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2 West Hall graduates start Off Ponce, sell beer-infused soap on Etsy website
Women fine-tune their hobbies into online business
0415BERRY-WOMEN
Katie Morgan, from left, Connor Berry and her wife Amanda Berry own and operate the home-based business, Off Ponce.

Off Ponce

To purchase items, visit www.etsy.com/people/OFFPONCE.

Experimenting with beers and soaps has worked out well for three women who turned their knack for creativity into an online business.

“We realized with some fine tuning we could turn all of our hobbies into a pretty unique business,” Amanda Berry said. “We had used some of my home brew in our soaps before.”

Off Ponce, named after the street where they live in Atlanta, was born in the women’s kitchens in December 2015 when they were tinkering with their soap and beer creations. Now, the trio has grown the business, selling beer-infused soaps, bottle openers, homemade belt shelves, and other miscellaneous items on their Etsy page. Etsy is an online marketplace for small business owners to sell homemade products.

“Everything we create is natural, mindfully sourced and most importantly, handprinted with each of our personalities,” said Katie Morgan, one of the co-owners of the business.

Amanda Berry, a 2007 West Hall graduate and former Oakwood resident, handles different aspects of the day-to-day business.

“I have my hands in pretty much all aspects of the business, from soap and candle production to advertising and marketing,” the 26-year-old woman said.

Running this portion of the business isn’t her only job, though. Berry has worked at Publix for five years in the customer service department.

But her joy comes from her thriving home-based business. And her real creativity shines when she’s crafting interior design elements.

“The one thing I specialize in is all of our wall decor and wood items,” Berry said. “I love woodworking, and it’s a fun addition to our products.”

The business didn’t start with home decor. It started with beer.

Amanda Berry knew her beer-brewing skills could come in handy for other uses. While she brewed in the kitchen, her wife, Connor Berry, made soy candles in the same space.

The 24-year-old had been making her own candles for years, always trying to develop new recipes for candles, bath bombs and soap. Connor Berry did this when she wasn’t working as a payroll coordinator for a property management company. She is also a trained confectioner, receiving a degree from Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, N.C.

Connor Berry said soapmaking can be a long process, but she and her wife have perfected their craft after researching and a little trial by error.

“Needless to say, we have lots and lots of soap that didn’t make the cut that we give out to friends and family,” Amanda Berry said.

Before starting, the pair picks out the beer and scents.

“First, we crack open two beers. One for me and one for the soap,” said Amanda Berry, pointing out she gets her beer for the soaps from breweries in Atlanta.

Next, they combine the necessary oils: olive, coconut, grapeseed and sunflower. Then they mix in shea butter.

While the oils cool, they combine the beer and the chosen lye. The beer and lye are blended with the oils at the same temperature using an immersion blender.

“When the mixture thickens, we add in our fragrance oils and any other add-ins like coffee grounds,” Amanda Berry said.

The soap is then poured into square molds and cured for three weeks.

The Berrys’ close friend, 26-year-old Morgan, joined the two women’s venture. The 2007 West Hall graduate added her business expertise to the mix, focusing on the strategy and business side of Off Ponce.

The trio began brainstorming to nail down four signature scents. But there were a few duds.

Now the Berrys and Morgan sell a quartet of soaps: a citrus poppyseed IPA, lavender eucalyptus pale ale, a mocha coffee stout and a milk and honey oatmeal stout.

“We are always trying to think of new ones,” Amanda Berry said.

Her favorites are the mocha stout bars. She said they are great for people who work outside with dirt or oils because of the coffee grounds inside the soap.

“The coffee is also great for getting the smell of garlic off your hands,” Berry said. “We always have a bar (of soap) in our kitchen.”

The bars sell for $5 on Etsy.

The women donate 10 percent of their proceeds to the Beltline Project. According to its website (www.beltline.org), the Beltline Project provides “a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit by re-using 22 miles of historic railroad corridors circling downtown and connecting 45 neighborhoods directly to each other.”

The belts used for the one-of-a-kind belt shelves are bought from a thrift store in Atlanta called Lost ‘n’ Found.

“We’re big on giving back to the community,” Berry said.

Another portion of the proceeds help homeless LGBT youth.

“We’d like to be an Atlanta-based staple — creators of gifts that tourists and locals alike treasure and purchase for their homes and loved ones,” Morgan said.

While the trio’s business is home-based, they hope to have a brick-and-mortar building one day. But for now they’re satisfied with selling on Etsy and sharing their products at festivals.

“We have our first festival in Charlotte on April 30,” Berry said. “ It’s called Hippie Fest and looks like a lot of fun.”

To purchase items from Off Ponce, visit www.etsy.com/people/OFFPONCE.

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