Just in time for holiday shopping, NY1's Shazia Khan looks at products from New York City in her week-long series, "I Got It Made In New York."
When the economy crashed in 2008, Silvia Dontcheva left her shaky job in real estate and tried to make a clean start.
With a budget of only $100, she logged onto YouTube and learned how to make soap. After a slippery start, she founded Uptown Soap Company.
“I learned I can make it in my microwave. So literally for the first year of business, that’s where I made every single soap—by hand in my dining room,” says Dontcheva.
Three years later, the gift shops at the Four Seasons hotel and beauty.com are among her more than 300 clients. NY1 met Dontcheva at her offices in NoHo, where sugared lily, salted caramel and anjou pear perfumed the air.
She and her staff hand-make and package the all-natural soaps from a three-floor townhouse in Harlem. Cameras were not allowed in to protect the secrets of her livelihood.
Dontcheva also designs all her packaging. One popular collection features New York City scenes captured on her iPhone.
“We really are the only bath and body manufacturer in Manhattan,” says Dontcheva, “and that’s where we plan on being for a long time to come.”
Dontcheva isn’t the only one who’s helping New York City smell better, though. Amanda Walker, who describes herself as a perfume addict, has launched A Perfume Organic.
“Everything that goes on your skin should be basically edible,” says Walker.
NY1 got a whiff of her business inside the Chelsea Market, but Walker formulates and hand-pours her perfumes at a lab in Kips Bay that’s closed to visitors.
She distills only U.S.-sourced organic ingredients from plants, spices, herbs and flowers. Her backyard is her inspiration.
“I purchased spearmint from a rooftop garden in Brooklyn and distilled it,” says Walker. “I’m constantly looking around, even in the city, and I'm like, oh, can I get a clipping of that?”
For more information on Uptown Soap Company, visit uptownsoap.com. For more information on A Perfume Organic, visit aperfumeorganic.com.