Located along the west side of Bruce Street, just north of Queen St., there is a gem of a shop called Superior Basket Factory & Soap Garden.
This Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario based store is the enterprise of two local business women coming together in a space that allows them to continue building on their success. As individuals, each has a thriving business. Together, they are forging a partnership that has them growing in ways that, by pooling both monetary and creative resources, allows them to expand and flourish. By sharing the costs associated with renting square footage, Dalaina King, owner of Soap Garden & Brandie Casselman, owner of The Superior Basket Factory have opened a permanent store. “We split on all of the overhead and marketing costs. We run ideas past each other. We’re a natural fit for each other” they said.
Superior Basket Factory started originally as a home based business, with a store front in 2012, specializing in gift baskets. After returning to Sault Ste. Marie from Ottawa, Ontario where she lived and worked for many years, Brandie made a decision to leave the work she was doing in the field of health care to focus on her young son and start a home based business. “The CDC supported me with a business plan, business goals, and were a tremendous resource overall as a support.” shared Brandie.
“I have a little boy, and I wanted to do something that would allow me to earn an income, and be present for my son. That was really important to me as I began building Superior Basket Factory.” Brandie’s young son is now 4 years old. “I started doing gift baskets, and then expanded to homemade treats, fudges, homemade caramel apples, caramel popcorn, and a few other things. From there, I moved to Mill Market, and after looking for some time,
I found this space (Bruce St.) that seemed perfect for both Dalaina and I.”
Brandi pays very close attention to the ingredients she incorporates in her own original recipes. “Everything is made fresh right here.” I do at least 20 different kinds of gourmet caramel popcorn.” All of Brandie’s recipes start with the best of the best in fresh. Real cream, butter and brown sugars are in all things caramel, chocolate, and other delectable’s. Salted caramel fudge is at the top of the list for popularity. Her list of gourmet treats is substantial and diverse. There is something for everyone at any time of the year, but with Christmas coming, it’s fair to assume Brandie will be cooking caramel til the cows come home. Also in demand, are the Caramel Apples. “They are made the old fashioned way.” said Brandie.
Three years ago, she began perfecting the recipe for the caramel. “I like to use granny smith apples, based on their crispness, and tartness for the caramel apples”
Chocolate-dipped pretzels and energy balls are two more popular foods from Brandie’s kitchen. With ingredients like organic granola, natural peanut butter, flax seeds, dates, figs, cranberries, and many more, energy balls have become a hot item. The home-baked pretzel sticks are dipped in chocolate and rolled in several different scrumptious ingredients like Butterfinger and Heath chocolate bars and graham crumbs.
Dalaina, had at one time, pursued bio-chemistry and laboratory science at the post-secondary level. Her passion for science and cosmetics led her down a path that found her developing and creating natural soaps. As far back as 2001, Dalaina was experimenting with making soap and building a recipe book with naturally sourced essential oils and other natural ingredients.
“There is lot of science behind cosmetics. All my products are formulated in house, by me. I understand what my ingredients are and what they are going to do for the product.” shared Dalaina. Regulations for hand-made cosmetics are federally regulated. Dalaina’s products are all made to the highest quality standard and best practises. The Soap Garden workshop is in a separate location from her home for manufacturing, and is set up in accordance with good manufacturing practices and regulations. Soap Garden is registered with Health Canada, and was officially launched in 2013.
Dalaina eventually became a vendor at Mill Market, where she met Brandie. The two women were set up as vendors very near to each other. The idea to pair up and build a store front business together began to take shape, and in Spring 2015, the space on Bruce Street was found. “July 2015, was our grand opening.” shared Brandie.
Dalaina is currently working with PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise. ‘PARO is one of Canada’s most successful business support and networking organizations. As a not-for-profit social enterprise, they collaborate to empower women, strengthen small business and promote community economic development across the North of Ontario.'(http://paro.ca/2013/) PARO began in Thunder Bay, Ontario, 20 years ago.
“I make all my own molds.” said Dalaina. An impressive wedding cake topped with strawberries is an original Soap Garden soap cake sculpture.
Bastille is a type of soap which Dalaina specializes in, and is mainly comprised of olive oils, coconut oil, castor oils, and sustainable palm oil. Sourcing of ingredients through sustainable farming is very important to Dalaina. Typically, she will pour small batches of soaps for bars, having been developing her recipes for over 15 years. Essential oils and fragrances are from natural sources. Dalaina is from Echo Bay, married with 2 boys, 3 and 6 years old.
Mineral makeup, body butters, lip balms, and more are part of a full line of cosmetics created in Soap Gardens’ workshop, and is 100% authentically hand-made, and affordable.
Both Soap Garden and Superior Basket can fill custom corporate orders, and create private labels for events, give-away gifts for customers and staff, or event attendees. Weddings are one of the popular events for mini soap bars to be given as wedding favours.
Custom order Fruit baskets, local Superior Maple syrup, Gypsy hand-made custom jewelry, Yummy Scents by Amanda (natural soy candles), Handmade by Marley body butters, lip balms, salves, deodorants and more, bamboo towels, can also be found within the store at 129 Bruce Street.
“We have so much in common.” shared Brandie “Our family life and business goals keep us grounded and on the same page as each other.”
“We bounce ideas off each other all the time.” shared Dalaina. ” My boys love coming here for Brandie’s treats.”
Brandie and Dalaina continue to bring their products to Mill Market on Saturdays and Sundays. The Bruce St. store is open Monday through Friday 10 – 6 pm and Saturdays 10 – 4 pm.
Locally, hand-made gourmet delectable edibles, and sustainable, 100 % naturally sourced handmade soaps and cosmetics are, no doubt, on a Christmas list near you. Make a plan to stop by and check out the diverse collection of products offered by Superior Basket Factory and Soap Garden. You will be very glad you did.