Soaps by Hailey
By Alex Cantatore
Average 16-year-olds spend their free time chasing boys, playing video games, and generally avoiding homework.
But Hailey Kellstrom is far from average. At the age of 16, Hailey spends most of her free time making soap.
What started as a hobby has quickly become a potential career for Hailey. She sells her artisan, handmade “Soaps by Hailey” every week at the Turlock Certified Farmers Market, building up the sort of die-hard clientele that any entrepreneur would love to have.
It all started on New Year’s Eve, three years ago. Hailey, then 13, had always been crafty. So why not tackle a new project?
She followed a recipe and produced her first ever soap. The scent was either cucumber melon or fresh rain, a detail lost to the years.
But one thing about that first soap is unforgettable: “It was terrible,” her mother said with a laugh — a fact Hailey quickly confirmed.
After a few revisions, Hailey developed a recipe worth sharing. So she took it to her school, Turlock Christian.
At first, classmates didn’t know how to react to Hailey’s soaps, many of which feature unique scents and textures.
“They’re like, ‘What is this? This is weird,’” Hailey said.
But some students bought soap for themselves. Others bought soap for their mothers.
Hailey was in business.
She used her earnings to perfect her recipes. Hailey researched online, talked with other soap makers, and developed a bit of a following on Instagram.
Now, Hailey’s biggest seller is her own creation: vanilla latte soap. It incorporates used coffee grounds to exfoliate, and a goat’s milk and three- butter soap base to hydrate. And, of course, it smells delicious.
If coffee isn’t your scent, Hailey recommends her olive oil facial soap. It features lemongrass and tea tree essential oils — not the sort of thing you’d find in a drugstore.
“It’s different,” Hailey said. “People like that.”
She has a steady stream of customers as we talk, frequently interrupting our interview. She offers sniffs of the intoxicating scents, and talks knowingly of the healing properties of ingredients.
Many shoppers are repeat customers, full of stories about how much they love her soaps.
“It’s going really well,” Hailey said.
This is Soaps by Hailey’s third year at the Turlock Certified Farmers Market. She also sells her soaps at the Emporium, a Downtown Turlock boutique, and at numerous local craft fairs from Knight’s Ferry to Denair.
Soap making and selling keeps Hailey busy. She says she isn’t even sure what “normal kids” do to fill their time — between soap, school, cheerleading, and soccer, Hailey barely has time to breathe.
“I don’t have time to hang out with my friends very often,” Hailey said. “It’s kinda hard to keep up with it, but I’m doing it.”
What little spare time Hailey has is spent experimenting with new products. She hopes to add bath teas and chap sticks to her existing lineup of handmade soaps, scrubs and balms. One day, she’d like to experiment with making hot process soap — a potentially dangerous procedure that involves lye.
“I’m planning on doing that when I get older,” Hailey said.
Maybe one day, Hailey says, this hobby can become a career.
“My goal, I think, is to make enough money where I can open up my own business by the time I’m 21,” Hailey said.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/SoapsbyHailey.