Inspired by a farmer’s market vendor selling handmade soaps, Steve Meka decided to combine his education in biochemistry with his background working in the retail industry, and the idea for STEM (Steve’s Initials) was created.
“I did not have any background in making bath and body products, but leveraged my knowledge of chemistry to create our product line," he said. "STEM Handmade Soap was the perfect merger of my education and work experience.”
Meka wanted to produce a quality product that was healthy and affordable to the public, and he did this through a steady process of trial and elimination. Sending a batch of soap accompanied by a survey to a testing panel once a month, he gathered feedback and perfected his product until it met the qualities that people were seeking. The smell, lather and ingredients proved to be key components in determining the unique formulations and essential oils used to create each individual item; holidays also play an important role in this process when considering what scents will be in demand. STEM’s main priority is addressing customer wants and needs, and this is done through an all-natural approach to promote a healthy way of living.
“People want more products that are all-natural and good for their skin. Ingredients, including our scents, are first and foremost all-natural and plant-based," Meka said. "The essential oils used penetrate the skin instead of sitting on the surface, allowing the deliverance of vitamins and antioxidants that are beneficial in addressing several skin care concerns.”
Having started making soap in the basement of his own home, and now owning his own storefront in historic Birdtown in Lakewood, he has expanded his clientele and product line to include things like bath accessories, bamboo soap trays, body butters, bath bombs, sugar scrubs, lip balms, beard oil and more. Being located in Birdtown has helped contribute to STEM's success; the community has begun to thrive with new business in the past few years, and they work together to expand their market. Many of STEM’s products are supplied by local artists and vendors, including natural sisal wash clothes, ceramic soap dishes and shaving mugs; you can even find STEM’s foaming hand soaps in some of the surrounding restaurants. STEM is currently working on a Birdtown box of soap to celebrate and honor its community.
Though the products speak for themselves by being deliciously aromatic and sensationally superior, Meka also works to promote STEM through social media, newsletters, community involvement and events, including teaching soap making classes right in store, hosting the Anniversary Open House, Holiday Open House and Small Business Saturday. STEM also customizes favors for parties, showers and weddings, as well as reunions and even corporate events.
STEM Handmade Soap stands out amongst other businesses because of the company's eagerness to hear and respond to the wants and needs of consumers, providing a quality product that is safe and affordable, having engaging representatives to educate and assist in finding a product unique to your specific concerns, and a continuous expansion of products and services.
STEM Handmade Soap is located at 12405 Madison Ave. in Lakewood. For more information about the company, please visit www.stemsoaps.com.