Friday, 21 April 2017

Long long time, no blog

Running our little company can be exhausting and there is always a very long list of things to do: ordering, stock control, making, making and making, packaging, invoicing, shipping, keeping regulatory paperwork up to date, communicating with customers, managing staff . . . oh and much, much more. These days keeping active on social media is an absolute must, and more and more there are different platforms that a little company like ours needs to have a presence on. It's great to be able to communicate with the public from our workshops by the beautiful River Conwy in North Wales, but oh my goodness, there are only so many active hours in the day and this blog has been long ignored, lost and unloved.
Well I intend to remedy that, and although it may not be an everyday activity, I hope to be able to add some updates of interest right here.
Latest news of note is the launch of our redesigned website which went live this week. I'm hoping to build it into a much bigger site than it was, allowing for contributions and interaction and generally taking advantage of the new widgets and apps that are available to a low-techie webmaster such as I.

Here's the link to our new website. Please subscribe and let's keep in touch!!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Tea Tree Oil

I can't say I'm much of a fan of the scent of Tea Tree oil. It's camphorous smell can only be described as medicinal and somehow doesn't seem like the obvious choice for a luxurious bath time session. However, it is a powerful oil (toxic if taken internally!) and is a necessary ingredient in any soaper's pantry. It is effective as a treatment for acne and for athlete's foot and is used as an anti-microbial, anti-fungal an anti-septic, and reportedly is effective against MRSA in laboratory tests. My guess is that it is one of the most widely purchased essential oils for self-treatment. Still, it doesn't smell too good. We team it up with lemony Litsea Cubeba oil in our Jojoba Oil soap from our Essence of Purity Range and it is a big seller for us in China. It's a handsome soap, a warm yellowy colour from the golden jojoba and a dash of carrot root oil and is sprinkled with fennel seeds. All in all, it's a soap that is Good For You and I do sometimes take it home when I feel the skin needs a clear out.

We also make a Tea Tree and Lavender soap for the same Chinese customer, again a big seller. Up till now, it has been a bit of a Plain Jane, so when a new customer in Singapore asked for a Tea Tree soap,  I decided to give it a a makeover and glam it up a bit. Somehow, Tea Tree always says blue-green to me. Teal. Tea-l? So out came the piping bag and melon/soap baller and a new design is born.

Tea Tree and Lavender Soap

Monday, 13 January 2014

Out With The Old, In With The New.

When I first started our little company,  I was making soap in the kitchen and work had to be completed, cleared up and put away in time to make dinner. That couldn't last long, so I soon took over a spare bedroom, then the dining room, then the hall way . .  . We were in danger of being squeezed out of house and home by boxes of soap and soap equipment. That's when a friend came to the rescue and offered to rent me a small building on her farm with its fabulous views over the Conwy Valley. Lovely! We got it all spruced up and kitted out and it was heaven working up at the farm, listening to the cows, joining in with lambing and having loads of animal friends to talk to during soaping breaks. This happy arrangement unfortunately had to come to an end as eventually we ended up busting at the seams and it was difficult to manoeuvre pallets down the ramp and onto the lorries which lumbered up to the farm along the bumpy track. So we moved down to our local business park, first renting one unit and then, when that quickly became too small, renting a second one. Consequently, we have spent the last few years running between the two, ferrying supplies and equipment backwards and forwards as needed.

Luckily enough, a bigger unit has become available on the same business park and so we are on the move to Unit 3!!. It is already partitioned off into separate work spaces, offices and storage, is fully shelved and has lovely space heaters and fans to keep us toasty/cool while we work. We even have a loading bay! Right now we are marvelling at all that space and running around like kids at a wedding, but we will soon have those shelves full, equipment installed, storage stowed, computers plugged in and be ready for a New Year of soaping!

A little loading bay with strip curtains

Two work spaces and stairs up to storage area!

Soaping space waiting to be filled with soaping clutter

Looking down from the offices!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Another Amazing 50p Sale!

I've decided to run another 50p sale at our workshop on Saturday 16th November! There is no point accumulating all these fragrant but wonky items that didn't make the grade to be sent out with our orders. Best to offer some great bargains to our dedicated followers and make some space. Just click on the 50p Sale page above to see how it works and then take a look at the Sale Gallery to see photos of some of the items we're including in the sale. I'll be adding more items over the next few days.

Anybody unable to get down to our workshop on the day will be able to take part online. ONE DAY ONLY!!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Autumn Chocolate and Oranges

As the nights draw in and pumpkins abound it seems only natural to turn to Orange. I am burning orange oil in my burner and it seemed about time I made a new version of my Choc a l'Orange soap. This soap was born more than a decade ago, but looked quite different to the way it looks today. Originally, it was made from those hand rolled chocolate balls from Tobago, but I ran out of those a long time ago. Now I have to make do with Green and Blacks cocoa powder, which smells just as good and gives the soap its rich chocolateyness. It's hard not to sink the teeth in. The soap is now becoming a bit of a tradition at this time of year. I just loved smoothing the top layer on and creating those chocolatey peaks with my spatula.

Chocolate topping

Choc a l'Orange Soap Bars.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Warming up for Winter

I hadn't realised how long it has been since I posted on here. Summer is disappearing and I'm getting used to the shorter days. It's hard to think of the cold and dark to come, but autumn and winter does have its bonuses; the pears are ripening, the wild mushrooms are popping up in the woods and I can mark the changing season with some new scents and designs for soaps and bath treats.

This week I have mixed up a a warm and inviting blend of Orange, Tangerine, Clementine, Cinnamon and Vanilla oils to bring on the autumn/winter season. I made some squirls, squiggles and buttons out of a natural melt and pour soap that I have to add some interest to the top. Some of it half melted in the gelling stage, so has made shapes that I couldn't have come up with if I had tried. I've pushed in some short pieces of cinnamon bark and added a few seeds. The body of the soap is layered and then I have pushed a shaped bucket handle through the layers to feather them. I'm calling it Winter Spiced Posset, although I am not entirely clear what a posset is.


Monday, 15 July 2013

Solid Shampoos Crammed Full of Herbs!

It feels great to make these shampoos. I use as much herbal material as I think the recipe can manage, to get as much benefit from their properties as I can.
For the Chamomile, Rose hip and Lemon, I half fill a big jug full of chamomile flowers and pour on nearly boiling water and leave them to infuse for a good hour or so before straining off the liquid, adding some of the flowers back into the infusion. Ground rosehip powder is added to warm oil and left to macerate a while. Then I whizz up lemon peel to make a puree. All this goes in to the cocoa butter rich soap mix and the resulting shampoo comes out a lovely reddish colour, smelling sweetly of the chamomile and lemon.

In the summer months, we can go out in our rubber gloves and pick fresh nettles from the nettle beds up at the farm and with a fresh bunch of parsley, make a dark fragrant puree for the Nettle Parsley and Rosemary shampoo. I am a fan of nettles. The puree is strained and some of the ground up leaves added back to the infusion, along with some dried nettle powder for extra oomph. In the winter months, we have to use dried nettles of course, but they smell almost as good.

Our latest shampoo is Green Tea, Eucalyptus and Peppermint, likewise steeped, pureed and soaped. I'm so pleased with the rich dark colour of this new one.

Handmade shampoos can leave a deposit on your hair - a reaction from the minerals in the water. Best thing to do if this is the case, is to make a simple rinse of a few tablespoons of your favourite vinegar in a jug of warm water. Pour slowly over your hair. You will probably find you don't need conditioners. They were invented to counteract the effects of the detergents in commercial shampoos!

Chamomile Rosehip and Lemon;
 Nettle Parsley and Rosemary;
 Green Tea, Eucalyptus and Peppermint Shampoos

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Gelato Scoop Bath Melts

These have been so long in the planning, getting the recipe just right to make the mixture scoopable, so it doesn't puff up, so it doesn't collapse, so it hardens up nicely, so that it fizzes gently, so that it makes your bath feel creamy and fragrant, so that it makes your skin feel soft and moisturised and so that it doesn't leave your bath greasy and too slippery to stand up safely. We've done it! They come in a range of lovely colours and scents and we couldn't be happier. They are available now for order to our trade customers and come in boxes of 12 X 60g scoops. These are Love Dream, Midsummer and Dr. Love.

Fondant Bath Melts

We've been just so busy for the last couple of weeks, I haven't had any time at all for fiddling around with photos and writing up what's been going on. Apart from keeping up with orders and getting all our paperwork in order for the new EU regulations coming into force, we've been perfecting our lovely new products ready to show off, finding the right packing boxes for them and making their labels. Would you like to see?
These are our brand new Gardenia Rose Bath Fondants; little gorgeously fragrant melting fizzers, which slowly release their scents and (cocoa and shea) buttery goodness into your bath.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Super Rich, Skin Spoiling, Whipped Body Butter

This is when we pull out all the stops and use some of the very best ingredients in our pantry to whip up a smooth and outrageously rich body butter to spoil your skin and help you to relax. What's it got in it and why is it so good? How long have you got? Well, we'll keep it short.

Let's start with the cocoa and shea butters, and that's a really good start. Velvety and moisturising, cocoa butter is what many of our products are built on as it is so amazing, lovely to use and great for the skin. Shea butter apart from being just gorgeous, is anti-inflamatory, emollient and a humectant, asides from acting as a limited natural sun block. Now line 'em up, because this body whip also contains an amazing blend of our precious cold pressed oils. Grapeseed, Jojoba, Avocado, Hemp and Rosehip Seed Oils.
Grapeseed Oil, light, delicate and moisturising; Jojoba, the closest oil to our own skin's natural sebum; Avocado, high in sterolins which are reputed to help heal sun damage and scars; Hemp oil, rich in Omega 3 and 6; and, holy among holies, Rosehip Seed Oil (Rosa mosqueta) used to help with a variety of skin conditions, dermatitis, acne eczema, mature skin, burnt skin, wrinkles. It's high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and essential fatty acids. Many claim that it has excellent regenerating properties which can help slow the signs of ageing, maintaining a smoother, firmer and more youthful complexion! With those kind of credentials, you've got to love it!

But that's not quite enough. Just for good measure, to nourish the skin and to keep those oils in tip-top condition, we add Vitamin E, and let's not forget those essential oils; soothing, healing, calming and relaxing Lavender and very precious Chamomile.  We don't add water, fillers, emulsifiers or preservatives. Just let all those beautiful oils do their work.

Whipped Body Butter. Glorious!