Reflecting on life and death of Ballard Organics Soap founder

By Vincent Keele, HurriKayn Natural Soap

A local businessman, Ben Busby-Collins, passed away on Jan. 19 in Everett. He was 38. He started his soap company Ballard Organics in 2005, selling his first soap at the Ballard Farmers Market, before moving to a bigger location in 2010 and then closing in 2011. (We did a report a on his company a few years ago.)

Below is a fond farewell from a colleague of his, Vincent Keele, of Lake Stevens-based Hurrikayn Natural Soap.

I wanted to take the time out to say farewell to a new friend.

I just found out that fellow soapmaker and local businessman Ben Busby-Collins, founder of Ballard Organics has passed away.

I think it was around late last summer, when I was working a booth at the Edmonds Farmers Market when I finally meant Ben. I remember is was a nice clear day and I was helping a lot of people with their skin care and soap needs. When we are out at the markets we see a lot of our friends, customers and fellow soapmakers. It's almost a given that when you do these kind of shows you’re going to run into other skin care, beauty and cosmetic professionals.

So when Ben and his family first walked up I didn't really see him at first due to the three or four people I was helping. By the time I got back to the end of the table where Ben was, the whole family had bars of soap in their hands, smelling away. We were finally face to face and talking a lot of soap -- and I mean a lot of soap. We talked about methods, staff, stores, CP (cold process) vs. HP (hot process), supplies, homes and so on. Anyone watching I’m sure was having a good time on us as we talked more and more shop.

He told me, he missed the business and asked where I was selling and if I was in any stores. I told him yes, a good number of them. He also advised me on how not to make his mistake. He was happy that he put most of his friends to work and that people loved his product, he said, but said he just grew too fast and over extended himself. I asked if he was thinking of coming back to the business and said maybe next year (2013). I told him when he’s ready to come back that maybe there’s something we can do together. He agreed and told me I have an awesome product. We exchanged contact information and he paid for his six bars of soap and they went on their way.

As it rolled into the first week of 2013, I reached out to Ben hoping to talk about future business and connect, however we never did. As I stated before I didn't know him well, but I knew he was a warm and loving and caring person.

My heart and prayers go out to his family. Ben, I wish you all the best on your soapy journey.

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