By Hannah Lester

Friends make all the difference. Brandy Simpkins realized she wanted to start making soap after a family friend in Florida taught her how to do it.

“She offered, ‘why don’t you come down and I’ll teach you the tricks of the trade and all my secret receipts and all that,’” Simpkins said. “It was such a blessing because she saved me so much in saying, ‘These are tried and true. Stick with this and you’ll have a good base to go off of.’ So I got to start there instead of trying to figure it all out on my own.”

The aesthetics of homemade soap was what drew Simpkins to soap-making in the first place.

“I had used her products before so I knew they were wonderful products,” she said. “… By day one I’m like, this is it. I love this.”

Simpkins  recommends investing in homemade soap because consumers know exactly what is in their product.

“You can pronounce the ingredients, you’re familiar with the ingredients and it’s a very short list that I use,” Simpkins said.

Her main ingredients are coconut oil, shea butter and olive oil.

To achieve different colors, she mixes in other ingredients such as turmeric, coffee grounds or even beets.

Although she started just making for friends and family, now, Simpkins runs her own soap company, Soapelika, which can be purchased inside The Well.

The Well is a locally-owned shop on Avenue A — incorporating women-run businesses and products into an inclusive experience.

The space opened on March 20 and includes 15 to 20 newly-launched businesses inside the building, with the hope that each will eventually be able to launch into its own brick and mortar space.

Simpkins has only been selling her soaps in The Well for a short time but has already found her name recognition growing.

She originally had reached out to Mama Mocha’s about doing a collaboration — soap with coffee grounds. Mama Mocha’s directed her to The Well.

“She said, ‘have you been to The Well because that sounds like the perfect place for you,’” she said.

Simpkins has dreamed of a retail space, or even just branching out more into other local businesses in Auburn and Opelika.

“My goal would be to keep it local,” she said. “I would like to be in part of stores downtown, the local markets, the farmers markets and keep it local, instead of trying to go online and reach the world. I mean, there are lots of wonderful, talented women who know how to soap. But, I live here and I would like my money to go here.”

Visit Simpkins on her Instagram ( to see her soaps, sugar scrubs, bath bombs and more, or even request custom orders.

The Well is located at 824 Ave. A, Opelika and is open Monday through Sunday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) Reservations are required outside of walk-in hours after 8 a.m. up to 8 p.m. The Well requests a one-hour notice ahead of the reservation time.

This is the 11th piece in a series of articles on the different businesses that are located inside The Well.