Meet the Maker: Jennifer Kleinpaste of Bridlewood Soaps
How an Orangeville mom made homemade soaps and beauty oils her business.
At Bridlewood Soaps’ new shop on Orangeville’s Richardson Road, founder Jen Kleinpaste’s œuvre of craft-paper-wrapped soaps, oils and bath products are tucked onto rustic wood shelves and displayed like bakery treats in huge glass jars. At one end is a luxurious essential oil bar.
That’s where Jen and staffer Jessica Marchildon will blend you a custom scent. But you’re just as likely to find Jen there by herself, droppers of lavender, orange or rosemary in hand.
“This is where I come to play with scents when I’m creating a new product,” says Jen in her workday black apron. It’s where the citrus blend in her creamy new body whip moisturizer came from, for one.
Other clever releases include a gentle baby line, hipster men’s shaving products and a high-end face elixir made with rosehip and sea buckthorn. “A lot of care goes into each one,” she says.
Until last year, all that care happened in the basement of the Orangeville home Jen shares with her husband and two small children (that’s where Jen made the products we covered here back in 2016). Now the warehouse behind the shop – she has 1,800 square feet in total – is HQ.
A flooded basement was the catalyst that pushed Jen to find new professional digs. Jen wasn’t worried about damage to her wares. Instead she (and her husband) sensed she was a little too excited about ripping up all that soggy carpet and annexing the newly bare concrete floor next to her “soap room.” With that she realized, “It was time to think about getting the business – and the soap factory smell – out of the house.”
Blending up phosphate- and sulphite-free products for friends and family was a sideline back in 2013 after her first child was born, but became a full-time job. She took just three days off when her second child was born two years ago during the holiday rush.
She rented the new space in February 2017 and the storefront was ready in November. In addition to Jessica, Jen now also has help from her brother Mark Bechtel, who works on marketing and sales to about 60 retailers across Ontario and Quebec (with a minor in designing and making the brand’s rustic barn board displays).
It is still a small-batch operation, but the move has allowed Jen to upsize those batches. She shows me the huge drums of sustainable coconut and palm oils and giant stainless steel mixing pots that required elbow room. There’s a wine-cellar-style curing room where slabs of soap with foodie scents like lemon poppy seed and orange turmeric sit for up to eight weeks on, fittingly, bakers’ racks. Shipped too soon they would shrink enroute, their labels falling off.
Up next? Jen and her team are designing the packaging they will need if they decide to seek wider national distribution. But they’re tackling this as mindfully as Jen would tackle any new blend at her essential oil bar.
“We want to make sure we love it,” she says.
- Bridlewood Soaps, 450 Richardson Rd, Unit 6, Orangeville. 647-618-1958. bridlewoodsoaps.com