Elk Rapids soap slides to Lansing

Special to the Record-EagleBars of Wildflower Soapworks Lake Michigan Breezes soap were included in gift bags distributed at Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's swearing-in ceremony.

ELK RAPIDS — Teresa Peck made a business trip to Lansing late last month to deliver 2,000 half bars of soap to then-Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer.

Whitmer included the soap in gift bags distributed at her oath of office ceremony on Jan. 1, said Peck, who owns Wildflower Soapworks in Elk Rapids.

"The recognition is nice, not only for our business, but also for our community," she said.

Whitmer's assistant ordered bars of Lake Michigan Breezes soap, Wildflower's most popular scent, according to Ashley Thompson, designer and soap maker.

"Looking back at our records, we saw she was a (Wildflower) customer," Thompson said of Whitmer. "She does visit the area, and has spent time in Elk Rapids."

"It was a nice size order," Peck said.

Whitmer's order was the largest Wildflower had received, but it didn't strain the shop's production capability.

"We make about 300 batches a year," said Peck, and each batch produces 72 bars.

Wildflower Soapworks has five employees, including two soapmakers, and two volunteers who enjoy spending time in the store.

The business makes and sells dozens of soap varieties, each with unique scent and appearance. Varieties include Isle Royale's Cedar, Wild Sage, Gardner's Dirt, Oatmeal Stout Beer, Old Mission's Riesling & Cabernet, Traverse Bay Cherry Almond, Jewelweed Anti-Itch, Charcoal Therapy and Petoskey Stone Happy.

Peck launched the business 16 years ago after her daughter wanted to make some soap for a school project. That project didn't happen, but Peck later tried soapmaking, enjoyed it and built her business around it.

"I think that her (Whitmer's) order — well, it's been very exciting to the staff here, as well as to the town of Elk Rapids," said soapmaker Madeline Vasquez.

Thompson said it takes time to make and cure soap.

"We had just the right amount of time to get it done," Thompson said. "It has to set for at least two days before we cut it into bars."

Then the bars need to cure for two or three weeks before it is ready to sell.

Peck said she always has been interested in natural products, and as soon as she experimented with soapmaking, she liked it. Her personal favorite scents are Lemongrass and Wilderness. The soap is made inside the store at 117 River Street. More information is available at www.wildflowersoapworks.com.

The business is thriving.

Peck's daughter, who originally brought home the soap-making idea, has moved on to other interests. She became a registered nurse. But now she's back in school studying forestry.

"So she's switching gears," said Peck.

Business Editor