Australian made and handmade soaps from Wheelers Hill Soaps

Wheelers Hill Soaps was born out of necessity when Suzanne Irvine’s son was struggling with too many (horrible) side effects from prescribed medication for his acne.

Irvine, who used to be a nurse, started to create soap bars that include charcoal, which she knew would be beneficial to her son’s skin.

“Easy to use in the shower by just wiping it over your face, it doesn’t necessarily cure it, but it keeps all the oils under control,” she says.

The business just kept expanding from there and at Gift & Lifestyle Melbourne she showcased handwashes, lotions, lip balms and bath bombs alongside her soap bars.

“Everything is handmade with natural ingredients. I create everything myself. Especially after Covid people are looking for Australian made and handmade products which is great for my business.

“They also want things to be recyclable and reusable, no more plastic, so we recently introduced shampoo and conditioner bars. It takes you back to before we had liquid bottles. We also use the scraps from soaps that are not used to create soap balls. We don’t throw anything away.”

Retailers are diversifying to remain relevant to consumers, says Irvine, and especially florists have become enthusiastic stockists of her soaps. Other retailers include gift shops, clothing boutiques, news agencies and pharmacies.

While the fair was smaller, for wholesalers like Irvine this was not a bad thing because there were more opportunities to have conversations with buyers and potential clients.

“People are keen to get out after two years of lockdowns. While it was a small fair people have more time to talk to you and that’s great. For wholesalers it’s good, not sure if retailers would say the same thing as they might prefer the bigger fairs with more products.”