By Allyson Sutton
Love from celebrities like Joanna Gaines and Tori Spelling. Massive retail attention from Target and Whole Foods. Collaborations with luxury hotels like The Dewberry. A “Best of Beauty” award from Tatler Magazine. And a loyal (and growing) cult following around the world.
With all its accolades, you’d never guess that plant-based skin care brand Wash with Water is an indie business run by a mom of three right here in Charleston. It’s a success story fueled by intuition, hustle and a woman’s personal journey to create a better bath time for baby and mama alike.
After a decade working in the pharmaceutical industry, Wash With Water founder Stephanie Pascarella experienced what she calls “early 30-something burnout.”
“I was embodying the American dream, climbing the corporate ladder,” recalls Stephanie. “But I was also often the only woman in the room and the only one who had a baby. It was very isolating. I had to hide who I was if I wanted to be at the top.”
That all started to change during a fateful weekend in Pennsylvania. Stephanie, her partner and their then 2-year-old daughter wound up exploring a local Amish town before catching their flight back to Charleston. They happened across a family who made soap with local ingredients and milk from the goats on their farm.
“It was so different from anything I’d experienced,” remembers Stephanie. “I was living such a fast-paced life; it was remarkable to slow down and watch their really intentional, connected process.”
Stephanie returned home with 19 bars of soap – and a desire to do something more.
“I felt really emotional getting on the plane,” she says. “I had worked so hard and checked all the boxes in my career but realized after that day that something was missing.”
After seeing how much joy the Amish soap-making experience brought her, Stephanie’s partner, Nihar, encouraged her to start making soap as a hobby. Bath time had always been sentimental for Stephanie and was a cherished time to connect with her baby, Violet, during her busy work schedule. Inspired by her trip, she decided to start working on developing soaps for her daughter.
Over the course of the next two years (while still in her corporate job), Stephanie found a leading skin care mentor, secured lab space in Vermont and spent all her spare time learning the ins and outs of soap and natural ingredients.
“I knew I couldn’t just do this as a hobby,” says Stephanie. “I had a vision that Wash with Water would build a true, sustainable community so I wanted to ensure that I was creating the safest, most effective products that parents could trust.”
As she worked on her first lineup of bath products (a collection named Sweet Pea & Me after her first daughter’s nickname), Stephanie realized she needed to do things differently than other baby brands.
“There was no line drawn from my time with my child and myself during those early years, yet we had different soaps and skin care,” she says. “It seemed a bit excessive to have all these products, but we couldn’t share in bath time. I wanted to create products that would allow parents to use bath time to not only care for their child, but also care for themselves.”
That personal experience sparked the idea to create hybrid products, using ingredients like Moroccan argan oil to bring an anti-aging twist to baby skin care.
“It’s one of these unique ingredients that is incredibly gentle. It’s edible and safe for babies, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties and vitamins that are great for anti-aging,” explains Stephanie.
Five years since launching, all Wash with Water products are still made with 100% vegan, cruelty-free, natural ingredients and are small-batch crafted on John’s Island.
“I wanted to create a footprint that we could be really proud of,” she says. “It’s important to be responsible and thoughtful so we can create bath time for the next generation.”
Each collection has been inspired by her children (Violet, 12, Valentina, 6, and Vonn, 3) and their ever-evolving journey as a family. This summer, she’ll launch the brand’s first tween line focused on self-love, body positivity and inner beauty. Stephanie and her small team also recently launched a baby skin care line with CBD hemp oil.
It’s been non-stop work to get to this point; Stephanie didn’t take maternity leave with her last two babies and recalls dropping off orders at the post office while in labor with her third child. But she wouldn’t trade the hustle for anything.
“From the very beginning, this was my oxygen. It didn’t feel like work,” she says. “Creating these products has been so joyful. It’s allowed me to draw outside the lines and to be truly creative.”
As she moves into the next phase of her journey, Stephanie credits her community – a global collective of families who lovingly call themselves “Washies” – for her brand’s momentum.
She regularly gets letters, emails and social media messages from parents around the world, sharing how Wash With Water has provided comfort and connection in times of joy, loss and life transition.
“These moments that we share made me realize I’m truly touching the world,” says Stephanie. “It’s a reminder that everything has the ability to impact someone in a really positive, life-changing way. Even something as little as soap can be significant in someone’s life.”