About 13 years ago, Karrie Troutt saw a woman selling homemade soap at a local farmer’s market and thought, “Hey, I could do that.”
“We got started making soaps as gifts, and here we are,” she says. Paradise Handmade Soap Co. is a seven-day-a-week business for Troutt and her family—including husband Bill, a law enforcement officer who makes the company’s soy candles in his downtime, and their two sons who pitch in. If she’s not selling at one of four Lee County farmer’s markets, she’s in the garage of their Cape Coral home making soap. She sells (at $7 each) about 200 bars with all-natural ingredients a week. The colorful soaps include varieties such as Key Lime and Sanibel Breeze, which contains a bit of cactus and sea salt to give you a whiff of the ocean as you lather up.
Troutt has found a niche at farmers markets during season. When tourists come, they want to shop and take home something that’s homemade—not some mass-produced keychain, but something crafted here. She’s found a following and started selling wholesale and online (paradisehandmadesoap.com), establishing a year-round relationship with the snowbirds who pick up her products when they’re here. “It’s a crazy lifestyle,” she says, “but it’s been a great ride.”