Bear Soap Co.’s latest bestseller might have begun as an accident, but the bath bombs for toilet bowls are making a splash as shoppers discover a cheeky new stocking stuffer that fizzes beyond the holiday season, said Matt Bramlette.
“The toilet bombs can be a fun novelty gift; or they can be something that people try once, like how it works and continue to use it,” said Bramlette, who co-owns Soap Bar (the Westport brick-and-mortar shop for the Bear Soap Co. brand) with his husband, Rick Leavitt. “We sent a batch to the Made in KC Marketplace [in Lenexa and the Country Club Plaza], and they all sold.”
Click here to check out Bear Soap Co. and other items from Startland News 2021 gift guide at Made in KC Lenexa.
Toilet bombs are intended “for when things get really stinky.” As an alternative to room spray, one of the small pods can be thrown into the toilet bowl after flushing to cover up unpleasant smells, Bramlette explained.
The innovative product came about unintentionally, he admitted.
“We were cleaning up the workshop after making a batch of shower steamers, and we usually pour the remnants down the toilet,” Bramlette recalled, noting that the steamers contain baking soda and are harmless to pour down drains.
“We started noticing how good the bathroom smelled when we poured the remnants into the toilet and didn’t flush it,” he continued. “That’s basically how the idea of toilet bombs spawned — it was a happy accident.”
Around the same time, the team at Soap Bar had been working with a customer who had personally requested single-use shower steamers (essentially a bath bomb that fizzes and releases essential oils while showering).
“Like most of our products, it came out of customer interaction. … As we were working on this mini version of the shower steamer, we had our mold maker create this smaller mold,” Bramlette said, noting that it later became the mold for their toilet bombs. “Ultimately, the toilet bomb was born from the shower steamer; and the shower steamer was born from the bath bomb. It is all an extension of the bath bomb.”
Click here to check out all of Soap Bar’s products.
The ingredients in Bear Soap Co.’s shower steamers and toilet bombs differ in that the toilet bombs do not have any colorant in order to prevent staining — but they include double the amount of fragrance.
Although sales for the toilet bombs have been doing well, Bramlette’s businesses have posted less revenue than in 2020, he said, candidly.
“It’s definitely an effect of the pandemic, but in a slightly different way,” he explained. “A lot of the businesses along the street [of Westport Road] closed, so that’s less of a draw for tourists or anybody coming down from the suburbs. I think that’s hurt our foot traffic a lot, as well as the lack of travelers coming in.”
Click here to read more about how the pandemic affected Soap Bar.
With the holidays right around the corner, Bramlette encouraged shoppers to be intentional about what businesses they support.
“We’re strongly about shopping local; we own two local gift stores, so our whole livelihood is in this,” Bramlette said, referencing Mid Coast Modern, just a couple storefronts away from Soap Bar. “We also employ local people, and it helps keep more of our dollars in Kansas City.”
There’s also a more personal connection with shopping locally, he added. At Soap Bar, the workshop in which they make all their products is located in the back of the retail space.
“The purpose for that is so customers can actually step into the space and watch the process,” Bramlette said. “They get pretty excited about it; and whenever you get to meet the people who are a part of it all, it makes the buying experience more special.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.