They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Sandie Ledray must have thought about this when she started her Seattle-based business, Brookside Soap Inc., dedicated to the creation of gentle, all-natural soap products. "I'm a fair-skinned redhead, and had a lot of trouble with the products that were out there," explains Ledray. "I wanted something natural."
When Ledray, now 37, found that many commercial soaps irritated her sensitive skin, she began making her own soap and laundry detergent, both free from synthetic materials and animal products. Today, her product line consists of eight varieties of bar soap, such as Tangerine & Witch Hazel, Cinnamon Hand Scrub, and Avocado & Calendula, as well as Best Friend Pet Shampoo, formulated specifically for dogs and cats.
Ledray's soaps were an instant success even before she started Brookside in 1988. She started out making soap in her kitchen for her own personal use. "Friends would go away with armloads of the stuff," recalls Ledray. Soon after her acquaintances discovered Ledray's soaps, friend Mary McIsaac, now 51, contributed half of the pair's initial $300 investment for a stainless steel mixing kettle and the two basic ingredients needed for soapmaking--oils and sodium hydroxide. When Brookside was incorporated in 1990, Ledray presented McIsaac with half of the stock and made her vice president and co-owner.