June 19, 2018 marked a first for PEI. The first shipment of 4,500 bars of Island Potato Soap is heading to Taiwan. The Leezen Group in Taiwan will be distributing Island Potato Soap to its 132 outlets. The soap, grown by Island farmers, is unique because it is made with certified organic potato juice.
If the soap catches on, the Taiwan market could eventually grow to over 100,000 bars of soap annually. This would be a great boost for rural employment here on PEI since all the employees of White Gable at Hope River live on the North Shore.
by Jim Brown
Pieter Ijsselstein has big plans for the Stanley Bridge Centre, which he has leased for the summer months and will be open for business on June 16.
The co-owner of White Gables at Hope River, Mr Ijsselstein recently returned from a taping of Dragon’s Den to pitch his potato soap themed products.
He says the new Stanley Bridge Centre-based retail sales outlet (bearing the iconic White Gables name) will offer Island landscape paintings, pottery, weavings, and, of course, his burgeoning lines of Island Potato Soap and Skin Cream made with Potato Juice and Island Oils.
He also plans to have two Island market days, which will feature products from several other vendors, on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout July and August.
It’s an exciting time for Pieter and Geraldine who have seen their certified organic potato soap products, including skin creams, sold in 225 locations throughout the Maritimes. All told, they have created more than 40 varieties of potato soap (including beer soap) and more are under development including a sunscreen made with Potato Juice.
“A lot of people in the US are ordering online and there are retail outlets in Ontario, BC. Maine, even the Yukon,” says Pieter
Pieter also has an order of 4,500 bars of soap from the Leezen connection in Taiwan, which are to be shipped out before the end of June.
The shipment involves four varieties of soap – Certified Organic Coffee, Anne’s Baby Soap (unscented), Lavender essential oil and eucalyptus essential oil soaps.
Right now, Pieter is waiting to hear from Dragon’s Den’s producers when his segment will air in the upcoming new season. So until then, everything is under wraps.
But even without news from Dragon’s Den, his lines of potato soap and skin cream sales are creating a lot of interest.
He estimates he will produce anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 bars of soap this year. Sales have doubled this year, he said.
Among his 40 varieties of certified organic soaps are such popular brands as Lucy Maud Sweet Pea Soap and Sea Kelp Soaps, as well as eight Lighthouse soaps featuring beautiful illustrations (by Geraldine, his wife) of lighthouses including PEI’s famed West Point Lighthouse and the Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse from Nova Scotia.
All the work is done at his home-business just around the corner in Hope River, though the bulk of his certified organic potato purchases come from various Island growers.
His soap-based skin creams are sold in 100 ml pump bottles, which are great for tourists who can easily take it in their carry-on luggage if they are flying.
We are all looking forward to another great summer at the Stanley Bridge Centre!
by Jim Brown
Tireless Island entrepreneur Pieter Ijsselstein has created more than 40 varieties of certified organic potato soap, which he is selling in 225 locations across the Maritimes, and more recently, Taiwan. He’s been very creative with his soaps, but one brand in particular may raise a few eyebrows, since he’s planning to send a few bars to President Donald Trump.
The White Gables of Hope River owner said the inspiration for his latest brand, dubbed “Sin Washing Soap”, came from a former United Church, decommissioned years ago and renamed the Stanley Bridge Centre.
It’s a building he is leasing this summer to launch a new craft and farmer’s market-themed venture, which was to open June 16.
Why is he naming it Sin Washing soap?
“It’s got Island sea sand for extra scrub,” said Mr Ijsselstein – something needed for a really deep cleansing job.
And why is he planning to send some bars to the president of the United States?
“There’s a perception out there that Trump has a lot of sins,” he said.
Jim Brown photos
The Stanley Bridge Centre (SBC) presented a rousing night of music June 10 at the SBC in Stanley Bridge. Featured performers were Gertie and Bill Campbell, Lou and Elmer Doiron, Trudy Hughes, Mary Campbell, Jason Campbell and Fenton MacSwain. Money from the concert will go towards needed renovations at the SBC.
Jim Brown, editor of the Stanley Bridge Centre website, recently visited the world famous PEI Preserve Company in New Glasgow to pick a sampler of jams to send President Donald Trump and his two top advisers on trade and the economy, Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro. Mr Brown and owner Bruce MacNaughton (in photo) were hoping the preserves would help turn down the heat on a bitter trade dispute which has seen crushing tariffs and sharp words levied against Canada. Mr Brown is challenging other Canadians to send a flood of tasty treats to the White House. Mr MacNaughton generously donated the preserves.
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Jim Brown photos