Austin Living: Sparking a Passion — The Sudsy Squirrel rises from hobby to home-based business

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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Marie Nordean, of Austin, has a lot to do in her daily life, so it was definitely a passion sparked by curiosity that has kept her making soaps at all hours of the night.

Nordean, who is a mother of three with a fourth child on the way, runs a daycare in her home by day and she runs The Sudsy Squirrel in her spare time.

The Sudsy Squirrel has been in business for a year and it has grown quickly.

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“It does get crazy busy. There will be times that I tell the kids they can’t talk to me right now, because I have to work on the business,” Nordean said. “Sometimes I’m up until midnight working on making soap after a day of working day care.”

After starting to make soaps to save money when her first child had eczema, Nordean began to work on new soaps through a trial and error process. Eventually she was making it for friends and family, and more recently she has been making it for her online store.

See more on this story and more in the Julye-August edition of Austin Living Magazine, out now!

The Sudsy Squirrel offers artisan soaps that could pass as dessert treats if you took a passing glance at the options. Some items include Cinnamon Latte Soap, Sandalwood & Bourbon Soap, along with Kids Whipped Tallow Body Butter and Vanilla Coffee Whipped Tallow Sugar Scrub.

“We’re staying with soap and bath products for the time being. They’re all handmade in small batches in my kitchen,” Nordean said. “I started buying soap for (my first son). Then I started doing science experiments with heating the soap and I was having way too much fun. I figured we could start doing this ourselves. I like the chemistry side of it and when we started the cold process, I did like five different formulas. We picked the ones that we liked the best.”

It took a while for Nordean to perfect her process and there have been times where she’s had to Nordean now has four base soaps that she keeps year round and she changes the other products with the seasons. She’s found that the manly scents have been the most popular and she has found that some people have latched on to favorites.

“My favorite customers are when people come back (to buy more) and they like certain products that we made,” Nordean said.

The Sudsy Squirrel does have products in a store in Two Harbors, but most of the business has been done by attending weekend vendor shows and online sales. Nordean would like to have a storefront in a building within the next couple of years, but for now she has to work her business from her home.

Sometimes that involves customers coming to her house to take a look at her soaps.

Nordean has a display of her soaps sitting in the middle of her living room that is always ready if anyone wants to swing by and take a look.

“I’ve done marketing before so that’s kind of my niche,” Nordean said. “I like to do that and I like to talk to people. At first it was just family and friends and then I kind of dove into it. I designed a web site and from there — it kind of took off. The biggest challenge is finding time for people to come over and smell our products.”

In running a business, Nordean has learned that she has to keep her best ideas a secret from competitors and she also has to stay disciplined and keep the product coming. She had more success than anticipated last year as she sold all of her products before the Christmas rush was over.

That only served as motivation for Nordean to work harder and stay active.

“I’m in my kitchen a lot, working on soap,” Nordean said.

For more information, visit or visit the businesses’ Instagram or Facebook pages.