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Interview with Kylie, who creates handmade soaps.

 

Lavender Essential Oil Soap
Lavender Essential Oil Soap

What types of soap products do you make?
At the moment I mainly make bar soaps for all members of the family, including a doggie soap. I also offer natural liquid soaps that can be used for nearly everything, such as, shampoo, body wash, hand soap, pet soap, and general household cleaner.

How and when did you become interested in soap making?
Although I had a friend who was making soap, who had said I should try it, I only actually had a go due to my highschool son having to make soap at school. I googled some recipes, read all about the safety aspects including what to and not to do, read a lot of good information on some reputable soapmaking sites, joined some soapmaking groups and while gathering ingredients for the school project, decided I’d better make a batch myself.
It all started from there.

What was it that attracted you to soap making?
Apart from the initial do it to try it, the other thing that attracted me to making my own, was the fact that store bought soaps are irritating to many people, including my daughter and I. We could only use shower gels.
After the first couple of batches, there was definitely no going back to commercial soap or shower gel again.

How did you go about learning the techniques behind soap making?
Initially, I searched for relevant information via google, and found a few really reputable sites, and did a lot of reading, also joining a few soapmaking groups on yahoo as well.

Honey & Oatmeal Goats milk soap
Honey & Oatmeal Goats milk soap

What is your latest creation?
My most recent creations were another batch of “cookie soap” as my 8 yr old likes to call it – Honey & Oatmeal Goats milk soap.
Also a lovely soap with 3 different aussie clays and a blend of essential oils.

What are some of the materials you use in your soaps?
I always start with a base of vegetable oils and butters, then depending on what type of soap I’m making , I add things like Aussie Clays, Essential Oils, Premium Fragrance Oils, Honey, Oatmeal, various other botanicals.

Where do you look for inspiration when want to create a new soap?
Well this often depends what I have on hand, or maybe I’ve seen an interesting essential oil blend . I don’t exactly look for inspiration, but more I feel like doing a particular soap, then I look at what I might want add to it to make it interesting

If you had to choose a favourite soap you have made what would it be?
This is a very hard question to answer really, but if I have to choose one it would have to be BAY RUM. Why? I love the smell, it’s a great bathing soap, wonderful as a shampoo bar ( I love sniffing my 2 youngest boys heads when they’ve washed their hair with it), also great for shaving.

Was there anything that you had a particular trouble with when you started?
Just getting supplies at a reasonable price, and finding which suppliers had the best prices for what.

What would be your favourite part in the process of creating a new soap?
Unmoulding the soap loaf, and seeing how the pretty swirls turned out.

Pepperberry Sorbet Soaps
Pepperberry Sorbet Soaps

Why would you suggest soap making as a craft for someone looking for a new hobby?
Once you get past your first batch, it is quite exciting and I find it relaxing.

Are there things other than soaps and skincare products that you create?
Yes. Natural Soy Candles

Was soap making originally a hobby that developed into a business for you?
Not really, it was more a case of, “okay, that was easy enough” ( my first couple of batches that is) this is something I could turn into a part time income.

And if yes what are the biggest changes since it has become a business for you, compared to doing it as a hobby?
The biggest thing I feel when taking any hobby to “the next level” is little details, like not just making it because you feel the urge, but because you have to in order to keep supplying the demand.

Can you describe your workspace?
My workspace is my kitchen, so sometimes the joke at our house is that the food thing interferes with the soap thing.
I’d love to have my own workspace, and I am working on that.

If you would change it, what would you do?
I would have my own area with plenty of storage space, lots of bench space, a big table, a special low shelf for my drums of oils to make the pouring of oils easier, a big double sink, and a much larger stick blender. I have a long wish list, but simply having my own area would certainly make things easier.

What benefits have you found the internet has for your business?
Using the internet means you have access to a larger audience / customer base.

What basic materials, and/ or tools, would someone need to buy to get started in soap making as a hobby?
Most important tool of all, is a lye calculator. (There are a couple of good free ones online)Goggles to protect eyes, gloves, Stainless steel pots, heavy duty plastic spoons and spatulas, plastic bucket, VERY accurate set of scales, container to pour soap batter into.

Bay Rum Soap
Bay Rum Soap

Are there any safety issues to deal with in soap making? If so what measures do you take to deal with these?
The main issue with making natural cold process soap is being extremely careful with lye. You must always check recipes you find online in a lye calculator, as one little typo could have you making really bad soap, so you must always check all recipe amounts. You should wear gloves and goggles, and when measuring it for your soap recipe you must have accurate scales, otherwise you might end up with lye heavy soap which would burn. ( well made soap no longer has any lye left in it after the saponification process ) Most important of all, despite what you may find on the internet, is that the Lye is added to the water, never the other way round.

Can you outline the typical process behind making something like your Honey n Oats Goatsmilk Soap?
Basically, measure desired amount of goats milk and put it in the freezer the day before. Next day, measure your oils into your melting pot and put on low heat till just melted, and remove from heat, meanwhile, you would measure your lye and have your milk ice cubes in your mixing bucket, then very slowly add the lye a little at a time, stirring very well after each addition until it is all added and all dissolved. Once that’s done then slowly add the lye mixture to the oils and stir until it reaches trace – ( pudding batter consistency, when you lift your spoon and it dribbles back into the batter it stays on the surface a little before sinking back in.) Next I add my warmed honey and finely ground oatmeal, give it a good stir and then pour into the mould.

How long does it typically take to make a batch of soap like that one?
Usually I have it all done within half an hour, but I’ve had lots of practice .

Where do you generally buy supplies? Locally or by ordering them?
Both, though mostly I now order most of my supplies in bulk because it is generally cheaper that way.

Are there any business problems that you consider are unique to a small business like yours?
My main hassle is a very small budget, so I can’t do a lot of advertising, relying instead on word of mouth referrals and free advertising online to bring new customers to my website.

What are the different kinds of outlets you use to sell your soaps?
Some markets, but mostly word of mouth, internet, and retailers.


Visit Bubbles n More to have a look at Kylie's lovely handmade soaps you can order online.

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