Interview with a Soapmaker ~ Irena Marchu of Ginger’s Garden

Artisan Shaving Soap Natural Handmade Best
Artisan Shaving Soap Natural Handmade Best

Interviewed by Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

I’m happy to introduce of Irena Marchu of Ginger’s Garden. Irena is a very experienced soap maker from Rancho Mirage, California, who makes handmade artisan soap. Her array of handmade products include: wet shave soaps, lip balms, lotions [made to order], body wash, body scrub and shower gels containing local ingredients, liquid soap, natural aftershave and natural perfumes.

[Click images to enlarge].

What prompted you to start making soap and/or bath & body products?
My mother and grandmother made soaps, herb infused oils and balms. I am following in their footsteps.

What types of soap do you craft? What types of bath & body products do you craft?

Natural Aftershave Cologne Bay Rom Lime Menthol Citrus Sterling
Natural Aftershave Cologne Bay Rum Lime Menthol Citrus Sterling

I make many types of handmade artisan soaps. This includes cold process soaps, cream soaps and shaving soaps.
My lotions are made with natural oils and butters which are beneficial to the skin.
I also make lip balms, liquid soaps, bubbling bath salts, body scrub made with local dates, men’s aftershave, Zodiac natural perfumes and gift baskets for any occasion.

When did you decide to sell your product[s]?
I’ve made soaps since 1969 and helped my mother sell at local markets. I started to sell professionally in 1991.

Do you sell your products at crafts fairs/markets, bed & breakfasts, stores, etc.?
I sell mostly online and through wholesale accounts.

Do you sell online? If so, what are the advantages or disadvantages?
Yes, I sell online at http://www.gingersgarden.com The advantage of selling online is I don’t need to take my products from place to place.

What is your favorite fragrance or essential oil? What are your most popular scents?
I love well aged, iron distilled Patchouli oil. My most popular scents are my own blends like Suede, Enigma and Amerikesh.

What soap and/or other bath & body crafting books have you read and been inspired by?
I got to meet Alicia Grosso at one of the Soapmaking Conventions. She has a lot of knowledge and her Soapmaking book is one of my favorites.
Kevin Dunn’s Scientific Soapmaking book has information that is not available anywhere else.
I refer to Essential Oil Safety book by Robert Tisserand when I’m making natural perfume blends.

What soap and/or other bath & body videos have inspired you?
When I have the time, I look at swirling videos on Youtube. They give me ideas on how I can make my soaps different.

Where do you get your packaging ideas?
I prefer to keep my packaging simple. My soaps are in boxes to protect them from fingers and dust. I want my packaging to look clean and professional.

What advice would you give to newbies?

ginger's garden soap
Ginger’s Garden Handmade Artisan soap

Anyone that’s just starting on their soapmaking journey needs to read and research, use a lye calculator, know what each oil and butter brings to the table and follow all the safety guidelines. When it comes to handmade artisan soaps, there is no shortcut to making it safely and letting the soaps cure properly.

Do you have any funny anecdotes about unusual customers?
At one of my markets, I had a boy take a bite out of one of my soaps as he thought it was cheese. His facial expression was priceless. One older man took a bite at one of my soap samples as he thought it was a brownie. He quickly realized it wasn’t.

How did you come up with your company’s name?
My middle name is Ginger and I love gardens. That’s how my business name of Ginger’s Garden came about.

IMLotion green cucumber
Ginger’s Garden Lotion

http://www.gingersgarden.com
https://www.facebook.com/soapbuddy

Interview with a Soap Crafter – Odette Handley, Riverlea Soap

By Lisa Maliga
Copyright 2014

Hello Everyone!

Ocean Breeze Melt & Pour Soap
Ocean Breeze Melt & Pour Soap

Today is the first interview with a soap crafter. Allow me to introduce Odette Handley of Riverlea Soap. This very talented lady is from South Africa and she makes some beautiful soap–as you can see. Here is what she has to say about the joys of making soap and running her own business. [Click images to enlarge].

 

Cupcake Soap
Cupcake Soap

What prompted you to start working with melt and pour soap?
I had been making CP soap and was looking for a soap to behave in a different manner, and I wanted to make clear soaps so I thought I would try MP as it didn’t look too difficult. Boy was I wrong. After my first attempt I packed it all away and didn’t try it again for a year. In that time I did some research and realised it could not be as hard as I imagined. I was right I love it now.

What other types of soap do you craft?
I make a lot of CP bars. I think working with CP is my favourite. It is so versatile. I have been known on the odd occasion to make liquid soap and Body Butter. Do you also make bath & body products? Yes I make lotions, bath oils, liquid soaps body butters and fizz bombs and solid bubble bath.

When did you decide to sell your soap?
This was very soon after I started making soap in 2007. I saw a gap in the market for natural novelty soaps that looked like cup cakes and slices of cakes. So I changed direction slightly from the bars of soap and when straight to desserts.

Do you also sell your soap at crafts fairs/markets, stores, etc.?
Yes I do and I LOVE it. It is such a great way to meet your clients. They come back for more at every market. The least I can do I be there to sell it to them.

If selling online – what are the advantages to selling online?
I love selling on line because it is almost passive income. I have already made the soap so it is not a custom order. I already have the ingredients in boat loads so when some one buys on line there is no stress as it is already pre packed. You just fill the order, take payment and ship it. Easy peasy.

What is your favourite fragrance or essential oil?
My favourite EO is Neroli by far. I love this EO so much. The smell gets me every time. Fragrance would have to be Green Tea, uplifting and fresh. What are your most popular scents?

My most popular are Vanilla, lemon Verbena, Lavindin EO, I have some spicy ones for the guys and those always sell well.

What soap crafting books have you read?
Oh now that’s a list. I am an avid reader so I have a lot. My first book was Soap Naturally by P Garenza & Tadiello which I read from cover to cover while lying in hospital recovering from a back operation. I also have Soap handmade and pure by Tatyana hill, Soap bubbles and scrubs by Nicole Seabrook, Scientific Soapmaking by Kevin Dunn , Soap crafting by Anne Marie Faiola, Natural soapmaking by Bev Messing, Soapmaking the Natural way by Rebecca Ittner, The Handmade Soap Book by Melinda Coss, Gourmet Soaps made Easy-Melinda Coss, SoapyLove Squeaky Clean soap projects-Debbie Chialtas, Bath Bombs, Elaine Stavert, The Soapmakers Companion- Susan Cavich, The Everything Soapmaking book-Alica Grosso… And more. I love to read.

Where do you get your soap/packaging ideas?
I love Pinterest so I get quite a few ideas there but my sister is a chef so I get a lot of inspiration from food books.

Packaging is another story… I really battle with this and find myself lost on many occasions. I think I need an intervention. Ha ha.

What advice would you give to new soap crafters?
Be methodical, work tidy, have fun and grow organically. Don’t try to do it all at once. Your most important aspect of you business is cash flow. Manage like a tight fisted old lady.

How did you come up with your company’s name?
That was a tough one. We went round in circles a lot. We were moving from the city (Durban on the east coast) to our farm in the Midlands and I thought maybe if the soap is made there I would take on the name of the farm. Hence Riverlea Soap.

Riverlea Rose Soap
Riverlea Rose Soap

See more at her website: http://www.riverleasoap.com
Visit her blog to see her helpful tutorials: http://www.riverleasoap.blogspot.com

Do you make and sell soap? Do you have your own online shop and want to be interviewed? If so, just send me an email: lisa_maliga@msn.com Please use “Interview with Soap Crafter” in the subject heading.