People have different hobbies and passions in life, and for New Albany resident Judy Branch, her passion is soap. Branch owns Fabulous Fragrances LLC, her own soap company, specializing in 18 different fragrances, with scents ranging from vanilla bean to jasmine to magnolia. She recently added kudzu and pumpkin spice to her list.
Branch has worked as a teacher for 36 years and will retire Spring 2009 as an elementary school teacher at H. W. Byers Elementary School in Holly Springs, Miss. Branch was turned on to soap making by her friend Susan James, who had interest in the cold process of soap making as well as the hot process, in which glycerine is used instead of lye. James ended up staying with the glycerine soap and Branch continued to learn more about the cold process.
Branch was looking for something extra to do after she retired. “I am going to stay in it as long as I can stay in it because I enjoy it. It’s really good for dry skin and it softens your skin. I even have unscented for people that are allergic to different fragrances,” said Branch.
“I am just enjoying the making of soap. It is so rewarding to see the same customers coming back and buying more soap because it helps their skin,” said Branch.
It takes an hour to make a batch of soap (50 bars per batch). The oils are first mixed together, then goat’s milk, then water-soluble borax then the fragrance will be added for that particular soap’s scent. After everything is mixed together, the mixture is poured into a soap mold and set for eight hours before it is able to be cut. Then the curing process takes four to six weeks before the soap can be put on the market to sell.
“My mother Ann Starling is wrapping and labeling the soaps for me. She will be 79 in November and she is such a big help,” said Branch.
Goat’s milk has a high fat content, which makes it soft and good to the skin. Raw cow’s milk has the same fat content as goat’s milk but raw cow’s milk is rarer to find.
Branch said, “I am thrilled and I pray that my soap will help other people and I am very thrilled when someone tells me they like it because a milk-based soap is better for your skin. That encourages me to know that people are enjoying the soap and it is helping their skin.”
Bethany Dalton, tourism/community development director for Union County Development Association (UCDA), said, “We use it here at the UCDA office and I also put the soap in goody bags and packages for different events. I like the soap. It smells nice and it is soft on my skin.”
Branch will be at the Holly Springs Kudzu Festival on October 25, 2008 and plans to branch out in her soap business in the future after her retirement.