Borrego Entrepreneurs, Part III: Sudsy Sue
Last updated 6/18/2019 at 2:35pm
She lives a quiet, peaceful life in 14-acre canyon oasis, tucked into the foothills abutting the Anza-Borrego State Park. Her stone dwelling is dug into the side of a hill, providing insulation from extreme summer heat and winter cold. She runs a generator for electricity and has propane tanks for heating. And like the two Borrego entrepreneurs profiled in the Sun before her, Susan Redlon, aka Sudsy Sue to her friends, also makes soap – "Desert Rock Soap."
But Redlon is more than an entrepreneurial soap maker. "I'm going to make art – painting with my soap," she says, adding, "Crazy things to match the town of Borrego."
A bit of a throwback to the 70's when artistic, independent women fashioned hand-crafted items out in the woodsy wilds, Redlon has adjusted her lifestyle to meet economic necessities. She's a bookkeep- er to help make ends meet, and also an accomplished sailor who's been around the world.
Redlon moved to Borrego almost seven years ago, and she began making and selling her soaps and other homemade products – liquid soaps, "pocket pal" salves, and sage – first sold at the Farmer's Market. Within a year or so, she had her products in 12 stores throughout San Diego County, from Imperial Beach to Oceanside. Here in Borrego, her soaps can be found at Borrego Outfitters and Casa del Zorro. And Redlon has her vision for future sales: Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Sprouts.
And as if on cue, Barbara, a long-time customer, dropped by during our interview and proudly announced her solid product endorsement of Sudsy Sue's product: "I wouldn't use any other soap than Susan's!"
Later, Redlon broke out her pots and containers for a soap-making demonstration, and it wasn't long before the colors and design swirls, unique to her brand, began to blend together and take shape.
Catchy product names associated with Borrego Springs serve as a unique branding that also highlight Redlon's artistry: Pegleg Patchouli, Anza's Cactus Apple, Coyote Canyon Springs, Indian Head Indigo, Henderson's Honeysuckle, and Borrego Nights, to name a few.
Redlon is trending towards "phalate-free" glycerine-based soaps containing natural olive, artichoke, and coconut oils. And with her adventurous, independent spirit, she is not afraid of making mistakes on occasion. "Sometimes it takes a lot of guessing," she says, once having ruined 60 pounds of soap, a $500-1,000 retail loss.
A true entrepreneur like Sue Redlon, however, can usually guess better than the rest of us. So, expect to see more artistic successes than failures in the marketplace of ideas from Sudsy Sue.