Thursday, 19 April 2012

Fifteen Years - Education, Research and Experience

I have been making soap for 15 years this spring. While I’m not sure if that makes me feel experienced or eeek dare I say the word “old”, I can remember the thrill of that first batch and the patient restraint I showed. Once you make a batch, you have to “put it to bed”. The soap sits in its mold for at least 24 hours undisturbed and wrapped in an old blanket while the saponification process transpires. For me the waiting was never easy and quite honestly it still isn’t. I love each and every batch and I still feel that same rush of excitement every time a new loaf is made, unwrapped and that first cut is made. 

 Why soap? In a world of millions of crafty ideas for an artsy person – why would I choose soap as my medium? Simply put – necessity. Like many other pale skinned, auburn haired folks of my descent (Scottish & English), I tend to have sensitive skin. You know the kind of skin that burns profusely at the mere hint of sun, and also does not like chemical cocktails rubbed all over it. Commercial products were not working for me and I went natural. For the most part my search for natural soap and skin care products went fairly well, but it certainly took a larger chunk out of my wallet than I wanted with the prices being $6, $7 and even gulp $8 for a single bar. So being the person I am who likes to create, I decided to make my own. I spent at least 6 months reading and researching. I gathered my supplies (soapmaking is not an inexpensive hobby) slowly and then I made my first batch. I was hooked! And my mantra about my prices has always been a quality product without the high end prices. After 15 years I know what it costs for materials and my time and I will not gouge my customers. Anything higher is unnecessary.

My soapmaking adventures began with lots of research and the research actually scared the hell out of me. To learn the products that went into commercial soap really made me a woman on a mission. Your skin is an organ. It is the largest organ your body has. Not only is it important to watch what you put INTO your bodies – it’s equally important to watch what you put ONTO your bodies. Your skin absorbs whatever it comes in contact with. Some of those chemicals come and go – others stay with your body accumulating over time with the toxicity increasing.

Did you know that all commercial soap isn’t even really soap? Yes even the big names… By the time they are all done the finished product has had the good stuff stripped out and other chemicals added, it’s actually not even considered to be soap but rather a detergent. Yep… I didn’t like the idea of rubbing detergent all over my body to clean it.

Detergents gained more use in the 1940’s as it was cheaper during wartime and as a society we never switched back to real soap as the companies learned they could make more money by making a detergent based bar. Shortly after detergent based bars became commonplace the rates of cancers increased also… coincidence… I think not.

Because of such I pride myself in the choices I make for my ingredients. I use at over 20 different suppliers to get the best quality ingredients from each. I have had 15 years to tweak my recipes to what I like and what my customers like. My family and friends are my test subjects and they are brutally honest. Due to their insight, I have fifteen years of experience, research and education.

That initial necessity became a passion that gets stronger all the time!

Am I a soap snob? Perhaps, maybe picky is a better word. I like to think it means having high standards and producing a quality product.

Time to grab my soap pot as soon as the kids are gone to school…. This momma needs to make some soap!

Topics to follow soon:
Process - Commercial Soapmaking versus Natural Soapmaking
Soap Scenting
Candles – An evolution of Wax

Friday, 13 April 2012

Musings from the Soap Lady

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

This has been the theme of my life and I hope to make this blog a little glimpse into my world.

I haven’t always been able to say it but I truly love my life.  I love that it’s pretty darn unique and not at all from a cookie cutter! 

My blogs won’t always be about me – I hope to entertain and inform combining all of my passions. I just thought I would start things out with a bit more about myself.
I have several passions in my life.

1. Love.

I was skeptical about the whole fairy tale called love even though I have been surrounded by great examples within my family and some friends. I had thought it’s just not something that happens for everyone.

I was married for a decade (ironically, a decade to the exact day). There were good and not so good moments - it was what it was. I can honestly say that I was a different person. I wore a happy mask at all times. I am not really sure who I was at some points over that time in my life but it did make me who I am today.

“Rinse” I found my strength to end my marriage. I did it for my children.  I realize that may be contradictory to some beliefs – really – divorcing FOR the children’s sakes – but as you weren’t in my marriage, you don’t know and never will. There are a few who knew what took place over the more than 10 years together and they think I should hate. I don’t. Maybe it’s my peacefulness that unnerves some people. I just don’t believe in holding on to a poison that festers. I hope my ex finds peace as I have.

“Repeat” The universe stepped in and I ran into an old friend from high school one day in a store. We exchanged messages for months and it hit me like that proverbial ton of bricks. Our first “date” consisted of a day spent together that merged into dinner and then the evening. It also had three of our five children present. I think it was a good two months before we spent any time without the children present. It was perfect for us. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Everything just fit. There wasn’t adapting. No one had to pretend to be someone they weren’t or wear a mask. Here we were in our late 30’s and things just fit. Finally.

They still just fit and my “Repeat”, my giving love another chance, rewarded me with the true understanding of the phrase “my other half”. I am thankful for that every day! Words can't serve justice to the peace and safety I feel.

2. Our Fabulous Five

We are the ultimate in blended families and proud of it! My fiancĂ© has a teenage daughter whom we don’t get to see as often as we’d like due the geographic distance.  I have my teenage stepson from my marriage (the only boy in our brood of 5 kids). At home daily we have my teenage daughter who I adopted more than 5 years ago and Don’s youngest two girls who live with us fulltime. Mom/Stepmom of 5 and I have never given birth.

My tiger stripes (stretch marks) are not visible in the traditional sense but they are there. There is more to being a mom than giving birth. All of these kids are amazing people with incredible, individual personalities and I believe my life is better because of each of them. One of my favourite sayings has always been “You don’t have to grow them UNDER your heart to love them IN your heart.”

3. Cats

I am a biped slave to 3 fabulous felines… enough said…  I love dogs too but we have cats.

4. Brantford & Area Mompreneurs

My venture to assist small businesses of Brant and Norfolk counties.  I have met so many fabulous business owners in less than a year and I look forward to the many more to meet along this journey.  We have had meetings to be educated, and meetings to have fun. Many times my face hurts after from so much laughter and smiling! Stay tuned for a Mompreneur blog on that website with the new facelift the site has underwent.

5. Healthy Chocolate 

I am a convert to healthy chocolate... I love what it has done for my health! Just the ability to be on my feet all day without pain is phenomenal to me. The previous year with health issues, has been really hard on my feet and legs. Healthy chocolate has come to the rescue and I can't rave enough.


6. Soap

Wylde Rose Handmade Soaps & Candles has been my passion for almost 15 years. I’ve taken the time and watched this baby grow! I started slowly with just soap, then I added candles and other items to the product line. I have worked part-time, fulltime and I have also gone back to school for a second diploma but I always come back to what gets my “lather” up!  Handmade Soap.  Real soap, not the detergent bars one buys in the stores.

I love researching new ideas, new natural ingredients and creating my products.  I am proud of what I make. Fifteen years later and I still get excited every time I unmold a new batch of soap. 
I love being the soap lady! I love to inform people about this passion…

There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.  ~ Nelson Mandela

This blog is long overdue and I look forward to sharing so much more over the next installments, including how the Wylde Rose was inspired...

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.  Yep - the mantra of my life!