by Nicole Rivard
The Fanciful Fox Soaperie hand-crafts vegan, palm-oil free bath and body products, using natural ingredients, in small batches with love.
Kathie Fox’s daughter Amanda decided to become a vegetarian when she was in sixth grade. She had read Charlotte’s Web and cried to her mom about how Wilbur didn’t want to die.
“She said, ‘Mom, I’m a vegetarian,” recalled Fox, “So we went to the store that same day and bought vegetarian cookbooks.”
Kathie shortly followed suit. Then the duo went to a vegetarian festival and heard a discussion about the horrors of the dairy industry, and they became vegans.
That was about 8½ years ago, and since then they have become a mother/daughter manufacturing team that hand-crafts natural vegan bath and body products that are environmentally responsible. They opened their Fanciful Fox store in 2008 in Scranton, Penn., after teaching themselves the art of soap-making.
While their products have always been free of animal products, they are now also palm oil free since Kathie found out how conflict palm oil production is causing massive rainforest destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia, pushing orangutans and other species toward extinction.
“When I learned how to make soap, I learned that the only way to duplicate the properties you get with animal oil soap is to use palm oil. I wasn’t even aware there was a problem with palm oil,” Fox said.
When she became aware of the issue, she bought only ”sustainable” palm oil from the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm producers.
“But then I started doing a little more research and I realized no one is able to police all of the palm plantations and buying something that has that stamp of approval on it is pretty useless,” Fox said. “There is no such thing as sustainable palm right now in my opinion.”
Like a scientist, she experimented with other plant oils and found a combination that does not endanger the planet, yet makes an excellent cold process soap that she cures for four to six weeks.
The mother-daughter team named the first three palm oil-free soaps after animals threatened by conflict oil production—the Sumatran tiger, orangutan and elephant.
“We just have to educate people,” Fox said. “When I realized that palm oil is actually hurting people and animals and the planet, I had to stop. I think most people would have that opinion too if they just knew.”
Speaking of people’s opinions, Fox said that best-selling items are her bar soaps, flavored lip balms and deodorant. Customers tell her that the Dead Sea soap is the “best soap they have ever used in their life.”
“It makes me feel so good that we can make a product that people really enjoy,” she said.
It also makes Fox’s day to see people find refuge in her shop, where they can watch her work at her craft.
“I am passionate about a peaceful environment where no exploitation of any kind is allowed,” she said. “Nothing comes from animals. Nothing in our store comes from human exploitation or sweat shops. You can feel it when you walk through the door.”
Never in a million years could Fox, a former part-time special-education teaching assistant, have predicted becoming a soap maker, she says. It was rainy day boredom that changed her life.
She and her daughter were looking for something to do at Michael’s craft store and bought a candle-making kit. They were so successful they started selling them at local craft shows. Then they discovered the wholesale source they were purchasing supplies from also sold soap-making supplies and thought it would be another fun craft to try. And they were right.
“I love my life. I get to go to work every day doing a job that I absolutely love,” said Fox. “And I get to be with my daughter every single day. We laugh every day.”
Visit Fanciful Fox’s brick and mortar at 342 Adams Ave., Scranton, Penn., call Amanda and Kathie at 570-558-3001, visit them online at www.fancifulfox.com, or check them out on Facebook.