Local Flavor: Aubrey Elizabeth Apothecary

Photograph courtesy of Aubrey Elizabeth Apothecary

Aubrey Elizabeth Stephens’s soap-making hobby began the way so many great endeavors do: on the advice of her mother.

“My mom always said, ‘A homemade gift is better,’” she says. Stephens started crafting adorable handmade soaps — shaped and scented like s’mores, waffles, and fresh-baked bread — as presents for family and friends, who encouraged her to try making some cash with her suds.

Stephens opened her Etsy shop in November and now spends 10 to 15 hours a week churning out customizable soaps, scrubs (like the sugar lip scrub pictured at right), and creams, which she packages by hand, decorates with labels of her own design, and ships to locations as distant as Australia and China. In between, the Connecticut native runs a real estate company out of her Watertown home, which works out well for her: “I can make soap and answer the phone at the same time,” she jokes.

Stephens hopes to turn the Etsy shop into a full-time business at some point — but even though it’s currently a part-time gig, she admits that in her house, “soap stuff is everywhere; my boyfriend is about to flip out.” On weekends, she hits the SoWa market to sell her wares and brainstorm ideas for new products. Her favorite finds? “I usually get excited about holiday stuff, since I’m a holiday junkie,” she says. To that end, she recently debuted several Halloween-appropriate soaps shaped (though thankfully not scented) like severed fingers.

Snag Aubrey Elizabeth Apothecary goods at the SoWa market, Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October, 460 Harrison Ave., Boston, sowaopenmarket.com; or on Etsy at etsy.com/shop/aubreyeapothecary.