Time is just flying by, isn’t it? One minute we are making soap in preparation for the upcoming Christmas markets, and then – in the blink of an eye – we are half way through January. Well, happy new year to you and yours! We all hope that you’ve made a magnificent start to your 2019, and are knee-deep in all of those positive new years resolutions and lifestyle changes that come hand-in-hand with Januaries.
We had a big year last year, we went from humble kitchen-based soapmaking to wholesale workshop-based soap distribution! We still make absolutely everything by hand, something we feel so strongly about and won’t compromise on. Our batches are slightly bigger with bigger pots, but they’re still made in the traditional way and handpoured into moulds. They’re left to cure overnight and then we cut them down into beautiful bars, hand-stamp them, and then leave them to cure for up to six weeks, depending on the time of year. Each bar is a little rough, a little loved – it’s because we don’t make them enmasse in enormous pour-down vertical soapmoulds. That would save us a lot of time, but you wouldn’t get the same textured tops as you do now, and our soaps would lose a lot of their personality. And boy do they have personality!
We’ve been choosing new essential oils for this time of year, adding a little warmth to the soaps we choose to make now, and putting others away until Spring joins in a few months’ time. We’re trying to follow a very organic and natural plan for our creations, but we need to work within the constraints of our certifications and safety assessments. It’s been an incredible learning journey for us balancing these two factors: a natural desire to experiment and use nature’s bounty, and our respect for the legislation that binds us to using only safety-assessed and approved recipes. Now, we hold 24 safety assessments and can make a wide array of inspired soap creations. We try to have a handful of these at any given time and are planning on making them seasonally with a core group of all-year round favourites. Of course, as everything is made by hand, just get in touch if you’re after one of our special soaps that aren’t yet in stock. It takes six weeks for soap to cure, but good things are worth the wait.
We also introduced three new team members. Audrey, my mother-in-law, has joined us and is making soap every week. She was a little intimidated by the whole process when I started training her several months ago, but she has a natural flair for soapmaking. Now she makes batches upon batches of beautiful soaps, and (like me) often admires the natural artistry and amazing results you get when you let nature’s ingredients work their magic: the way that lemongrass essential oil will colour a batch of cold process soap, or how annatto seeds turn a brilliant shade of valencia orange when ground up just right. She’s an interior designer by trade, so she lends a particularly artistic and stylish hand to our family business.
Delmeza, a trained aromatherapist and healer, has joined us too. She infuses love and healing energy into absolutely everything she does here at Bean & Boy, and uses her passion to make exquisite candles (they’ll be online soon!) with bespoke essential oil blends. She’s also a wizard soap wrapper, and is almost as fast as I am which is quite a feat considering I’ve been doing it for three years!
Sadie joins us too, working around her children’s school times, to make all of the tags that you see on the outside of each bar of soap, as well as wrapping soap with an amazing hand. We have a jolly good laugh together when we have mega soap-wrapping sessions and still manage to get our work done!
As for me, I’ve finally started to pursue my herbalism studies with renewed vigour. I’m driven to lend credibility to our herbal choices and be able to talk with greater confidence on the natural benefits of our infused botanicals. While I’ve had a great interest in herbalism for some time, and especially when helping to alleviate eczema in our home, I’m now working to share this knowledge with you as it relates to our soaps, and perhaps add some DIY ideas for the home as we go along. We are also doing a fair bit of traveling this year, so I’m collecting herbal infusions and influences from across Asia to bring back to Bean & Boy soaps. Watch this space for some exciting blends and ideas that we’ll be trying out as we decide which recipes to invest in for certification.
I’m so honoured and blessed to have this family form around us, lifting Bean & Boy higher and helping us to bring more soap to you, amazing friends and soap-lovers. This year we’re striving to be more organised, to have more stock, to better serve our wholesale stockists (see where you can buy our soaps here) and to extend our workshop reach to include candle-making, infusions, essences and DIY home products. We may also get a lick of paint on our breeze-block workshop walls (!) which would be magnificent, but there doesn’t yet seem to be enough hours in the days at the moment! Perhaps when it gets warmer.