Niles’ Forever Clean Soap Works to open second location in St. Joseph

Published 10:29 am Friday, April 5, 2019

NILES — Five years ago, Lisa Miller took a leap of faith and decided to open her own business in Niles.

Since then, Forever Clean Soap Works has cultivated a customer following through handmade bath and body products, free of detergents and chemicals found in some commercial merchandise. After seeing a boom in growth within the last year, Miller is ready to take her next leap and open a second location in St. Joseph.

“It’s crazy,” Miller said. “I didn’t expect to become so popular. Most small towns around here don’t have a soap store, and St. Joe needs one.”

Miller will be renovating a vacant store front at 2603 S. Cleveland Road in St. Joseph. Miller anticipates opening at the beginning of May and using the 2,900-square-foot space to create her products and continue to grow a customer basis.

Miller attributes her business growth to word of mouth. She believes positive customer feedback inspired more people to shop the store’s shelves stocked with colorful soaps for both men and women.

Customers will be able to find the same products that Miller creates for her Niles location in St. Joseph. This includes handmade soaps, lotions, bath bombs, deodorant, lip balm and an expanded men’s line that showcases shaving products and beard oil. One of her most popular products is a shower steamer made of eucalyptus, peppermint and menthol. As heat from the shower dissolves the tablet, it releases vapors that can help clear the sinuses — making it a popular pick for spring allergy season.

Miller uses natural products and scents to create the items she sells. She believes there is more than one benefit to this method.

“What you buy in the store is mostly detergents and strips all the good stuff off your skin, but handcrafted soap does not,” Miller said. “I’m trying to get people away from using that type of stuff and using good wholesome ingredients. Sometimes, simple products are the best for your skin, for your body.”

Her business practice also aims to be environmentally friendly by using natural products like goat’s milk. 

At her new business location, Miller said the additional space would offer an ideal area for her to create her handmade products. There is also space for a showroom to feature items. Additionally, she said one of the most exciting aspects of the building is space for a classroom where she can teach people how to make their own soap products. She also plans to rent the space out for bridal showers, birthday parties and other events.

“I’m so excited about that classroom,” Miller said. “It’s huge, and it has skylights.”

Miller assured her customers that the Niles location, 218 N. Front St., will remain open. To help run the operation, Miller has hired two additional part-time employees who will assist at the Niles location. Miller said she does plan to potentially scale back hours at the Niles location, based on when there is the least customer traffic, but official times have not yet been announced.

For Miller, who grew up in St. Joseph, the expansion feels like an opportunity to take her craft home. With many tourists visiting the area to take in the beach, Miller said she hopes to see lots of customer traffic. One thing Miller knows for sure is that her soap will speak for itself.

“Most likely, you will buy something if someone you know has used [the product] and liked it, instead of say a commercial,” Miller said. “If your friend uses something and they love it, that’s the best advertisement you can get.”