‘Soapy’ Jones offers homemade products, support for arts scene

Erin “Soapy” Jones, owner and founder of Tuscaloosa’s Left Hand Soap Company, doesn’t just find passion and inspiration in her business. She also finds it in crusading to keep the arts alive in Tuscaloosa.

Jones recently played a critical role in the eventual resolution of the controversy surrounding “Turn Me On, Dammit,” a film about the coming-of-age of a 15-year-old girl in Norway set to screen at the Bama Theatre on July 17. Unhappy with the Tuscaloosa Arts Council’s original decision not to screen the film after objections from local pastors, Jones offered to sponsor a screening herself. Now, with help from Wellthatscool.com, the Left Hand Soap Company will completely fund the screening of the film on July 17. Despite the controversy, Jones said she remains positive about the influence of the arts in the Tuscaloosa community.

“Art speaks to intangible feelings, thoughts and ideas that give each individual the power to critically think and feel in an ever-growing world and deserves our support because of it,” she said. “Art is, by nature, controversial. It encourages public discourse and allows the community at large to reach out to the world outside the city. It is a community service – a cornerstone of the freedoms we enjoy and celebrate in the U.S.”

When she isn’t advocating art in the community, though, Jones still has a business to run—her other passion.

“I live my business,” she said. “It’s a 24-hour-a-day life. It’s home away from home.” Jones was inspired to start her business by her grandmother’s soap making and founded Left Hand Soap Company in 1999. The company’s mission is to create outstanding natural and organic body care products. Aside from handmade soaps, Left Hand Soap Company also sells lip salves, sugar scrubs and lotion bars.

“Both the founding members of the company are left-handed,” Jones said, explaining the origin of the business name. “Though, I’ve always been a fan of the double entendre.” The soaps are made from essential oils, herbs and organic ingredients, which are meant to suit various skin types. The Left Hand Soap Company website lists which soaps are suitable for oily, dry or normal skin, and soaps can be purchased by the bar or by larger “loaf” sizes. Becky Hicks, a buyer for Manna Grocery, has had great success selling Left Hand soaps, and the store has carried these products since 2007.

“The lavender and sage soap bar has been our biggest seller,” Hicks said. “They introduced some new scents earlier this year, and now the tea tree eucalyptus is the most popular.” Hicks said she also enjoys using the products herself.

“My favorite product is the carrot seed lip salve,” Hicks said. “I use it everywhere, not just my lips. It’s great for dry or cracked fingers.”

Thomas Risher Jr., an avid customer and private music teacher, learned of the Left Hand Soap Company shortly after moving to Tuscaloosa in 2006.

“I constantly switch between their many scents, but I do use their shaving soap everyday,” Risher said. “I use their soap because it does not leave my skin dry or ashy. Plus, it smells great, and I am supporting a local business that provides an outstanding product and service.”

Left Hand Soap Company products are sold at Manna Grocery, Grace Aberdean, the Kentuck Museum Gift Shop and on the company’s website. For more information, visit www.thelefthand.net.

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