Good Soap, Made With Love
Family grows ‘Bombshell’ business into an all natural, widespread success
By Drew Myron
Struggling with an autoimmune disorder that caused chronic pain and fatigue, Becky Keys of Dufur just wanted relief. Doctors told her to revamp her life: Eat more fruits and vegetables, minimize stress and eliminate all chemicals from her life.
Becky says all she wanted was a long, warm, bubble bath to soothe her aching body, but even that was difficult to achieve. When she read labels, she realized she was soaking in sulfates, parabens and petroleum-based chemicals—the very things doctors said were wreaking havoc on her system.
Desperate, Becky took matters into her own hands.
“I started playing around making my own bath products,” she explains, undeterred that she had no science background.
Becky took classes on soap making and essential oils, and spent hours researching ingredients and processes.
Ten years later, she and her husband, Paul, operate a thriving business focused on all-natural bath and body products. Bombshell Bath Co., a family business, offers more than 40 products and has customers in nearly every state and across the globe.
Bombshell Bath offers handcrafted all-natural soaps, lotion, bath bombs, soaks, scrubs, moisturizers, toner, lip balms, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and insect repellant.
Bombshell for Kids features bath crayons, baby soak, and specially designed dinosaur and fairy soap.
These nontoxic soaps are especially popular among those with sensitive skin or rosacea, eczema or acne.
Bombshell has a booming online market, and several local businesses carry Bombshell Bath products.
Becky and Paul—who have been married nearly 20 years—started their business in Dufur, where Paul was born and raised. For 22 years, he worked as a warehouseman on the grain elevators at MidColumbia Producers.
Becky moved from Portland to The Dalles in 1991 and worked in the billing department at the hospital. A few years later, she met Paul and moved to Dufur.
Their first sale was at the Dufur Threshing Bee in 2012.
“The rest is soapy history,” Becky says.
Blending art and science, Bombshell products are as pretty as they are effective. But what makes them special?
While commercial soaps typically contain synthetic detergents and fillers, handmade soaps are made in small batches using specialty oils and natural additives to create a signature style.
“We like our soaps to smell good,” Becky says.
These artisan soaps are created by a hot process method in which the base ingredients—shea butter or goat’s milk— are “cooked;” infused with essential oils such as cedar, tea tree, lavender, chamomile, lemon, sage and eucalyptus; then placed in molds to harden.
Local ingredients are used when possible, such as beeswax from Morgan & Sons Honey Co. and flowers from Hood River Lavender.
Recently, the couple relocated operations from Dufur to the Rufus Community Center—in the old Rufus School—where they make, cut and wrap each item by hand.
The company is a true family business. Becky and Paul head up production and operations. Their daughter, Natasha Morris, handles marketing and online sales, and has created a buzz across Instagram and Facebook. As a military wife, her family frequently moves around the country, and Natasha creates new customers across the map. Son Jason Keys has a hand in the local market. He lives in Dufur and helps his parents when he is not working at Mid-Columbia Producers.
Even the company logo—a blonde pinup soaking in a bath of bubbles—is a family creation, designed by Paul’s sister-in-law, Tammy.
“Our business has grown organically and we never took a business loan,” Paul says. “We started small and kept it small, and we’d like to give the business to our kids someday.”
How do they measure success?
Becky, for one, is feeling better. While her immune system does sometimes flare, the bouts are less severe and more easily managed. “
We make everyday soap that is affordable and good for you,” she says.
“That makes us so happy.” Paul agrees.
“It’s not about going global or being a millionaire,” he says. “If I can be a thousandaire and be with Becky, I’m happy.”
Where to Buy Bombshell Products
- The Dalles
- Breezeway Boutique Antiques
- Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
- Feed Shack
- Oregon Veterans Home Gift Shop
- Cascade Locks
- Bridgeside Restaurant and Gift Shop
- MCP Goldendale Farm & Home
- Buckwheat Bottoms