Montclair Soaps Consumer Cosmetics
Oakland’s Kim Emanuel started creating skin-care products because his wife, Priscilla Muha, suffered horrible headaches triggered by perfumes and colognes. She was doomed to a regimen of boring products without fragrances or dyes. So Emanuel decided to tackle the task of making his wife comfortable in the way of a true engineer: by making his own scented soaps, which lead to the creation of Montclair Soaps.
Emanuel found that making soap challenged himself in the same areas that previous jobs — being an artist and an electrical engineer — had. He used those experiences to good end and began producing cosmetics in the home garage. Popular demand enabled his business to recently expand into a larger space, and Emanuel now manufactures in a 1,000-square-foot studio in West Oakland.
The soaps, lotions, lip balms and body butters in his product line, ranging in price from $6 for soaps to $27 for body butters, are made specifically for people with sensitive skin and are concocted to avoid setting off allergies that many scented products provoke. He uses vegan and organic oils, fruit and vegetable essences and adds tantalizing scents, such as marzipan, lavender, tangerine, ginger, pear and jasmine, to the products.
Montclair Soaps sells its wares at nine farmers markets around the Bay Area, Whole Foods and local salons, in addition to peddling products through an online store. Muha, director of financial aid at St. Mary’s College, has also found her co-workers to be happy clients. She helps Emanuel by selling the couples’ products at farmers markets on weekends, but says he mostly runs the show.
“Nothing gives me more pleasure than when one of my customers says they have switched from some other famous, well-known, super-expensive product and now exclusively use several of mine; it happens all the time,” says Emanuel. www.montclairsoaps.com