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Raising the bar

The secret to making a great bar of soap is in the details. Garry Wilkes, founder of Calgary’s Alberta Natural Products, came upon that secret in the early 2000s while testing different ingredients and techniques to make soap in his basement.

The result of Wilkes’ experimentation is a high-quality bar of soap made from natural, sustainably sourced ingredients, which adheres to his company’s founding principles of wellness for all and respect for the earth. The handmade soaps are free from BPA, triclosan, coal tar dyes and artificial colouring agents.

“Garry is driven to try and bring to the marketplace, anyway he can, product that enhances people’s lives from a wellness perspective,” said Bruce Martin, General Manager at Alberta Natural Products.

Today, Alberta Natural Products produces CO-OP GOLD PURE® Bar Soap, which is available in 15 scents including refreshing Grapefruit, soothing Lavender and nourishing Castile Olive Oil. They also supply 15 organic varieties of CO-OP GOLD PURE® Essential Oil and two varieties of CO-OP GOLD PURE® Sanitizer Spray, which kills bacteria and germs while soothing and moisturizing dry skin.

Building a better bar

At Alberta Natural Products, soap makers choose plant-based oils—sustainably sourced palm, olive and coconut—as their base. The soap is scented with essential oils sourced from a co-operative in India.

All of the dyes are plant- or mineral-based. A cold processing technique delivers a long-lasting bar. Because of all of these variables, developing a new type of soap requires a lot of experimentation.

“Our soap makers are truly amazing. They’re really creative and always up for the task,” said Judy Stevens, Business Development Manager at Alberta Natural Products.

Fan favourites

The most popular soap among Alberta Natural Products regulars is Lemongrass Calendula, which contains calendula petals that gently exfoliate. It has a refreshing citrus scent and moisturizing olive, palm and coconut oils.

In addition to offering beautiful botanical aromas, natural soaps can be a good choice for people with sensitive skin. Martin and Stevens have heard from multiple customers who are very happy to find a gentle product that doesn’t cause a reaction.

“It’s just a fabulous soap for those that have these kinds of dry skin conditions,” said Stevens, whose favourite bar is the earthy Patchouli.

Co-op Gold Pure Bar Soap is also available in unique and refreshing varieties like Tea Tree Poppyseed and Sweet Orange. And for those sensitive to smell, the aptly named Simply Soap is unscented.

A proud relationship

Alberta Natural Products’ soaps made their first Co-op appearance at Calgary Co-op in 2014, where they built a loyal following. Now, working with Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) brings the product to Co-op stores across Western Canada so it can reach even more people.

Building on Alberta Natural Products’ values and founding principles, working with FCL was the next step for the company, whose customers are very attuned to the sources of the products they choose.

“I can’t emphasize enough how positive and satisfying it is that we’re aligned with a company like [Co-op] that shares our values,” said Martin. “It’s local, and then a little more.”

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