Kelly, the founder of Spinster Sisters Co., is pictured among shelves
of soap with a tattoo of her inspiration on her arm: her mom.
Kelly Perkins began Spinster Sisters Co. in her kitchen, making bar soap for friends and family. She realized that people were looking for soap that was free of chemicals—customers were more conscious of the ingredients that they wanted to avoid in their skin care.
Now, Spinster Sisters Co. Microsoapery is located in a nearly 8000 sq. ft. wind and solar-powered warehouse in Golden, Colorado. There, they make each product using fair trade and ecologically sound ingredients, procedures, and packaging. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are proud to share Kelly’s story. Her team is comprised of mostly women, and they have been awarded a Women’s Business Enterprise certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBENC). They are a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs., and Kelly is a cheerleader for all women in business! Washing your hands is especially important these days, so lather up with Spinster Sisters Co. soap, moisturize with their body butter, and enjoy Kelly’s story. We are are inspired by her entrepreneurial spirit!
1. What inspired you to start Spinster Sisters Co. and work with women?
This is kind of 2 different questions. I read an article about Triclosan in 1993. Triclosan is a very toxic chemical that is used in most commercially mass-produced skin care products in the US. After reading more about it, I made the decision to not put those chemicals on my skin anymore, and started formulating my own natural skin care products. I would give away the product to friends and family, and started getting a bigger and bigger collection. Fast forward a lot of years to meeting my husband, who suggested that rather than taking up our entire house with products, maybe I should start selling it. Thus, Spinster Sisters was born.
I am very, very lucky to work every day with a team of women that inspire me to be a better person, and a better business owner. They are smart, hard-working, courageous, motivated, imaginative and kind. They have had to work harder and smarter, their whole lives, to prove their own worth. It is unfortunate, but true. I feel blessed to work with these beautiful ladies, and can’t imagine having it any other way.
2. What sorts of products does Spinster Sisters Co. make? What inspired your decision to use fair trade ingredients, and how do you source them?
We make natural skin care, with the finest ingredients available, sourced locally or fair trade, whenever possible. We expend a great deal of effort to source locally or US made. When that is not possible, we look to source sustainable and/or fair trade ingredients whenever possible. We currently use fair trade shea butter, sourced from Global Mamas. They are [certified by] the World Fair Trade Organization and work tirelessly to increase the value and contributions of women in Ghana, to achieve financial independence through entrepreneurship. We also use fair trade cocoa butter and coffee, and are currently investigating reliable sources of fair trade sugar as well.
3. What is your personal favorite product?
Hmmm…that is a tough one. I have a few favorites right now. First, our sore muscle rub, Muscle Stuff. I am no “spring chicken” anymore, and my back has been misbehaving lately. It has been an absolute life-saver for me. We offer a version of Muscle Stuff with CBD, and it really helps to sooth the pain. I am also obsessed with our Face Serum. It is made with wildcrafted marula and baobab oils. It is packed with Vitamin C, and is just such a wonderful moisturizer. I love how soft my skin is after use. However, our soaps probably still hold the number 1 place in my heart, as it is where we got started. Growing this business has been such a fun adventure, and it never would have happened if it weren’t for that first batch of soap I made in my kitchen.
4. We know that you were recently named as a certified women-owned, women-run business by the Women Business Enterprise National Council; one of 15,500 in the U.S.! What are the benefits of creating a female-led work environment?
The women I work with inspire me every day, and leave me in awe of their strength, courage and tenacity. In my gratitude letter from 2019, I described the feelings: “We talked many times about how important this certification is to women business owners, and all the doors it can open. I am thrilled to now be a part of the elite group of female entrepreneurs, and cannot wait to see where it takes me. According to Catalyst, just 5.2% of CEO’s and 21.2% of board members from companies in the S&P 500 are women. I fully expect those statistics to change, judging by all the amazing women-owned companies I know, and I can tell you S&P 500—watch out, we are coming for you.”
5. When women work, the impact of the investment is greatly multiplied. Where do you see Spinster Sisters Co. in the next decade?
My hope is to continue to grow Spinster Sisters presence around the country, and to always strive to demonstrate an increased effort to benefit our employees, our community, and the planet. We want to continue to make a strong ecological and sociological statement. We are proud of where we started, where we are now, where we are going, and want to share our sustainability mission with the everyone we come in contact with.
6. We love your commitment to empowering other women. What advice would you give to girls who are interested in getting involved in causes they are passionate about?
Do it. Just do it. It is not always an easy path to take, but being able to sleep well at night, knowing that you are trying to make a positive impact on the world is worth everything. Don’t wait, start today. You can do, or be, anything you choose to be. Take this opportunity to show the world what you are made of. Never let anyone tell you what to believe in. Be yourself, fight for what you believe in, and happiness will follow. Sounds like I am on a “soapbox,” but I believe these things wholeheartedly.
7. What woman in your life has had the biggest impact on you personally?
My mama, who I lost in October 2019. These are excerpts from my 2019 gratitude letter:
“She was 85 years old, and one of the most badass women I have ever encountered. She raised 6 kids while running her own word processing business, and after we were all in school, she went back to school herself and got a degree in business. She then went to work for the Department of Justice as a Budget Analyst, and was truly a woman working in a man’s world, and she thrived in it. When I started thinking about what I was thankful for this year, I knew the only thing this letter could be about, is her. She is the reason I had the guts to quit my day job and go all in with Spinster Sisters. For years we had conversation after conversation about ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ and her answer was always ‘start your own business, be your own boss.’
Well, here I am – and I could not be happier. There is something so amazing about waking up each day, and deciding for yourself how your day will go, and what you will make of it. Running a business is not for the faint of heart though. There are days where it is too much… On those days, I always, always think ‘what would mom do?’ and that guides me.”