After writing and making the recipes for Kitchen Soap for Chefs: 4 Easy Melt & Pour Soap Recipes, I came up with yet another cool soap idea that I hadn’t published before. In fact, I used to sell it when I had my Everything Shea business, but it went by another name. I changed two of the ingredients, but it’s pretty similar and it’s now called Vanilla Bean soap. I have my almost year-long baking binge to thank for this recipe, too. So if you’re looking for a fun and easy soap recipe to make for the holidays or just because, here it is…
Vanilla Bean Melt & Pour Soap Recipe
Learn how easy it is to make this creamy melt and pour soap with natural vanilla beans. This type of soap is wonderful for all skin types and would make an excellent addition to any bath & body gift basket!
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].
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Please use “Interview with Soap Crafter” in the subject heading.
Aromas are all around us…Think about how you encounter them every day from roses in the garden, a cup of steaming hot cappuccino or soothing jasmine tea, basil that infuses spaghetti sauce, and fresh citrus juices. Noses can often detect hundreds of scents a day, and of those, the aromas of plants, fruits, barks and roots are able to do more than just feed us. Leaves from the tea tree plant not only heal cuts and burns, but the essential oil is strong enough to use as an all-purpose cleaner. The lavender flower yields an oil that can ward off insects, reduce stress, scent linens and get rid of bruises. Peppermint oil is a natural way to bid farewell to unwanted houseguests like bugs and mice, but it can also remind you of Christmas.
Did you know that the sodas and flavored bottled waters you drink contain essential oils? That the common vanilla flavor you find in ice cream is made from dark brown vanilla pods? Perfumes and colognes contain numerous blends of essential oils. High quality soaps, shampoos, bath oils, body powders and lotions all include varied essences of flowers, plants and fruits.
I had many successful experiences using pure essential oils, and I have read and heard of so many others enjoying relief from pain, healing of skin problems, awakening of positive spirits, etc. For example, before I had my own bath and body products business, I had to find a full time job. That prospect didn’t make me enthusiastic, yet after applying a small dab of lemon essential oil, diluted in a jojoba oil carrier base, I was feeling cheerful and positive. This in turn came through in the interview and I was hired that afternoon.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a therapeutic natural practice that can be used to advance health, beauty and a sense of ease. It involves using pure essential oils with various methods, including bathing, inhalation and massage. Aromatherapy is derived from two words: Aroma means scent and Therapy means treatment. This scent/treatment has evolved over the centuries and across continents.
In his book “The Art of Aromatherapy” Robert B. Tisserand examines what happened to mankind during the twentieth century: “Our minds have run away with us, and as we have become more obsessive, so we have become steadily more neurotic. As doctors increase their knowledge of disease so disease becomes more tenacious and widespread. As new drugs are formulated and marketed, the harm done by those drugs increases proportionally.”
Aromatherapy works in harmony with your body. Side effects from properly administered dosages are absent. Your body becomes stronger as it’s fed the complex nutrients of purity from essential oils, not something synthesized in a lab and deprived of all its components. There are no new essential oils—only the same, reliable plant life that has been used successfully for thousands of years. Combining the rich and fragrant oils of rose, jasmine and neroli, for example, may appear to be a new twist to you, but guaranteed this expensive blend of floral oils have been utilized for an individual with an overactive mind [stress!] some other time and place.
Whenever I read or hear the term ‘plain vanilla’ I cringe. How dare people accuse vanilla of the following myths: white, boring, and worst of all, plain? Vanilla is not a middle class suburbanite. The Latin name is vanilla planifolia and it’s a rich, fragrant, and tropical flowering vine with beans that undergo a ten-month long maturation process to allow the scent to emanate from those luxurious dark brown beans. Vanilla comes from such places as Tahiti, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Mexico and Indonesia.
Later I was to learn the difference between real vanilla and not-so-real. This is something for a future blog. Back then, I just wanted a real vanilla scent for my soaps. After cruising around online and reading reviews, I discovered a place where I could get a reasonably priced vanilla that would discolor my soap but the scent would be a rich, buttery vanilla that I would be tempted to eat. Well, that came close to happening a few times but it was when I realized that it was one thing to smell a scent but another thing to bite into a bar of soap because it would just foam in your mouth and take a lot of effort to get it out. Yes, childhood memories of the times I had my mouth washed out with soap for cursing had cured me of eating any soap no matter how it smelled!
Over the years, I would try nearly a dozen different types of vanillas. I would blend two or three together and get a unique variation of the theme. Some vanillas were fruitier than others. Some spicier. And of course there were the bakery type of vanillas that reminded one of their last vanilla birthday cake. I also found some ground vanilla beans at one of my suppliers and added those beautiful brown bits to my soap so it not only took on the aroma but it was a little exfoliating. That turned into my staple – a loaf soap that I sliced and called Vanilla Bean Speckles. It darkened fairly quickly as I used a blend of 3 different vanilla fragrances and the resulting aroma had a mixture of the vanilla spice with the vanilla butter with a touch of floral from the Tahitian vanilla. That café au lait colored soap hardly was plain and boring! Because vanilla is always an exciting and diverse aroma.