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Interview with Kerry from Nature Saponified

Nature Saponified

After viewing Kerry’s soap on Instagram and wanting to like each perfectly textured top multiple times, learning more about her has only increased my like, now love, of Kerry’s soap!

Nature Saponified
Nature Saponified
Kerry Sylvester
Kerry Sylvester

Kerry of Natured Saponified can be found:

When did you know soap making was for you?

I’m not really sure when or why I had considered making soap but it had always been at the back of my mind. My husband and I had begun to rid our home of commercial synthetics – processed food, cleaning products, beauty products etc and while on maternity leave I bought several soapmaking books and it just went from there.

When did you discover you loved soap making? 

Right from my very first batch of 100% lard soap, those 4 little bars had me hooked! I just thought it was so wonderful that you could mix up a gloopy concoction of

Nature Saponified
Nature Saponified
Nature Saponified
Nature Saponified

oils/ butters and by morning it would be a completely useful bar of soap! I soon realised that the random recipe I had found in one of my many soap books wasn’t great and so I set about finding as much additional information as I could. Thankfully I stumbled upon soapqueen.com which lead me on to lovinsoap.com and eventually the network of soapmaking groups on Facebook which all proved invaluable in my soapmaking journey. Soon I had immersed myself in learning all I could about fatty acid profiles, the art and science of scent creation, soap colourants, and luxury ingredients. Early on I decided to focus on using only safe natural additives in my soapmaking which I personally define as not synthetic or artificial (with the exclusion of sodium hydroxide – for obvious reasons!). So, I only use essential oils for scent and clays or plant colourants for colour – it just always felt like the right fit for me.

What are your favorite parts of soap making? 

I have so many favourite parts! From watching the pH sensitive plant infusions doing their thing when I introduce the lye solution, to cutting up a hanger swirled batch, to tweaking and perfecting the way I swirl or texture a soap top – or reading about the newest technique, colourant or soapy trend, I adore it all!

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?

The unique quality each batch has makes me happy to get out of bed. Before soapmaking became a business for me it was suggested to me that it might become boring doing the same soaps over and over but no

Nature Saponified
Nature Saponified
Nature Saponified
Nature Saponified

two batches will ever turn out exactly the same and I love that. Interacting with our wonderful soapmaking community via the Facebook groups I belong to or on my Instagram page makes me very happy – they are the kindest, most generous and supportive bunch of people you could ever wish to meet and I’m super grateful for them!!

What are you favorite oils, butters, micas and/or processes? 

I am a true believer in simplicity and enjoy creating the best soap formulae from a few simple ingredients. The ingredients I choose to use come from ethical and sustainable sources as these are important principles to me and my business – I was delighted to source some organic shea butter from a women’s co-op in Burkina Faso recently. I enjoy creating the multiple plant infusions I need for my soaps and never tire of watching the olive oil turn a different colour only to change again in the high pH environment of soap!

What were your hopes for creating your soap business? (To help you answer: What hopes came true, so far, for your soap business/process?)

Having left my nursing career behind to home educate our children my soap business was my opportunity for a personal challenge and as such it has continued to surprise me! Having decided to move to a wholesale model a couple of years ago Nature Saponified continues to gain new stockists around the country as well as starting an exciting new project in Germany and recently winning awards for our soap and lip balm in the Free From Skincare Awards 2017 and even having my textured soap tops admired and recognised by fellow soapmakers! It’s a far cry from my initial vocation and I could never have dreamed this for my soapy venture but I’m glad and thankful for every minute of it!

Nature Saponified
Nature Saponified
Nature Saponified
Nature Saponified

What other interests do you have when not in your soap or bath products laboratory?

I enjoy watercolour painting and cross stitch and I am also an avid reader of historical biographies of the Tudor era – when I am afforded the time! We are very lucky to live right beside the sea in a truly beautiful spot of North West Ireland and I enjoy walking the coast and nature journaling with my girls as we go.

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry?

I truly hope that the general public continue to appreciate real soap for what it is and the benefits it holds for them and their skin. I believe that so long as those choosing to enter the industry aim to meet the individual regulations of their country and maintain good manufacturing practices then our industry can continue to see healthy growth.

What do you want people to know about your soaps/business?  

I set out to create a rainbow of soaps using only natural colourants and complemented these with the perfect blends of essential oils. I individually package them in my ‘labour of love’ bespoke designed soap boxes that reflect the story and luxurious nature of each of my soaps.

What makes you laugh about making soap?  

45 minutes of hand stirring my huge overly ambitious second-ever batch because the book strictly advised against the use of mechanical stirring always raises a smile!

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Interview with Vicki Hinde of The Soap Mine

The Soap Mine

I have known of The Soap Mine for some time by the distinctive and colorful drop pour soaps, however, I have recently connected the name with the company. So delighted to actually meet Vicki Hinde!

Vicki Hinde The Soap Mine
Vicki Hinde The Soap Mine

Read along and learn more about this amazing soap artist.

Social media links: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thesoapmine  (@thesoapmine)

 

When did you know soap making was for you? 

At some point in 2010 a friend showed me a small piece of brown soap that she’d made herself, and I realised that I had absolutely no idea how soap was made.  The question had never even crossed my mind, and, as I don’t like not knowing something, I got researching.  I very soon decided that this was something I had to try and my first batch was made soon after. I was utterly hooked from that very first time.

The Soap Mine
The Soap Mine
The Soap Mine
The Soap Mine

When did you discover you loved soap making? 

I loved it right from the beginning.  I had quite a few failures, and each one taught me something important – I made batch notes from the beginning, and never made the same mistake twice.  There were many mistakes though –  lye heavy soap, soap that was never going to harden up, vanillin discolouration (boy was THAT a disappointment!), omitted fragrance, the list goes on…  But that was part of why I loved it so much from the beginning. There’s SO much to learn, and there’s as much science as there is art.

What are your favorite parts of soap making? 

I think it would be easier to say which bits I don’t like!  Like most people, the wash up process is probably my least favourite, and if I’m honest, I’m not so keen on the wrapping or labelling either. However I LOVE choosing new fragrances and coming up with new colourways for them – most of my soap-making these days is restocking soap from my core range so I don’t get the opportunity to ‘play’ as often as I would like.  That relatively small portion of time during which I’m actually pouring the soap into the mould and creating the design is really important to me.  I focus quite intently on what I’m doing, and find it a very calming process. My husband knows that I don’t appreciate

The Soap Mine
The Soap Mine
The Soap Mine
The Soap Mine

any interruptions at that point!  And of course cutting each bar is a thrill.  I deliberately haven’t invested in a multi-wire soap cutter (yet!) as I enjoy the ‘reveal’ of each bar as I cut the loaf with my single-wire cutter.

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?

Soap making is MY thing.  I have two young children (aged 4 and 7) and for a while they took over my life; I seemed to have very little time for hobbies.  These days, no matter how challenging the day has been (yes, I’m looking at YOU ‘Butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-your-mouth-four-year-old daughter’!!)  I can always spend an hour or two immersed in my soap business, and all is well again.  I may be extraordinarily busy ALL the time but it does make me very happy!!

What are you favorite oils, butters, micas and/or processes? 

All my regular bars are made using the same six fats – olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, cocoa butter, Shea butter and castor oil, so I guess they’re probably my favourites (or at least, they combine to produce my favourite result!)  My go-to place for mica is U-Make it Up in Spain  (recommended to me by the lovely Carolyn of Siennalily Soaps). They have a fantastic range of mica specifically for soap, and I’ve found that even including postage costs to the UK they’re significantly cheaper than the UK based companies I used to use.  And process? There can be no doubt which is my fave – cold process with a drop swirl – my whole core range is made using a drop swirl. 

The Soap Mine
The Soap Mine


What were your hopes for creating your soap business? (To help you answer: What hopes came true, so far, for your soap business/process?)

My first hope was to make enough money selling my soap to enable me to continue making soap!  To begin with, it wasn’t a particularly expensive hobby – basic oils, a bit of fragrance and makeshift moulds are all relatively cheap as far as hobbies go – but as I got more into it and wanted to experiment more and more then the costs escalated.  So basically I started selling to fund my continuing experimentation, but I soon started to wonder whether this was something that could become a bona fide company, one that would allow me to make an income without having to go out to work while my children were young.  

What I didn’t expect is that it would take over my life so utterly and completely.  I work in the mornings, before the children get up, and I work in the evenings, after they’ve gone to bed.  I work after 4pm, as soon as my long-suffering husband finishes work, and I work at the weekend, when he’s not working.  In September, my youngest child starts going to school full-time and I’ll have time DURING THE DAY *gasp* to work and I. Cannot. Wait. which brings me to the next question:

What other interests do you have when not in your soap or bath products laboratory?

Oh so many, and come September I fully intend to free up some of my evenings to be able to enjoy some them!  I’m currently working towards my green belt in kickboxing – it’s just one one-hour class a week, but it’s fun, and it’s challenging. and I leave each class feeling energised and ridiculously happy and motivated.  I also try to get out for a run a few times a week, but that’s fallen by the wayside a little recently, purely down to lack of time.  Another of my passions is linguistics, particularly the history of language/s, and learning languages generally. I’m bilingual (English/Welsh), have a good knowledge of French.  At the moment I’m learning Russian, and I’ve studied German and Spanish in the past.  I used to be an avid reader, but that’s another thing that’s fallen by the wayside due to lack of time, so this coming winter I plan to challenge myself to read more AND to finally learn to crochet.

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry?

I hope that I can convert more and more people to the joys of using (and making, if they so desire) handmade soap.   I know of so many people who claim to be unable to use bar soap, but I’m sure that for many this is because they can’t use COMMERCIAL soap. I’m on a mission to convert the public, and it may be a long road but I’m up for the challenge 😊

What do you want people to know about your soaps/business?  

I’m a one-woman outfit, and I do absolutely everything, from ordering the raw materials through to delivering the final product.  I use only the best ingredients and I’m utterly passionate about creating quality products that I can be proud of. 

What makes you laugh about making soap?  

How many people does it take to make a batch of soap?  10.  One to make the soap, and nine more to argue about whether or not it should contain palm oil…  

Only kidding of course, but I have to laugh, somewhat ruefully, at people who just can’t accept that different people have different ways of making soap. Personally I don’t use palm oil, and all my soaps are vegan friendly, however I’m not vegan myself (I’m not even vegetarian, and I have experimented with lard soaps in the past – they’re flippin’ wonderful!). I have no issue with others choosing to use animal derivatives or palm oil in their recipes.  I’ve done my research, and there are arguments on both sides, but I will not decry or criticise any soap-maker for their particular choice of ingredients.

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Interview with Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks

Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks

I’ll bet you don’t know much of Ami shares in this interview… I didn’t and I love and admire, not just her soap works, which are striking and colorful, but Ami’s kindness and integrity. Get to know wonderful Ami with her frank and open answers. Ami Johnson of Lilyblue Soapworks. 

 

When did you know soap making was for you? 

Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks
Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks
Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks
Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks

In my previous career I was a General Manager, first for the Beauty division of Victoria’s Secret, and after that for Ulta Beauty. In 2009 I chose to leave my wonderful career to raise a family. I don’t think I realized how much confidence I got from my previous position and while I definitely wasn’t unhappy raising my child I knew I needed something for myself. I initially started watching YouTube videos to teach myself how to knit and one day I stumbled upon a Soaping 101 video and was immediately intrigued. Here was something I could do, possibly earn a bit of money doing it, that would also be healthier for my family, as well as others

When did you discover you loved soap making? 

The absolute first time I ever made soap! I really love the science aspect of turning different fatty acids into a completely different thing and the endless variations there are to do that. I also discovered I had an artistic side. I’ve always been very good and seeing beauty in the work around me, but I’d never been able to draw, or paint, or really do anything that I considered to be art, but I started making designs by my third batch and I felt like I’d been doing it all my life. I believe my previous career was my first calling and motherhood my second, but just as I felt I had to do those things I also feel that way about soap.

What are your favorite parts of soap making? 

Hands down my favorite part is when everything is mixed and ready to go. I’m not a fan of the prep work and definitely not a fan of the cleanup, but that 15-20 minutes when it’s just me creating is almost always

Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks
Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks
Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks
Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks

the best part of my day. 

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?

I, along with fellow soapers Jennifer Kathleen of Treehugger Soap Co., and Tyreese Joseph of ADO Soaps, run The Happy Soapers Facebook group. I’m so passionate about educating new soapers, learning from veteran soapers and creating the type of climate where everyone feels safe enough to ask any question. We encourage open and respectful debate, but we do not tolerate any unkind or derogatory remarks to or from our members. The three of us were so frustrated by the demeaning of new soapers, the unwillingness to hear any opinion that differed from their own and mostly the way some people chose to express those things. It was really bringing us down, so about six months ago we started the Facebook group and in August we’ll launch our YouTube channel and weekly blog. Helping other soapers in a positive and informative way is absolutely what gets me out of bed in the morning. 

What are you favorite oils, butters, micas and/or processes? 

I’ll admit that I’ve never tried hot process and I loathe re-batching, but I absolutely love cold process. I use a lot of Olive Oil in my recipes because I’m completely palm free and I find it the most versatile of oils. It’s soft, yet it creates a rock hard bar of soap. I also use Shea Butter in nearly every recipe as I do Avocado Oil. I also think lard makes an amazing bar of soap although I also offer a vegan option. Some speciality oils that I’m really in love with are Meadowfoam Oil, Laurel Berry Oil, Argon Oil, and Emu Oil, although I typically save those for leave on products. 

Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks
Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks
Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks
Ami Johnson of Lilybleu Soapworks

I’m a huge proponent of water discounting and soaping at cool temperatures. I find it gives me so much more control over the process. I almost always soap with a 1:1 ratio, room temperature oils, and cold lye solution. It’s the very rare fragrance that causes me to up my water ratio.

I have an all natural vegan line that uses only essential oils and natural colourants, but my best sellers come from my main line where I use fragrance oil and micas from Nurture Soap Supply, some of my favorites being their Vibrance Mica line and Day of the Dead, Breath of God, 25:43, Juicy Apricot, and Soft Cœur Fragrance Oils, among others. I also love the selection of micas from Mad Micas and I still use a lot of their fragrance oils… Earl Grey a Tea, Deviant, Spanish Fly, and Snow Witch, which I don’t think I could live without. I buy a lot of my base oils from Bramble Berry as well additives like silk, colloidal oatmeal and some clays. I have several fragrances from them that are also part of my regular lineup such as Oatmeal, Milk and Honey, Electric Lemonade, Heavenly Honeysuckle, Energy, Karma, and many of their Essential Oils. Apart from supporting a couple small suppliers for speciality oils I get nearly everything from those three places or locally. 

What were your hopes for creating your soap business?

My soap business is doing well despite the fact that we’re currently without a website. That should change soon though. I’m keeping busy enough that I always have things to do, but I’m not yet overwhelmed, well, except from October to December. My goal is to grow my business to the point where I’m able to employ people, continue offering accessible and well-researched education in a positive environment and make enough money to travel more. I really miss visiting Europe and diving in Cozumel, MX.

What other interests do you have when not in your soap or bath products laboratory?

I’m a huge history nerd. I’m pretty well versed on European history, especially that of England, France, and Scotland from about William the Conqueror up through George VI with a particular emphasis on 14th and 15th Centuries. 

We love to travel and we’ve been all over the US, parts of Canada and Mexico and much of Western Europe. These days we’re staying a bit closer to home, but it’s always nice to get away. 

I’m an avid reader and I typically listen to audiobooks while making soap. 

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry?

Animal welfare is something I feel strongly about. I’m not vegan, but I do everything in my power to make sure every item that goes into my products is ethically sourced. I buy my lard locally from humanely treated free-range animals and I really admire the lengths companies like Nurture Soap go to for cruelty free and environmentally responsible products. I’ll always pay more to know I’m not hurting animals or humans by using the products I use. 

What do you want people to know about your soaps/business?  

We are a family run business that relies on word of mouth for the majority of my business. We try to be as ethically and environmentally responsible as possible and I hope the quality of the ingredients we use comes across in our products. 

What makes you laugh about making soap?  

Sometimes it’s the worst mistakes that turn out to be your hidden gems! 

Ami Johnson’s Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/lilybleutoo/

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Interview with Jasmina from Sapolina

Aloha Soap from Sopalina

This interview is my honor to conduct. I introduce an illusive, yet notable soap maker – Jasmina from Sapolina. This it the first photograph of the fairy-like energy of this soap maker. I get to know each interviewee a bit more as the process unfolds, and this opened my heart to someone who has attracted my attention for years. I chose Jasmina for this interview because of her commitment to a complete design, her choice in subtle, yet, dynamic colors and her deft execution of this magical creativity. Introducing Jasmina and her delightfully charming soaps.

Many ways to fin Jasmina and her marvelous soap creations!

www.sapolina.bigcartel.com
www.facebook.com/sapolinasoaps
www.instagram.com/sapolinasoaps
www.sapolina.bigcartel.com

Charming From Sopalina
Charming From Sopalina

How did you arrive at the name of your business? 

I had a few things in mind – I wanted it to be one word name, to be easy to remember and to associate it with a soap somehow. That’s the way I came up with Sapolina (sapone – italian, sapun – serbian are the base and just a little tweak to make a melodious, feminine name).

 

How long have you been making soaps? 

It all started out of necessity, back in 2013. I have very sensitive skin, every single product on the market just made my skin to be more dry and itchy, especially during winter months. I had to do something and begun to search for a solution. Handmade soaps were a logical point of interest but, since I am a very curious person, I couldn’t resist if I hadn’t investigate how it’s made. I discovered a whole new world of soap making, learning, reading and getting supplies long before my first ever soap. It was without any colorant and fragrance, but the only one my skin feels pleasant after. Of course, my family members were amazed at difference and feeling on the skin too, so I had to make more and more.

Jasmina from Sapolina
Jasmina from Sapolina

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?

Everything. I am in love with soap making, I will cut a loaf today with the same passion and curiosity I had the first day, like a child with a long desired toy. I love design planing, melting oils and butters, working with raw soap, cutting a loaf, making packaging, soap photography, even the dishes after making aren’t a problem because I think of soap magic I just made while I am doing them. Also, when I can’t fall asleep I often plan the next soap, so it is like a therapy – it helps me to live a happier life.

Your soap color palates are distinctive, wow do you come up with your color designs?

I don’t know exactly. Yes, I plan design and colors, I visit web pages with color schemes as an inspiration but at the end it is sort of a feeling. I love bright colors, clean lines and simplicity, maybe that is the answer.

Where do you find your inspiration for your unique soaps? Are there things in your environment that aid in your creativity?

Inspiration is everywhere, you just need to recognize it. It is personal, what inspires me doesn’t mean you will be inspired too and vice versa. It can be a moment, emotion, event, object, some action etc. I remember when someone asked me where did I find inspiration for my soap Romance, I hesitate to tell the truth, it is maybe weird to hear it but I did – Novak Djokovic’s win in Wimbledon 2015. With all those golden spheres on the top like a crown.

Sea Salt Bar Soap from Sopalina
Sea Salt Bar Soap from Sopalina

What is your favorite part of soap making?

There are many parts I adore. The moment when I mix the oils and lye solution as a beginning of a magic, coloring, swirling, all those fragrances I enjoy, full table of soap loaves I made, cutting, waiting them to cure, taking photos, everything.

What do you do that is not soap related, but aids in your creative thinking?

Gardening – at the first place in this time of the year. We have garden of roses, but I am interested in cacti too and plants generally. All those colorful flowers and different shapes are breathtaking. I also love baking, home organizing and of course photography.

What do you want people to know about your work?

I frequently use soap spheres on the top of my soaps. I adore sphere as a perfect form from nature (planets, stars…), simple but strong and complete. If you leave out spheres from any of my soaps it is not the same anymore.

Romance From SopalinaRomance From Sopalina
Romance From Sopalina

What have you done that surprised you?

Became a soap maker. I am still surprised, that wasn’t in my wildest dreams!

What makes you laugh about making soap?

The fact soap making is never ending game. You never know exactly how will all go and what to expect at the end, despite all the plans ahead of time. That’s the charm of the game which fascinates me since the beginning.

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business i.e. other products, ingredients, research… Anything you’d like to mention here.

As a soap maker, I am trying to make high quality soap at the first place, but I am customer too. I also like to see things from that point of view and offer something I would expect myself. I like eye catching product, able to attract my attention in any way, to have packaging which is easy to open (I need a device to open many of everyday commercial products), I like to see the product (at least partially) through packaging and regarding soaps, to be possible to smell it. My goal is to fulfill all of this and add a personal, artistic touch to my soaps.

Sunny Mold from Sopalina
Sunny Mold from Sopalina
Honey Dream from Sopalina
Honey Dream from Sopalina
Lavish from Sopalina
Lavish from Sopalina
Passion from Sopalina
Passion from Sopalina
Sunny Fiesta from Sopalina
Sunny Fiesta from Sopalina
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Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone

Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
You probably already know some things about Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone like her luxury soaps, her wonderful vibrant attitude and now, brilliantly colored hair, but you might not know some of the insights to her creativity she reveals in this interview.

1.)  What was the first bath and/or body product you created? 

       Oh wow, EVER?  If I had to go way, WAY back… I made jars of “perfume” as a kid and sold them door to door in my neighborhood.  (Along with grasshoppers on leashes because I truly believed that they made wonderful pets.)  I would load up my little red wagon with jars full of water and flower petals… and sell them to people who were too nice to tell a little girl that she was selling jars of gross, stinky water.    However, my first real foray into the world of bath and body began when, as a baby, my son had horrible diaper rash.  I had heard that handmade soap was best for sensitive bums, but I was too nervous to start with cold process so I found a melt and pour kit at a hobby store as a little test run.  I made a simple, single-color molded melt and pour soap that was plain as plain could be, and from there, I wanted to learn everything I could about making soap.

2.)  Was there a moment you knew soap making was for you? 

Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
       The moment that I cut my first completed batch of cold process soap, I was hooked 100%.  Like many first-time cold process soapers, I geared up for that first batch like I was working with the world’s deadliest virus… in a construction zone, and there MIGHT be a chance of a fire.  I wore every piece of protective gear known to man and I had read so many books and done so much research, yet I still felt terrified that I was going to blow up the house.  Once the batch was made, I must have checked it at least a hundred times that day (no exaggeration).  When it was finally time to cut it, I sliced it and this amazing feeling came over me while I looked at those short, dumpy bars of soap.  I had made this.  I had made it from scratch.  That’s when the soap bug bit me and I wanted to make a million more batches right then and there.
3.)  Were there creative endeavors in your past that you can see contributed to discovering soap making?  What do you see, in hindsight, that prepared you for your soap endeavors?

      I have always been a creative person who likes to learn new hobbies.  I bake, sew, crochet, paint, sculpt, dabble in glass blowing and woodworking, you-name-it. I’ve always had an interest in how things are made and love being able to express myself through different creative mediums.  I am a very hands-on person who refuses to pay for something if I think that I can do it myself.  Even if it costs me more to make something, I see the value in making it myself… in understanding the process behind it, and having the

Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
Spicy Pinecone Soap

ability to tweak things and put my own creative spin on them.  I believe that being exposed to my various hobbies allowed me to give myself the freedom to try new things in my soap making process.  I’m not afraid of loud, fun colors, obscene amounts of sparkle, and/or trying a new technique.

4.)  Are there any aspects of soap making that others may not know about you?
      When I make a batch of soap, I like to keep design planning to a minimum.  I plan out the recipe and fragrance, of course, but as far as design, I may have an IDEA, but I rarely plan it out 100%.  I like being able to throw in a new color because I feel like it or swirling when I wasn’t originally going to.  Being fluid in the design allows me to come up with ideas in the moment and keeps things fun and interesting.
5.)  You attended the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild Conference in Las Vegas this year.  What were your favorite aspects?
     This is actually the first time I’ve been able to make the HSCG Conference!  Every other year, things have conspired to keep me away, so I was determined to make it this year.  I purchased the tickets way in advance and set the trip in stone… at least as much as I possibly could.  I was thrilled to get to meet so many soapers.   It was a gathering of MY PEOPLE.  Looking around the conference, it was a bit mind-blowing.  To have that many fellow bubble nerds and soap supplies in one place was incredible.  Meeting soapers in-person and making that face-to-face connection was just invaluable and was definitely my favorite part of the conference.
     Along with meeting new people, the presentations were fantastic.  Many of the speakers had an abundance of great information on a variety of different topics.  There really was something for everyone there.  Plus, once the conference was concluded for the day… you were in Vegas.  Not hard to stay entertained there.  😉

6.)  If you could change something about our industry, what would that be? 

Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
PInk Spicy Pinecone Soap
      I think that in the soap making industry, there is an incredible amount of information out there for new soap makers.  There are amazing books, YouTube videos, and blog articles that are fantastic sources for beginning the research process prior to making bath and body items.  However, with the abundance of information, I also believe it’s easy for a new soaper to find themselves following a recipe or trying a technique that may not be safe.  I am all for sharing knowledge and experience, but I think that when one does so, they have a moral obligation to ensure that they are presenting the best and safest method they can for the goal they are trying to accomplish.  And for those that are just beginning in this industry, make sure that you have reliable information from different sources.  Research, research, research.
7.)  What is your favorite part of soap making?  
    Oh my goodness, there are so many fun things about making soap.  I think if I HAD to choose, my favorite part has got to be cutting into a soap loaf.  One of those soap loaves where you did a crazy, funky swirl with weird colors and you’re just dying to know what’s on the inside.  You slice it, pull up a bar, and it’s like Christmas morning when you discover that you did, in fact, knock that latest batch out of the park.
8.)  What makes you laugh about soap making?

     I always find it funny when something goes crazily, horribly awry.  It could be that you have a fragrance that is SUPPOSED to be well-behaved, but it decided to turn Cujo on you and you’re left scrambling to create

Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
Spicy Pinecone Soap

something that may be salvageable.  I used to get upset about soap gremlins but you have to realize that if you make soap long enough and/or try new things… sometimes you’re going to have a batch that goes nuts.  It’s easier to laugh about it and know that you’ve learned from it, than to regret it and pine for the soap that never was.

9.)  Is there something not many know about you?  
     Something that people may not know is how much of a role that music plays in my soap making.  When I make YouTube videos, I don’t allow the music to play in the video (hello, copyright!), but the vast majority of the time, once everything is measured… I pull up my playlist and let the music play.  It helps loosen me up and get me in a creative mindset.  I make some of my best batches with music to support me… and my lab doesn’t care if I sing out of tune.  😉

For those who have read this far… Here is your reward!

Spicy Pinecone: coupon code “SORCERY15” for 15% off orders until August 31, 2017.  

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Interview with Beth Cole Byrne

Soap and Garden

There is a kind yet elusive person in the ethers of the soap community on-line… At least for me. Beth Cole Byrne. You might know her from her works with Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild or her work with Making Soap, Cosmetics and Candles Magazinebut did you know about her soap making business? I didn’t either! Along with all the other colorful details, here is Beth Cole Byrne’s interview with Sorcery Soap.

 

Was there a moment you knew soap making was for you?  

Beth Cole Byrne
Beth Cole Byrne

Interestingly enough, I started making bath and body products, but was firmly against making soap. You see, I began reading about soap making before the stick blender was in use and so many soap makers were flying by the seat of their pants, reporting their results, which were not always good! Well, after reading about it enough, I knew I had to make it myself, but I was nervous. I saw a demo at the New York State Fair and thought, “That’s what I was afraid of? I’m going to make cold process soap!”

I did and as hooked from the first batch.
Were there creative endeavors in your past that you can see contributed to discovering soap making? What do you see in hindsight prepared you for your soap endeavors? 

I have always been a creative and artistic person, but never an artist. Therefore, I was interested in a number of crafts and other endeavors. The one that got me into soap making was gardening. Early on, I discovered herbs, which led to my bath and body product making and then soap.

Are there any aspects of soap making that others might not know about you?  Probably not, I’ve been around so long, lol. I guess the fact that I am not a soap artist might not be well known. I am too impatient.

Does your activities with the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild influence your creations?

My activities with the HSCG do indeed influence my creations and not because it gives me less time. It makes me more focused on my goals so I don’t follow all of those wonderful rabbit trails that pop up. In addition, I am more focused on business and safety, correct procedures and so on, than I would otherwise be.

What prompted you to specialize in body care products for gardeners?

Soap and Garden
Soap and Garden

Gardening is in my blood. Like a dog on a scent trail, I am in the garden as soon as weather allows. It’s hugely enjoyable and rewarding, but it is hard on the body, particularly the hands. Who better to develop products for gardeners than a gardener?

You attended the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild Conference in Las Vegas this year. What were your favorite aspects?

Ah, so many things come to mind. . . the people, first of all. As part of the Board of Directors (for a few more days) I worked with an amazing team getting ready for and running the conference. I was able to see friends I only see at conferences and meet new soap makers I previously communicated with online. It was so much FUN!

After that, I have to say the lotion making seminar I led was the next best thing because I love teaching, especially when I have interested and engaged students. They were incredible.

I also enjoyed the soaps entered in the Soapers Showcase; seeing the beautiful creations in person is a feast for the eyes. Catching a few seminars is helpful in motivating me to be the

Soap and Garden Body Scrubs
Soap and Garden Body Scrubs

best I can be. Meeting vendors face-to-face and sampling their wares is a treat! That is what the conference is about.

What do you want to for the future of your soaping endeavors?

I want to finish my book, first of all, but I will also work on my wholesale side and work at teaching more. 🙂

If you could change something about our industry, what would that be? 

In my many years in the industry, I have met many soapers and bath and body makers who are knowledgeable, yet kind and helpful. For the most part, people do well. Unfortunately, a

few are not quite so accommodating. If I had the influence to change that, I would. I would also like to be an influence for good practices in manufacturing, labeling and so on to continually raise the (dare I say it?) bar.

Soap and Garden Soap
Soap and Garden Soap

What is your favorite part of soap making?

I cannot decide. It is either when the oils and lye water emulsify or when I cut the soap to reveal a bar that usually looks better than I imagined it would. I am obsessed with emulsification, but a cut bar of soap is truly beautiful.

What makes you laugh about soap making?

For me, it’s how my soap rarely turns out as planned! I have illusions of grandeur, but accelerating soap or soap that won’t accelerate or colors that disappear or morph force my sense of humor.

Is there something not many know about you? Another activity that supports your soap making and endeavors indirectly?

I am Managing Editor of Making Soap, Cosmetics and Candles Magazine, I make candles, I write and copy write and edit on the side. I can’t help it; it is a compulsion.

What do you want others to know about you?

I am happily married, the mother of six and grandmother of 12. I have two grand-puppies and love animals, especially puppies and kittens. My second ideal career would be as a puppy

Soap and Garden Lotion
Soap and Garden Lotion

cuddler (I don’t however, want to clean up after them or house train). Spending time with my grandchildren is the best thing ever and is why I put up with my kids as teenagers! My husband recently sent me a meme that said, “Grandmas don’t babysit; they have play dates.” That describes me perfectly.

Ways to find Beth Cole Byrne’s soap works:

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Interview with Linda Gracey of Lucy Blues Soap Company

Linda Gracey might not be a name you know right away, but I’ll bet you know her soaps. That is the very reason I chose Linda Gracey of Lucy Blues Soap Company for the interview series, to put a name and face to her amazing and creative soaps. I, for one, want to encourage

Linda Gracey
Linda Gracey

Linda of  Lucy Blues Soap Company to continue on her path, with not just words of support but actions. This interview is my action in support of Linda to continue to share her artistry with us.

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making? 

Trying new mica colors and fragrance oils, mixing fragrance oils and essential oils to make my own unique scents and trying new recipes; reading about and watching other creative soap makers videos and techniques are always something to look forward too.

Linda Gracey Voodoo Doll soap
Linda Gracey Voodoo Doll soap
Linda Gracey Voo Doo Doll soap
Linda Gracey Voo Doo Doll soap

How did you come up with the idea to make your Voodoo Dolls and Hearts Soap?

The Idea for this soap came to me as I was browsing youtube. I love to make a playlist of songs to have on while I’m working. I came across an album cover The Voodoo Dolls and I thought the little Voodoo doll was so darn cute – I’ve always loved them! I mixed some copper and white mica colored soap dough for the dolls and created little slits that I painted with brown mica and rubbing alcohol to create the look of the doll being stitched together and the red stitched hearts to accompany them. I was so thrilled with the results! 

Where do you find your inspiration for your unique soaps? 

Linda Gracey Baby Sea Turtle Soaps
Linda Gracey Baby Sea Turtle Soaps

Inspiration for me can come from anywhere really: my favorite movies or Tv shows, nature and wildlife friend and family’s suggestions. When I made my Alice in Wonderland soap I was inspired by my niece who adores Alice in Wonderland. When an Idea comes to me I get to work on it immediately because I never know how long my muse will be with me for that particular creative influence. I do write ideas down and refer to them later but it seems that the ones I get busy on right away while I am feeling that strong creative influence often turn out to be the best-finished creations. There are times when I’ll be out somewhere and I’ll tell my guy, we have to hurry home, I’m feeling so charged with inspiration right now! If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my own creativity is that I need to pursue it in that moment.

What is your favorite part of soap making?

First and foremost SOAP DOUGH! I absolutely love sculpting all sorts of things for my soaps.  Your (Bee Iyata) soap dough creations have inspired me and motivated me so crazy much! The dough is so amazing to work with. I’ve always loved working with polymer clay so when I discovered your soap dough, well what could be better? It has really enabled me to bring expression  to my soap making.

What do you do that is not soap related, but aids in your creative thinking? 

Linda Gracey Starry Night Version Painting
Linda Gracey Starry Night Version Painting

Painting is my other love for creativity; oil, acrylic painting and watercolor. I’ve been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember. I adore Van Gogh and Claude Monet paintings…  Their use of color and brush stroke, the depiction of figures and light is so emotional and really impacts me. I’ve attempted to recreate a few of my favorites Starry Starry night and Cafe Terrace at Night – pure exhilaration when I’m painting

What do you want people to know about your work?

I want people to know that I am been so overwhelmed with encouragement and kindness from the soaping community.  The openness and willingness to help others to learn the craft is awesome! These are truly an amazing group of artists. I will always pay it forward.

What have you done that surprised you?

Made Soap. Really, I didn’t expect my soaps to evolve the way they have. The first soap I made,  ( a milk and honey soap)  was awful  I would like to say I took the huge fail with a grain of salt, but that wasn’t the case.  I got so annoyed –  it looked bad and it smelled bad. I didn’t touch soap making for a few months after that but, I did continue to watch videos and learn from other soapers. I eventually tried again and had a successful outcome.  The encouragement I gained from that positive experience really gave me the motivation to build off of that. 

Linda Gracey Painting
Linda Gracey Painting

What makes you laugh about making soap?

I get a kick from other people’s interpretations of my soaps and soap dough creations. What was intended to be a butterfly looks like a bird to some no matter how clearly you think you’ve told the story, others may see something very different. I laugh at this in a good way! You can’t be offended…  Anyones take on something is always welcome. As far as Im concerned it’s great that someone is taking the time to give me their view on my project.                                

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business i.e. other products, ingredients, research… Anything you’d like to mention here.

I am relatively new to cold process soap making. There’s still so much to learn, I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. I do love sharing and helping people with what I have learned. I hope to have a website in the future until then you can find me on Facebook.  

Creativity is contagious, pass it on. – Albert Einstein      

Linda Gracey Bed of Roses Soap
Linda Gracey Bed of Roses Soap

                                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                      

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Interview with Zahida Map from Handmade in Florida

Zahida Map from Handmade in Florida

If you’ve done a Google search for handmade soaps you have probably seen Zahida’s specialty soaps from Handmade in Florida. 

Handmade in Florida
Handmade in Florida

If you are anything like me Zahida’s soaps – their elegance, the fine photography – made your breath catch. It’s easy to see the impression Zahida’s signature Feather swirl and Butterfly swirl have made on many soap makers psyche, our community. Zahida, as a person, like her work, to have a quiet elegance; because her soap works have made such an impact, let’s get to know her a little more through her soaping work.

 

What piqued your interest about soap? 

It’s said that “necessity is the mother of invention”, and this rings so true with my soap making journey. I started making soap shortly after my son was born (almost 10 years ago). My hands were painfully dry and cracked with all the excessive hand washing that comes along with being a new parent. I went through every “sensitive” commercial soap on the market and nothing eased the sting. Finally, my husband remembered making soap in his high school chemistry class and suggested we give it a go.  Although the internet was obviously around back then, there wasn’t this plethora of readily available information on cold process soap making. We managed to get our hands on a few books, then supplies (the basics) and went to town making our very first batch of cold process soap with lavender essential oil. It was not the prettiest soap, but it sure was the best I had ever tried at that point. No more painfully dry skin.

Describe the moment when you knew soap making was for you: That very first batch. Watching and waiting for that first batch of soap to cure was agonizing. I didn’t want to

Zahida Map from Handmade in Florida
Zahida Map from Handmade in Florida

make any more until I knew whether or not this experiment was successful. And of course, I was too paranoid to cheat and try a sliver before it was fully cured. It was worth the wait and I cherished that soap and the relief that it brought along with it 🙂

What is your favorite part(s) of making soap and why?

I love everything about making soap. It’s my passion. A labor of love. From selecting the oils and butters, formulating the recipe, watching the transformation of oils, stirring the rich, creamy batter, pouring raw soap into molds, putting them to rest, un-molding, cutting… Everything… I even enjoy lining my wooden molds.

Do you do other hand crafts? 

Yes, I’ve always enjoyed arts and crafts and dabble in as much as time permits. I paint, bake, sew etc. One thing’s for sure, I’m never bored (unless physically stuck somewhere and unable to create).

How did you create your signature style soaps, your soaps are so well designed.

Thank you 🙂 I think when you do something… Anything repeatedly, you naturally find your groove. What feels right and comfortable to you. I’ve doodled those designs and swirls on the corners of my school work, napkins, notes etc., for as long as I can remember 🙂 I love looking at soap and immediately knowing who made it based upon their signature design.

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?

Handmade in Florida Soap
Handmade in Florida Soap

My son. He’s almost 10 now and is a connoisseur of everything soap lol! He knows all the swirls and can also identify a maker based upon a soap he sees! Probably most impressive, is his ability to pick out any scent accurately! We have a game we play, where I hand him a bar of soap and say “what does this smell like”? He’ll think for a moment then say “mmm, it smells like lavender, peppermint, spearmint and a hint of rosemary”. Seriously blows my mind! I ask my husband the exact same question and he laughs then says, “mmm, it smells like something fresh, like clean laundry?” After getting my son off to school in the morning, I go to my studio. Even if I’m not actually creating something that day, I just enjoy being there. If I have some nice batches of soap waiting to be cut, that’s a bonus.

What do you do that supports your soap making, creatively? Are there other things you do that support your love of soap making?

Yes, pretty much everything supports my love of soap making. Inspiration is everywhere and it can be so random…morning tea/coffee, colors of the sky, the smell of freshly cut grass, rain, food, people, places etc. If I’m in a creative rut (we all have them from time to time), I usually reorganize my studio. At some point along the way, I’ll either come across a fragrance I MUST soap that very second or decide it’s more fun to go make something instead of organizing.

What were your hopes for your soap business? 

I started making soap out of necessity, I continue out of love. I am blessed and grateful that people enjoy my soap as much as I enjoy making it.

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry? I’m thrilled with the progress we’ve made within the soap industry over the last decade. The sharing, friendship and mutual respect in this community has made soap making more accessible than ever. If we take pride in our work and maintain high standards of safety and ethics, then we’re good, otherwise, we’re regulated.

Handmade in Florida Soap
Handmade in Florida Soap

What do you want people to know about your work? 

I take pride in my work and have set some pretty high standards for myself. If I don’t love it, chances are, you’ll never see it lol.

What are your favorite parts to making soap? 

I love it all. I love how scent can conjure up memories, I love getting creative with colors, I love experimenting with exotic oils, butters, clays and waxes. Yet, even if you take away the colors, scents, exotic oils, butters, clays and waxes, I still love the creamy texture of raw soap batter, that distinct scent of pure soap. I love it all.

What makes you laugh about making soap? 

My soapy friends make me laugh. It’s not every day that you find a group of like minded people who obsess over soap as much as you do!

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business i.e. other products, ingredients, research… Anything you’d like to mention here.

I’m known for my Butterfly swirls and delicately sculpted tops, but first and foremost, I’m known for good soap. I don’t skimp on ingredients. I make soap that I enjoy using. It’s an affordable luxury and functional indulgence. My goal isn’t to make the cheapest soap with the highest profit margin, my goal is to make the best soap.

Handmade in Florida Soap
Handmade in Florida Soap

YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/user/HandmadeinFlorida

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/handmadeinflorida/

Facebook: https://facebook.com/handmadeinflorida

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Interview with Annie of Arachnes Demise A Modern Apothecary

Interview with Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap

Maybe a year ago I saw a video of Annie, Arachne’s Demise; A Modern Apothecary, molding soap dough where Sorcery Soap was mentioned. Her highly creative design was hindered by not have simple hand tools. I

Annie of Arachnes Demise A Modern Apothecary
Annie of Arachnes Demise A Modern Apothecary

knew nothing about her, but saw she needed something that I could provide so I sent her a Sorcery Soap Dough Kit.

It seemed logical to spotlight Annie of Arachnes Demine Modern Apothecary with her fairy-like alchemy yet grounded in a warrior goddess determination.

What piqued your interest about soap? 

My journey into soap making has been a long and drawn out one. I first started my Etsy shop in 2012. I had a wide, and frankly quite random, assortment of offerings. Embroidered pillows, coin purses and hair bows, but also soap, other bath and grooming products and eventually mineral makeup. All I knew at that point was that I wanted to make stuff, and if people bought the stuff, well that was a bonus. I thought the idea of making my own soap, specifically Castile soap, would be not only fun but something that would treat my skin well, too. 

Describe the moment when you knew soap making was for you.

Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap
Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap

Before I made my first batch I had read every book at the library on soap making. I researched essential oils, carrier oils and butters, and various herbs and natural ingredients, but, cold process still intimidated me so I bought the Castile shreds from Bramble Berry. I decided I would make milled Super-fatted Castile soaps. I was in love with my plain looking soaps.

I finally tried cold process about a year and a half later. Of course, it was no where near as scary as I expected it to be. I altered my line up of soaps to reflect my new technique. At that point I was not selling any sewn items, but  still struggled with an over extended inventory and really had not settled into where I wanted my shop to go. I was attempting to take my uncolored “boring” soap and take it to another level.

I was making cold process for over a year I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a nice tall and skinny mold with a silicone liner. I had been using mostly individual cavity molds. That was truly a game changer for me! I was able to try out new designs and techniques; most of all I was having success that I hadn’t experienced in all my years of soaping and attempting different designs. I really began to enjoy the challenge of a new technique. It forced me to understand my soap on a deeper level. The more I learned, the more fun I began to have. 

What is your favorite part(s) of making soap and why? 

I love the challenge because it’s incredibly satisfying for me to achieve something. So, when it goes well and my soap turns out just how I want it to, it makes up for all the attempts along the way. I also love that I have a functional piece of art, even with the ugly ones! 

Who or what do you look to for inspiration for your unique soaps?  

I can find inspiration in practically anything. Whether it’s the cup of tea I’m drinking, the colorful pile of clothes hangers on the floor, or a Design Seeds color scheme, it can be as simple as that. Sometimes a soap is planned out for a year before I even attempt it and other times I am so struck with inspiration that I drop everything to make that soap. Lately I’m really inspired by Mama Bass Handmade Soaps, Euphoria Soap Works, and L3O Soaps. I find that when someone is inspired you can feed off that creative energy and come up with something all your own. All of their soaps just put me in the mood to create! 

Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap galaxy
Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap galaxy

Are there any aspects of soap making that others might not know about you? 

There isn’t much about my soap making life that I keep private. Let’s see… I’m somewhere between 150-200 batches under my belt. I didn’t start making soap that was not Castile until last year. I also really enjoy making liquid soap and cream soap paste and have been doing it a lot more often lately. 

How often do you make a youtube video?

I had stopped making videos there for a while, but I’m trying to get back into it again. I don’t have a schedule to it, but it would probably be beneficial to implement one. Typically I make a video every time I make a soap that I feel is worthy of sharing. My goal with getting back into YouTube would be to make more tutorial style videos, actually going into my recipe creating process and hopefully teaching the viewer something new. I’m hoping I can publish at least four videos each month.

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?

I’ve gotten up early to cut into fresh loaves many times; the customers that keep coming back for more, stocking up when I have sales, and constantly supporting me – those people make getting out of bed to make soap pretty awesome, too. 

What do you do that supports your soap making, creatively? Are there other things you do that support your love of soap making?

Annie of Arachnes Demise Shea Butter
Annie of Arachnes Demise Shea Butter

Living in such a connected world, it was a combination of soap making and the internet that happened to have me cross paths with a woman in Ghana by the name of Ajike. She’s the founder of a women’s center in rural Savelugu, Northern Ghana where they produce unrefined Shea butter by hand. I knew I just needed this Shea butter for my soaps so I ordered 50 kg. I shared this news with my followers on Instagram, a lot of which are soap makers, and many people were interested in this Shea butter as well. I took a risk and bought another 500 kg.

Shea Queen Fuseina was in charge of my order. The Shea nuts are sun dried, crushed and roasted, then ground into a paste and boiled. The paste is then kneaded by hand for several hours adding only water to remove the bits of Shea nut from the butter. After the butter has been separated from the impurities it is heated again and strained, then stirred by hand again until it becomes creamy. Having the luxury of seeing my Shea butter created from start to finish, by hand no less, was absolutely incredible. The Shea Queens working at the center were able to purchase books, pencils, and other learning materials for the school in the village with our groups purchase, too. Every product I make with this Shea butter and every order I get from fellow soap makers and crafters helps bring it all full circle and I’m really grateful to have been a part of that. 

 What were your hopes for your soap business?

I did start this business with the hopes that it would create livable income… Eventually. I quit my day job in January 2014, which in hindsight was too early. While I’m certainly no millionaire, I have heat, electricity, a reliable car and a full tummy so I’m not complaining.

I will say that the majority of my income isn’t even from soap. I manufacture beard products for a company called Mr. Rugged.  I make a mud mask for a company called Spa’s Premium. I work with the same guy for all of these

Mr Rugged Pump Beard Oil Conditioner
Mr Rugged Pump Beard Oil Conditioner

products. He came to me with a few comparable products in mind and asked if I could create something similar, but not exactly. He wanted to chose the ingredients. Mr. Rugged Bold Beard Balm was born and I’ve produced over 5,000 units since December 2014. I was 7 months pregnant at the time and in a serious financial dilemma. It’s hard to say what this business would be today if it weren’t for that opportunity that has blossomed into many others. If I had to guess I’d probably be making ten bucks an hour in a dead end job while I paid the equivalent on eight bucks an hour to a day care facility with zero time or energy to spend on Arachne’s Demise. I am truly and deeply grateful for what I’ve been able to build this business into and my ability to do it all while staying close to my daughter! 

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry?

I hope the soap community continues to flourish and build each other up. Most (99%) of the people I’ve come into contact with over the internet through soaping are true gems and I’m happy to be a part of that community. I don’t have a group of people like that around me in the real world.

If anything were to concern me it would be the quality and source of our ingredients. One of the many things that importing Shea butter has taught me is that I really have no idea where the rest of my ingredients come from. It’s hard not to assume the worst when I find a great deal on something. I learned the hard way, it is very very expensive when done ethically and in small batches. That being said, I’m really taking a step back and reevaluating where I purchase my ingredients. I still have a budget to mind, but utilizing things like local animal tallow have made a big difference. 

What do you want people to know about your work?

I’d love for people to know that by supporting me you really are making my dreams come true and quite literally helping me dig myself out of poverty. Every purchase, review, nice comment and is noticed and appreciated! It fuels me to push my boundaries and try new things.

What are your favorite parts to making soap? 

Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap
Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap

I love a good fragrance oil! My favorites are the ones that just scream out a color scheme when you smell them.

I’d have to say my favorite part is planning out a specific soap. For example: every now and then I get an inquiry about a custom loaf. These are my favorite! I will immediately go down and see what I have in stock, asking what sort of scents they like, color schemes, any skin sensitivities or allergies. I absolutely love these custom batches! 

What makes you laugh about making soap? 

I’m at a point where I feel like every disaster has already happened, until a new disaster happens. Luckily I’m also at a point where that makes me laugh now, instead of scream. 

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business?

I’ve got one potentially huge idea, and a few little ideas bouncing around my head and at least one of them is almost guaranteed to happen so stay tuned!

Instagram @arachnesdemise 

YouTube 

Etsy 

Amazon

Instagram handles for soapers I mentioned as inspiration Mama Bass Hand Made Soap @soapgirl62 @l30soaps

More on the Ajike Shea Centre 

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Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm

Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm

Choosing to interview Tedi was an easy choice. A causal observer of Small Acre Farm is to see only goat milk soap, a slightly deeper look is to understand Tedi is also a fiber artist, but digging deeper is to know how truly dedicated, sincere and light hearted Tedi and her family are about caring for all their animals and staying in the creative flow. Small Acre Farm not only creates sustainable and usable products but models an honorable and admirable lifestyle. I’m proud to call Tedi a friend and introduce another view of her heritage crafts.

Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Goat
Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Goat

What piqued your interest about soap? 

It was the goats!  Seven years ago we decided to add goats to our farm.  I think we had two that had babies that first year.  All of the sudden we had about 3 gallons of milk a day.  We tried cheese, kefir, cajeta, everything we knew we could do with milk but still had an excess.  We had a couple of goat mentors, now very special friends.  One of them told me about how his mom made goat milk soap.  We made the first batch together.  It was ugly and smelled weird and I was captivated!  

What is your favorite part(s) of making soap?

I love the planning process, plugging the oils into the calculator, sketching the designs, spending hours searching out scents…  When I am planning, anything is possible in my head.  I get much of my inspiration from my surroundings so a walk around the farm or a hike in our local mountains often inspires a soap or concoction.  My second favorite part is the cut, getting to see if that planning, scheming and dreaming comes through in the design.

 

Do you do other hand crafts?

I do!  I live on a farm and we have sheep as well as goats.  I’ve been a fiber artist even longer than I’ve been a soap maker.  Don’t tell the goats, but the sheep are my favorite.  They are skittish and shy but curious about me.

Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm
Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm

 When they trust me enough to let me touch them and move among them with ease my heart melts.  

I am a spinner, dyer, knitter, weaver and felter.  The only thing I don’t do is shear the sheep.  I just recently launched a separate brand of fiber goods and I am so excited.  I am starting with woven scarves.  Sometime in the summer I plan to add felted and woven purses.  I’m working with the African Community Center in Denver who have a sewing training program for refugees to sew the bags. It’s going to be a wonderful collaboration!

The soap/lotion and fiber are all tied to the farm.  I’m really a farmer first, but what started as a hobby to use excess milk and an excuse to have a few sheep in my pasture has turned into a way to help the farm survive and now thrive after I lost my long time job 3 years ago.  

 

Describe the moment when you knew soap making was for you:

I was hooked after the first batch but the passion about the creative process has grown slowly over the years.  I was in the middle of my first farmer’s market season when I lost my job.  Soaping gave me a needed reason to get up in the morning and however small at first, a way to contribute financially to my family and the farm.  What started as a way to survive and keep the farm has turned into a passion and thriving business.

Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Fiber
Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Fiber

 

How did you create your signature style soaps?

Our farm is our brand so I have always kept my soaps and labeling pretty simple and straightforward.  I’m usually looking for a color or two that represent the fragrance.  Our goats and our farm story are really the star of the show and I would rather have a conversation about the farm or something that connects that customer to our farm than fancy design elements.  That being said, I just cut my regular soap line in half so that I would have the time, and creative energy to make periodic limited edition soaps this year.  I’m having a blast creating more complicated (for me) soaps that I don’t ever have to make again unless I want to.  I’ve developed a real interest in natural colorants and these new soaps have given me an excuse to pick up some new ingredients and experiment.

 

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making? 

I’m weird but I love the routine of making those soaps that are familiar to me.  There is a sense of rhythm and routine to the farm and those familiar processes that really appeals to me.  I’m also enjoying mixing it up with the limited soaps.  I sometimes get an idea in the wee hours and then can’t go back to sleep until I have at least sketched it out.

 

What do you do that supports your soap making, creatively? 

Life's a Beach Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Soap
Life’s a Beach Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Soap

I love photography.  I do farm photography and often find a color, pattern, texture that inspires a design.  I also love doing product photography.  Sometimes when I am behind the camera I notice a nuance in a soap that I hadn’t noticed before that inspires some other design.

 

What were your hopes for your soap business?

My fondest desire is for my business to make a difference. I know that sounds cheesy and self serving but it’s really true.  We had great mentors when we started with the goats and I love having folks out to the farm who want to learn about the goats, the other animals, farming, soap making, fiber…  Recently I had someone I mentored start her own farm and business. I couldn’t be more pleased!  I’ve just started teaching soap making classes and that been great too!  The soap business is really just a part of a bigger plan for the farm and my long term goal to help people make conscious and informed decisions about what goes on their body, skin care and clothing included.

 

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry? 

It's Sedimentary Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Soap
It’s Sedimentary Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Soap

Being a rule follower, I try really hard to label correctly, be honest and upfront with my customers, research thoroughly.  I’m frustrated about competing with soap businesses that make wild medical claims and post those kinds of testimonials.  I am Not for more regulation for sure but I’d like an even playing field.  I love and try to support people and businesses that broadly share and educate about soap making and the business of soap making.

 

What do you want people to know about your work?

I’m deeply passionate about small farming.  My life’s work is to set an example for making a small farm business successful and to share that knowledge and experience generously with others so that they can be successful too.  I am a crusader for community over competition.

 

What are your favorite parts to making soap? 

Definitely the research and design. Right now I’m particularly inspired by natural colorants.

 

What makes you laugh about making soap?

Mostly I laugh at the failures, those Hail Mary batches that seize or the design element techniques where I end up with a fair amount of batter on the wall or my apron.  There’s enough heartache in farming that I can’t take too much else seriously.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  I might have to throw a batch away.  If I weigh that against a lamb that didn’t make it or the time my dog got bit by a rattlesnake it’s just not that big a deal.  Everything in perspective.

 

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business i.e. other products, ingredients, research… Anything you’d like to mention here.

 

There are lots of places you can find Small Acre Farm:  .  Farm  – soap, lotion, farm stuff, animals

Small Acre Farm –  Don’t miss the baby goats in the video on the about page!

Instagram and Facebook:  smallacrefarm

Pinterest:  namastemamma (don’t judge me!) 

Sprig and Wick Fiber:  Instagram and Facebook:  sprigandwickFiber – sheep, llamas, alpacas, spinning, weaving, dyeing…

Tedi’s Photography- Instagram:  tljsnaps