Late last year, I posted this story on Storylane. Storylane is now gone, but I wanted to share this with you; first, because it was fun to look back and see how much I've grown as a soap maker, and second, because it amazed me how much I - and my wonderful family and staff - have accomplished. Where does the inspiration come from? How is it best passed on to you? Read about it...
A little soap, American style. My story.Posted on Dec 12th, 2012
Thirteen years ago, a new batch of soap, dotted with poppy seeds and scented with lemons, was poured into an enameled pan that my father had used for photo developing years before. Two days later I was scooping that goopy mess out of the pan with my hands and turning it into snowballs of lemon poppy seed soap - brightly scented and satisfyingly scrubby, if a little soft at the start. My father handed me $20 and told me to go buy soap, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: reverse psychology works for me every time!
That semi-successful project was not, at the time, a conscious attempt at business, but it was the beginning of a new definition of myself and of my talents. I love being a soap designer. Coming from a long line of makers-of-many-things, I realize the importance of being able to fashion something from nothing and of being able to share that something with those around me. And like most inventors and artists and grandmothers who learned by doing things time and again, my imagination was the catalyst in the formation of products that I am proud to share with others today.
The process of creation is fascinating to me, and I draw inspiration from music, art, literature, conversation, travel, food....from life. How does one go from a walk across a Scottish moor to creating a bar of soap that reflects every memorable step of the way? How can a batch of soap reflect the mission and accomplishments of a business that commissions it? Can soap honor the memories of family lore in the same way an heirloom quilt can? How does it tell a story? If it is consumable, is it of less value than a tangible treasure that can be passed from generation to generation? Can I please just use it to wash my face?
Aren't all handmade gifts reflections of ourselves and of the loved ones we share them with? A gift of handcrafted soap is a rich & sensory thing. It feels like silk on the skin, smells heavenly, and brings thoughts of the giver to mind every time it is used.
Our products are entirely crafted in the US, and proudly so. Knowing how much hard work goes into the creation of a product, one can admire and appreciate the workmanship of high quality goods no matter where in the world they are made, and there is nothing wrong with that. Appreciation of those goods made close to home however, have the added value of building community through economic stimulation and provision of opportunities for volunteerism and education. We’ve even built a little community spirit by making “stone soup” soap right at our local Farmers’ Market using ingredients from farmers and vendors. Soap containing root beer, cookies, whole potatoes, corn silk, Muligatawny soup, and chicken feathers may seem a little odd – but the spirit of giving and community participation makes us part of a bigger whole – and that whole celebrates the American Dream.
This essay was published in further form as a guest posting on the FOLK Magazine blog in December of 2012.: http://www.folklifestyle.com/2012/12/christmas-gift-guide-giveaway-century-farmhouse-soaps.html#more-2461