RN trades career for successful soap-making business

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A former registered nurse in Ocean Springs gave up her medical career to open her own soap-making business.

Working from her kitchen, Vanessa Mueller started Marina Cottage Soap Company. It's "American Made in Mississippi."

"We are now in 26 retail locations in 45 days," said Vanessa Mueller, "And growing rapidly."

The initial soap making was inspired by her daughter.

"She has eczema. And we could only find a plain old bar of soap out there. We wanted to create something that children and adults could use that was fun and interesting. So we created our products," the owner explained.

Beer soap is a big hit.

"This has been a top seller. Great for Father's Day," said Mueller.

Beer soap for dad, and one called "Dirty Boy" for his son.

"Marshmallow soap for little boys that floats in the tub and smells like dirt. Little boys like to get dirty," Mueller explained.

There's taffy wrapped soap that smells and looks like saltwater taffy, mouth of the south lip balms and beachy baby suntan lotion.

"Little things are still 'wow' to me. When I go into a store and I sort of stand in the wings and I hear people talk about our products and just how much they love them, to me that is phenomenal," she said.

Marina Cottage's biggest hit might be a bug repellant.

"We couldn't enjoy our backyard living in Ocean Springs. So, we came up with our "Gneaux more Gnaughty Gnats" natural repellant," she said.

The spray worked well when tested by fishermen, campers and offshore workers.  It's now one of 48 featured products.

"My dream for the future is that Marina Cottage Soap Company is a household name," said Mueller.

She is finally moving the soap-making out of her kitchen and relocating to a commercial building on Highway 90 in Ocean Springs.

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