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Hamptons Life

Jun 28, 2019 1:57 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Southampton Soap Co. Invites Community To Come Play In The Dirt

Deborah Lukasik O’Shaughnessy packaging soaps. JENNIFER CORR
Jun 28, 2019 2:14 PM

“When we first started I was dreaming of this very building, like, ‘Wow, someday it’s going to be my shop,’” said Deborah Lukasik O’Shaughnessy, the owner of Southampton Soap Company.

On June 15, Southampton Soap Company, a store that sells homemade and plant-based soaps, candles and body care products, celebrated its first anniversary of acquiring the store on 30 Jagger Lane in Southampton Village. And now, Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy wants to beautify the grassy area surrounding the building.

“It’s this giant piece of land that is begging to be beautiful, not that it isn’t beautiful as grass, but it has so much potential and it’s right here in the middle of the village,” she said.

Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy intends to turn the lawn surrounding her store into a garden that can supply the ingredients of the products she makes, provide a classroom to learn about plants, and become a space where nature-based art is created.

“When we got here, it just seemed like a natural fit to have a beautiful, teaching herb garden here in this space so that people can understand the relationship that when something is plant-based and natural, that means it is derived from plants,” Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy said. “So when you see a calendula flower and learn about it, you can understand how that calendula soap is made and what its properties are and why it does what it does.”

She plans to fund the garden with her own summer camp, which starts July 8, called “The Artists’ Garden East Summer Camp.” The camp will provide “mindful lessons in art, inspired by nature.”

“It’s going to be great,” Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy said. “I feel confident. There are a lot of options out there, but we’re right here, right in the heart of the village. Come bring me your child at 9 in the morning. Go workout, go for a run, go hang out at the beach, get a cup of coffee, do your errands, come back at noon and still have a whole day with your baby.”

Campers will participate in making art inspired by nature, movement and breathwork. Potential activities include making paints out of plants, painting with dirt, learning about artists inspired by nature, printing with plants, weaving and playing with clay. Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy hopes to inspire “connection to oneself and connection to the earth.”

“So, you know, just getting lost in your artwork for a little bit of time and playing with dirt, it’s pretty great,” Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy said. “They need it. They need less buttons and more exploration of material and nature and smells and senses.”

Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy is not just a soap maker; she is an art teacher and an artist. She studied fine art at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and received a Master of Science degree in education, specializing in severe and multiple disabilities, with autism as a focus. She’s been teaching for 25 years.

Starting a soap company was actually an accident for Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy. Originally, she made soap for herself, a talent she had learned from some moms she was hanging out with in Clearwater, Florida, 20 years ago.

“A couple of my dear friends said, ‘We’re going to make soap. Wanna learn how to make soap?’ And I said, ‘Yes, yes.’” Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy recalled.

As someone who suffered with allergies and eczema her whole life, Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy began to notice improvements in her health and skin after using her handmade soap. But, it wasn’t until eight years ago that she turned her own remedy into a business.

Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy, who moved to the South Fork in 2009, hosted her own artists market in her teaching art studio, where she brought a batch of her soap to sell. After receiving many compliments, she was prompted to vend her soaps to local companies, like Green Thumb in Water Mill. She suddenly had a “bustling business.”

Her husband, Chris O’Shaughnessy, also helped develop the business by creating liquid soaps, room sprays, scrubs and other products. In 2018, the Southampton Soap Company finally got its own store.

“People are supportive and happy to see that a local family can open a local business in this day, here in Southampton,” Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy said. “We’ve been very fortunate, for sure.”

The products are made from plants grown at home, acquired from local gardens and farms or ordered wholesale. But with the amount of soap the couple makes, growing more plants outside the business made sense. Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy, who is on a hiatus from teaching after-school and summer programs at Ross School, can now tie in her trades of teaching, soap making and creating art.

“It’s going to be magic,” Ms. Lukasik O’Shaughnessy said.

“The Artists’ Garden East Summer Camp” will begin with the week of July 8, running weekly until the week of August 26. The camp is for ages 7 to 12. Sign up at southamptonsoapcompany.com/theartistsgardeneast. A week of camp starts at $500, with discounts available for multi-week campers and siblings.

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