We spoke with Leann Chaney of Iron Alley Soapworks. Leann makes all-natural soaps at her home in Bellevue from scratch, one small batch at a time.
I started making handcrafted soaps in 2012 when I lived on Iron Alley in downtown Blairsville, PA. In honor of its founding place, I established my business as Iron Alley Soapworks, more commonly known as “Iron Alley Soaps.” I work by myself on all aspects of my business. Soapmaker, web designer, business manager, etc. But when occasional scheduling conflicts come up, my family helps. My son James and my grandson Hayden are my go-to helpers, but my son-in-law Josh, my daughter Jen and granddaughter Margot can also be counted on to lend a hand when needed.
I make a wide variety of soaps scented with pure essential oils and often include natural botanicals, some of which I grow myself (lavender and mint). I also make a couple varieties using goat milk soap. In addition, I make use-specific soaps such as beard soap, shaving soap, and shampoo bars for people and pups. One of my most unique soaps is my signature Knotweed Soap. To make this soap, which I scent with lemongrass essential oil, I wild harvest roots and young sprouts from the invasive Japanese knotweed plant to create a soap that benefits the skin. It’s a positive use of an invasive plant that we’d like to eradicate! A new scent blend for this year is a goat milk soap scented with lavender and frankincense. Frankincense, which has a woody aroma, blends well with lavender and is reputed to help strengthen skin tone.
I’ve been participating as a vendor with the Bellevue Farmers Market since 2017. It’s hard to pick just one favorite thing about this market! I love everything about it…the people, the location in a community park, and the live music, all of which create an atmosphere that’s both honest and alive. In my time outside of soap making, I’m a community planner, certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners. I am currently employed as a transportation planner for the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, with a focus on planning for biking and walking. I enjoy reading and writing poetry and have a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
To buy outside of market hours, I offer free shipping on orders over $35 nationally and curbside pick-up, which I like to call “front porch pick-up.” Visit us at ironalleysoaps.com, and follow us online at https://www.facebook.com/Iron-Alley-Soapworks-822957394504930/