My name is Jacqui and I make hand crafted palm oil free luxury soaps.
Soap-making had not originally been anywhere in my life plan . In fact I wanted to make a living selling my watercolour abstract artwork ,something I had loved doing since a child.
When a successful local beloved card and gift shop became available for lease as a going concern . The cogs began to whir . And a grand plan began to form, which was to build on the existing business but to extend the range of gifts available to include selling my art work and to offer high quality hand made soaps,among other things such as balms, bath bombs,sewn items etc ( in fact the list was fairly ambitious.)
Soaps happened to be among the first on the list to be explored and my decision to attempt soap making came from a I love of using expensive commercial soaps.
But I was in for a shock...
What I came to realize was that even a very expensive commercial soap was not a patch on handmade soaps even my rudimentary first attempts. My skin had never felt so good!
I have always had sensitive skin and suffered periodically with ezcema ,so I was very happy to see such a great improvement in my skin.
Initially while I was learning the craft I followed tried and tested recipes containing palm oil,as it is considered to be a cornerstone of the soap making trio along with coconut oil and olive oil.
So when I started looking into the origins ,as in destructive habitat side of palm oil, I didn't like what I saw and found it very upsetting to see the clearing of the forests and it's aftermath and loss of habitat for it's animals and so I spent months experimenting with other soap making recipes and various oil combinations determined to replace it ,as it does offer hardness to the finished bar.
I stopped using palm oil in my soaps by early 2013,this was a big step and it meant a great deal to me to try and help my customers understand the reasons why. Initially people would read my No Palm oil notice and look at me quizzically and ask what was the problem with palm oil?
It has only been in the last couple of years that this awareness has become mainstream which is wonderful.
We also live with very hard water here in East Anglia so I wanted a good lather also. Months of experimentation finally lead to the recipe I use now containing seven different vegetable oils that give a great lather even with our hard water and fantastic moisturizing properties ,that has lead to me not needing to buy much moisturizer and to have even better skin.
I also have long love of natural healing ingredients and the use of herbs ,so decided from the start that my soaps must be coloured with natural ingredients only such as botanical clays, coffee and turmeric etc and I decided use beneficial essential oils.
The exploration of natural colouring ingredients has been fascinating and the essential oil blending have been a challenge and a joy.
Though three current soaps do have fragrance oils as the essential oils are just too expensive unfortunately or such as the coconut bar cannot be scented any other way.
My artistic side has worked it's way into my soaps also . I love the finishing aspect as I swirl and manipulate the batter on the top of the soap before it hardens. I also hand stamp and bevel each bar ,which I find remarkably relaxing .
My packaging is also all designed and produced by myself. So what started as a 'I'll give it a go, how hard can it be ?'.... has lead gradually into a business that I love every aspect of and I now supply eleven outlets around East Anglia and have a website all of which is all very exciting ,as I get to make even more soap!
One day I may progress onto the other items on my list but if I don't I will be quite happy just soapmaking.
So you just never know where these inspirations will lead. I'm pleased I followed mine.