By Katie Hughes
Bella Mi Soap Company is one of the newest additions to the North Williams Corridor. At a time when many products you find on the shelves are laden with chemicals or tainted by greenwashing, it’s refreshing to find a business that actually lives up to the principles of sustainability.
Owner Kathy Bachman worked as a reporter for the Associated Press and USA Today, traveling to some of the world’s farthest corners before deciding to shift to the beauty product world. Through her travels she saw soaps and lotions as a “little bit of luxury and little bit of celebration, they were something to give me a lift and feed my soul”. She saw her favorite natural product stores being bought by large corporations and changing their ingredients to lower quality ones while raising prices. As a result Kathy started doing her research. While walking down Alberta she noticed that there wasn’t a store that focused on natural, handmade, local beauty products. Kathy tested different recipes and ingredients for months before she started making and selling soap at Portland’s Saturday Market. Business grew year after year, and last October Kathy and her two business partners opened the storefront.
I spent about an hour with Kathy and her two business partners, exploring the store and their soap making room. Kathy made sure to install windows into their production room so people can see where and how their soap is being made. Bella Mi sells soaps, sugar and salt scrubs, lip balms, lotion bars and bath teas. They also recently started a baby line and will be releasing a shampoo bar, salt soaps and other products soon. Kathy also hopes to hold soap making classes for the local community.
Bella Mi’s philosophy is to embody nature in the products, use only the best quality ingredients, and buy local ingredients as much as possible. They only use natural ingredients, including their fragrances and cosmetic grade colorings. Their products are also vegan, and they ensure that their ingredients only come from places that use sustainable production methods. For example, they purchase palm oil from Malaysia, since other countries are cutting down rain forests to make room for palm trees.
Their products also happen to be beautiful. The soaps are topped with different natural ingredients such as tea or citrus. Bella Mi also offers free gift wrapping, using recycled paper wrapping and raffia. Bella Mi also donates excess soap to the rescue mission and supports other Saturday Market vendors in her store. There are currently four other local artisans who sell their products at Bella Mi.
Their “soap truffles” are one of my favorite products, Kathy decided to use their soap ends to make the adorable “truffles” that look good enough to eat. I’ve personally tried their lip balm, lotion bar and several of their soaps and can attest that they are wonderful. My favorite soaps (so far) are the “Toasty” with oatmeal and “Bliss” with charcoal.
Bella Mi is located a few blocks north of Eliot at 3608 N Williams Ave. Their website will be up soon, and they can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.