Soapmakers Samantha and Bruce Story-Camp are bubbling with excitement and gratitude.
The owners of Homestead-based Pip & Lola’s Everything Homemade are poised to open their second location on April 21 at The Mall at Robinson. There, they’ll sell a variety of handmade, vegan- and vegetarian-friendly soaps, lotions, bath bombs and other skincare items that get you clean without overpowering fragrances.
Through their Buy Two Donate One program, local women’s shelters, food banks and charities will receive free, full-size bars of soap. They’ve donated more than 6,000 since August 2020.
Pip & Lola’s, named after the couple’s two youngest children, started 15 years ago as a hobby in the family’s kitchen. Samantha Story-Camp, the head soapmaker, used crockpots and basic utensils to whip up small batches of natural, lightly scented soap that her son — one of the company’s namesakes — could use on his sensitive skin.
While they started their Etsy shop with 11 kinds of bar soap, they now make more than 250 varieties at their Homestead HQ, plus an assortment of lotions, lip balms, candles and other items.
The brand’s customer base has grown exponentially along with their product line.
To keep up with the demand, the Story-Camps launched an Indiegogo campaign on March 15 to raise money for industrial soapmaking equipment, including a 20-gallon stainless steel lye tank, oil melters, immersion blenders and commercial soap cutters. The company met its $10,000 goal within days, and raised a total of $14,342.
This fall, they plan to open a third site at a yet-unnamed location in Pittsburgh.
The success of Pip & Lola’s is due, in large part, to their generosity.
When Covid hit and many soap companies and suppliers started upping their prices to cash in on the world’s obsession with hand-washing, the Story-Camps started giving customers 25% off their entire purchase over $10.
“This is a crazy, scary thing that’s happening. I can’t fix it, but I can help. I like supporting philanthropic companies. As we grow, I want to become a B Corporation,” Samantha Story-Camp says, referring to entities such as Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia that use their business model as a platform for good.
A self-described Army brat who has lived all over the world and dabbled in different careers — from real estate and waitressing to journalism and theater — Samantha has a knack for marketing. The store slogan is “Think of us while you are wet and naked!” and she regularly posts fun videos on the company’s social media channels.
It’s a way for the actress to connect with an audience now that the virus has made traditional performances impossible.
She sees the locations of Pip & Lola’s as stages and wants to give people something to cheer about.
“I don’t see our customers as dollar signs,” she says. “No one is allowed to leave the store empty-handed. We’ll give you samples so you can find a soap that works for your skin.”