Thursday, August 19, 2010

Etsy Corner: Soap That Makes Scents

Today on Etsy Corner, I not only have a review of a store, Soap That Makes Scents, but an interview with the owner, Karina!

When you become a regular on Etsy, whether browsing every day or tending your own shop, you do tend to accumulate a lot of 'favourites'. I myself will generally click "add item/seller to favourites" whenever I want to keep tabs on a store that caught my eye, either through random browsing or from a featured item in the daily Etsy Finds newsletter. I will come back to a lot of these faves, but only a few will truly stick, as I suspect is the norm for most shoppers. Karina's store was the ninth that I favourited, and unlike a lot of other favourites whose stores have languished, hers has continued to grow. That growth invites me back consistently to see what's new and keeps her a top favourite!

Karina originally hails from Toronto, Canada, but now lives in New York with her family. Her store first came to my attention around October 2009, when I was searching for solid perfume. I tried a perfume and a lipbalm, and when I came back for more perfume I decided to try out a soap as well. That soap was the holiday-limited-edition Mulled Apple Cider, a thoroughly lovely concoction that smelled as delicious as it sounds! I was hooked on her soaps and unique scent blends from that day on.

At the time I started following her store, she was selling bar soap, whipped body souffle, lip balm, and solid perfume. Since then the solid perfume has been discontinued (a lovely product that is sadly misunderstood in these modern times!), but the rest of the line has continued to blossom, and in March of this year she was featured in the Etsy "Quit Your Day Job" series.

In the last few months, I have acquired seven bars of her soap and am saving a couple for later - but it's hard to keep them aside when the scent quality and lather is this good! (They are also vegan, which makes them ideal for gift-giving to everyone on your holiday lists - and priced very reasonably - what's not to love?)

Japanese Peppermint SoapTo that end, I can personally attest that the Japanese Peppermint, Coconut Cream, Orange Dreamsicle, Teatree & Lemongrass, and Tomboy soaps are of wonderful quality (I am yet to actually use the regular Lemongrass and East Meets West, but they sit on my desk and I'll admit to taking occasional sniff-breaks just to enjoy the fresh scents!). They make excellent hand-wash soaps in the bathroom and lather up to a gorgeous, shaving-cream consistency on a bath-pouf in the shower. The scents are fresh and invigorating; the Japanese Peppermint, for example, is sweet and brisk, not overpowering as some peppermint blends can be. The Coconut Cream smells so much like a freshly-cracked coconut - and takes me back to summer holidays where just such a thing was an occasional treat - that it's mind-blowing! Tomboy is a blend of "bergamot, hawthorne, honeysuckle, nutmeg, sandalwood, violet, cedar, tonka bean and patchouli that's brightened with "feminine" notes of tangerine, mandarin and grapefruit" - you might think that all of these things can't possibly go together, and yet, it's a perfect match. I like it so much I can't keep it for once-a-day use, it's in my downstairs bathroom for hand-washing so I can enjoy it as much as I can!

Though I've only tried one flavour of lipbalm - grapefruit, yum! - I must mention that they are of a soft, smooth consistency and feel wonderful on the lips, not waxy or hard to get to the melting-point like some mass-produced Tomboy soapbalms.

And now without further ado, the interview! My thanks to Karina for giving insight into her creative process and how she runs her business :)


1) Describe the first soap you ever made. (Did you have a steep learning curve? What kind of soap did you want to make when you tried your hand at it?)

The first soap I ever made was Sandalwood Rose. It had come out well, but I didn't know that when I blended the colors used (purple and red) that I'd used bleeding colorants as opposed to what happened in about a day was my soap bars going from lovely red/purple swirls to a murky brown. There can be so much to remember about soapmaking...the properties of essential oils, the "right" measurements of oils and butters and additives to add, recipes, how to properly layer colors, etc. Soapmaking is definitely a science.

2) What inspires your scent blends?

Life does. Scents invoke memories and feelings. Fresh lemon makes us feel invigorated and refreshed...the smell of spice or cinnamon reminds us of the warm comforts of home or how we used to bake with our grandmother. Inhale the scent of my Orange Dreamsicle soap and it can take you back to your childhood. Fragrances mean so much---and can symbolize a specific time or emotion. That's what we try to do---we want to bring a slice of life into every single bar.

3) When you have a spare moment to relax, between business and family, what do you like to do? (I personally find myself mixing knitting with every other waking moment!)

I love to bake. Honestly, I think it's a crossover from soapmaking to cooking. The same principles apply--following a recipe, blending different ingredients and tastes together, creating something with my own two hands, and then handing it over to someone else who'll hopefully enjoy it as much as I do.

4) What's a typical business day for you?

•I wake up around 6:30 a.m. with my 4-year-old patting me on the cheek saying "It's morning time." My husband's already left for work, so while Isabella's eating breakfast I quickly boot up the computer to check for emails, answer any Convos, and relist items sold the night prior.

•Most mornings involve a trip to the post office and when we come back it's full business mode. I must admit I do utilize a bit of child labor once in a while — Isabella enjoys unpacking supplies and gets quite excited every time she sees a UPS truck pull up outside our home.

•While she has lunch or plays with her toys, most of the "behind the scenes" work gets done — labels are printed and then hand-stamped or hand-colored, invoices are written up (to this day I still hand write invoices, I think it adds a nice touch to the handmade shopping experience), thank you cards written out, and I'm constantly checking the computer for any new Convos or sales to keep on top of things.

•The bulk of soapmaking gets done either during her naptime (at least on the days I'm lucky enough for her to settle down for one) or when she's gone to bed, which is around 8:30 p.m.

•I normally go to bed around midnight after soapmaking — wrapping and labeling the bars/body souffle jars/lip balms are easily done in front of the television so I can still catch my favorite shows.

It's a busy day---and can get even more hectic if we're planning on doing a show that weekend, or making soap to donate to a charity. Our daughter is starting Pre-Kindergarten this year, so that's a good thing for her and for me.

5) You're on a desert island. You can take one movie, one CD, one book, one kind of beverage, and a supply of one of your soaps. What do you choose?

Oooh--I like this question! Let's see...

Movie: I'm not much into movies--I'm the type who waits until everything comes out on DVD before seeing it...and even then it's still several months (sometimes more than a year!) before I'll get around to actually watching it. I have become hooked to buying DVD series of past telelvision I'd have to say that I'd take my entire series of Stargae Sg-1...I love Richard Dean Anderson!

CD: Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi.

Beverage: As long as I have at least one bottle of Coke, I'm good.

Soap: Now this is a tough one because I love them all and have many favorites. If I had to choose, I'd go with my Sangria bar, which I think would fit in with the whole Tropical-Island-Castaway theme. :)


Once again, folks, that's Karina of Soap That Makes Scents (and her Facebook fan page!). Do check out her wonderful store (did I also mention quite reasonable shipping?) and treat yourself to some luxury soaps today! [The soaps pictured are: Japanese Peppermint and Tomboy.]

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