4th June 2020
Wow - how different the world is since my last update. The Coronavirus and subsequent lockdown have impacted all our lives. But whilst there has undoubtedly been much worry, suffering and loss, there has also been a heartwarming renewed sense of community and kindness. Our NHS is continuing to prove that it's the best in the world and keyworkers - carers, teachers, delivery drivers, posties, supermarket and pharmacy staff, cleaners, bin men - I think we appreciate them more than ever.
Lockdown in a part of the world some call the "arse-end of nowhere" hasn't always been so different to our pre-lockdown routine! We've had no trouble keeping ourselves busy - the garden has never looked lovelier thanks to Andrew's efforts. And of course, I've been making soap. LOTS and LOTS of soap! I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported my little business over the past few months. Whether you're one of my wonderful regulars, or one of the many new customers who have either purchased for themselves or as a gift for others; thank you - I am truly, deeply grateful.
In other news, I had hoped to have my moisturisers and household soap on the market by now, but there have been lengthy delays with the safety assessors, probably due to reduced staffing. But one day soon... fingers crossed...!
2nd February 2020
I've got some exciting new products coming soon. Last year I had several requests for different varieties of shampoo bar, some shaving soaps and a pure olive oil soap, so all these products are on their way!
Also, I hope to be launching my new moisturisers very soon. Unlike the oil-based moisturising balms which are very popular at the moment, my moisturisers do contain water, and therefore they require a preservative. Since there is no totally natural effective preservative at the moment, it isn't possible for these products to be completely natural, but they are very close - over 90%. I have tried the balms but I just can't get on with them - they're simply too oily for my skin. So I've created two moisturisers - a day cream and a night cream - which work for my 50-something skin and also my daughters' 20-something skin, and I hope will work for you too.
I'm just waiting for cosmetic safety approval and then I'll be launching them properly - watch this space!
1st February 2020
2020 is here and we seem to have hit the ground running! We got lots of orders out in January - a month I thought would be pretty quiet - and this month has begun with a new outlet to introduce. From 8th February you will be able to buy my soaps at Pharmacy Wise, 155 Newmarket, Louth, Lincolnshire. I'm so pleased to welcome them on board!
I've also been booked to do another talk later this year - this time for the ladies of Wrangle. The first talk I did, the for Sutton-On-Sea WI, was a bit nerve-wracking to start with, but I really enjoyed it and it was very well received. Now I can't wait to do it all again!
28th November 2019
Well that's all the Christmas Craft Markets done for this year! This was our first year at Batemans Christmas Market and our second time at the Big Craft Event in Lincoln. Both were really well attended and the stall was busy almost non-stop! I now have very low stocks of most of my soaps, so it's back to the soapmaking for me this week and next, before I take a break to enjoy the build-up to Christmas.
I was thrilled to learn that my soaps have been included in Architecture North's Top 10 Christmas Gifts for 2019! Check out the whole list here - https://www.architecturenorth.co.uk/sitemap-news/2019-christmas-gift-guide - there's some gorgeous gift ideas there!
30th July 2019
Chivalry is not dead, people! DHL messed up a parcel delivery recently, sending 20 bars of soap not to my customer in Surrey but to a business in Leicester. All I knew at the time was that my customer hadn't received it - DHL were totally useless. Anyway, later that day I got a phone call from a chap in Leicester to say he'd got my soaps! Now, he could've just kept them and said nothing - it happens all the time, I'd have been none the wiser. But no. This amazing man took it upon himself to carefully repackage the soaps (the box was in shreds - thanks DHL) and send them on to my customer - not just next day service but next day before 12 noon coz the weather was so hot he thought I wouldn't want them in transit a minute longer than necessary. He went to all this trouble and yet politely declined my offers of reimbursement or even a little thank you gift - he just did it because it was the right thing to do. Thanks to him my customer got her soaps (only 3 days late) and gave them a "massive thumbs up"! He's a true hero and I am forever grateful!
12th July 2019
We had a wonderful time last weekend at some charity events. On Saturday we were at Carolyne House Care Home in Chadwell St. Mary, Essex. My mum-in-law, Pam, is a resident on the dementia ward and it was a pleasure to support their Summer Fete and raise some much-needed funds. On Sunday we were a bit closer to home - at Saleby for Galley Hill Farm's annual Strawberry Fayre in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. This is a fabulous venue for a summer fair and the weather was perfect - as were the strawberries! We met so many lovely customers, and the enthusiasm for our soaps - particularly the plastic-free aspect - was amazing. We had a great day and I understand Galley Hill Farm have raised even more than last year's Fayre - over £4,000!
10th July 2019
I'm always looking at what I do - my processes, where I source my ingredients from, my packaging - and seeing if I can improve. One thing I'm experimenting with at the moment is using unrefined shea butter instead of refined. One benefit is obvious - the less refined something is, the fewer processes it has to go through and therefore it uses fewer resources. Unrefined shea butter also retains more of its natural properties. The colour is creamier and it has more of an aroma - the jury's still out as to whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
* Update - unfortunately the unrefined shea didn't work for me. You have to heat it for 10-20 minutes at about 175F or it goes grainy, which is both wasteful on energy and quite time-consuming. I gave it a try, but I've gone back to the refined stuff now.
23rd April 2019
The website is back in stock at last! Sorry it's taken so long - I've been a bit overwhelmed by how popular my soaps are but have just about caught up now. Several varieties now also have miniatures available.
From today, my soaps will also be available at the wonderful Old Pottery Tea Room in Wrangle, where you can find lots of lovely gifts and the best cake ever!
25th March 2019
I will shortly be introducing new miniature soaps to the range - weighing in at between 20g and 70g they're perfect as guest soaps or to try out a variety before you buy the full-sized version. In fact, the first Honey and Oatmeal minis are available now. Quantities will be strictly limited, so grab them while you can!
24th March 2019
It's been a crazy few months! We had an incredible time at the Christmas markets and were subsequently swamped with new orders. So I've been keeping my head down, making soap day in, day out, almost non-stop since January - for which I am very grateful! So that's why practically everything has been out of stock on the website recently - but I'm starting to get caught up now and everything should be available again very soon. I'll put some dates up in the next few days.
24th/25th November 2018
Well that's the first Alford Christmas Craft Market weekend done - I can't believe how fast time is flying! This one was great - it was lovely to see so many existing customers stocking up for Christmas, as well as plenty of new faces. As with last week's Big Craft Event, I was really pleased to see huge interest in our main principles of no plastic, no palm oil and only genuinely natural ingredients. The only trouble people had was choosing which "flavours" to buy! There were plenty of other wonderful crafts on display, as well as beautiful live music from Banjo Bob and Robert Pacey - whose Christmas carols played on the harp were absolutely magical and really set the festive mood! We're all back at Alford next weekend, so do come and enjoy the atmosphere and pick up some unique Christmas gifts!
18th November 2018
We had a fantastic time at the Big Craft Event today. There were loads of sales and enquiries from people keen to cut down on plastic specifically and waste packaging generally. There was huge interest in my shampoo bars, which is great, and customers really seemed to be enthusiastic about buying more meaningful hand-crafted Christmas presents this year and ditching the "tat". My Gift Sets were selling very well - especially the new Gift Bags. Beautifully hand-crafted by a friend of mine exclusively for me, these high quality cotton bags are pretty enough to give as gifts and also practical, as they can be used again and again as washbags for your soap when you're away from home.
14th November 2018
The Christmas Craft Market season is here!! Here's a list of where you can find us over the next few weeks - I hope you can make it to at least one - it's always lovely to meet my customers face to face!
Big Craft Event, Lincoln Showground - 18th Nov
Alford Christmas Market, Alford Corn Exchange - 24th and 25th Nov
King's Lynn Christmas Market - 29th Nov
Alford Christmas Market, Alford Corn Exchange - 1st and 2nd Dec
Horncastle Christmas Market - 9th Dec
Quality, handmade artisan gifts have never been more popular. It's not just that you can get something individual - even unique - that your loved ones will truly treasure, there's also a growing desire to avoid the mass-market tat that breaks five minutes after you've
wrestled it from its hugely excessive non-recyclable plastic packaging!
Craft markets vary in quality, of course. The ones I prefer, like Alford and the Big Craft Event, invite only genuine craftspeople to take part, so nothing you see at these events will have been bought in and assembled - it will all have been painstakingly, lovingly handmade by the person standing on the other side of the stall. If you want a gift that really shows you care, whilst supporting local small businesses and true craftsmanship, you're sure to find plenty to choose from at these events!
27th September 2018
Production of my new collection of soaps is well under way now - they'll be ready very soon. New "flavours" include Sandalwood, Bergamot and Black Pepper, Lovely and Lemony, Rose Geranium, Rosemary and Lavender, Peppermint, Orange and Poppy Seed, and Honey and Oatmeal. Also coming soon is my new Lemony Shampoo Bar! All except the Honey and Oatmeal are vegan.
6th August 2018
I'm now stocking fab bamboo soap racks to help keep your soap dry between uses, which will make it last longer. Also available as a gift set with a soap of your choice. More gift options coming soon!
10th July 2018
I'm delighted to say that you can now buy my soaps at Better Than Hypnosis in Eastwood, Nottingham They're well worth a visit - Liz is such a lovely lady! Check out their website here.
4th July 2018
More lovely feedback from one of my regular customers...
“Hello Emily Just wanted to give you feedback on your Pure and Simple soap. Firstly amazed how it lathered beautifully. The best was yet to come! Used it on my face, oh my goodness what a difference it made on my skin. Left it feeling so smooth and not dried out. My skin is sensitive and very very dry. I have tried all sorts over the yrs but never had an initial result like this. So so grateful. I will be buying this soap from now on. Thanks again from a truly satisfied customer. Regards Thelma
3rd July 2018
You can now buy my soap at Alford Craft Market Shop! There is such a wonderful selection of true artisan products here -it's well worth a visit. See their website here
2nd July 2018
We had such a wonderful time at the Wrangle Show yesterday! Wrangle is the next village to us, so it's our local show and, as at Alford, we made lots of new friends as well as seeing some familiar faces. I have to say, the fellow stallholders we've met so far have been so friendly - everyone's happy to advise, impart knowledge or are just interested in what we do - it's a real community! I made some more good contacts - who'd have thought I'd be "networking" at my age?! - so watch this space for more exciting news about where you can buy my soaps very soon!
1st June 2018
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that I've put my P&P price up. This is largely due to the fact that we are now using the Jiffy Green recyclable bags to send out our soaps and they cost a little more. I do hope you agree that it's a worthwhile expense. It's also due to the fact that we'd been trying to keep shipping costs to a minimum whilst starting up. After postage costs, packaging and payment handling fees, that only leaves a few pence to cover my time and petrol getting to the post office. I promise I will never make a profit from P&P! Don't forget you can get free delivery on orders over £25 or collect direct from me.
29th May 2018
Well what a fabulous weekend we had at the Alford Craft Market. Our soaps proved very popular - we actually sold out of the Pure and Simple soap pretty early on (so you can guess what I've been making today!) but all of the varieties sold well. We met some wonderful people, both customers and fellow stallholders, and I'd just like to say a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who took the time to visit our stall, whether you bought soap, took a card or a free sample, or even just came along for the free handwash! We will be selling our soap in the Alford Craft Market Shop very soon as well as possibly several other outlets - watch this space. Exciting stuff!
24th May 2018
I'm already getting some lovely feedback from my customers! Here's what they're saying...
“Really pleased with your Pure & Simple soap. It has done wonders for my psoriasis. Love the Citrus soap for washing my hands and face.” CR
“I bought some of your Pure & Simple soap recently as my son suffers from eczema. I’m pleased to tell you that it seems to have helped. His skin is lovely and soft – even in this heat it’s clear. Yippee! It’s the first time in a long time that he’s not suffering.” DM
“I am so happy with your soap. I can’t stress enough how wonderful I think it is.” DM
7th May 2018
We did our first boot fair today at Stickney. We sold a lot of soap and met a lot of lovely people. Several people asked if my soap would be good for eczema; whilst I can't make any scientific claims, I honestly believe the ingredients speak for themselves - no harsh chemicals and a soap rich in gentle, moisturising shea butter, olive oil, sweet almond oil and apricot kernel oil has got to be worth a try! My sister-in-law is currently finding it works very well on her psoriasis. I think keeping the ingredients you put on your skin as simple and as natural as possible is the best thing to try if you have any kind of problem skin.
3rd May 2018
I'm very proud to have become a member of the Guild of Craft Soap and Toiletry Makers today! This is a peer support network which provides information and guidelines about handmade soap crafting and the EU legislation that regulates the cosmetics and toiletries industry. Many people – soapmakers and customers alike – aren’t aware of the legislative standards that soapmakers must adhere to if they want to sell even a single bar. The Guild only accepts members who abide by these regulations. All my recipes have been assessed and approved by a qualified cosmetic safety assessor.
I use proper stamped-for-trade scales to weigh each bar;
I hold full product and public liability insurance;
I label my products in accordance with EU law - ie a full INCI* ingredients list at point of sale, both on each bar and online. I still can’t believe the number of soaps for sale online which don’t list all their ingredients! How can the customer make an informed decision to buy or not?? (Sorry for the rant, but this is one of my bugbears!) The Guild is working to raise awareness of these regulations – which, after all, are there to protect the customer – and I am happy to support this and do my best to spread the word.
*INCI – International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients
1st May 2018
Making lots of soap ready for the Alford Craft Fair at the end of May! We’ll be displaying all the ingredients we use in our soaps (7 oils, 4 colourants, 2 clays and essential oils – all natural of course) to make it easy for customers to see exactly what we’re about. We will also be offering a free handwashing service – so people can try before they (hopefully) buy. One falsehood I want to dispel is that natural soap doesn’t lather; well mine certainly does – better than any commercial soaps I ever used! We’ll be at the Alford Craft Fair on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, 26th, 27th and 28th May, 10am to 5pm – hope to see you there!