• UO Studio Visits: Outlaw Soaps

    For this installment of Local Beauty, we're headed to the Bay Area for a study in soap-making with Outlaw Soaps, the Oakland-based line whose products are inspired by the attitude of some famous rule-breakers. Who says you can't be both rebellious and clean, right? We talked with co-owner Danielle Vincent about tiki bars, irreverence, and how a random stop at a Paso Robles farm stand inspired a business.
    Photography by Keko Jackson.




    What's the Outlaw Soaps elevator pitch?

    We make exciting soaps for adventurous people. Everything we do is filled with love and laughter and the same irreverence that we feel toward life overall. We want the people who use our soaps...[have] a daily reminder of whatever it is they're passionate about, whether that's a big ol' bonfire on a camping trip or a quiet desert at sunrise. 


    What’s the backstory? 

    It seems kind of random, but I guess everything does from a certain angle. Russ (my husband and business partner) and I were on our honeymoon outside of Paso Robles on the 46. We stopped at a farm store and I ended up picking up some soaps, not really thinking much of it. Over the weeks that followed, I got really attached to them because they reminded me of that wonderful trip, and I thought, 'Hey, what if I could make soaps that reminded me of everything I wanted to be reminded of!' So we started studying how to make soaps. A week after we launched officially, we got a huge order for shaving kits and I quit my job. We moved to Oakland shortly after that. Many of the pictures on the vision wall are from that farmhouse store. It's really where I see us going in the next five years. 


    What is "ridiculous soap"? 

    We don't take ourselves too seriously and we have a lot of very funny friends. If someone comes up with a soap funny enough for me to spit coffee into my keyboard, we sometimes give it a shot. That's how Unicorn Poop came up: my friend Gretchen's daughter had the idea and I happened to have a lot of baked goods scents around (like blueberry muffin and birthday cake), so we decided to try it. And of course, it became everyone's favorite soap right away.


    Why Oakland? 

    Oakland was a very convenient place for us to settle. We live and work in a very, um, "safety-challenged" area in Oakland. We chose this place for very practical reasons: the rent is cheap and no one minds if we wander around looking like the cast of Breaking Bad (we wear a lot of safety gear when we're working). 

    In addition to being practical, though, Oakland has really grown on us personally. There are lots of amazing places, and it's wonderful to see places like Jack London Square and downtown being revitalized. There's a lot happening in Oakland now. 



    Can you share some favorite things that are happening in the area? 

    I have always loved Jack London Square. Heinolds's First and Last Chance Saloon is one of the most magical places on the planet, let alone in Oakland. It's a very eccentric place, but it also feels like they kind of expected you to come in and make yourself at home. Very comforting. 

    Recently, I went to an exhibition at Redux Studios and Gallery in Alameda, and it was wonderful. Alameda is just overall idyllic, but their growing art scene is significant. I feel like they're building a very unique and independent culture over there. And speaking of Alameda, Forbidden Island Tiki Bar is THE HANDS DOWN MOST AMAZING TIKI BAR EVER. Yes, it's all-caps amazing. I have quite a lot of glassware from there (they have cocktails that come with their own cup to take home). It's just wonderful. 

    The place I always go when I happen to find myself in the city (that's what we Oakland people call SF) is the American Grilled Cheese restaurant. I am a huge fan of cheese and the New American has the best grilled cheese sandwiches ANYWHERE. 


    Who are some of your favorite outlaws—historic or just general rule-breakers? 

    Of course, I'm partial to fellow soap salesman, Soapy Smith. He had a slick swindle where he'd slip some money into the soap wrappers and then just sell off the soaps seemingly at random. People would go crazy buying the soaps hoping to get what sometimes was as much as $100 (and in 1870s money, that's a lot). Of course, Soapy didn't ever sell the winning soaps to the general public, he just sold it to his friends and got the money back at the end of the gig. 

    My favorite outlaws are the ones who have a touch of humanity in their outlaw dealings... one outlaw, Tom Bell, was a surgeon and had a habit of bandaging up any victims hurt in his hold-ups. I mean, sure, he stole all their money, but that's no reason to be cruel about it. 
     

    Quick: recommend one product to us (If we can only have one). 

    Sage Copper Canyon soap. It will absolutely change your viewpoint for the rest of the day. 


    What are you working on next? 

    We just launched a lotion-to-go. It's called The Stick-Up and it's kind of like a big glue stick, but instead of glue, it's lotion. It can get through airport security, it lasts a long time, it's amazingly nourishing and soothing, and it smells incredible.


    Shop Outlaw Soaps in UO Beauty!