Golden’s Spinster Sisters is cleaning up in the soap, lotion and skin-care business
It all started with a small batch of soaps that Kelly Perkins made as Christmas presents for friends. That was such fun that Perkins decided to try to sell her soaps at the Highland Street Fair in 2010. And that was such fun (“I was outside, meeting people, drinking beer—there are worse ways to spend a weekend”) that in 2011 she expanded to other local markets and invented a body butter. And that was such fun that in 2012 she quit her day job as a business analyst and incorporated as Spinster Sisters. (That’s a bit of a misnomer, since Perkins is married— to a chemist, no less—and her sister is not involved in the business.)
As Perkins is the first to admit, all along she had no idea what she was doing. “At first, I didn’t know how to make soap—and I had no clue about wholesale or retail. My first packaging was the ugliest, most pathetic thing ever—like, labels from Office Depot or something.” But she found that, through “a lot of research,” she could teach herself just about anything she needed to know. “You wouldn’t believe how much I learn every day. I used to sit in front of a computer all day. Now I’m formulating skin-care products and working on trademarks and wholesale pricing. It’s a whole new world.”
Perkins has invented all of the company’s formulations—she now makes and sells 38 “nice, soothing scents” of soap (she cheekily refers to Spinster Sisters as a “microsoapery”) and about 250 products total, including bath bombs, lip balms, shaving soaps for men, mustache waxes and shampoo. “All of my products are made with ingredients that people have in their kitchen: olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, beeswax, coffee grounds, sugar. Inventing the formulas is my favorite part of the job—we have a new face scrub coming out, with French green clay and walnut husks and activated charcoal and jojoba and coconut oils, and we’re all obsessed with it. It’s awesome.”
The company has grown so rapidly that Perkins now has 13 employees (all women, coincidentally), 400 wholesale customers across the country, a warehouse and retail store in Golden, and two other stores, one in Cherry Creek North and one in RiNo. “It turns out that I just love retail,” Perkins says. “I love meeting customers; they’re super engaged in small business. It’s just a super feel-good profession.”
Flagship store: 908 12th St., Golden
RiNo store: 3070 Blake St.
Cherry Creek North store: 2628 E. Third Ave
THE BUSINESS: A “microsoapery” offering more than 30 “flavors” of handmade soaps, as well as a full line of shaving products, moisturizing lotions, salves, soaks, scrubs and more.