Given the current COVID-19 climate and the increased need for handwashing, Hip Modern Soap Co. owner Carrie Robertson believes these products provide a little levity in these dark times.
“I think that everyone needs a laugh right about now,” says Robertson, who founded her Pittsburgh-based company with her husband, John Elliff, in 2015. “If a soap-on-a-rope shaped like a penis can cheer you up, why not?”
Robertson, who also makes non-phallic soaps and bath bombs, says she hesitated going the adult-only route. Before she recently started selling these items - which include a pegging dildo-shaped soap equipped with a suction cup so you can stick it to any surface - she was making them exclusively for attendees of Camp John Waters, a Connecticut-based getaway for fans of the outsider filmmaker. She also donated some as giveaways for online shows by local drag queen Mildred the Lunch Lady and Dixie De La Tour, a San Francisco-based folklorist and performer who runs Bawdy Storytelling.
To be safe, the adult-only items are listed as NSFW on the Hip Modern Soap Co. website. There's also the disclaimer "FOR ADULT EXTERNAL USE ONLY!!!" just in case anyone gets the wrong idea.
While the penis soaps may raise some eyebrows, or elicit a guilty chuckle, the ingredients are anything but dirty. Robertson says she uses a blend of olive oil, coconut oil, raw shea butter, sustainable palm oil, and castor oil for her bar soaps, while the novelty soaps are made from a detergent-free glycerin base. Bath bombs are “essentially just citric acid and sodium bicarbonate” mixed with other ingredients depending on the item (the bong-shaped bomb, for example, contains cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD).
For those whose tastes veer away from the ribald or scatological (yes, there's a poop-shaped bath bomb), Robertson sells a variety of G-rated products appropriate for any occasion, including bath bombs that come in cute, fun shapes like campers, mermaid tails, and popsicles.
Robertson says that they add new products almost weekly and can easily design custom molds with the company's 3-D printer.
“The possibilities for this are endless,” says Robertson. “We always tell people to keep their eye on us because we add new stuff at lightning speed.”
As for whether or not she's worried about people clutching their pearls at Hip Modern's more adult-oriented items, Roberson says, “In the end, it's just soap.”