When Robin and Jim Bedford started making soap as part of their family business, they determined to make it the best they could utilizing natural ingredients and being environmentally conscious. When their son Derek and Jennifer were married, soaps were the wedding favors. Derek and then Jennifer joined the business sometime after, determined to further develop the soap business.
The business began in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and the name Possum Hollow Farm Soap came about because there was a possum hollow behind the family farmhouse. While in Pennsylvania, Derek and Jennifer developed a vegan line of bar soaps and for five years operated the family retail business and began wholesaling their soaps.
Acting on a desire to move back to New England where both had gone to college, they bought a home with a small workshop outbuilding in Sanford Maine in 2015. They enhanced their existing soap formulas and developed a full line of skincare products that are sold not only in New England, but nationally on a wholesale and retail basis.
Their soaps proved popular, and when the number of orders and the potential for new outlets presented itself, it was time to expand production. They worked on a proposal for some funding by the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council (SREGC) which not only included a new and automated soap cutting machine but machinery to assist with their soap wrapping process. With funding from the SREGC in hand, Derek went to the University of Maine for help in designing the soap wrapping machine to automate the distinctively designed packaging that he and Jennifer were doing by hand.
The SREGC recommended Southern Maine Finance Agency (SMFA) to help them in financing not only the soap wrapping machine but also to enlarge their workshop.
“SMFA urged us to think bigger than we were,” says Derek.
That resulted in creating about four times the capacity that Derek and Jennifer had when they were doing things by hand, plus room to grow. Unique soap scents such as Matcha Lemongrass, Herb Garden and Double Mint Citrus have proven very popular over the past years. Most recently the two utilized the skills they have built up over time to create the Bedford line of skin care products.
“We are currently reacting to demand by supplying our full line of skin care products to the many spas, hotel spas, and resorts that use them in their treatment rooms as well as sell retail,” adds Jennifer. “We are really excited about the potential for our business and being able to do what we love, right here in Maine.”