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Simpler Suds

Simpler Suds

Employees craft products on-site at Buff City Soap in Buckhead.

Alex Royter brings handmade soaps to Buckhead.

If you’ve ever tried a natural soap bar, you might wonder at its lasting power. Traditional soaps can shrink down to nothing within a week because of their lathering ingredients. “Our soaps can last for up to on average three to four weeks, up to six weeks [with daily use],” says Alex Royter, owner of Buff City Soap in Buckhead, which opened in May as the third Atlanta-area location. The others are under different ownership in Roswell and Peachtree Corners.

Buff City Soap employees make all of the products by hand daily. The mix includes plant-based products such as soaps, shower oils, laundry soap and bath bombs, as well as lotion bars and beard balm that incorporate beeswax (“no bees were harmed in the process,” Royter notes). All items are free of parabens, phthalates, harsh detergents, dyes, animal fats and sulfates, and while some of the fragrances are not all natural, customers can opt for 100% unscented if they have skin sensitivities or choose essential oils.

Royter, a Sandy Springs resident, has the pulse on hot retail franchise opportunities. For the majority of his professional life since moving to Atlanta in 1994 from Northern California, he ran 20 Solar Dimensions tanning salon locations, 19 of which he sold in 2018. He’s also co-owner of three Burn Studio locations in Buckhead, Brookhaven and Poncey- Highland. Ready for a new venture, Royter began exploring opportunities with Buff City Soap, a franchise based in Memphis.

Employees craft products on-site at Buff City Soap in Buckhead.
Employees craft products on-site at Buff City Soap in Buckhead.

Why did you choose Buff City Soap for your next retail endeavor?

Soap is a consumable, and something everybody needs. I toured the Memphis locations and was impressed by how happy the team members and customers were. Even though it’s a franchise, every franchisee builds their own inventory from scratch from the ground up. Team members who work there and sell the products feel a lot of pride because they also make them. It’s a family affair, too.

Who works with you?

My wife, who has a retail management background, helps out 30 hours per week while helping raise our three girls who are 17, 17 and 14. One of my 17-year-old twins worked full-time at the store during the summer, and one of her friends works there as well. And I have to make my 14-year-old go home because she likes staying and working all the time.

How’s the in-store shopping experience key to the operation? 

You can read about it all you want, but when you walk in, you’re transported. It smells so amazing. Seeing products being made gets people really excited. Everybody needs happiness right now. Ten to 75 year olds and beyond are our customers. People can come in and play in our Mad Lab [DIY fragrance bar]. We have some of the neatest fragrances created by customers such as Piña Colada, which a laundry soap customer said is like “wearing vacation.”

What are a couple of your favorite products?

My favorite is the Narcissist Laundry Soap, a fantastic combination of peaches, raspberries, patchouli and sandalwood. It smells very unisex. The shower oil called Commando has a lightly musky fragrance that I like, too.

What are the products’ vibrant colors made from?

The colors are made from mica, a mineral. Natural mica that is mined is not sustainable. It’s very difficult to mine and bad for the environment, so ours is lab-produced. It creates beautiful colors without using artificial dyes.

When your team grabs a bite in Buckhead, where do they go?

We like to support our neighbors! It’s a combo of CAVA that just opened a couple doors from us and Menchie’s.


PHOTO: Joann Vitelli

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