COPE Ltd founded the Shetland Soap Company in late 2002. The company launched from its Commercial Street shop and production premises, quickly gaining a reputation for our Great Products made by Great people.
By then, COPE was already an established, thriving social enterprise providing skills development and work experience opportunities for adults with learning disabilities in Shetland. The COPE story had begun five years earlier with the hugely successful ‘Island Fine Foods’ followed by COPE trees and shrubs and COPE Pet supplies.
The whole organisation’s mission has always been to provide a supportive and inclusive work environment, remove stigma, and contribute to the local economy by offering high-quality products to serve the community. This remains at the core of everything COPE does today.
Shetland Soap Company was warmly received in Shetland and managed to secure the support of a wide range of stockists and local companies. One of our earliest and most loyal supporters has been NorthLink ferries. They awarded us the contract for supplying soap for their ferry cabins and facilities. They also began stocking a range of our products in their onboard gift shops. They continue to support us and have been instrumental in helping to cement our presence as an iconic brand in the hearts and minds of locals and visitors alike.
Over the years, COPE Ltd has continued to offer skills development opportunities and supported voluntary work experience placements to adults with learning disabilities. Later, we also became a social firm, offering paid, supported employment opportunities to those ready to take them up.
Daryn Johnson is our longest serving employee at Shetland Soap Company. Daryn joined the company straight from school at nineteen years old. We are delighted that he still works for us 20 years later. He loves his job and is a key member of the team, having been there since day one.
Daryn says “I have enjoyed working at Shetland Soap Company for twenty years. I have seen many changes, especially staff come and go. When I first worked here the original production area and tearoom were in the back shop. I like working at the till, stocking up, cutting glycerine soaps, and bottling and labelling products. I like working as part of the Soap Company team.”
By its 10th anniversary, the Shetland Soap Company was a very successful brand. A brand revamp was part of the celebrations for this important milestone. This brought a new logo and packaging, some new products were launched, and some older lines were discontinued. The new look brand was well-received, and the business continued to thrive.
On our 15th Anniversary, there was another brand refresh. Again, new fragrances were launched, and others were discontinued. Though some of the original Shetland Soap favourites are still going strong 20 years on! Our signature fragrances, Chilled Oot and Crofters, have been with us right from the beginning and continue to be hero products.
After the second brand refresh, Shetland Soap tentatively began exploring opportunities for expanding our market beyond the shores of Shetland, supplying a variety of stockists elsewhere in Scotland. Over the years, we have gone from strength to strength and now supply over fifty different shops, visitor attractions, and other venues across Scotland and beyond.
During the pandemic, Shetland Soap was in great demand as everybody needed to keep their hands as clean as possible! We closed our Lerwick shop to the public, but a small team came in every day to deal with all the online sales that were flooding in. We kept up with online orders until we ran out of products and did not have either the staff or raw ingredients to make more.
During the same period, Shetland Soap was approached by several facilities management companies in London to supply soap for corporate organisations looking to increase their social impact through their procurement contracts. Over the last 2 years, we have consolidated our presence in this market and now you can find our soap in some of the capital’s most prestigious buildings, including London Bridge, The Shard, and the Walkie Talkie Building.
Our Lerwick shop continues to attract amazing local support from residents and visitors alike. Whether people are looking for a little bit of local luxury, a thoughtful gift, or a souvenir that allows them to take a little bit of our islands home with them, Shetland Soap Company has something for everyone.
Though we have grown and flourished over the last twenty years, all our products are still lovingly handcrafted in small batches, at our compact but perfectly formed production area above our shop in Lerwick.
For the last twenty years we have been able to provide countless work placements and have had the honour of supporting so many wonderful people, ensuring our company with its ethos of ‘Great Products, Great People’ continues to thrive and grow.
As we move forwards, our vision is to continue this tradition, making all our beautiful products by hand, and working with our great team to build on the community impact and brilliant results our we have achieved, long into the future.