DeVerne Augustus and Dana Mathews have a crazy and interesting maker history: originating in the living room world, they ended up in soap making over time. We met them through one of Drekker’s craft markets and fell in love with their beautiful natural soaps they create right here in town! Be sure to find them at a local market this fall to experience their seasonal flavors.

Tell us a bit about yourself:

We’re just two guys who love new adventures and find it hard to sit still. I (DeVerne) grew up in Perham, MN and moved to Spokane, WA in 1991. Dana is originally from the Northwest, having grown up in and around the Spokane area most of her life. We met in 2001 and have been inseparable ever since. Our first business was our salon in Spokane which we operated, as stylists, for over 15 years. We even had a chocolate and wine shop in part of the living room. As stylists, we have always worked creatively with our hands. I’ve always found other ways to be creative; I’ve made the handmade chocolate truffles for the chocolate factory, made beaded jewelry, and even tried lapidary, cutting and polishing semi-precious stones from around the world. In 2017 we moved to the Palm Springs, California area. Living in such an amazing place was great, but we found ourselves wanting something less hectic and missing cooler weather. We definitely found that here in the Fargo area when we moved here in 2021.

Since retiring from the world of shows, we have started careers in real estate. After returning to the area and settling in West Fargo, we knew it was time for a new business that helped us get out and meet new people since we basically didn’t know anyone. Building on my (DeVerne) time in the beauty world, educating and focusing on healthy alternatives without the chemicals found in so many personal care products, making natural soap without chemicals made perfect sense. This is how Wilds Soap Company was born.

Describe the type of products you manufacture as the Wilds Soap Company.

We create natural, handmade, vegan and palm-free soaps. Each color comes from vegetable powders or clays, each aroma comes from natural essential oils. The objective is to offer a soap that is good for the body, the soul and the environment. We use no palm for conservation and sustainability reasons, no artificial pigments or fragrance for health and safety reasons.

Tell us how you started making soap.

I am used to working with personal care product lines and have always been concerned with the chemicals used as well as how these chemicals interact with our bodies. After moving back to the Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo area, we wanted to start a business that didn’t require all the overhead of a storefront and allowed us time to build our careers as Real Estate Agents®. Dana’s excellent customer service skills are perfect for engaging guests at shows. He has a real knack for turning strangers into fans and friends. Soap making seemed like a great way to use our previous knowledge and experience while providing endless opportunities to meet members of our new community while experiencing so many great places and businesses at the same time. Being part of vendor shows at local breweries is starting to be our favorite.

Where does your inspiration for new fragrances or products come from?

Honestly, the inspiration came from things I love. We’ve created many citrus-based scents to honor our time in Southern California. In Palm Springs, when the citrus fruits bloom and fruit, the air is heavy with their fragrance. Last fall, as the long dark days of winter loomed, the idea was to give the day an energizing boost. We have several woody aromas reminiscent of walks through the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest. Every Thanksgiving we visited our family in Bellingham and took short hikes. The old growth forest aroma is designed to smell like those hikes. Another aroma is based on stays on the Clark Fork River with my sister and her husband. Other aromas come from walks with our dogs when we smell the wildflowers and the flowering meadow. Yet others are classic aromas that are loved by many. Other flavors come from customer suggestions – our peach soap is an example. We were at a show and someone asked if we had anything that helps get the fishy smell out of our hands. Having never heard of such a thing, I went to the almighty Google and searched for information. I couldn’t find a recipe but I found the information that turned into anise flavor and it’s a hit with our customers. Inspiration lives all around us, all we have to do is be open to experiencing it.

What is your favorite creation/soap so far?

I’ve made some lovely smelling soaps, but my favorite creation is my vegan, palm oil-free recipe. I love the soap because it has a dense, creamy lather without sacrificing all of the lather in the bar. It cleans perfectly without removing all the natural protective oils that our skin makes for us.

What might people find surprising about working with soap making?

Soap making is an incredibly precise process and different oils react differently with lye. This can complicate recipe development. I use software to create and test a recipe, so I’m sure all the lye will react out of the paste, while making sure there’s enough moisturizing ability left in the finished soap. When the soap is well made, all the lye is gone and is transformed entirely into other elements.

What did you enjoy the most about this craft activity?

Learning how to create colors and patterns in soap was a fun trial and error process. Natural colorants are more discreet than oxides and micas and can be difficult to work with. Some natural dyes change color when in the lye reaction process or harden into usable soap. Take the example of our wood grain soaps. We want them to look like cut pieces of wood (think the grain of hardwood floors or a two-by-four). Learning which vegetable powders contrast enough while looking like natural wood has been an enjoyable process.

What is the hardest thing?

I’ll sound like a broken record, but I’m learning to create color and design in our soaps. Natural dyes are somewhat limited in range and intensity. An example is the rainbow-inspired soaps for Fargo-Moorhead Pride. Getting really good reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigo, and purples was pretty tough. While clays are fairly stable, indigo powder (blue) and alkanet powder (purple) don’t always play well in soap when it comes to their hues. And the proportions of color in the soap are difficult. Learning how much white contrasts with colors in swirl techniques and how much black it takes to top everything else proves to be a long-term learning curve.

What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago?

Don’t wait, go ahead. Stop questioning yourself, you know enough and you will understand. I heard a saying a long time ago. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, you just have to see the next step to start”, or something like that. It’s 100% true.

Where can people find your work?

We love doing in-person shows, they get us out in front of people so they can personally experience the look, feel and smell of our soaps and of course our stellar personalities.

Find us at events at Wild Tera Cider, Fargo Brewing Company and Drekker. We participated in Plants for Patients, Vintage Market, Mini Makers Market and Unglued Makers Market factory parties. We will be in the Red River Refinery in Brewhalla when it opens. We are always reachable on our Facebook page facebook.com/wildssoap.

Website/social site to stay in touch:
Facebook: @wildssoap
Instagram: @wildssoap