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      The Soap Opera Blog — Stories

      My Skin & Hair Care Story

      My Skin & Hair Care Story

      I have wanted to give you all a brief introduction to myself, as well an explanation of my love for natural skin and hair care, for some time now. To first get to know me, you will also need to know that I am a mother to a two year old, adorable, and very active red headed boy – which I hope can explain why taking on this new amazing business and raising a (at the time we took over) newborn delayed this article longer than I would have liked. However, I’m here writing it now and I really hope you enjoy it! I will talk about my life a little, as well as why I love The Soap Opera® and its products so much.

      I should probably start from the beginning. I grew up in a very small village in central Wisconsin named Rudolph. The population of Rudolph, Wisconsin has always hovered right over 400 people. I grew up in the heart of that small village, but was also on my grandparents farms very frequently.  With three older brothers and nine uncles, I was what you could consider a “tom boy” – very active and strong, but I also loved that I had very feminine attributes.

      I always longed to be like my beautiful friends who did their makeup and hair perfectly, but that was just never something I picked up on.  After years of struggling with my body image and skin issues (from trying/using too many chemical “high end products” on my face and in my hair), I decided to go back to my roots.  Natural. Organic. Ingredients I could pronounce and knew what they were!

      "After years of struggling with my body image and skin issues (from trying/using too many chemical “high end products” on my face and in my hair), I decided to go back to my roots.  Natural. Organic. Ingredients I could pronounce and knew what they were!"

      I stopped using all of those expensive acne treatments and makeup mostly because they were not working, but also out of necessity. This was when I was 21 years old, and I had just moved down to South Carolina to be a professional whitewater guide for the summer, while completing my Recreation Management degree in Madison. There is no time for makeup when you are guiding class 4 and 5 rapids. On my way down south, I stopped at my favorite store – The Soap Opera – and stocked up! I got unscented lotions and soaps for my face and body, and some wonderful sea kelp shampoo and conditioner scented with citrus essential oil (yay free custom scenting!). That is when everything started to turn around for my body.

      My cystic acne stopped and the scarring started to clear up.  My hair finally started growing and thickening (I had been trying to grow my hair out since I was 15). I started to feel like my beautiful friends. I finally felt like I was in the skin I was meant to be in.  That got me hooked on The Soap Opera products.  I won’t tell you what year that was, but I've been a customer for well over a decade… 

      I moved back to Madison that December after guiding on the Chattooga River and teaching Environmental Science at an outdoor children’s camp in North Carolina for a semester. I fell back into some of my old skin care habits for silly reasons, but always remembered what actually worked. I would go back to my “nothing bad” and “only good” regimen – it always took a few weeks, but then my body would thank me with clear skin and strong hair again. After becoming pregnant with my son Sean in 2014, I made the executive decision never to go back to the bad  body care habits that I knew my skin didn’t like. It was one of the best choices I’ve made for my body.

      The Spa Collection salon-quality conditioner is the best conditioner I’ve ever used. I used to color my hair once a month, so I’ve put it through some harsh conditions. This conditioner has repaired a lot of the damage I caused and helped strengthen my hair as well.  It has great proteins for your hair and natural moisturizers, like shea butter and jojoba oil. Just like the shampoo, this can be also be custom scented for free!

      I now get compliments on my hair and skin frequently.  It makes me smile so big inside, to know I FINALLY found something that worked for me, after years of dealing with the stress.  If you ever have questions about my life or regimen I’m an open book.  Come find me at the shop I’d love to chat!

      Thanks for reading,

      Stacey Scannell

      Chuck Bauer & Chuck Beckwith: The Soap Opera duo work hard at old-fashioned customer service

      Chuck Bauer & Chuck Beckwith: The Soap Opera duo work hard at old-fashioned customer service

      By Cayce Osborne

      Skin care can be a complicated issue. Can that expensive body lotion really do all it claims? Are the ingredients beneficial, or are all those scientific-sounding concoctions listed on the label doing more harm than good? The decision on what to buy and how much to spend is often difficult, and having a trusted friend to recommend a product is how many of us find our lifelong favorites. Thanks to Chuck Bauer and Chuck Beckwith, shopping at The Soap Opera is like entering a store where your best friend has tried each and every product. The shelves are lined with products Bauer and Beckwith believe in and have actually tried. With a staff who is similarly informed, it’s hard to go wrong with anything you’ll find at this venerable State Street institution.

      Having been influenced by small European specialty boutiques, Bauer and Beckwith opened a small cart on the Library Mall as art students in the 1970s. They soon moved to a permanent storefront and kept upgrading their retail space, eventually purchasing their current location at 319 State St. in 1982. “We really wanted something independent that we could do in the nature of a small business,” says Beckwith. “We both grew up internationally and realized that smaller stores could be pretty great. In the ’70s, retail was not that exciting, and nobody had small stores.” Body care items were relegated to drug stores or supermarkets, and because of this they were able to hit upon an underserved niche. The Soap Opera has been a success ever since.

      Their achievement has been no accident, however. They’ve put in long hours, created a warm and welcoming environment, and above all, provided peerless customer service.

      “Our products are personal,” explains Bauer. “So we have the intimacy of a small space and a counter with a lot of personal service. There’s hardly any of that left.Kind of like bookstores used to be: small, personal, where the people had read everything and could talk books.”

      Product lines like Crabtree & Evelyn, Roger Gallet, Maja and their in-house brand have been favorites since the store’s inception, and they seek out new additions — like decadent MOR soaps—when the inspiration strikes or because of a customer request or recommendation.At the same time, they are careful not to become slaves to trend, as those products often come and go.

      “There’s always that temptation to purchase every new thing that comes along, like towels and shower curtains,” says Bauer. “Pretty soon you become foggy in the mind of your customers. We’ve always prided ourselves on keeping our focus really sharp, and if they’ve bought something here before, they can very likely get it again.We are loyal to the lines we carry.”

      Because of this loyalty, you’ll often overhear customers telling personal stories about their favorite products — maybe reminiscing about when their mother used to shop here, or that their favorite European brand isn’t carried anywhere else and they’re so happy to find it again. Shopping at The Soap Opera is an engaging experience,with a knowledgeable staff who always puts the customer first.

      Counter service will never be interrupted by a phone call, for instance. “You know how it is — if the phone rings, that comes first. It’s like someone is being allowed to butt in front of you in line.Why is that? We never, ever let that happen here,” says Bauer. All calls and e-mails are handled by Bauer in the downstairs office, while you’ll most often find Beckwith upstairs working with customers or creating a window display, a division of labor that has evolved over the life of their partnership and works perfectly for both of them.

      While Beckwith calls good customer service “an old-fashioned value,” at the same time their attention to detail meshes well with the modern consumer’s demands. They maintain an extensive Web site that allows customers to order online or over the phone, and packages are shipped out the same day the order is placed.

      With all this focus on the store, it’s a wonder the two have any free time, but in addition to traveling — during which they often stumble upon new products for the store — they maintain two local households, and Bauer enjoys plein air painting. Their Madison home in the University Heights neighborhood is often a stop on local architectural or garden tours, and is indeed a marvel of design. Working with the architect who first revamped their storefront, they handed over a 200-item wish list and three years later, the house was done.

      “We consider it a great place to share with people. It’s a wild house,with 11 levels in it, so we’re constantly on the stairs. But we’re thrilled with it,”says Beckwith. Another project is their second home, a farm near New Glarus, and while Beckwith refers to it as “their little weekend getaway,” it also boasts an impressive 18 acres of planted prairie and an oak savannah restoration.

      It could be said that Bauer and Beckwith actually have three homes—if you include the store itself. They are proud to own a building on State Street and to be part of the downtown community — something they have become well known for and that has been well documented.But when asked what we might not know about them, Bauer responds, surprisingly, by bringing up the issue of retirement.

      “No one has ever asked us about it.We would like to say that there are so many intangibles about working, but the rewards are ongoing.” With a hard-working staff, for which both men are grateful, they have the flexibility to put energy into their homes and their hobbies. As for making any changes to the rewarding life they’ve carved out for themselves, Bauer puts it simply: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!”