Meet the Maker: Jose Alvarez explains what makes his treestar* handmade soaps special

treestar Jose Alvarez.jpg

The New York native, who lives in Jackson Heights, collaborates with dozens of makers and creatives that he has met at area markets. During his entrepreneurial venture, he has learned he can use all the help he can get. He joined MiQ in December 2018 with the hopes to continue networking and growing his business.


What is the 30-word description of your brand/business?

Tickle your senses with fresh food for your skin. Luxurious, natural, soaps made the old fashioned way, using only premium, food-grade plant oils. Have fun, don’t take bath time soap seriously.

How, or to what extent, are your products made locally?

All products are made in Jackson Heights.

How did you start your business and how did you get to where you are now?

treestar* was created out of necessity. In February 2017, I quit my job in operations and decided to try my luck at starting my own business. Without much capital, I had limited options. So I looked for something that met the following criteria:

  1. Could be made by hand

  2. Was functional

  3. Had potential to create loyal customers and lead to repeat purchases (a consumable product)

  4. Could be branded

I decided on soaps, so I taught myself how to make them and developed a handful of products to test the market. I launched the business in June 2017 and began selling wholesale during summer 2018.

How is your brand special / different?

There are so many companies creating, organic, cold process, natural, vegan soaps so I’d like to share what separates treestar* from all the other companies:

  1. treestar* could fit into the Beauty and Cosmetics category. Taking a fun witty approach to soap, it provides bath experiences that people look forward to and enjoy. Its first exfoliating soap was called Lemon Papi (pun intended). We value providing sensory experiences while not sacrificing the quality of the product. We don’t use any surfactants or detergents so the soaps are essentially food for your skin.

  2. Each treestar* purchase helps plant one tree. Since treestar* could not exist without plants and trees, it partnered with, a nonprofit with a global reforestation mission. With as little as $1, the organization plants a tree in any one of its partnering sites around the world.

  3. These luxury soaps are fun and accessible. Instead of selling sample packs in a box, treestar* invented the Soap Terrarium and the 5-day soap cleanse.

  4. The people behind the scenes is what truly makes us unique. While our soaps are just as healthy, moisturizing, and natural as the next brand, we try to create a unique sensory experience. All our soaps are handmade in a soap-dedicated room at home and in small batches of 20 bars. They cure naturally for 4-6 weeks after they’ve been unmolded and cut. Very time consuming and laborious.

I always pictured treestar* to be an umbrella for all things handmade, creative and part of the maker community. This is one of the reasons why the words “soaps” or “bath” are not in the name of the company.

Tell us more about your product (s).

All soaps are made using organic, food-grade, and eco-friendly ingredients such as Olive, Coconut, Palm (sustainably harvested in Brazil), and Castor Bean oils.

All soaps are super-fatted between 5-20% which indicates how much unsaponified oil is left in the soap. No squeaky clean feeling as these soaps don’t dry your skin.

Exclusive Items:

Soap terrariums - minibars and a natural sea wool sponge in a mason jar. Happiness in a jar.

30-day soap cleanse - minibars and a natural sea wool sponge in glass mug.

I also make soy candles, beard oil, lotions, and other bath and body products. Soaps are my focus.

To contact Jose Alvarez, try him at:

Find treestar* online at:


Michael GillenComment