Naomi Tompkins, Clearmont, started making handcrafted soaps in 1996, but that was just for starters.
In the years since, the hobby has turned into a part-time business — Naomi's Soaps, Etc. — which produces a wide variety of hygiene and body care products.
"I like to be able to do a little bit of everything," Tompkins said.
As a registered nurse, Tompkins believes many people tend to ignore proper skin care. And since, medically speaking, skin is the body's largest organ, she thinks it's something folks should pay more attention to.
Her handmade soaps contain natural glycerin, actually a byproduct of the soap-making process.
Large-scale soap manufacturers use chemicals to remove glycerin from their finished products in order to cut costs.
Rather than cleaning and moisturizing, Tompkins said these chemicals can cause skin to dry out.
Glycerin acts as an emulsifier in soap, meaning that it helps separate oil and dirt from the skin. It also attracts moisture that both soothes and hydrates.
After perfecting her homemade soap recipe, Tompkins expanded her product line to include lotion bars and creams, scrubs, lip products, butters and salves.
"Of course initially I just made soap," she said. "But you have all of the ingredients you need to make them all."
While teaching herself to become a master soap maker, Tompkins did extensive research and engaged in a lot of trial-and-error testing to develop products she believes are much healthier than their corporate counterparts.
During the autumn, she markets her products at craft fairs and also takes orders for weddings, baby showers, anniversaries and other events.
Currently her line features more than 30 scents based on naturally fragrant oils.
Some of her soaps also have special ingredients designed to ease the symptoms of eczema and other skin conditions.
"Sometimes you just have to use your imagination," Tompkins said. "My fragrances are relatively calm compared to a lot of others."
For anyone wanting to try soap making at home, Tompkins said that the two most important things to remember are research and the need to precisely measure ingredients.
"It really is something I enjoy doing," Tompkins said. "Many of my customers over the years have become close friends."
For more information about Naomi's Soaps, Etc., go to www.naomisoap.com.