Soap Opera: Preteen cleaning up with her products

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

When the pandemic forced Stevie Gillies to attend school virtually, her father thought it would be fun to experiment with creating soap.

“My friends and family liked it, and they encouraged us to sell it,” says Stevie, an 11-year-old Anthem Prep student who lives in Cave Creek.

With the help of her parents, Steve and Teri Gillies, Stevie caught the entrepreneurial bug and together they founded Stevie’s Handmade LLC.

She has been selling her handcrafted, artisan soaps at local farmers markets and fairs for two years. Some of her signature scents are apple shea butter, marshmallow and vanilla latte, charcoal and shaved cedar, juniper and sage, orange crush, shaved cedar, coffee bar, pink lady apple, birch and juniper, lavender, strawberry, mango and papaya, and coconut lime.

Terri says her daughter’s shyness has abided some since she started her business.

“The best thing has been watching her confidence take off,” says Terri, an analyst at PXG. “She loves the farmers markets. Everybody’s been so supportive. Her confidence has grown, and she’s come out of her shell a little bit. She loves doing it. It’s fun for her, and it’s been great overall.”

Stevie’s Handmade LLC has also taught the preteen practical math skills and the value of money and being creative.

“She lights up talking about her soap,” says Steve, a motorcycle mechanic.

“She loves telling people about it, her favorite scents and the soap that moisturizes best. This is all her. If she wants to stop tomorrow, we’re done. But we’re proud of her.”

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