Guest Post by Alexandra Katsarelis for Olio City

If you told my mom I was attending an intro to soap making class, she would probably laugh while visions of my messy childhood bedroom danced through her head. It’s true; cleanliness is not my strong suit—but trying something totally new? Now that I’m all about.

I work for Olio City, a city guide app for smartphones that curates the best experiences a city has to offer, while personalizing it to users’ specific taste and preferences. Olio City is all about promoting city discovery—that’s why we’re excited to partner with Dabble and help people find cool and unique experiences in their city. And me? Well I’m all about exploring, so I couldn’t wait to “Dabble” in something new!

I headed to Maven in St. Louis’ beautiful Maplewood neighborhood one evening and was immediately impressed by the beautiful soaps on display. With soap scents ranging from “honey patchouli” to “Don Draper,” these were clearly no basic drugstore bars of soap. I couldn’t wait to get started on my own artistic creation.

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Owner and all-around cool woman, Kate Bethel, took us down into the basement, where the magic was to happen. Kate told us that she first started making soap as a casual hobby that grew into Maven. Now in her ninth year running the store, Kate knows her stuff. She told us about the history of soap and described the cold process method we were going to use. Some of the participants seemed nervous when Kate told us we would use lye in order to make the soap, but after she explained the safety precautions we would take, we all felt comfortable as we headed to the work stations to get cooking.

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Although wearing safety gloves and working with hot plates gave me some serious high-school science class flashbacks, this course was far more fun than I ever had in chemistry lab. After mixing the lye with water and heating the oils on the hot plate, we were instructed to pick out our chosen fragrances and any other additions we wanted to add to the soap, like ground pumice stone for exfoliation. Florida-raised girl that I am, I shocked no one by picking out “satsuma,” a citrus scent.

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Next came the arm workout—uh, the soap mixing. Under Beth and her assistant’s friendly, helpful direction, we blended together the oils, lye water, fragrances, and additions until we achieved enough “trace” to pour the mixture into a mold. Mine looked temptingly like pumpkin pie batter, although I thought it best not to taste and see.

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Ultimately, this entertaining and informative class exceeded my expectations of how fun soap making would be, and I can’t wait to try out more Dabble classes! As a bonus, I now have a perfect homemade gift to give to friends as a birthday present (shh, friends, forget that you read this). So next time you’re looking to try something new, download the Olio City app to find Dabble classes and other awesome experiences in your city!

olio_logo_green_icon.pdfOlio City is your go-to app for authentic city discovery, personalized to your taste and preferences. Our editors curate the best a city has to offer in events, restaurants and attractions, then the app tailors those results to each user’s interests, based on their likes and dislikes. In addition to personalized suggestions, Olio users can explore local neighborhood guides and get insight from famous locals.  Download us in Chicago and St. Louis in the iTunes Store. Coming to Android soon!