From family tradition to flourishing business

A selection of L'ada soaps. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Danielle Kutchel

A desire to better look after her family’s sensitive skin has blossomed into a successful small business for Narre Warren mother Deb Terkely.

For 20 years now, Ms Terkely’s family has been making soaps that specifically catered to their own skin conditions.

After family members found that their conditions were aggravated when using supermarket products, they took the problem into their own hands – literally – by making their own cleansing products that are chemical-free and made with high-quality essential oils.

Ms Terkely now carries on the family tradition through her business, L’ada Soaps and Scents, using a soap recipe that has been perfected over two decades.

She and her family try each product themselves first before trying to sell them, road-testing them until they’re ready.

For Ms Terkely, soapmaking is not just a business; it’s a passion, born of a desire to help people.

Partly, it’s about helping people to find skincare that works for them.

But it’s also partly about helping other small businesses to thrive.

Ms Terkely said L’ada only uses Australian suppliers for its needs and she checks first to ensure they come from sustainable sources.

She also likes to support other female entrepreneurs, lifting them up along with their businesses.

As a working mother herself, the entrepreneur said running L’ada has been a learning curve.

“Time management isn’t my best skill,” she said.

Her children provide the ultimate motivation, she said, and everything she does – including running her business – is for them.

“I make it work. I do late nights, or if they’re both in school and kinder I work then. Otherwise, they only get half a mum,” she said.

She donates her products to kinder and school raffles as well and said she’s attracted to “anything that is going to go to a good cause”, like the Ovarian Cancer Foundation which she has also donated to in the past.

“Even kinders that are run on donations and fundraising – my son’s kinder relies heavily on donations and fundraising, and we think it’s important for kids to have access to good education from a young age,” she explained.

Ms Terkely said her business is tapping into a movement of sorts, with customers more keen than ever to know what is in the products they use and where they come from.

“People are very conscious of what’s going in and what they’re using,” she said.

She’s inspired by the knowledge that her products work for people who may be down to their last resort.

“I’m very passionate; it’s about helping people and making them feel comfortable,” she said.

Find L’ada Soaps and Scents online or on Facebook and Instagram.