Kimberly Clayton Thigpen, owner of The Bath Place. Contributed photo.

Squeaky Clean 

In October 2022, Stuff by Anna Beth AdcockLeave a Comment

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Scrub up on small business soap shop The Bath Place and its bubbly owner.

“Simply fresh, confident and clean” is the MO of founder and Chief Soap Artist Kimberly Clayton Thigpen’s The Bath Place, which recently opened a second location at the Pop-Up Shops at Martin Street—and it’s exactly what you’ll get with her spa-quality natural products made with simple ingredients (read: no harmful chemicals!). 

Thigpen started making soaps in 2006 in response to a family member of hers who suffered from eczema. She began researching soapmaking and looked for ways to incorporate shea butter into soap, which she found worked well for the condition. In the process, she fell in love with the approach to making soap by hand.

“It’s joyful for me,” gushes Thigpen. “Like, ‘Oh, my gosh! I made soap and it actually works!’ Even if I wasn’t selling it, I would do it for free. It’s just therapeutic.”  

After three years of moonlighting and selling her products—think body and facial bars, lip scrubs, candles, hand sanitizer, and soap (natch)—online and at craft shows, festivals and farmers markets, Thigpen opened her first retail shop in Rocky Mount in 2012. Now, after over a decade of business, in addition to the two brick-and-mortars, The Bath Place products have even bubbled onto shelves at five local Whole Foods Market locations (!).

And the world is taking note. Thigpen’s business made the pages of Travel + Leisure, and she was one of this year’s keynote speakers at Downtown Raleigh Alliance’s esteemed State of Downtown program. Talk about scrubbing up success! “We had to learn to create the product at scale,” she says. “But while the process has changed, we try to keep the love involved.”

With no intention of leaving Raleigh anytime soon (who can blame her), this artisan soapmaking mom of six and small-business owner has her sights set on a clean future. She’s currently working on building out a warehouse facility, increasing her community engagement and finding a permanent space in Raleigh (“I love it here!” she says). Talk about a soap-erstar. 

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