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Artisan soaps at new store appeal to the senses

Leigh Black Irvin
lirvin@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON — “Please do not eat the soap,” says a sign prominently displayed inside a new store located on Aztec’s Main Street.

Heber Henke, left, and Boston Henke talk about their new store, Soaps on Main, on Saturday in Aztec.

Soaps on Main is owned and operated by Aztec resident Boston Henke, who also owns the recently opened Boston Music Studios across the street.

The store offers hand-crafted artisan soaps and bath products in a variety of scents and shapes. Some of the soaps look and smell good enough to eat, including soaps shaped like cupcakes, chocolate fudge, oatmeal and honey, as well as chocolate truffles. Many are so visually appealing, Henke found it necessary to erect the warning about not tasting it.

Henke said she’s been making her own soap for years.

“My kids have super-sensitive skin,” she said. “I read every book I could on it, and I have a pioneering neighbor who taught me how to make it.”

Henke has been selling her hand-made soaps online for several years, and when it got to the point that her creations were selling out within 24 hours, she decided to open the shop. Like her dance and music studio, she decided to choose Aztec’s Main Street for her new shop location.

Cammy Glazier, left, and Sarah Ellsworth make soap at Soaps on Main on Saturday in Aztec.

“We have such a cool town, and we need some more shops to increase foot traffic,” she said. “I’m hoping this will help with our commerce.”

Henke and husband Heber also own all of the Mattress Outlets in Farmington, Durango, Colo., and Gallup.

“But these (Main Street businesses) are the fun ones,” Heber said. “This store totally reminds me of my wife — it’s her expressing herself.”

All of the soaps in the store, which cost between $5 and $6, are made on site from all-natural and local ingredients designed to be gentle on skin, Henke said. Even the goat milk in her honey oatmeal soap is provided by a neighbor, who delivers the milk to the store so it can be added to the soaps.

“The goat milk makes the soap super creamy,” she said.

Customer Dorcas Schirer sniffs one of the products at Soaps on Main on Saturday in Aztec.

A special offering at the store, said Henke, is a line of men’s soaps, candles and facial hair products, and she hopes to soon offer a beer soap.

Not all of the items in the store are made by Henke and her team. "Mandles" — candles with names like "The Biker," which smells like leather, and a bacon-scented "Carnivore" candle — are meant to appeal to the more masculine shopper.

“We really want the store to not just be for ladies,” she said. “And since the beard is making a comeback, we have a beard oil that enhances growth.”

Sarah Ellsworth, a Bloomfield High School senior, works part time at the rear of the store as a soap maker. She said it took her a few weeks to learn the craft of making soap.

“it’s a creative process mixed with science and chemistry. I love science, so I really like making the soap,” she said.

Because of Henke’s emphasis on supporting all things local, craftspeople from around the county will also be an integral part of her store, bringing in locally made quilts and crocheted washcloths to sell. Henke will also soon expand the store’s offerings to include hand-made hair products and natural detergents.

Soap made with coffee is displayed Saturday at Soaps on Main in Aztec.

Melissa Holthaus is the store’s manager. She says this is the most enjoyable job she’s ever had.

“I’ve been having so much fun,” she said. “It’s scientific, but it’s also fun and artsy. I like teaching everyone about all this wonderful stuff.”

Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621.

More information

What: Soaps on Main store

Where: 108 S. Main St. in Aztec

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday

Details: visit the Soaps on Main Facebook site or SoapsOnMain.com