[DENVER] Kelly Perkins loves coming up with new products. It’s her favorite thing—developing recipes with just the right ingredients. She might even admit to being addicted to the process of making soap.
And why not? It’s a methodical, meditative and fragrant process, especially the way Spinster Sisters makes soap.
The garage door of the company's Golden production facility is thrown open on the sunny day when I visit. Fragrant lavender is distilling out front; inside, young women measure and pour, stir and blend, emitting the most wonderful mix of scents you ever wanted to smell.
Kelly has been making soap since 1994, when she decided to create an alternative to the chemical mishmash that went into most bath and body products on the market at the time.
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She kept her day job, working as an operations manager in a travel agent call center and then as a business analyst. But in 2011, Kelly decided to take her passion full time, and Spinster Sisters has blossomed like wild daisies ever since, with three retail stores in the Denver metro area and 400 wholesale clients nationwide.
One of the key ingredients of the business’s success is Kelly’s continued commitment to natural, local, raw, pure ingredients. After all, what you put on your lips and skin passes in. And the quality of components makes a difference in the health of the growers and makers, too.
It comes from wonderful places in wonderful ways. There’s a lavender bed at the Spinster Sisters production facility, and Kelly has tiered beds at home. Her sister-in-law has an “insane” bed of rosemary. Friends give her bags of rose petals. Kelly joined a co-op to get other botanicals. What she can’t get here—we don’t grow much coffee or palm oil in Colorado—she buys Fair Trade whenever possible.
And that hip packaging in which all Spinster Sisters goods are wrapped? The paper is biodegradable. And the shrink wrap is made from corn. You can throw it in your garden as compost, friends!
Kelly’s committed to local, to sustainable, and she doesn’t outsource a thing. Even further, her products are intensely personal. The Monster Repellant was developed for a friend’s little girl who was struggling to fall asleep. The dogs on the front of the pet products? They’re hers, including a rascally rescue. Kelly still loves to get her hands in the mix, quite literally—and again, why not? They’ll be softer and healthier for it.
Local Universe gives back! We're donating 5 percent of our proceeds of sales of Spinster Sisters products to the Foothills Animal Shelter.
The name of the company invites some clever slogans. (“I shower with Sisters.”) But Kelly is a warm, welcoming and lovely woman, not at all what one might think of as spinster-ish, so I had to find out from whence "Spinster Sisters" came.
“My sister and I used to live together and always joked about how we were going to be spinsters. I think I was about 30 at the time!” Kelly says. “I had made my first batch of soap as Christmas gifts, and my sister made some Christmas ornaments (completely unrelated to skin care). She came home one day and said there was a holiday craft fair being held at her place of work—did I want to do it? I said yes, but we need a name…so I threw “Spinster Sisters” out there and it just kind of stuck. That is the only time my sister ever had anything to do with the name, but when I decided to follow this dream, I wanted to stick with it. I love it. We are both married now, but it was an important time in my life, and my sister is awesome.”
Kelly’s family has grown. Her business has grown. Her product line has grown. But that doesn’t mean she’s resting on her laurels—or any other kind of botanical, for that matter. She has big plans for Spinster Sisters, while still maintaining the commitments with which she established the company.
“I am as Type A as they get,” Kelly says, “so I have my eyes set on the likes of Lush and Burt’s Bees. Really, I just want to keep growing the company, and doing good things for the environment through it. We have a huge focus on sustainability, and I want to expand that focus as we expand the company. I want to be conscious about how we grow and show people that it is possible to do the right thing, and still make a living doing it. We just bought an electric vehicle this weekend to use for markets, store restocks, errands, etc. And when we recharge it, it will be charged using wind and solar energy. Literally zero emission. That feels really good to me.”
That feels really good to us, too. Almost as good as her luscious Backcountry Balm. (See the I Heart Colorado Sampler Set.) We feel pretty fortunate to have met such a dynamic and successful business owner with such phenomenal passion for doing things in a healthy and thoughtful way. But according to Kelly, the pleasure is all hers.
“This is a super fun job, and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to do it,” she says. “So I am really grateful for that.”