Outlaw Soaps are made in Sparks, Nevada, just Northeast of Reno, which is just North of Carson City, the capital of Nevada.
However, this wasn't always the case... Outlaw was founded in Los Angeles by Russ and Danielle Vincent, made out of their living room in a funky art warehouse district called The Brewery.
LOS ANGELES, California
Russ and I (this is Danielle, writing the blog) were working in LA at the time, and I was pretty tired of cube life. It seemed like the higher the ladder I climbed, the less happy I was... and all of corporate life seemed built on a foundation of increasing apathy at best, and misery at worst, until eventually you retire and die.
Neither Russ nor I found that to be an acceptable lifestyle.
When Outlaw got big enough to support our grocery budget, we moved to Oakland, across the Bay from San Francisco. Russ was property manager of a large complex, so our rent was covered, and that's how we were able to start the business.
In a couple years, the benefit of free rent wasn't measuring up against the constant gunfire (it was in a rough part of town), so we moved to a Stepford Wives-style suburb called Antioch, just outside of Oakland. This place was so safe it was creepy.
When we moved there, we checked out the crime map and I thought the map was broken until I found a solitary car burglary. I could walk Roxy and Sadie, our dogs, on the street at 10:00 at night, and absolutely nothing would happen.
As safe as it was, Antioch was too bland for our tastes. The planned community tract homes were too conformist. We found a former railroad depot for our production facility, and the owner of the depot rented us a cabin on her property.
It was small, but we were finally OUT OF THE CITY, which was more than enough for us... we were overjoyed!
Every time Russ and I drive past that exit, we recount the delight with which we exited the freeway and passed a big red and white barn. It was like a picture! And coming from right angles and perfect lawns, this wilderness felt just right... until it was too small.
After a year, we started feeling cramped in the tiny 900ish sq ft cabin on our landlord's property, despite the trees and general wilderness. The home was just quite small for the four of us (two humans, two dogs). Plus, Outlaw had started to get a little more traction and I took a second job, so we could afford a little more rent.
GRASS VALLEY, California
We found a strange 1970s A-Frame house in Grass Valley and called it home. Sure, the single-pane windows and insulation-free ceiling meant whatever was happening outside (heat, cold, wind) was also happening inside, but it was a great house and we made lots of great memories there.
We moved our production from the quaint retail location of Colfax to the more industrial part of Grass Valley, California. This was our first true production workshop and we were very blessed to have a business-friendly landlord who worked with us to get our waste pumped (so it didn't interfere with the rural septic system) and even loaned us a forklift when we started getting pallets.
The Paradise Fire changed life in the mountains forever.
84 people tragically died in a rural town called Paradise, about a hundred miles from our home. PG&E had neglected maintenance on their electrical wires and those wires started a huge forest fire (they plead guilty to negligence, so this is not a contested fact). There was only one ingress and egress from Paradise, so many of the residents were trapped. It was the closest I've come to a mass-tragedy, and Russ and I were really scared: Our home was on a road with only one ingress and egress.
Not only that, PG&E started shutting down the electricity any time the wind blew. In the mountains, the wind blows A LOT, so we were basically camping in a drafty house and unable to do regular production or fulfillment between September and December of 2019. We knew this wasn't the way to run a growing business.
One weekend, we smelled smoke and saw there was a fire down the road. No official evacuation was ordered, but it seemed like a good time to grab our suitcases and take a weekend vacation to Reno.
We were THOROUGHLY CHARMED with Reno on that weekend trip. Our sticker vendor is here in town, so we used the trip as an excuse to pick up an order of bumper stickers and ask what it was like to have a business in Sparks (which is more industrial than Reno proper, and therefore a more appropriate setting for the Outlaws). The woman working at Sticker Guy (our sticker vendor) had just moved here herself, and said it was really wonderful.
We started looking at rentals and pretty quickly found a rural house outside of the usual tract homes of Reno's walled housing developments. It was perfect... yes, more expensive than we wanted, but we knew we were in a tough spot. We applied for the rental and were accepted, and we hustled to find a building for the Outlaws to call home.
As if by kismet, this perfect space directly across the street from a park next to the Truckee River came available at exactly the moment we needed it.
This was the FIRST TIME we had a real commercial lease, since in the mountains, everything was more or less on a handshake basis. We swallowed hard and put our ink on the end of a 45-page lease promising 5 years of continuous business, paying far outside of the range we expected... and thus our Sparks adventure began.
All of our soaps are made by our own Outlaw hands right here in our Sparks, Nevada HQ. We've hired people over the years and trained them in the art of handcrafted soap.
Our path has never been a straight line, but we're so grateful you've joined us on this adventure!