Business cleans up with gift sales

Published 5:29 pm Monday, January 30, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Most hobbies that are created in the kitchen tend to center around baking. In Carol Neumann's case, the location is still the kitchen, but the hobby is making soap.
Thanks to an increased interest in her products, Neumann has turned the hobby into a business, called Tub Thyme, and moved out of her Niles home and into an incubator site in the Niles Michigan Works Building.
Besides the melt and pour soap, Neumann also creates bubble bath, lotion, shower gel and other scented products. Making the soap is an easy and enjoyable experience for Neumann.
The process starts with a block of soap base ordered from an online distributor. Neumann cuts the piece down to smaller chunks and then uses a microwave to liquify it. Once the soap is melted, Neumann can add any of a number of scents.
The mixture is then stirred and poured into a plastic mold, which Neumann said comes in about any shape imaginable.
The soap has to settle overnight but the process can be sped up by placing the molds in a freezer. Neumann has not had that advantage since moving the business into the third floor of the Works building.
The move was necessary, Neumann said, once she began seeing an increase in customers including a bed and breakfast, fellow church members and of course family and friends.
Neumann's products have even made their way down to Ohio thanks to a friend who is the president of a dog club. Neumann sent her friend a set of samples and come Memorial Day, gift baskets with her soap and lotion products will be used as prizes for the club's dog show.
Neumann continues to search for a permanent shop and would ideally like to be near downtown Niles.
Neumann said she plans to introduce new products several times a year and is in the beginning stages of a fragrance of the month club, a birthday club and a frequent buyer club, all to sell items at a lower price. Neumann said she is able to create the scents and gift baskets to the customers preference.
There are no permanent store hours for Tub Thyme but Neumann said she will open the Front Street store through appointments or deliver the products. Neumann can be reached at (269) 362-0058 or online at