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Raising the bar: Justine Osceola’s soap business is flourishing

HOLLYWOOD — Would you like to enjoy the scent of orange, oatmeal or freshly cut grass while taking a morning shower?

How about bathing in the aroma of leather, bubblegum or even marshmallow while soaping up?

Justine Osceola’s new handmade bar soap business provides a vast variety of nasal-pleasing smells and eye-catching colors.

What started out as a hobby and craft in early 2018 has officially turned into a business – her brand known as Made by Justine O recently became an LLC – but it’s also a labor of love for Osceola, 33, of the Hollywood Reservation.

“I’ve always been at Seminole Pow-Wow and Tribal Fair selling my crafts and things, and I wanted a new craft; soap is what came about,” she said. “And then I started getting a demand for it overall last year. I realized I had to turn it into a business.”

And business is booming. Her success with suds has bred challenges, but in a good way that would please any business owner.

“I didn’t think it was going to be a business. I’ve grown tremendously. I can’t keep up with my stock. I’m starting to run out of stock. The demand is starting to demand me,” she said.

Osceola purchases the ingredients for her soaps through Amazon and makes all of the bars herself. Each bar requires about three hours to make.

Justine Osceola displays a variety of the colorful soaps she makes. Her company is named Made by Justine O. (Kevin Johnson)

She also takes suggestions for new scents from her family.

“It’s vegan organic, premium fragrance oils, essential oils, and a whole lot of love put in them,” she said.

Honey heart and bubblegum were among the first bars she made. A recent creation is called moccasin.

“It’s brown and it smells like leather,” she said.

The moccasin bar also ties in with the culture aspect that Osceola incorporates in some of the soaps.

Her “La Florida in a Bar” soap features the colors of the Seminole Tribe in stripes. The Seminole scents are: orange (yellow), mango seeds (red) and freshly cut grass (black). There’s also a peach scent to top it off.

“I say this smells like the land,” she said. “I definitely look for inspiration from my culture. Me saying it’s Seminole handmade and it’s made on the Seminole reservation, people say that’s so different.”

Osceola said she and her mother are considering using Seminole patchwork designs for little bags for the soaps.

Osceola loves the creativity and culture aspects of her products, but she also takes the business side seriously. In May, she drove from Hollywood to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to attend the Native Business Summit.

A recent article about her business appeared in Native Business magazine. She’s also met with a “table full of suits” to discuss doing business.

Justine Osceola’s “La Florida in a Bar” soap features the Seminole Tribe’s colors. ( Kevin Johnson)

“They said ‘you are doing a job for 20 people all by yourself.’ I’m like ‘tell me about it.’ I almost died in my first month of doing this. It was so stressful for me, but now I’m finding my flow. I know what I’m supposed to do. I take my days one at a time,” she said.

Her schedule routine includes a day of making soap, a day for curing and a day for packaging and labeling, which she said is the most difficult part.

Osceola sells her bars at many Tribal functions that feature vendors, including Tribal Fair and Pow Wow in Hollywood and American Indian Arts Celebration in Big Cypress.

The sizes range from four to seven ounces; the prices are from $5 to $12.

Her products are also available through online ordering.

She doesn’t take any sale for granted. In fact, each sale is a cause for a celebration.

“I definitely want to keep going,” she said. “This is something I love to do. I love to be creative. When someone buys it, I do a little happy dance because I’m so happy somebody loves my product that I put a lot of time and effort into.”

Made by Justine O is on Instagram @MadeByJustineO. The website is

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at