CHAMBERSBURG – Milk Bath Company (115A S. Main St.) celebrated the grand opening of its brick-and-mortar location with a 9 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday. The Main Street storefront allows customers to see and smell the soaps before they buy them, witness the soapmaking process, and access the products of multiple woman-owned businesses.
According to the company’s Facebook page, Milk Bath creates “high-quality, natural bath products made with goat milk to help nourish and improve even the most sensitive skins.” Along with their handmade soaps, their product line includes lotions, body scrubs, masks and more.
“Every single bar is made up of primarily lard and goat milk, which is fantastic for the skin,” said Samantha Ecke, co-owner of Milk Bath, of her soaps. She added that her soaps are specifically good for sensitive skin, eczema and other problematic skin types.
She plans to keep a selection of bestsellers like “Oat & Honey” and “Black Raspberry Vanilla” in stock year-round, but she also wants to change it up seasonally. Right now, that means customers can find scents like “Christmas Tree,” “Winter Snow” and “Flannel Shirt” on the shelves. In the spring, she will transition to florals.
On a shelf along the wall, a bar of soap called “Voyager” rests on a stand like a miniature sculpture. Half of it consists of a blue and white marble pattern; the other half is made of black Icelandic sand.
Kevin Ecke, Samantha’s husband and co-owner of Milk Bath, explained that “Voyager” is visually reminiscent of a beach scene with rough waves. The sand is “a good exfoliant for the skin.”
There are also separate product lines for men and children.
The children’s line includes fun scents like “Bubblegum,” “Cotton Candy” and even one called “Monkey Farts,” which discerning noses will recognize as banana.
Samantha’s first attempt at soapmaking was a recipe that she had found online to help manage her son’s eczema.
“I made it, and it actually worked on his skin,” she said.
Then she began testing and altering the recipes until she was satisfied.
“I got it perfect. That’s when I started selling it, and Milk Bath has just exploded since then.”
In 2020, Ecke started selling the soaps through a combination of livestreams and multi-vendor shows. She discovered that she was making more money at the in-person appearances than she was online because customers could smell the soaps, and she was able to provide more personalized attention.
When the Eckes saw the Main Street location available for rent, they immediately inquired about it, and in less than two weeks they had the keys in their hands.
On the one-year anniversary of her first livestream, Ecke was cutting the ribbon on Milk Bath’s new location.
“This layout is perfect because I was looking for a storefront area,” said Ecke. “I wanted a bar area. I needed a sink so I can wash all of my stuff. I needed an office. There’s also an additional little room back there that I cure my soaps in. This could not have been a better layout. It was perfect.”
Another advantage of the brick-and-mortar location is that it allows Ecke and the other artisans to perform live demonstrations.
“Customers, when they come in, they can actually watch me make my soap,” said Ecke. “They’ll be able to watch me slice it. That’s the fun part because you actually get to see what’s inside.”
Visitors can follow her on Facebook to see when she will be slicing soaps in the shop, preparing themed bars or demonstrating particular techniques.
Additionally, Milk Bath’s in-store offerings are supplemented by the products of 20 additional vendors that offer everything from home décor to pet accessories.
“We have a little bit of everything,” said Ecke.
The other vendors will also be encouraged to demonstrate their skills in the store.
“I love watching these girls do their thing,” said Ecke.
Kevin explained that allowing other businesses to sell their wares out of their storefront provides a path for vendors to develop their products and find an audience without shouldering the overhead of a retail space.
“We’re in a position where our business is growing,” he said. “It’s what we can do to give back to other small businesses; being a small business ourselves.”
In addition to providing a platform for herself and other artisans, the opening of the Main Street shop has been one of Ecke’s professional goals.
“This has been, seriously, a dream that I have been talking about for a very, very, very, very long time,” said Samantha Ecke on the day of the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “It’s been an overwhelming experience, and I’m so thankful for everybody that has helped.”
[Featured image caption: Milk Bath Company owners Samantha and Kevin Ecke pose behind the counter of their new storefront located at 115A S. Main St. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the business on Dec. 11.]