Bathhouse Soapery

Charlene Simon is the embodiment of the Mark Twain quote, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Simon is a serial entrepreneur whose success has proved a formal education is just a formality. A wife at 15 and mother of three by 20, her self-determination has led to many titles in her career. She earned a GED and, at 19, started making soap and cosmetics and launched Bathhouse Soapery.

A native of New Baden, Ill., a small town near St. Louis, Simon’s family moved to Hot Springs in 2007 after they became enraptured with the city after several visits.
“We had little weekend getaways because it was a nice little driving destination, and we immediately fell in love with Hot Springs,” Simon says. “Before we lived here I always told Justin, my husband, that I’d love to have a shop downtown.”

Eventually, they took the plunge, moved and made her dream a reality.

Simon handcrafts her soaps and cosmetics from scratch, like “it’s been made for hundreds of years.” She credits her success to finding something that she is passionate about doing.

“When I hit an obstacle, my thought is I can’t wait to fix that. Too many people give up easily because something may seem like too much work.”

She says the best part of her job is creating an experience for her customers and watching their mood, day, or life change because of her efforts.

“The soap is like an art form to me,” she says. “But our company is really built on the customer experience. We do everything based off of how the customer’s going to experience it, how it taps into the senses, and how they feel when they come to the store. We always tell our new staff members that their interaction with a customer when they walk through the door could be the best thing that happens to that person that day.”

A decade after relocating to Arkansas to start her shop, Simon knows she made the right decision. Within 10 years, she was able to grow her business from her first store in Hot Springs into four locations across the United States, including Eureka Springs, Natchitoches, LA and St. Charles, MO, as well as online. Her successes have allowed her to buy out competitors and launch a cupcake shop, that she subsequently sold to her daughter, that was featured on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.

“We get so many visitors from all over, and it’s like you’re not in the same town or the same state two days in a row,” she says. “There’s just so much activity going on, and I absolutely love that.

“I couldn’t think of moving it anywhere else, and we’ve had opportunities to do so. My husband and I say, ‘We can’t. This is our home.’”

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