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08 December . 2020

How Austin’s Wild Thistle Soap Co. got started in Sweetwater

The founder of Austin’s Wild Thistle Soap Co., Adriana Smith has turned her dedication to creating all-natural skin products for her family into a thriving small business that sells small-batch artisanal soaps, body creams, beard balms, candles and other products to a growing customer base in Austin and beyond.

One of the first families to buy a new home in Sweetwater, Adriana and Kevin Smith moved to the community in 2014 with their first newborn first child, Gabriel.

Soon, Gabriel started getting painful skin rashes, and nothing that doctors prescribed seemed to help. Suspecting that the soaps the family was using were contributing to problem, Adriana started investigating the ingredients. She found that even soaps labeled “natural” contained harsh chemicals and were classified by the Food and Drug Administration as “detergents.”

Determined to make her own gentle soap that would be free of chemicals and not tested on animals, Adriana delved into researching and perfecting the craft of soapmaking. As she had hoped, her son’s skin problems quickly cleared up after she perfected her formula and started making her family’s own soap.

“Wild Thistle started with my desire to make old-fashioned, feel-good soaps that were good for my family,” Adriana said. “Though I’m now selling to everyone, my guiding principle is that I will not make anything I wouldn’t use for my family and myself.”

Adriana started with just unscented soaps, but at the request of family and friends, she soon started making scented varieties, again carefully researching essential oils and using only safe and natural ingredients. Her popular scents include Pumpkin and Brown Sugar, Jasmine and Gardenia, and Texas Lavender.

Her product line soon grew beyond soap. Her mother-in-law requested a product to help with aging skin, so Adriana developed a line of body creams and moisturizers. For husband Kevin and other bearded men in her family, she spent a year perfecting her formula for beard balm. She has also added soy candles, wax melts, bath soaks and other products.

When her daughter, Madeline, started having allergic reactions to insect bites, Adriana developed a natural insect repellent formula. It was proven so effective that it even worked on a family vacation to tropical Costa Rica.

Adriana still makes all her products herself, relying on a traditional cold soapmaking process that involves only three basic ingredients: lye, liquid and oil. The products have subtle colors because Adriana chooses to forgo using dyes. The soaps cure for at least one month to harden so they’ll hold up for baths and showers.

A strictly small-batch producer, Adriana estimates that she makes about 200 bars of soap a year, along with other products. She also tries to give back to the community as much as possible. In 2020, she donated about 150 bars of soap to Austin’s Dell Children’s Medical Center, where her sister Daniela works.

When the pandemic is over, Adriana plans to resume selling her products at farmer’s markets near Sweetwater, including the Lone Star Farmers Market at the Hill Country Galleria. Anyone wanting the most natural body and home products can also order online.