For 20-year-old Reese Dunne of Southold, a hobby that began as a stress-relieving activity has made her one of the North Fork’s youngest entrepreneurs.
Dunne, a 2014 Southold High School graduate, recently started selling her handmade soaps — some infused with locally grown ingredients like lavender from Lavender by the Bay in East Marion — under the brand NoFo Sudsations.
The soaps are made with certified organic, vegetable-based glycerin, a natural humectant that moisturizes the skin. Other ingredients, like Egyptian calendula and Indian-grown turmeric, are also organic.
“I was really inspired because I am a vegetarian, so I care a lot about what goes into my body,” said Dunne, who is enrolled in the dietetic technician program at Suffolk County Community College. “And it was important for me, also being a ginger, [to use] something for sensitive skin.”
You can find her products at The Giving Room in Southold, as well as North Fork Roasting Co., the coffee roaster and café co-owned by her sister, Jess.
“One reason I feel confident carrying it in our store is I know that in starting a business, you need to get out there and have someone support you,” said Jess Dunne, who at 27 is also an entrepreneur. “And it’s handmade, which is something a lot of people appreciate when they are out here visiting.”
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The younger Dunne makes the product at Grace and Grit, the commercial catering kitchen owned by Stephanie Pincar-Coleman and Jess Dunne’s partner, Jennilee Morris.
She counts NoFoRoCo customers among those who encouraged her to take her soap business further. Kristian Iglesias, a metal fabricator and owner of KAI Design, is one of them.
Iglesias noted the importance of nurturing a young person’s creativity — and the fact that those without children or full-time jobs might not realize the value of their free time.
“Starting a business, that’s half the battle,” he said. “I thought it was a really good product. But I was wondering why they were there sometimes and sometimes not. I would see her and say, ‘Why aren’t you making soap?’
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Dunne uses a “melt and pour” glycerin base and blends the mix with essential oils, herbs, flowers and more. The soap takes about 15 minutes to mix and about three hours to harden once it is placed in a mold. The soap block is then cut up and wrapped with minimal packaging.
The process offers the same meditative benefits as baking, Dunne noted — without the sugar-filled result.
The line currently includes varieties like blood orange and sea salt, lemon grass and turmeric as well as a blend of North Fork Roasting Co. coffee and almond oil.
“There is always going to be more because that’s the fun of it,” she said. “I‘m inspired every day to make a different soap.”
Visit nofosudsations.com for more information. Dunne will also be on hand selling her soap at the upcoming Dandelion Festival at KK’s The Farm in Southold. The event will run from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, and is free to attend.
This is the third installment in a northforker and Suffolk Times series about young North Fork artisans.