As an independent financial advisor, Karen Trekell spends a good deal of her day at a computer staring at the stock market. Her “Zen time” comes when she puts on her other hat as owner of Lather Me Up and crafts all-natural soaps, deodorants and bath products. “Making soaps is relaxing to me,” she said. “However, the business has taken over my dining room and spare bedroom. Depending on what I’m preparing on any given day, you never know what my house will smell like when you walk into it.”

A seasoned entrepreneur who has, at various times, owned a coffee/espresso van and a pizza franchise, Trekell is someone who enjoys exploring new ventures. Trekell said she was drawn to soap making when she learned how many commercial soaps have synthetic detergents and fillers which dilute the actual soap content. “You’ll notice that in the bath aisle of many stores, the products say bath or body bar,” she said. “The manufacturers can’t use the word ‘soap’ because the bars don’t contain any actual soap. That’s not something I want to put on my skin. My customers don’t want to either. Handcrafted soaps gently cleanse your skin without being harsh, irritating or drying.”

A member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, she began making soaps about four years ago. “Eventually, I had to find another way to get rid of my soaps,” she said, laughing. “My friends and family just couldn’t take it anymore. The business has just sort of evolved as customers have asked for different products.”

Those products include roll-on essential oils, natural bug repellants, fizzy “bath bombs” for tub bathing and an analgesic rub made with arnica. “When my father’s wrist began hurting several years ago, I researched natural inflammatory ingredients and came up with what I call my arnica wrist rub,” she said. “It’s good for relieving pain in joints and muscles all over the body.”

Another market vendor testified to the rub’s effectiveness. “I put it on my elbow and I’ve noticed a big difference,” said Mark Mayers of Earth Friendly Designs. “I’m a true believer in it.”

Trekell has been a vendor at the Westchase District Farmers Market since January 2017. “I enjoy interacting with the customers and discovering what they like about my products,” she said. “It helps me to determine what my next small batch will be. I plan to be here at the market for the long haul.”

She also tries to incorporate ingredients from other market vendors into her products. “I use kombucha from Mad Scientist Kombucha in one of my soaps and wheatgrass from a former Westchase vendor in another,” she said. “I like to support my fellow vendors whenever possible.”

For more information about Trekell’s locally handcrafted soaps – “and other such stuff,” as she calls it – visit or