The Nottingham Soapbox: West Bridgford entrepreneur starts own artisan soap business

Chris Tolley, 23, from West Bridgford, left the University of Nottingham with a Chemistry degree in 2015, he’s now running a successful home-based artisan soap business. We caught up with Chris to find out more about The Nottingham Soapbox

Having graduated, Chris spent a few months in banking, but really wanted to try something else and work for himself.

Chris told us, ‘I have always had an interest in how things are made – even the simplest of objects. I think that is the reason why I chose to study chemistry at university! One day I found myself wondering how soap was made, so I began to watch videos which explained the process and eventually I gave it a go for myself.’

Chris with his basket of soaps on the rounds in West Bridgford
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‘Things escalated quickly from there and with each new batch of soap, I found myself wanting to improve. Things haven’t changed much since then – I’m still learning a lot and loving it.

The Nottingham Soapbox
Some of the range from The Nottingham Soapbox

‘The degree and training in chemistry helps in some ways, but the more I found out the more I wanted to give it a try.’

Chris started The Nottingham Soapbox in 2016 from the kitchen of his parents’ house in Lady Bay West Bridgford. By December he was out selling door-to-door around the area and to his delight, on the first day he sold 100 bars of soap.

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The products are very high quality and of course hand-made.

Chris only uses natural ingredients to make the soaps. So there are no synthetic fragrances, preservatives or other nasty chemicals. The soap recipes have been carefully thought out and designed to produce soap bars which cleanse, moisturise and condition the skin – with a bubbly lather and beautiful fragrance.

Chris has created all of the recipes himself – and of course gained EU Portal recognition for cosmetics which involves auditing and compliance on a grand scale.

To complete the image Chris goes out in his ‘uniform’ that he describes as ‘farmer-like’ – including his flat cap, knocking on doors and showing off his wares.

Residents have received the products very well, they make perfect gifts too, wrapped in artisan style brown paper and boxed nicely.

For the next steps Chris hopes that if sales continue to increase at the current rate is a more permanent manufacturing facility – he can make 18 bars in one 90 minute session – and so does little else but manufacture!


The soaps on display at Bread and Butterflies

Bread and Butterflies in Trent Boulevard also stock Chris’s soaps – if you are a West Bridgford retailer who thinks that the products may fit into your offer give Chris a call!

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Anyone living in West Bridgford and Lady Bay gets free personal delivery from Chris, within 3 days of placing an order; you can even buy online, select offline payment, and then pay him when he delivers to your door.

Chris is working on Mother’s Day gift packs at the moment – visit The Nottingham Soapbox website here to see the full range 

Choose any 3 soaps and they will arrive packaged in 100 % recyclable gift boxes –  This is the perfect option if you’re looking for a present!

Phone: 07572 364 759

The Nottingham Soapbox is appearing at the Love Local Fair on Thursday 23rd March 2017 between 10am to 3pm that is taking place in the Portland Building, on the University Park Campus, Nottingham