Las Cruces student Ariel Ely gets playful with her line of hand-crafted soaps, lotions, and bath products, Beaver Cleaner Soaps
Written by Cheryl Fallstead Photography by Robin Zielinski
Starting with a whimsical product name, lessons from her hobbyist mother, a desire to create healthy products, and a minor in chemistry, three years ago pre-med student Ariel Ely launched her business: Beaver Cleaner Soaps. She admits now that she was a bit naïve, hoping that with a fun name, her hand-crafted soaps would take off on their own. Ariel had a lot to learn about packaging and marketing, and says she is still discovering new things, but her soaps, now transplanted with her from Washington state to Las Cruces, are finding their niche.
Her custom soaps, infused with the brewery’s own beer, have been a hit at Picacho Peak Brewing Company. “They sold out really fast!” she enthuses. Part of her learning curve, when she was first selling her soaps while bartending in Washington, was that men were reluctant to buy a soap called Beaver Cleaner. So, she repackaged them for men with the name “Cleans the Beans.”
Another custom line of soaps is available at Old Barrel Tea and Spice Company in Mesilla. Ariel infuses this soap with the company’s Mountain Sunrise Tea, a rooibos with an orange aroma, to which she adds tea tree oil and orange essential oil. She also offers her standard line of soaps at Old Barrel, including her charcoal peppermint soap and Caribbean Coconut, which, she says, “Smells like an island.”
Her custom soaps, infused with the brewery’s own beer,
have been a hit at Picacho Peak Brewing Company.
Charcoal? In soap? you ask. Ariel explains, “I have a charcoal peppermint soap that is popular. Charcoal is really good for our skin and peppermint gives you a tingly feeling. The carbon in the charcoal really grabs on to all the dirt. It gives the soap a cool look: it turns black.”
Her soaps are all natural and plant based, with ingredients our great-grandmothers might have used, such as lye and castor oil, added to help make the soap lather richly, plus coconut or olive oil, and essential oils or fragrances.
Ariel’s interest in health as a pre-med student ties directly into her desire to make soaps and skin care products that are good for our skin. She explains that our skin is populated with good bacteria, much like our guts, and that her soaps help them flourish. One of her customers is a microbiologist who loves the soap because it preserves the microbiota on the skin.
Ariel says, “My whole goal is to make healthier, skin-loving products that are good for us.” She further explains that commercial soaps often have the glycerin removed for use in other products, but that the glycerin is good for our skin and is preserved intact in hand-crafted soaps.
She adds, “If you haven’t tried homemade soap, you have to try it because it isn’t like commercial soaps.”
Beaver Cleaner also offers lotion bars and bath bombs. A lotion bar is like a solid form of lotion, using harder oils and beeswax so it stays solid. Ariel puts it in a deodorant bottle so you can keep it in your purse or desk and apply it when you need it. Because it isn’t a liquid, you can take it on airplanes. Simply rub it on for spot application where your skin is dry.
Her liquid lotions are both preservative- and alcohol-free. “That’s a big deal for me and I’m really proud of my recipe. It took a lot of experimentation. A lot of lotions have alcohol in them as a preservative. My goal is for it to be healthier for your skin.”
Beaver Cleaner Soaps also offers bath bombs, which get tossed into a warm bath to provide fun fizz, delightful aromas, and essential oils that are great for your skin. Ariel makes them with oils such as peppermint, lavender, lemon, and eucalyptus, then adds colors that go with the scent, such as purple for the lavender bath bombs.
Next, she plans to add shaving cream and body scrubs to her line. She’s experimenting with different formulas and having friends and family try them out until she’s come up with the perfect combination of ingredients.
Ariel, when not making soaps, lotions, and bath bombs, works at a local restaurant and spends time with her boyfriend. She is also planning the next step in her education: admission to medical school.
“If you haven’t tried homemade soap, you have to try it because it isn’t like commercial soaps.”
Where to find it:
Her products are available at Old Barrel Tea and Spice Company in Mesilla (2319 Calle de Santiago) Picacho Peak Brewing Company (3900 W. Picacho Ave.), on Etsy, at various fairs and festivals, and through her website, beavercleaner.bigcartel.com. She hopes to be offering her wares soon at the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market. Find product updates on her Beaver Cleaner Facebook page, too.