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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Two Cowboys on a Journey: Rocky Mountain Soap Co - Canmore, Alberta

Naturally Back to Nature

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I've never thought that I will ever be writing a blog entry about beauty products. Yes, for me soap is a beauty product. You will agree that these kinds of products are not really a hardened Western Alberta Cowboy's thing. At least not something on which I personally spend a lot of time (thinking). I do use cleaning products. Obviously. Just not thinking about it, much.

To keep life simple, I've been using the same soap and shaving cream for the last 25 years (no hair for shampoo, so I cannot comment on those). It is one less thing to think about in the morning. It also makes Fathers Day, Christmas and Birthdays really easy for those around me.

However, Karina and Cam at Rocky Mountain Soap Co. gave me something to think about when we filmed their profile. They mentioned the unnatural amount of chemical complexity that makes it into products like the ones I am using. These chemicals have never been proven for positive long-term effect on human physiology. Yet, they are considered "good" chemicals by many companies. This coming from a cut-throat snake oil peddling industry, where a lot of global brands are fighting for the next big thing in beauty and anti-aging. They do this with the next model on display for eternal youth and happiness. Yeah right!

Why have these ingredients in the first place? Is it really necessary?

If there was ever a human guinea pig for the long-term effects of the chemicals in a beauty or hygiene product, then I am it. It's been years with the same trusty brands. Maybe, I could have aged better if I stuck to more natural products. Maybe, I would have looked twenty-eight at forty-eight if I only knew of Rocky Mountain Soap Co.'s naturally simple and deliciously smelling soaps. They smell so good that you can eat them. (Don't do it. They are natural. Just not that natural.)

Rocky Mountain Soap is the darling of Alberta small business and an icon in the Bow Valley. Just see how many people write about them, and the prizes they've won.  Here is a husband and wife team from Canmore, that started with something simple, made it good, kept it good, and continued to make more of it because people simply liked it. How easy is that for a successful business recipe? If only it were this easy.


When you visit the facilities of the company, it is quickly evident that this is not a "small business". There are some real business smarts that are going into the way this company is managed. Credit to Cam and Karina where credit is due.

It is a well-run business with amazingly simple and natural products. Yes, I know they have good soap, and if it were only about soap, then Rocky Mountain Soap Co. would probably have been just another soap business in a touristy town. It is so fashionable to have these nowadays that you can find them right next to the curio and the corner coffee shop. The other two fashionable touristy businesses.

If you've been in businesses and worked with as many companies as I have, in as many countries as I've been, you can recognise a success the moment you walk in the door. Everything is labelled, planned, structured, measured, evaluated, improved, reviewed, right down to the environmentally friendly cornstarch popcorn they use for packaging shipments for their online clientele. You can eat the packaging. Trust me on it. It doesn't taste like much, but it is edible (Only the popcorn. Not the stamps).

Rocky Mountain Soap Company is a success because it does a few simple things really well. It has great simple products. It is a well-managed business. And, it is in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Right here in Canmore. Cam mentioned that the business can probably do better in a cheaper and more business friendly location that Canmore, but it is the community and the lifestyle that keeps them here.

Canmore is better off because they are here.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Rocky Mountain Soap Co. I am proud to say that I am a convert. I am now shaving with Rocky Mountain Soap Co goodness. And, I smell really, really nice.

Hendrik van Wyk
The Clean Cowboy

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