By Emma Castleberry
Hazelwood Soap Company (HSC) was born before the era of in-home internet. Inspired by a vendor at a tailgate market, Diana Laursen borrowed a library book and taught herself how to make soap through trial-and-error.
“Many costly mistakes happened, and thankfully my husband’s chemistry experience came in handy and saved several batches,” she says. “Before long, we had our own batches of soap made with luxurious oils and then we were hitting the tailgate markets.”
After building a local reputation with their highquality products, Laursen and her husband John opened the Hazelwood Soap Company store in downtown Waynesville in 2007.
“We decided to move into a brick-and-mortar storefront as a result of solid customer loyalty,” she says. “Our customers have been and always will be our biggest commodity.”
HSC offers a selection of bar soaps, lotions, sugar scrubs and washes in creative scents like Pomegranate Mint and Coconut Lemongrass. Long-time customer Sheila Mraz says the products make excellent gifts.
“You can write a sweet note with it and personalize the label so that it is unique for the person opening up that present,” Mraz says.
Another long-time customer, Julie Mulhern, has happy memories of the family feel at the HSC store. “Waynesville is a small community and it is great for us to have unique shops like the Hazelwood Soap Company,” she says. “The really neat thing about them is that they are truly a family business.”
A visitor to the Hazelwood Soap Company is likely to be greeted by one of the Laursen’s four children. Between the ages of 11 and 18, they help with all stages of the business, from making soap in the back to running the store.
“From an early age they would greet customers, help package up gift bags and take part in our marketing campaigns,” Laursen says. “It has always been important for us to teach our children through our business that honesty, hard work and providing quality products will pay off in the end.”
The family’s eldest, Kyla, will be heading off to college next year. Her participation in the family business has helped her make informed financial decisions for her future.
“We see that our business model, which includes a budget and perseverance, has made a difference when she looks at college expenses,” Laursen says.
Kyla’s absence will make room for one of the younger children to take on more responsibilities at the store. Though one member of the clan will be less visible in daily operations, the HSC store is sure to be as bustling as ever.
“It is important that we continue to keep our hands in every aspect of our business and there is never a dull moment in the soap shop while we juggle it all,” Laursen says.
Hazelwood Soap Company is located at 435 Hazelwood Avenue in Waynesville. For more information, visit hazelwoodsoapcompany.com.