Our Story


Hey folks! Here to learn a bit about us, eh? Well voila! Here you are, here we are, being in the be here now. A couple of things off the bat: we are Ella and Bryan Hauwiller from Portland, Oregon, and we are the creators of Dirty Dandelion Soap. Boom. That's us, above pictured with our dogs. Ernie (small-fluffer-lap-man), and Ollie, (anxious-obedient-lick-taster).  

We started Dirty Dandelion Soap at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 when job prospects were on the downturn (Bry was laid off, and I was stressing at the hospital without proper PPE), and handwashing was on the uptick! We said to ourselves: "imagine a world where we are Dr. Bronner" but less "All-One-God-Faith" and more "That-Makes-Me-Laugh-in-the-Shower-but-still-Gives-Me-Beauty-and-Bubbles" kind of energy. In the years since, we have gathered expertise, experimented, and gotten creative, finally slow-launching our soaps in the fall of 2023 (because who has time to quickly build a hobby-slash-business when there are so many things to do in the world?). 

When we are home, we do these things (in no particular order due to my low key probable yet undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, but then again, hey, who isn't distractable these days with all the gadgets and flashy lights and interwebs and such):

Hang with the chickens, hang with the worms in the garden, take the dogs to the 1000 acre dog park, buy plants at the nursery without thinking about where they should go or if we have room, plant seeds too close together, do some home remodeling to about 90% completion, play with clay, solder some stained glass,  come up with fun nick names for eachother (including Loushalite, Penelope Sway-bash, John Buckle-Heart, Butterscotch Pompis, and Bryan's latest and greatest, "Big Teddy," which he (lovingly) hated until I said it enough that he had no choice but to embrace it). We are often researching/playing around with new soap ideas (new plant-based colorant? new oil? new mold?--wait should we learn to make our own molds? Yes! What shapes should we mold? Should we make a basket of flower-shaped soaps? Sasquatch? Oregon? Rocks? Maybe this weird-ass tomato we just grew? etc).  Hold up, let's tie dye with indigo and madder root, is basket weaving in our future? Should we be vegan? 

  .  . .  

Alas, I digress. Let's get back on track: as often as possible we enjoy going out into the woods to hike and forage for edible fungi (chanterelle, matsutake, morel, etc.) for a culinary delight to share with the neighbors. I've also recently begun learning to turn wood on a lathe (aren't wood bowls just a dream?), sometimes I make quilts and dresses, and we love to sing/pretend to play instruments, learn languages, travel, read books/listen to books while moving laundry piles to places hidden from company, learn about biology and neuroscience (because brains and bodies are fascinatingly crazy, right?), and of course we bring it back to chemistry because soap-making is chemistry. 

(And for all the dudes out there who have a burning desire to ask about fight club, just pause for the cause, friends, because you know that if we did, we couldn't talk about it anyway).

We also frequently hang in our claw-foot backyard bathhouse, lovingly named: Big Teddy's Place. Pretty sure we will soon have to name a soap, Tubbin' with Teddy, because... silliness. 

Our day jobs include hospital-based speech-language pathology and product management (with the far-off goal of becoming full-time soap makers). And all that day job business is well and good, it keeps our brains poppin with new connections, challenged and engaged with different people and ways of existing, but... as you may have noticed, we have a hard time sticking to one thing!

One particularly exciting and delightful element to take note of: all our labels are created from original works of art painted by my (Ella's) mother, Sally, in Newport, Oregon.

It's a true family affair here at Dirty Dandelion Soap, and we are happy to have you along. Also, Sally's prints are available for purchase by special request. Sally likes to claim she has no natural talent, but endorses having put in thousands of hours and has such become quite the watercolor artist. In fact, here's a quick story about my mom because I am in the mood for rambling and I've decided that I get to make the rules about this website. 

Back in the late aughts, my little sister, Lorraine, had just begun her MFA in sculpture at Yale (I know, so fancy, from small-town Oregon, to flippin Yale, don't even get me started). At the same time, my mom, Sally (Silly-Sally-Sludgepump as we used to call her) had started a new hobby: watercolors. She had previously spent her time as a jazz singer, rocking chair builder, piano teacher, choir director, child-rearer, massage therapist, fruit stand owner, tincture formulator, headbanger, and health-food enthusiast. Watercolor painting had been something my great-great-grandfather enjoyed; he traveled throughout the US and painted people, boats, and mountains, and thus my mother in her 60s found painting to be a meditative way to pay close attention to her world as well.

The story goes like this: Sally had just begun painting and was proud of her work. As soon as flowers, houses, and boats actually started to look like flowers, houses, and boats, she would mail us the paintings. My stash became quite plentiful, but not quite showcased on the walls worthy yet... sorry mum, a house has only so many walls. Lorraine shared the same conundrum away at school, so under other works and in corners the original watercolor trials remained. 

Lorraine, at the time, had been going through the arduous process of making art and presenting the work in "crits" or critiques amongst the artists of her community. I went to one--they were tough, thorough, and challenged every choice, medium, and color--"Why did you select this, where is the cultural/historical significance, did you know you were thinking about phenomenology?" It was in this mindset that Lorraine dealt the subtle observative blow in response to my mom's bed of flowers watercolor art:          

"Painting is hard." 


We dined out on the laughter that comment provided for many a year. Painting is, in fact, hard. No lie there. Needless to say, my mother has a good spirit about it, she doesn't tend to mind playing games and losing, it is about the way you play the game, after all. But perhaps the competitive nature from her background as a high school breaststroke record holder, or self-proclaimed ping-pong shark, kept her going because now, we all reap the benefits of her eye for color, depth, and detail gleaned over years of constant artistic endeavor on the shores of the stormy Oregon coast:


The truth is, Dirty Dandelion Soap would be but another small hobby among many if it weren't for mom's support and encouragement.

Thanks, Mom. 

That's all for now! Signing off!

With love, 

Ella and Bryan Hauwiller