The gift he left behind


November 30, 2022

As Levon Handsome grieves the loss of her husband, she continues the organic, natural soap business they built together.

by Sharon Smith

At SouthPark’s pop-up shopping event in November, Levon Handsome from Joe-Le Soap, an organic skincare line of natural soaps and body butters, greets customers stocking up for the holidays and explains how the products are made. Her mom, Emma Eversley, jumps in with a quick, warm smile to help with packaging and orders. They make a great team.

It was important to Levon to be there, not only as a small-business owner mindful of the opportunity to grow the brand — but perhaps more importantly, for personal reasons.

Soaps and body butters from Joe-Le Soap. Photographs by Kelsie Elizabeth Photography

Joe-Le Soap was created four years ago by Levon and her husband, Joe Handsome, who passed away in January 2022 of cancer. Joe was diagnosed with skin cancer in 1996 and was in remission until 2017, when the cancer presented again as a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It was Joe’s need for safe, natural and effective soap that inspired the business. With his creative mind and engineering background, Joe began experimenting with different ingredients in their kitchen. The couple shared samples with loved ones, and after rave reviews, the Handsomes realized they were onto something.

As Levon took the helm of their business, Joe played a supporting role. She launched full-time into making Joe-Le Soap during the pandemic after she was laid off from a corporate job. The small-batch, plant-based products provide an alternative for customers with sensitive skin or who simply want to avoid artificial ingredients.

When Joe died, Joe-Le Soap became a safe space for Levon. It provided a constructive and therapeutic outlet. “I took the pain of losing my husband and turned it into something that the consumer space could really benefit from. Joe would want that,” Levon says.

Joe and Levon Handsome on trip to Santorini, Greece

“He left me with the gift of making soap by hand, and he pushed me to get in the kitchen and figure out how to make body butters,” she says. “He knew what this brand meant to me, and how this soap and this body butter was my ‘plane building,’ Levon says, referencing Joe’s own passion for building small aircraft. 

Joe-Le Soap is still family-run with help from Levon’s mother, stepfather and brother — a company born out of a need, which now helps others and is a reminder of an enduring partnership. 

Featured image: Levon Handsome, right, with her mother, Emma Eversley at The Duke Mansion


Don’t miss extras from
SouthPark Magazine!


Sign up for our newsletter — full of fresh stories, Happenings and giveaways each week.


By entering your email address you are agreeing to our TERMS OF USE