Lana's homemade soaps
-- a single spark of interest ignites a creative business idea
Vendors selling ground provisions, homemade sweet treats, spices and even shoes and clothes on the pavements of Roseau are a familiar sight.
But seeing someone selling homemade soaps-- colorful, fragrant soaps made right here in Dominica with the seller's very own hands -- is not a common sight at all.
That's why Lana Letang tends to catch people's attention as she vends her soaps in city streets. She caught our attention one morning not long ago.
We came upon Lana as she was sitting on the pavement alongside King George V Street with an array of homemade soaps with neat little labels, laid out before her.
Curiosity got the better of us and we decided to find out a little more. How did this enterprising young lady come to be producing and selling such an unusual commodity?
Her answer is intriguing. A single spark of interest is all it took to ignite a creative business idea with boundless potential.
Lana says from childhood days she had a keen interest in body care products. So she did not hesitate to seize an opportunity to learn to make soap, which was given to her and others by the Dominica Youth Business Trust through the Peace Corps.
That was in 2010.
After successfully completing her training, she spent a while honing her skills by making soap on a part-time basis. Last year, she decided the time was right to take up soap making fully.
Now she is whipping up a variety of body care concoctions that smell good enough to eat -- please don't though!
She calls her business En-Kai Creations and she makes her products in Canefield and sells them in the city by approaching prospective customers or displaying on the pavement. Lana has chosen to use the 'cold process' soap-making technique, which involves combining lye with oils.
Some patience is necessary with the cold process method and Lana says she leaves her soaps to harden naturally for about four weeks.
This method of making soap produces a longer lasting bar and also allows her to produce interesting shapes.
But Lana advises that the soaps should be kept in a dry place after use as they won't last very long if they are kept sodden in wet places.
She promises that her soaps give a creamy, rich lather and she is confident that, unlike many commercially produced soaps, her homemade soaps won't dry out your skin.
The exact mix of ingredients that go into Lana's soaps are a trade secret. But she says they contain coconut oil or castor oil and other essential oils. Some also have shea-butter and cocoa-butter along with other special ingredients to keep the user's skin moist.
Lana's soaps are available in 25 invigorating varieties. These include-- tropical mix; pineapple and coconut; orange and coconut; orange and mint; chocolate; mango; rose; ginger; lime; seaweed and more.
She has also begun to sell her homemade hair pomades and hair oils with the distinctive style of packaging that has become her trademark.
Look out for Lana the next time you are in Roseau on King George V Street and get one of her soaps. You can also call her at 265-0098. We have tried it and it's good!
Great things often have humble beginnings.
Who knows? Lana's fledgling business may grow into one of the biggest success stories in the history of business in Dominica.