Meet the Makers - Dirty Knees Soap Company

Meet the Makers - Dirty Knees Soap Company

Meet the Makers - Dirty Knees Soap Company

By: Jeff Olson and Ryan Swedlund

Jeff Olson and Ryan Swedlund started 2023 with plans to move back to Minnesota from San Diego, California where they have lived since 2002 but fate had other plans.  While they were visiting family in Jeff’s hometown of International Falls, Minnesota they bought a bar of soap at a local shop, that soap was Minnesota Wood, made by Dirty Knees Soap Company in Fosston, Minnesota.  Upon returning home and trying the soap, they were hooked and ordered more products and wanting to support a small business, would often buy their products as gifts for friends and family.  

Then came a dreaded email from the owner Heidi, she was winding down the brand to focus on other ventures. Upon the news we placed our final order for ten more bars of Minnesota Wood, the signature soap of Dirty Knees. We sat on the couch and Jeff presented a crazy idea, “What if we buy the company? I just feel the product is too good to just have it end”.  In that moment we both sat in thought about what this would mean for our future.  It was exciting, it was scary, if not overwhelming, even though we had talked for years about owning a business together of some sort. But soap? Hadn’t crossed our minds. We were entertaining thoughts of moving back to Minnesota to settle into a simpler life after years of city living. A house with a barn and some goats, chickens, dogs and a garden. This is what propelled us to approach Heidi and offer to empty out our saving to pursue this company. Because we believed in the product, we believed in a way back to our roots in Minnesota. Running this company as a path to support that dream.  

After meeting with the owner and finding we shared similar stories about wanting to return to our small-town Minnesota roots, it just felt like the purchase was meant to be. We feel privileged to continue this journey of Dirty Knees Soap Company as we offer the same great products with a true origin story.  

There are things that are important to us in life, sometimes small things. Like a great cup of coffee, soft quality sheets on your bed at night, your favorite sweater on a cold day, a glass of wine with friends, or a fresh smelling bar of soap for your morning shower. That’s what compelled us to pursue this venture. What we’re offering in our products is something that brings that experience of taking care of yourself and enjoying life in the small ways. We hope that you come along for the journey.  


Read more of our stories in Issue 25 of Lake and Company.