Looking Back at the Decision to Start a Handmade, Natural Soap Company

Danielle A. Vincent
3 min readFeb 20, 2023
We had some pretty basic packaging in the early days.

Ten Years.

We started Outlaw Soaps in 2013 because natural, handmade soap seemed like something we could start with very little money ($18, in fact) and grow to a large business that might someday create a profound positive change in the world.

We always wanted to do it the right way from the start.

Neither Russ nor I are super wealth-conscious people, and, totally honestly, it seemed like there had to be a way to build a company that had the kind of values that we believed (and still believe) all companies should have. We imagined — in my Oprah-infused idealism of “For the Greatest Good, For the Greatest Number” — that a company could be built that was:

  • Completely unique in the scent profile, so that nothing we did would already be on the market (that’s just straight-up good marketing sense)
  • Made with high-quality, natural ingredients (we got our first real ingredients from Whole Foods… that was a very expensive batch of soap!)
  • Focused on sustainability absolutely as much as we could. We know that sustainability is really hard because it costs more, and hardly anyone wants to pay more.
  • Hilarious! I wanted to be able to be myself in our packaging and product descriptions. (at one point, I even designed a half-dog, half-chicken that looked like a t-rex if you lined up the back of the soap packaging just right)
Hilarious handmade soap packaging
  • Ethical employers. We didn’t have employees until many years after we started, and even then (especially then), we made some pretty poor choices in hiring (live and learn!)… but I knew I wanted to provide health insurance that included mental health benefits.

Over the years, we added more stuff… first, we added solid cologne, then body wash, spray cologne, and deodorant. We did candles… air fresheners. Basically, if our customers asked us to make it, we did what we could.

I wanted Outlaw to be a democratic company.

Ten years later, I can honestly say I’m a different person.

They say you never step into the same river twice because the water’s always moving. But you don’t step out the same person, either. I mean, for one, you’re wet. You carry the river with you… sometimes just a little, sometimes by the bucketful.

But the river doesn’t change.

And that’s why I don’t like that analogy. I want to create positive, meaningful impact in the world. I want to make the river better, and I want to be made better by the river.

That’s what it’s been like being the CEO of Outlaw.

I’m a better person because of our customers. And I hope they feel better because of what we bring into their lives, too.

Being an entrepreneur is the best job and the worst job I’ve ever had.

And I’d feel blessed if I could do it for another 10. 🥂

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Danielle A. Vincent

CEO of Outlaw — https://LiveOutlaw.com — award-winning entrepreneur, published author, and incurable optimist (the doctor says it’s terminal)