With Christmas just around the corner I thought it would be great to interview a number of creative crafters that can offer something unique at this time of year. This week I am delighted to feature Vicki and her company The Soap Mine.
Hi. For those who don't know you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is Vicki, and I make soap. I started as a hobbyist, over six years ago, and soon became obsessed. I now run a small business called The Soap Mine, selling handmade soap and related products. I live with my husband and two kids in the heart of glorious Snowdonia, in the small but quite well known village of Beddgelert. Living where we do we're surrounded by beautiful countryside, and we like little more than heading out to walk the hills with the kids, or in the summer spending lazy days down by the river. I have a totally unrelated day job - I work part time in the village pre-school, teaching 2 and 3 year olds, and I'm secretary of our Village Hall committee. In quieter moments, I like to read and I'm trying to teach myself to crochet, but those quiet moments are very few and far between!
What sort of creative business do you run?
I make soap the traditional way, from scratch. I take the best oils and butters and combine them with sodium hydroxide (lye) to make beautiful, luxurious soaps which moisturise as much as they cleanse, and the design process - selecting fragrances, colours and patterns - is a very important aspect of the job. Designing new lines provides a creative outlet that is largely absent in other areas of my life, and is just one of the reasons I absolutely love what I do!
When it got to the stage that I, my family and my friends all had more soap than they could ever use in their lifetime I decided it was time to start trying my hand at selling it and today The Soap Mine is going from strength to strength.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a go themselves?
Soapmaking is a fantastic hobby, and I'd urge anyone to give it a go. There are plenty of books, websites and FB pages/groups out there with a wealth of information for beginners. You don't need any fancy equipment or ingredients to make your first batch of soap - olive oil and lard (or coconut oil if preferred) make perfectly serviceable soap when mixed with sodium hydroxide (NaOH), which you can buy in most DIY stores. Just be sure to do your research beforehand, know what you're doing, and ALWAYS put safety first when using sodium hydroxide.
How do you juggle creative work / life?
With difficulty at the moment! My youngest won't be in school full-time until next September, and consequently my weekends and evenings are when I do the majority of my work. I'm lucky to have a very supportive husband who takes on a massive chunk of the parenting duties when he's not working to allow me to grow the business. Come next September I'm hoping that I'll be able to reclaim a little bit of 'me' time in the evenings and find time for a bit of that reading that I'm missing at the moment.
Where can we find you?