South Austin People brings home the bubbles

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Local artisan concocts natural, vegetable-based soap blends

The sharp, clean scents of lavender and rose waft from the backyard of a brown South Congress Avenue home, where there are just a few rusted kegs, dead grass and a drooling American pit bull rather than the garden one would assume is there. The scent is instead from local natural soap maker JohnPaul Fierro’s laboratory, where he concocts vegetable-oil-based natural soap and body care products for his company, South Austin People, or So.A.P.

Fierro took the scientific method he learned as a former UT chemistry student, class of 2003, and turned them into a soap-making business. Although he originally wanted to study alternative fuels, he applied his knowledge of chemical compounds and oils to soap making.

While studying petroleum alternatives, Fierro learned of the petroleum’s frequent use in cosmetics. Petroleum leeches vitamins and natural oils from skin, which then wash away when we sweat or bathe and leaves the skin dry.

Fierro said he switched soon thereafter from commercial bar soaps to natural soaps, but instead of buying natural soaps from the store, he figured he could make them himself.

The sharp, clean scents of lavender and rose waft from the backyard of a brown South Congress Avenue home, where there are just a few rusted kegs, dead grass and a drooling American pit bull rather than the garden one would assume is there. The scent is instead from local natural soap maker JohnPaul Fierro’s laboratory, where he concocts vegetable-oil-based natural soap and body care products for his company, South Austin People, or So.A.P.

Fierro took the scientific method he learned as a former UT chemistry student, class of 2003, and turned them into a soap-making business. Although he originally wanted to study alternative fuels, he applied his knowledge of chemical compounds and oils to soap making.

While studying petroleum alternatives, Fierro learned of the petroleum’s frequent use in cosmetics. Petroleum leeches vitamins and natural oils from skin, which then wash away when we sweat or bathe and leaves the skin dry.

Fierro said he switched soon thereafter from commercial bar soaps to natural soaps, but instead of buying natural soaps from the store, he figured he could make them himself.