially wanted to set up at small vendor fairs but those plans were burst when those types of events were canceled because of COVID-19. Instead, Dahlke contacted her sister-in-law Sara Dahlke, the owner of Waterloo Blooms, to see if the soaps could be sold in the downtown store. The store is now the only physical site where Second Star products are sold.
Second Star also receives direct orders from people via its Facebook and Instagram accounts (secondstarbb) and email (email@example.com). A few days before a new soap or bath salt is completed, Rife will post it on one of the social media sites to let customers know when it will be available.
The team behind Second Star has started to expand – both in distance and numbers. A few months ago, Rife moved to northern New York. While no longer physically present for making the soaps and bath salts, she provides input on the fragrances and colors that should be added.
Furthermore, Dahlke has enlisted her younger daughter, 17-year-old Payge, to help determine what fragrance works best. Dahlke’s sons even help with picking out scents that may be more masculine.
“It’s been great to get the whole family involved,” she said. “It was great to find a hobby (Ashley and I) both enjoy and can keep doing it together.”