From Cleopatra to Baudelaire – The history of our Honey Soaps

The benefits of honey have been known for centuries. It doesn’t take long to find countless stories of the way honey was used by generations past in various forms as a beauty product. Perhaps most famously it’s been touted as one of the secret’s behind Cleopatra’s incredible beauty by being combined with milk when she bathed. However, Baudelaire’s own connection to honey is a quirkier and more serendipitous tale.

Long, long ago in a time before mobile phones and the internet, Joe Marks was launching Baudelaire and pursuing his passion to bring quality artisanal bath products to American consumers. Using now extinct methods of communication, Joe sent faxes and written letters to the embassies in multiple countries looking for recommendations of different types of manufacturers he could partner with. Not long later the Swiss consulate responded with a suggestion for a honey farmer in the Alps. Thus began the humble start for one of Baudelaire’s most popular products: our honey soap.

As the relationship blossomed between these two businesses, Joe learned that the Swiss company was not a beauty manufacturer, but a wholesale business that provided all the tools necessary for apiarists to perform their trade. However, as the benefits of honey products is well known, the company decided to dabble in honey soaps (no surprise there as they likely had a lot of product lying around) thanks to Joe’s vision and suggestion. The honey soaps they produced were stunning, hand-carved jewels and unlike anything seen in the American market at that time.

Once the partnership was up and running, Joe decided it was time to share these beautiful soaps, and the Baudelaire brand, with the discerning North American customer. Prepping for a trade show, a large sample order of honey soaps was placed from Switzerland and Joe anxiously awaited the triumphant debut of Baudelaire. But the soaps never arrived.

With less than a day before the show Joe managed to track the soaps to a warehouse in Boston. While it would seem like this was a relief, the order would not be processed for several days. To get the soaps out of the warehouse in time for the fair, Joe drove down to Boston to find the shipment himself in the warehouse. It sounds like trying to find a needle in a haystack, however the Swiss manufacturer had never shipped to the United States before and overestimated the packaging needed to ensure the soap’s safe arrival. Packed neatly in a container a staggering 11 feet high and the width of a pallet were the sample honey soaps Joe needed for the event…which was the next day.

Packed with plenty of ingenuity and the tireless spirit of an entrepreneur, Joe managed to crowbar the top open. However, given the height of the box the only option was to rig up a levy system and lower Joe in so he could dig around for the specific items they needed. Carefully packed inside were all the sample honey soaps needed to kick-start the journey of Baudelaire.

It’s the kind of story that makes the start-up journey of a brand so special. It’s also the of grit and determination that has continued to drive our dedication to quality products from around the world. Many years later when the Swiss manufacturer decided to discontinue the honey soaps that Baudelaire customers had come to love, Joe decided to bring the manufacturing home to Vermont. Despite the transatlantic change, the product itself remains unchanged for over 33 years, quite an impressive lifespan in the world of bath and body products is fraction of that. Over the years new fragrances have been added and the packaging has been renovated, but the composition remains unchanged. A product life this long speaks volumes about the quality and love you all have for our honey soaps.

Bringing the honey soap production to New England was also a new chapter in the journey of the brand, shifting Baudelaire from only an importer to a manufacturer. By producing locally the entire process could be closely monitored to ensure the highest quality and care that we proudly bring to our customers. Despite the journey and the decades, our collection of honey soaps remains one of the most popular products we offer. Whether you’re a dedicated customer or a someone discovering honey soaps for the first time, it’s no surprise why honey remains a timeless treat for the skin.

The remarkable journey of this Baudelaire cornerstone truly comes full circle with the introduction of the brand’s new owners. One of the people entrusted to keep Baudelaire going strong is Chris Oberli. Born and raised a few miles from where our famous Baudelaire honey soaps were originally formulated, Chris now calls New Hampshire home. A beautiful conclusion to a previous chapter and a symbolic start to a new one.

We told you this was a serendipitous story.