Our Story

THE STORY OF CHARLIE’S SOAP

If you’re here, we’re guessing you’re interested in learning more about how Charlie’s Soap became the company it is today. It’s a story we love to tell, so thanks for visiting!

It all started back in 1971 when our founder, Charlie Sutherland Sr. made his living selling yarn lubricant to textile mills throughout North Carolina. When Charlie’s customers began asking about a good cleaner for their machines, he could think of only one solution – his son, Charlie Jr. With his chemistry background in tow, Charlie Jr. invented a cleaner so good that the textile employees started sneaking it home for personal use. Soon enough, people started asking for the cleaner by name – Charlie’s Soap!

Throughout the years, we expanded the Charlie’s Soap product line to include environmentally-friendly laundry detergent, laundry powder, stain-treater, and much more. Each of our products was (and still is!) carefully crafted to get the best clean possible while maintaining the integrity of both your fabrics and your washer. Charlie’s Soap has come a long way since 1971, but one constant has always remained: our commitment to our formulas, the environment, and you – the customer.

Please explore the rest of our site to learn more about the history of our company and the science behind our formulas. Welcome to Charlie’s Soap!

Learn more about the man who dreamed up most of the Charlie’s Soap products and the methods to make them.
Our commitment to scientific research attests to his legacy.

Our History

  • 1971
  • 1976
  • 1978
  • 1981
  • 1983
  • 1985
  • 1985
  • 1992
  • 1993
  • 1994
  • 2002
  • 2002
  • 2004
  • 2008
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2011
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017

Starting a Family Business
Charlie Sutherland, Sr. surveys the site of Sutherland Products, started to make yarn oil for local textile mills. His son, Charlie, Jr. is employed to make those oils.

A Soap Company is Born
Charlie, Jr. learned about yarn lubricants from his dad, the original “Charlie” (above) and created a special cleaner specifically engineered to clean them. Charlie Jr. knew his formula performed better than expected, but never anticipated that this simple but powerful cleaner would be the center of an international company 40 years later.

One Step at a Time
As the ideas evolved, so did our manufacturing process and facilities.

Always Thinking, Always Tinkering
Charlie Jr. tinkering around with another great idea

Passing the Baton
By now, Charlie, Jr. was only working at the soap plant part time, but his day job was a dead end. On his wife’s birthday and with a newborn Charlie, III at home, he quit his day job, took a leap of faith, and bought the little soap plant outright. He was then on his own, adrift in a sea of suds and uncertainty, but managed to continue selling his cleaner to his dad’s partners.

First Consumer Sales
The textile workers using the cleaner loved the stuff and started calling it “Charlie’s Soap” after my dad.  We knew a demand was growing for Charlie’s Soap because the employees were stealing the stuff left and right. The local Winn-Dixie agreed to be our outlet and Charlie’s Soap was officially born.

Packaging Evolution
Charlie’s Soap, 500ml and 16ml.
This is where today’s Indoor/Outdoor Surface Cleaner began.

A Bump in the Road
North Carolina textile mills pickup and move completely out of the country. With that, Charlie Jr. loses 90% of his business (and all his salary!) almost overnight. The outlet store keeps his head above water, but only just.

Close a Door, Open a Window
Charlie’s father-in-law, Ciremba Amick introduced Charlie, Jr. to a customer that replaced quite a bit of the recently lost business.  It would not be the last time that Lady Luck smiled on us.
(From left to right: Jane Sutherland, unknown, Henrietta Amick, Ciremba Amick, Charlie Sutherland, Jr., [baby] Taylor Sutherland, aka Charlie, III)

Dearly Departed
Charlie, Sr. joined his wife in the hereafter. Charlie Sr. certainly left his mark on this company. His son, Charlie, Jr. inherited a legacy of his dedication to excellence. He is still missed.

The Next Generation
Charlie, Jr’s children finally come on board: Taylor (sales), Jane (chairman), James (production) and Morgan (R&D). Together, they pushed the little soap company into the 21st century with new technology, updated branding and a new direct-to-consumer outreach via www.charliesoap.com. That same year, Morgan and Charlie Jr. created the now legendary Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder.

Packaging Evolution
Laundry Powder (2nd Gen)

A National Brand in the Making
With a lot of legwork, and some help from friends, Charlie’s Soap lands its first national chain. It was the first of many brick and mortar, online and even international business ventures that would add to each other, creating a nationally recognized brand. Say “Hello”, George Penn!

Early Packaging Design
Ya’ gotta start somewhere. Even from the beginning, we wanted to be biodegradable and responsible to our customers and the planet.

 

Passing the Baton Again
Charlie, Jr. steps aside and turns day-to-day operations over to his sons who divided up responsibilities and installed Charlie Jr’s secretary and financial manager, Jenny Craver, and their sister, Jane Whitehurst, to full partnerships.  At that same time, our Laundry Powder becomes the #1 Selling laundry Powder on Amazon, a mantle it will keep to this day.

Packaging Evolution
Laundry Liquid, 32oz (1st Gen)
Laundry Liquid, 1 Gallon (1st Gen)
Laundry Powder (7th Gen)

Packaging Evolution
Lingerie Powder (1st and ONLY generation)

“Some ideas are best kept to yourself and not on the shelf.”

We’re hitting the shelves & the aisles!
From Whole Foods, EarthFare to Fresh Market and Ace Hardware, Charlie’s Soap is embraced with commercial success.

A brand activation with Charlie’s Soap at EarthFare
Here we are offering samples and a lil’ education on what’s inside Charlie’s Soap (and what’s not) and how it effects your clothes, your wash machine and more importantly, your skin.

National Recognition
Charlie’s Soap is mentioned in Fortune Magazine as an up-and-coming brand striding alongside giants in the natural cleaning market.

Like father like son
Taylor and Charlie Jr. representing the brand and products behind Charlie’s Soap. You can often find these two on the road taking a stand for quality and customer satisfaction.

Expansion
Charlie’s Soap starts the process to move into a new 100,000 sq.ft. facility to prepare for the challenges and opportunities that growth brings.

Charging forward into 2017 – NASCAR style!
Charlie’s Soap covers the hood of #51 race car driven by Timmy Hill. Here we are at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race.