Jackie Hall never imagined she’d turn her hobby into a business – now she can’t keep ahead of Yellowknifers’ penchant for products.
Former government director turned Yellowknife entrepreneur Jackie Hall has been helping Yellowknifers stay squeaky clean for almost two years through Prosperous Lake Soap Co.
Now retired, Hall launched her company in May 2019 while she was still working for the GNWT Department of Infrastructure.
Side projects that tap into her creativity have been a part of Hall’s life for as long as she can remember.
“I’m always doing something weird,” she said.
The Prosperous Lake soaps and self-care products were born out of a soap-making book Hall dabbled in while she was home with her son in his younger years.
She recalls gifting the soap to friends and family “who were all very kind,” though Hall said her soaps were initially terrible. “They looked like dog turds. Not at all like the pictures in the book.”
That was almost two decades ago.
Hall eventually lost interest and turned her attention to other creative hobbies until a friend pulled out a soap of Hall’s that she had kept all these years.
“It reminded me how much I really liked that so I made another effort,” she said.
She suspected she would sell a handful of products, enough to cover the costs of materials, but never expected to turn her hobby into a proper business. Now, she admits she can’t keep up with demand.
Things were going well before the pandemic, but since March, Hall said business has taken off.
With the stress of the Covid era, people are looking to gift loved ones products that promote self-care, she said, and often that leads them to Prosperous Lake.
Though Hall admits she sometimes feels overwhelmed by the appetite for her products, producing them “is a joy,” she said.
As a team of one, Hall creates her own soaps, candles, shampoo and conditioner bars as well as the related packaging and marketing materials. All eco-friendly, pure, natural ingredients. If there is plastic in packages, she stresses that it’s been recycled.
When possible, she looks to source her materials close to home. It’s not always feasible to buy Yellowknife-based ingredients in the quantities she requires but Hall said all her supplies are purchased from Canadian companies.
Once the ingredients arrive, making the soaps only takes a couple of hours. It’s the curing that takes weeks. Since Prosperous Lake Co. only uses natural oils and butters, the soaps tend to be softer than other generic bars. The curing process, which for Prosperous Lake soaps takes about a month, allows the ingredients to sit and harden.
While the formula for soap-making remains primarily the same between products, Hall is always experimenting with new ingredients, new scents and essential oils to freshen up her repertoire.
She explained that her excitement for new things can sometimes pose a challenge when one product sells out and she’s already on to the next with a new set of inventory.
“One of my problems is that I can’t stop coming up with things,” she said. “I want to try this and try that and always want to make stuff.”
“In some cases, I have to terminate certain products and I have to try to limit myself and keep myself in check,” she said.
Since its inception, Prosperous Lake Soap Co. has partnered with Barren Ground Coffee, the Woodyard Brewhouse, Janet Pacey and other Yellowknife businesses.
Hall said she couldn’t have imagined that her soap-making hobby would have grown into the business it is today.
“Yellowknife is so good to small, local business,” she said. “People are always willing to give you a chance.”
“I want to emphasize how appreciative I am to be in a small community. Yellowknife is so gracious.”