Behind The Brand: Rachel Bolan, Legendary Bassist and Creator of Dirty Rocker Soap Co.
by Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro, Contributing Beauty Editor
Music and beauty products. Two things that have consistently been a huge part of my life — specifically, natural (aka clean) lotions and potions and rock and roll. Merging the two in one brand, we find Nashville, Tennessee’s Dirty Rocker Soap Company. Specializing in small-batch, all-natural, artisan soap, their beautiful bars are carefully crafted by Rachel Bolan of the legendary rock band, Skid Row. Yes, you read that correctly; one of rock’s most badass musicians has “come clean."
Mr. Bolan’s career has spanned decades and continents, winning over critics and fans alike since 1986. He’s graced the covers of numerous rock magazines, sold millions of records, and now, he’s helping to keep us all so fresh and so clean via his very own line of cruelty-free, vegan, hand-crafted soaps.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with him about DRSC after checking out the line. From Lavenilla and Tea Tree Coal to Mother Earth, Citrus Basilico, and Café Scrub, the fragrances are balanced, the soaps leave your skin feeling supple, clean, and hydrated, and the packaging leaves a very minimal carbon footprint. Coco Eco readers: I can now say that I’m a fan of Rachel Bolan’s music and soaps. Be sure to look for his latest record, The Gang’s All Here, and read on for a bit about the brand behind these rockin’ bars.
AM: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with Coco Eco. For starters, could you please share what made you decide to get into the beauty business?
RB: I travel a lot and I stay in a lot of hotels. It seemed like every time I took a shower, my skin would be dry from the soap and/or water. A friend of mine had given me a bar of soap she made so I took it on the road; It was incredible! It was at that moment the idea for Dirty Rocker Soap Company was born. I figured every artist has a hot sauce, coffee, beer or liquor, why not soap? So I formulated four different scents with basic, all natural ingredients, built a website, and put them up for sale. The first batch was sold-out in a couple hours. Now we have 12 scents and show no sign of slowing down.
AM: Could you tell us a bit about your company’s name, Dirty Rocker Soap Co.?
RB: Well, being a lifer in a rock and roll band, you have to accept that life on the road is a lot different than life at home. You don’t always have the amenities you’re used to. Maybe you’ll wear the same clothes for a few days in a row or go on stage without brushing your hair. Because of that I’ve been referred to as a “dirty rocker” many times—more for my image and attitude than my hygiene, of course. It seemed like the perfect name for the company.
AM: Does the creative process of songwriting inform your soap-making process and vice versa?
RB: Creating is everything to me and making soap is definitely another form of creativity. Developing new scent combos and names for each product is really fun. Sometimes, I come up with a blend that just doesn’t work, while other times it’s a real hit—just like songwriting.
AM: On your site, you have a page entitled “WITH THE WORLD IN MIND.” Could you touch on your commitment to reducing your carbon footprint, and a bit about the ingredients you work with?
RB: To start, I reuse a lot of packaging. From boxes to packing material inside; I’ll even use the paper backing from the labels for inner packing. And I ask my customers to do the same. I keep the actual soap packaging simple so there’s less to recycle or discard. I find that a lot of customers collect the labels because they like the logo; that’s pretty cool.
The base for my soap is a combo of olive oil, virgin coconut oil, distilled water and sodium hydroxide. I use mica powder, chlorella powder, coffee or orange peel powder for color and different essential and fragrance oils for scent. All of my soaps are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
AM: When it comes to self-care, do you have any favorite products or rituals?
RB: I like variety, I never really follow any regimen, and I use my own soap of course. Sandalwood Pine is my favorite, but I switch things up from time to time. I like my teeth white and my body clean!
AM: How do you develop your formulations and could you touch on your soap-making process? A bit about your team?
RB: Sometimes I’ll develop scents from things I taste. An example is our Citrus Basilico Bar. It was based off a salad I ate made simply of orange and basil. Other times, I’ll just think of how certain scents would work together. Like sandalwood, vanilla and pine tar in the aforementioned Sandalwood Pine. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. I tried making a kelp soap once and it smelled great until it got wet. Wow, was that bad.
We’re a small team—there are just two of us making the soap and two helpers packing and shipping. Everything is made in small batches so it doesn’t sit on the shelf too long. Thankfully, we haven’t had to worry about that.
AM: What’s in the pipeline for Dirty Rocker Soap Co.?
RB: I want to continue to grow the company by finding placement in more retail outlets and increasing online sales. No matter how large the company may grow, I promise that the quality will stay the same.
AM: Anything else you’d like your fans to know?
RB: This has been a really fun venture which provides another avenue to connect with fans and be creative. Also, we love seeing our customers’ photos of the soaps “out in the wild”.