Patti Wandover's northeast Ohio shop re-opens in a brand new space on March 10.
More than 30,000 bars of handcrafted soap.
That’s how much Patti Wandover’s Marblehead Soap Co. sells a year — and it’s why she’s moved her business three times since launching in 2016, each time hoping her physical space could keep pace with her growing business.
But it never did.
So she recently bought a 12,000-square-foot space in downtown Marblehead, Ohio, with more than enough room for not only Marblehead Soap Co., but also to expand into other offerings.
Her first move will be to convert a small cottage-like structure on her property — hopefully by summer — into a coffee and kosher hot dog shop. Next up are plans for a cigar bar located on the back of the property. She also hopes to use some of her space to launch a speakeasy and a small bed-and-breakfast sometime in the next few years.
But those are all just first-floor plans. She also has a large second story, with a nice view of Lake Erie, which she envisions as a small-event space.
How many hours a week does one have to work to make all these plans a reality?
“Maybe like 60,” Wandover says nonchalantly, “or 70.”
She works that hard because she’s motivated by a mission.
She was born with skin that produces very little oil, leaving her constantly itchy, flaky and dry. “I don’t have the oil that normal people do,” she says. “My parents would lather me with Crisco. And Crisco is disgusting.”
Wandover, who grew up on a farm in Brimfield, Ohio, noticed that she felt better after milking the family goats and applying a product called Bag Balm to their chafed udders. “My hands were amazing,” she says.
That’s when she realized she wasn’t destined to be Crisco-coated forever. She began experimenting with lanolin, coconut oil and other ingredients in a quest to make natural products that work for those with sensitive skin.
Fast-forward a couple of decades — and a lot of experimenting in her kitchen — and she had not only found the right combination of ingredients for her skin, but she was also ready to sell them to others. She opened her store in 2016 and watched business steadily grow.
Now, she’s in a position to not only help herself, but also help her community. Marblehead is a seasonal community that’s creeping towards more of a year-round destination. And places like Wandover’s can make a huge difference.
“It’s going to do a lot,” says Marblehead Peninsula Chamber of Commerce executive director Teri Cassell. “She’s going to be an anchor in the community.”
Wandover recognizes that authenticity and connection are key to her success. That’s why she names many of her products after local favorites. Her best-selling bar soap, for example, comes in such scents as Lake Erie Daisy, Catawba Apple Orchard, Bayview Citrus, Lake Erie Beach Glass and many more.
But she also looks beyond Lake Erie, which was recently noticed in a rather startling way.
Wandover — like the rest of the world —is obsessed with the Paramount Network drama Yellowstone, which inspired her to launch a Yellowstone-themed line of candles and soaps, including the Rip Current candle with scents of brown sugar, vanilla bean, warm cinnamon, wood and just a touch of smoke. She promotes the line with a life-size cut out of Rip Wheeler in her shop.
Last summer, a man with light red hair came into the shop. He watched a group of women take photos with the Rip Wheeler cut-out and then interjected.
“What’s wrong with me?” Wandover remembers him teasing the women. “I’m a tall drink of water.”
Turns out, it was the real Rip Wheeler, played by the actor Cole Hauser, who has an old friend in the area.
Like just about everyone else who wanders into the shop, he did not leave empty handed.