We had a chat with Kayla, a mama, surfer, coffee addict, and the founder of Surf Soap. Based out of the south shore of ‘Oahu, Hawaii. When she's not working, she's either doing something in the ocean - whether it be surfing, snorkeling, freediving; or exploring the mountains with her husband, daughter and our dog, Gunner.
Tell us about Surf Soap Co?
Surf Soap is a hair and skincare company dedicated to providing water lovers with ocean safe, plastic free, vegan solutions that leave their hair tangle free, skin super healthy, and smell amazing.
Tell us how you started to made Surf Soap products?
I created Surf Soap after needing an ocean-friendly product that I could shower off with after dawn patrol. I usually shower at the beach so that by the time I’m home, I can finish getting ready and get my daughter Ellie her breakfast, etc, before rushing out the door to work. I used to bring along a small plastic bottle of shampoo until I started noticing signs all over that said “no soap or shampoos”. I’m a very curious person, so of course, I wanted to know why. This led me down a rabbit hole about how most of our cleaners negatively affect our aquatic life - and the life in the ocean is so delicately balanced, if it gets thrown too far off-kilter it always comes back around to affect us as well.
On top of that, my dream has always been to create a business that served people - both customers and employees - in a way that allowed them to have a better lifestyle. These ideas and my research meshed, and I dove headfirst into creating a product that I could use at the beach, that made my hair and skin feel great, and that did no harm to the area surrounding me. I wanted to educate others about this as well, so that we could all work collectively to heal our earth for future generations. Surf Soap and its planned education initiatives are my little contributions to that effort.
What is unique about your products?
Our products are unique in their formulations. I am a professionally trained hairdresser, so I really need my products to work for me. While formulating Surf Soap products, we take into account the conditions in which they’re used - saltwater, heat, and typically some harsh sun rays. Our products account for that, and work to actually heal the hair cuticle and skin by using ancient methods (most located right here on Hawaii) combined with new, eco-friendly science. Everything down to our essential oils used for scenting are scrutinized for sustainability. All of our products are vegan, and we strive to be as sustainable as possible within all of our company practices.
Tell us about the process of how you make it?
We source our ingredients and packaging as locally as we can. When that isn’t possible, we find organic and sustainably produced ingredients that support other small businesses across the USA. We then hand make our products to order, that way each product arrives to its destination freshly made with care.
Tell us about how you can use it?
Our All-In-One cleansing bar is meant to be taken everywhere, and is designed to be travel friendly. It’s what I use after my dawn patrol sessions at my local break. We made a fun video on our YouTube that explains exactly how to use it.
Our Rehab Balm is a local favorite, and can be used in multiple ways. Because it is ocean safe, it can be used on dry or wet hair prior to your surf session. I use it after cleansing as a leave-in conditioner, and it can also be used to tame flyaways and to liven up dry locks.
Better Butter was designed as a skin healer, and also functions as a lip balm. I apply it frequently throughout the day. We also use it to heal scrapes we get from the coral here, and one of our locals uses it to heal blemish scars. It’s really an all around super balm.
What's the benefit of it compare to a similar product?
The biggest benefit of our products compared to similar products is the efficacy. Many eco-friendly products are produced with recipes you can purchase online. This makes a decent shampoo bar or whatever you’re after, but because we are specifically formulated in house and tested by real surfers and nomads, we’re confident in our products’ ability to give you healthy skin and hair from the inside out, versus coating it in silicones and chemicals you might find in other bars or products.
What was your biggest challenge you had to create your product?
Oh man. I went through about 11 or 12 iterations of All-In-One before I finally had a bar that stayed in one piece, smelled right, and worked like I wanted it to. With Better Butter, I wanted a balm that didn’t melt in my beach bag if it got left in the car… and you can imagine how many times I had to clean up a buttery mess in my bag (at least it smelled good!). Rehab Balm has been the hardest, because I deliberately chose not to make a conditioner bar due to the residue it would leave behind. But I also didn’t want it to melt either. The final product is a soft balm, that soaks into the cuticle and doesn’t leave hair weighed down or full of residue.
Tell us what do you like the most about being an eco-friendly entrepreneur?
I love that there is such a growing group of amazing people to connect with. The eco friendly movement is growing exponentially, and it really makes me happy to see not only so many people stepping into the space as creators, but the sheer amount of supporters is really encouraging.
What is the biggest lesson learned in making Surf Soap happen?
Staying flexible, and not getting nervous when you start to see people follow in your footsteps. It takes time and strategy to build a company, and I also want our authenticity to show through. It’s been a learning experience for sure, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Who and what inspire you?
Some of the most inspiring people to me are the other female entrepreneurs I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. They are powerhouses, and on the days I get discouraged, I remind myself that I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed, and that it will all be worth it in the end.
I also take a lot of inspiration from the water. The ocean is the only place where my mind shuts up for a bit, and surfing allows me to work out all my problems while being immersed in beauty. Nature is a healer, for sure.
Do you want to make other products?
Yup! We have a couple of products getting ready to go into testing phase in January, and I have a lot of ideas about where I’d like to see Surf Soap go. The product business is brutal, and we’re taking it one step at a time right now.
What advice would you give to a customer to help them to get the best soap possible?
Look at the ingredients. Look at the company’s mission. What do they stand for? Are they just pouring money into a product you can find anywhere, or did they really design something special? And I’d point them to our All-In-One, because it truly is a very special bar. Normally shampoo and conditioner combos don’t really work, but the way we’ve designed it leaves hair soft, and the skin-loving ingredients allows it to work as a body wash as well.
What are your future plans and goals with Surf Soap Co?
I’m looking forward to the day when our products are on the shelves in both local and international surf shops, easily accessible to our most treasured customers. Eventually, we will open a flagship shop, but will mostly focus on online sales.
We are also working on our education initiatives, as well as co-op and market openings, in order to make living low-waste more accessible and mainstream in our local communities.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
I’m just so excited to be able to share my story, and invite everyone to check out our shop and follow us on Instagram, where you can learn more about how we do things. And hit me up if you’re ever in ‘Oahu, I’m always stoked to have new friends to surf with. Mahalo for having me!
Follow on instagram; @surf_soap