Most of us probably don’t associate soap with works of art. I know I didn’t. Not until I visited the Daveno Soaps website. Here I found a virtual art gallery of eye-dazzling creations in swirling color combinations and vivid designs. I wanted to reach through the screen of my laptop and possess these masterpieces. With such visual appeal and accompanying descriptions, I desperately wanted to be able to smell these small, rectangular sculptures. Why oh why is there no scratch and smell feature on my laptop?
Dawn Shaver, soap artisan and owner of Daveno Soaps, came into her creativity and business in a twist of fate. A family member asked her if she wanted to make some homemade soap for the family. In taking on this task, Dawn found herself intrigued with the soaping process and the feel of the homemade soap on her skin. Thus, a soap artist was born in the small town of Davenport.
Dawn began by researching soap making on the internet. “Before I knew it, I was ordering supplies and making cold process soap,” Dawn explains. She was driven in part by the different skin care needs in her family, which ranges from dry, to sensitive, to normal. “I couldn’t go back to the store bought soaps.”
Soap design soon became somewhat of an obsession for Dawn. “I see soap in everything and now all I want to do is make soap!” she confesses. “I will see a tie or someone’s shirt and think to myself, ‘that would make a good batch of soap’.”
What started out as a hobby and labor of love, making soap for family and friends, became the seed of a business idea. Her youngest son, Connor, designed a logo “and before I knew it, I had a website and was selling soap.”
Dawn makes a direct connection between nature and making soap. “I love making soap and I love nature. I feel like they go hand in hand.” She originally only used base oils in her soaps “because they are good for your skin.” But nature became the inspiration for the ingredients she now adds to her soaps, like honey, coffee beans, beer, and pine tar, which is most men’s favorite.
While Dawn admits she was never good at science, she found that soaping is a scientific endeavor. “Oils, additives, fragrances, and essential oils do different things in different batches. I had to learn through trial and error which ones will work, and which ones won’t.” Dawn says she loves these challenges, and she is constantly learning. “I don’t mind that sometimes I have failed batches. It just makes the next batch better.” She confesses that the biggest challenge is actually the patience required with soap making. “I have a hard time sitting still. I like to stay busy.”
Where Dawn lacks in patience, she makes up for in creativity. “I feel I am a creative person and I usually never run out of ideas. I enjoy making things with my hands.”
Dawn’s innovations in soap making started with family, and family continues to contribute to her soap story. In addition to her son’s creative contributions, her grandchildren offer inspiration for her soaps as well. Her Unicorn Soap was born from her grandchildren’s creative suggestions. Dawn’s oldest granddaughter even helps with making bath bombs, a recent addition to the soap collection.
Dawn’s husband will soon be contributing his own creative endeavors in beekeeping to the business. Dawn’s looking forward to using her husband’s honey and beeswax in her products.
Dawn and her husband moved to Davenport in 2012 for their jobs. After growing in up big cities, they liked the “little hometown feel” of Davenport. Involvement with the Davenport community is also important to Dawn. “I like to help out our community so much that I do a Haunted House with food donations for entry. It gets bigger and bigger every year. I enjoy people enjoying themselves!”
Dawn also takes great pleasure in people enjoying her soap. “I love hearing people’s reaction to how they love my soap and what it does for them. I want to make products that are natural and easy on your skin. You cannot even pronounce the ingredients you see on store bought soap. Making people happy and enjoying my products is the number one priority for me.” This is also why she takes feedback from customers to improve her line. “I like to cater to my returning customers with things they would like to see in their next soap.”
With only one child left at home and only two more years until the empty nest, Dawn and her husband are thinking about retirement. “We need something to do and maybe make money at it. Well, now I know!”
To explore Dawn’s gallery of soap with enticing names like Himalayan Pine Tar, Galaxy, and Peacock, or delicious names like Raspberry Swirl, Pink Lemonade, and Mint Swirl, go to www.davenosoaps.com.