Founder’s Story

Biography of Erica D. Pence

Erica Pence is a soapmaker, teacher, author, and blogger. She is the founder and CEO of Bath Alchemy Lab, the first in providing a vast array of comprehensive soap, bath and body, cosmetics, and candle classes, including the Soapmaking Academy, entirely online.

Erica began soapmaking about 10 years ago and opened The Bonnie Bath Co. in 2008.  She ran the company until 2013 when she felt the need for quality soapmaking classes with high standards was needed.  In 2013, Bath Alchemy Lab was founded and a full line of soapmaking courses was offered.

Erica is the author of numerous books and magazines both in print and digitally for soapmakers as well as an active blog chock full of ideas and information, Some books she has written include Formulating Your Own Soap Recipes, Scenting in Soapmaking, and The Artisan Soapmaker, with new titles to release soon, such as Pigment Mixology. She created a line of fresh and fun seasonal online soap classes for Bramble Berry, in which you can learn many intermediate and advanced techniques throughout the year, without taking a full course.

Erica has been a regular columnist for The Saponifier magazine (now known as Making Soap) for over 6 years providing feature articles and ongoing columns. She is a Certified Advanced Soapmaker and Certified Advanced Soapmaking Teacher with HSCG, the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild, working towards a Master certification (only 2 people hold this title as of 2016), and a speaker at the 2014, 2015, and 2016 HSCG Annual Conferences. She serves as a sub-chair on the HSCG Certification Review and Expert Level Development committee. She holds a BA in Education and combines her love for teaching and researching with her passion for soapmaking.

Getting to Know Erica on a Personal Level

Well, what would you like to know about me?  There’s lots I could tell you.  I am pretty much an expert on my life.  I know all of my strengths and weaknesses and even my secret thoughts and innermost feelings.  I suppose you’ll probably want to know about my soapmaking interest, but my crazy stories of things I’ve seen and done are far more entertaining, like the time I camped along the shore of Loch Ness on the longest day of the year, or my adventures driving the library’s bookmobile (a Greyhound bus loaded with books that did outreach for the poor and the old) – the stories I could tell you…

Online I am kind of a private person.  I am happily married for a LONG time.  I met my husband when I was 18 and have been with him for more than half my life.  I have a beautiful daughter who is now 14.  I have 2 dogs, Lucy and Maggie.  I lived most of my life in South Florida right along the coast in the Palm Beach area, but now live in the northern central area of NC.  I am a couple hours from the ocean and a couple from the mountains – the best of both worlds.

I am a soapmaker, but I make bath and body goodies and candles, too.  I am a former school teacher and a former librarian.  So I obviously like to teach, read, research, and catalogue things.  I also have a degree in costume design, and am specifically interested in historical costumes, but don’t really do much with it except make costumes for school plays.  I have a little talent in architectural photography.  Once in a while, I get an awesome portrait, but not as often as I would like.  I love scrapbooking, but I don’t have a lot of time to do it, so I basically hoard supplies. I can sew, quilt, and embroider.  I can also do a little knitting and crocheting.  I am an all-around crafter and get some great ideas from Pinterest.

Weird Little Tidbits 

I am afraid of sharks, but I have touched them and swam with them in an attempt to desensitize myself.  I religiously watch Shark Week and know all of the safety tips.  I am still afraid, but I no longer get out of the pool when someone mimics the theme of Jaws.  I’m also a little intimidated by whales but like them a lot.I love water parks.  I like amusement parks, too, but nothing is as thrilling as a water park.

I like to travel, but don’t get to do it as much as I would like.  I have been to the UK a few times, as well as Ireland, Mexico, and the Bahamas.  I’d like to see a lot more in Europe, but I really hate flying, so I have to mentally build up to it.

I like traditions and honoring my heritage.  My grandmother was Hungarian, and we eat a lot of her traditional cuisines, especially around the holidays.  I am also Scotch Irish.  My daughter was a Highland dancer and we frequent the Celtic festivals as often as we can.

In a different life (without my family), I would have loved to have been a stunt car driver.  Well, I really want to do stunts with semi-trucks and buses.  I think it would be a lot of fun.  I have a commercial drivers license that I am really proud of for some odd reason.  I doubt anyone else is impressed with it.  LOL!

My family likes to go to zoos and aquariums.  Any place we visit, we include that in the itinerary.  Over the course of my life, I have gotten to touch or hold the following animals: a baby otter, dolphins, a sand shark, an alligator, various snakes, sting rays, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, chickens, pigs, rabbits, a squirrel, ducks, cows, jellyfish, an octopus (but that was accidental), starfish and other small sea creatures, baby sea turtles, a screech owl, a naked mole rat, a giraffe, a camel, an iguana and various lizards and unfortunately frogs.  Plus a penguin touched me once in Scotland on a daily penguin parade.  We weren’t allowed to touch it, but it took an interest in us. I also rode an elephant.  I am sure I am forgetting some others.

Hope you enjoyed getting to know me!