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Vermont Soapworks Launches New Vermont SoapOrganics Line

One of the First Certified USDA Organic Bar Soaps

Middlebury, VT – Vermont Soapworks is once again leading the way in the personal care industry. Today, the company announced Vermont SoapOrganics, eighteen varieties of organic aromatherapy bar soaps for different skin types and conditions. Packaged in 100% recycled cartons and printed with soy-based inks, each bar is 3.5 ounces and the SRP is $3.99.

It is impossible under current organic guidelines for any soap company to make a 100% organic claim since all soap is made with alkali. Because their aromatherapy bar soaps, shower gels, liquid castile soap and non-toxic specialty cleaners are made with more than 70% organic ingredients, Vermont Soapworks packaging will state ‘made with organic oils.’ “We have been using organic ingredients in our natural soap products since we started in 1992, - this just makes it official,” says President Larry Plesent.

In addition to using certified organic ingredients in their products, Vermont Soapworks’ manufacturing operation is also certified as an U.S. Department of Agriculture organic processing facility. “We will be making organic soap products under our brand as well as for private labels,” Plesent says. The Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA), Vermont Organic Farmers, is the certifying agency.


Due to the recent explosion of consumer interest in organic products, being among the first soap companies to obtain certification may well be a tremendous business opportunity for the Middlebury, Vermont-based company. According to the Organic Trade Association (OTA) the annual sales of organic products in North America has grown to $13 billion and is growing by 20% per year. The OTA’s Manufacturer Market Survey reported that sales of organic personal care products grew 29% in 2002.

Although the 2002 National Organic Program (NOP) regulations established some guidelines for what is considered organic, it is geared primarily toward providing guidance and regulations for organic food. Therefore, much still remains to be clarified in the organic personal care arena. Vermont Soapworks and the Green Products Alliance, a non-profit organization co-founded by Plesent, are playing a key role in the establishment of firm guidelines for what “organic” means in the personal care industry. “It is important to distinguish the companies that are truly organic from those making unsubstantiated claims,” says Plesent.


Regardless of the organic certification, Vermont SoapOrganics bar soaps are a remarkable high-quality product. “Our bar soaps are mild and moisturizing due to the use of botanical ingredients, and to the handmade process itself,” notes Plesent. “It takes a month to make and cure a bar of handmade soap,” he adds. Natural plant-based ingredients and an alkaline solution are blended in small batches and poured into wooden block molds. The molds are warmed for several days, which forces the soap to set up very slowly. Excess alkali, a major cause of the dryness and irritation often found in conventional bar soaps, rises to the top like cream and is skimmed away. The soap is then aged in a special curing room for nearly a month. “This is the mildest way to make a bar of soap,” says Plesent. The company follows a strict definition of “natural.” The products are free of artificial colors, fragrances, preservatives, and animal by-products and they are not tested on animals. To learn more visit


Vermont Soapworks has grown from a kitchen-size operation in 1992 to the largest manufacturer of handmade natural soap in North America. Sales at Vermont Soapworks have increased steadily every year. The company now has 21 employees and has sold product in 43 countries under more than 40 in-house and private labels. The factory and outlet store have been upgraded and product lines have been expanded to include natural liquid soaps, bath gels, a groundbreaking Yoga Mat Wash and aromatherapy products. Earlier this year, the company unveiled a unique interactive soap museum along with expanded factory tours.

The origin of Vermont Soapworks is just as uncanny as the company’s meteoric growth over the past decade. Plesent started the company after experiencing severe skin problems from detergents used by his window washing company. “I enjoyed the excitement of window washing,” notes Plesent. “But the rashes and irritation on my skin were unbearable, that was when I began researching healthy alternatives for myself, and the many people like me that are sensitive to detergents and synthetic ingredients in so many personal care products.”


Vermont Soapworks has played a key role in the formation of The Green Products Alliance, a non-profit marketing and distribution organization for natural personal care businesses. The Green Products Alliance is advocating for healthy national organic guidelines for personal care products, helps educate consumers about natural products, and works to reduce costs through group buying power. For more information about the Green Products Alliance, visit

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