Warren business owner shares journey of loss, motivation through pandemic

Local News

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Leslie Dunlap is no stranger to taking a hard hit during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“You know, it’s funny, everybody always asks, ‘What’s your story, what’s your story, what’s your story?’ And I never know what to say, I never know what to say because I know there’s a full story back there,” said Leslie Dunlap, owner of Fatty Cakes Soap Company in Warren.

Last year, her family took a great loss.

“My husband, both of his parents had contracted Covid, and both passed away last April… You couldn’t have a funeral, we didn’t have one for, I think it was July by the time everybody got to the cemetery,” Dunlap said.

Her family wasn’t the only thing affected, so was her job. 

Dunlap worked as a neuromuscular therapist, but when the pandemic hit, she was no longer able to care for people in that way.

But, she still had her homemade soap business. And she came up with a way to transition it to a business that could help people through the pandemic. 

“I got certified to purchase chemicals in large amounts,” she said.

Dunlap realized there was a need for hand sanitizer when there were shortages all over the country and it was difficult to purchase. So, she began making her own and distributing it all over the world. 

“We were pushing gallons out, we were shipping half gallons, gallons, bottles, even in the area. We’d have an order for 3,000, we’d have an order for 10,000. You know, I’d get up in the morning, one of the companies just said, ‘Just keep sending them,’” she said.

Being able to sell the hand sanitizer helped her business thrive and gave her an opportunity to help others. 

Now, she is still making hand sanitizer, although the need for it is not as great. But, she said the soap sales are flourishing and she is able to bless people through her work.

And, she isn’t letting the troubles of the past stop her from moving forward.

“There’s a huge full story back there… It doesn’t matter because this is where we’re at. We’re going forward,” Dunlap said.

Right now, her soaps are sold in several states and online. Her shop is located at 144 E. Market Street, Warren. She says she makes everything from seasonal soaps to custom soaps with custom scents.

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