You would be hard-pressed to find something Misty Van Staaveren isn’t interested in. And while the art of handmade soap may have evaded the DIYer at first, it’s definitely managed to escape her limited list.
The Clovis resident and her husband, Daniel, have managed to accrue quite a collection of vocations — both of the hobby and professional variety — over the years.
But their latest venture, Through the Dutch Door, has exceeded their expectations upon starting the handmade soap business in 2014 — bubbling into a popular sensation that involves more than suds.
That’s right — Misty and Daniel turned to a fizzy beverage for their line of soaps, bath bombs, sea salt scrubs and bath salts: beer.
“I was looking online for different recipes because it’s all about chemistry, which goes way over my head, and I kept seeing beer soap,” Misty said. “I thought, ‘OK, I’ll bite. What is it?’ and read all this stuff that’s in beer that is actually good for your skin. We used it and it made our skin feel amazing, so I knew we had something here.”
The couple’s history with soap dates back to Misty’s five-year foray into the massage therapy industry with her day spa, Solstice, in Old Town Clovis. She wanted to offer handmade soap to her customers, and decided to take on the task firsthand.
Unfortunately, her early experience with the soap-making cold process didn’t go well, encouraging Misty to purchase the soap wholesale so it could be available at the store.
Well, never say never with these two. In 2014, they tried the soap-making cold process again. Trial and error became their go-to method, eventually leading the duo to stumble on the hot process model.
“With the cold process, you have to make sure that your oil temperature and lye temperature are the same before you mix them together ... but with the hot process, you don’t have to do that,” Daniel said.
“You make it in the Crock-Pot and the temperature is pretty stable most of the time,” Misty added. “One thing I like about it is you can use it right away because it neutralized the lye right as it’s cooking.”
The alternative practice left little room for the creative and whimsical design and shapes afforded by the cold process, but Misty took the limitations in stride. Through the Dutch Door used the chunky, rough-edged look as part of the overall aesthetic — the old-fashioned appearance only heightened by the brand’s rustic theme and packaging.
Beer was introduced early on, the Van Staaverens noted, and helped add to the signature feel of their line of soaps.
The hoppy drink has various benefits that can bolster the health of your skin including anti-aging, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties. Through the Dutch Door incorporates local and not-so-local bottled beer into their products, finding that the higher the sugar content, the more bubbly the soap.
The two divvy up roles during production, with Daniel expertly handling the lye and beer mixing in the backyard before giving the reins to Misty to cook the soapy concoction in their home’s designated soap room.
Next, the soapy concoction is poured into molds, and can sit between six and 12 hours to harden before being sliced into bars. The soap sits for an additional week before being properly packaged and sent to awaiting customers.
“We do about 12 bars for a regular batch, and 24 when we double it,” Misty said. “We like to keep it small because it’s easier to control that way.”
Since starting Through the Dutch Door three years ago, the home-based company has expanded to include about 20 scents that seasonally rotate throughout the year along with its other soapy goods.
The most popular scents include Honey Oatmeal, Eucalyptus Spearmint, Lavender, Fresh Apple and a novelty fragrance of banana and chocolate called Monkey Farts.
And as for the soap that received a lukewarm reception, well, the Van Staaverens learned how to make do.
“We had a pineapple that nobody would touch, so he uses it,” Misty said, gesturing to Daniel.
“It works perfectly fine,” he added with a smile.
But what kind of handmade beer soap company would Through the Dutch Door be without a beer-scented product?
The public’s requests have finally been heard, with the local business recently introducing Drunken Stupor to its lineup as the March Scent of the Month.
Last year, Misty and Daniel fully committed to marketing Through the Dutch Door products through online and event sales, attending shows throughout the Central Valley.
They were recently at the Spring Fling Handcraft Fair in Coarsegold and the St. Patty’s Craftapalooza at Full Circle Brewing Company in downtown Fresno.
On the horizon: You can find Misty and Daniel from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 23 at the Rusty Roots Show in Visalia.
Later, they will be at the Harley Davidson Season Opener from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 29 at Harley Davidson in Fresno.
“I love doing the shows. People are interested, they ask questions and they’ve never heard of beer soap so it’s fun to tell them the benefits of it,” Misty said. “I’d like to do at least two shows a month for the year, and we talked about being in some stores — just get in front of people and let them know what we have in any way that we can.”