2017 Soapy Updates, plus a note on Naked Soap

Happy April! I wanted to share what’s been going on over at Flora & Pomona. So far 2017 has been a productive year, albeit with a slow pace (I am a stay at home mom to a toddler after all). Most of my energy I put into production, because that’s my passion, but also because I am trying to build enough of an inventory to officially launch an Etsy shop. Having an online outlet is going to be a big step for me and I decided on Etsy after visiting an Etsy MTL event two summers ago. I expect that I will have five listings to open with within the month! On May 20th I will be participating in the artisan market Marché créatif de la Paroisse in the St-Édouard church on 425 Beaubien.

This soaping season I decided to cut my bars a bit thicker so that they use up more evenly. I also started beveling the edges on my bars: this makes the soap more comfortable to use, at least until the edges wear down from use.

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Rose Water & Coconut Milk Soap – with beveled edges and a thicker cut

I have had lots of fun using ingredients from local producers this year too – like making Oat Stout Beer Soap using beer from a local Quebec brewery, and Mocha Latte Soap using fairtrade coffee beans from a Quebec roaster.

I have also decided to make larger bar versions of the puck shaped Wool Wash soap that come on a hemp rope.

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Flora & Pomona’s Wool Wash Soap with Lanolin : larger bar version

This year I renewed my determination to make high quality natural soap, but with an added focus on what I call naked soap. By naked I mean soap that is not “dressed up” with colorants and fragrances but that smells and looks like what it is made of. A soap made with shea butter will smell very different from a soap made with cocoa butter, and a soap made with goats milk will smell and look differently from a soap made with distilled water. Instead of using synthetic colorants, which I rarely did anyway, I use herbs, clays, resins and infused oils.

Despite of common wisdom that the best and most economical thing for a small batch soap maker can do is to find a recipe and stick to it, varying only your fragrances and colorants, I have never had a standard formula. I have developed a preference for certain ratios, but this is not the same. Each soap I make is made for a specific purpose and I formulate my soaps according to the qualities I’m looking for. But back to the naked soap.

My initial motivation for making unscented and colorant free soaps was because I found a retail outlet in a children’s clothing store in my neighborhood. Once I started making these soaps it all just made sense. Of course I have a baby myself, but I also suffer from psoriasis and generally sensitive skin. For babies, children and people with skin issues, less is always more. I also discovered that my soaps actually smelled good – all by themselves.

Last year during a market a man walked up to my stall and asked me: “do you have any soaps that will leave a good smell on my skin”. I thought about it for a while, then said “no.” I have never used fragrance oils but I did have soaps scented with essential oils. But none of them would have scented your skin. I guess I could have given him some kind of sales pitch, but I just knew that I didn’t have what he was looking for. There are lots of soap makers who make soaps that will perfume you, but I’m not one of them. And when I use essential oils, I use them because I think they have purpose to serve, and never in such a quantity that they’ll double as perfume. So hopefully even after you use one of my soaps, even those scented with an essential oil blend, when you step out of the shower, you too will smell like what you are – yourself, naked and clean.

Some examples of Naked Soap 😀

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Flora & Pomona at La Bobineuse!

I am very pleased to announce (belatedly) that as of 2017 the delightful wool store La Bobineuse carries Flora & Pomona’s Lanolin Enriched Wool Wash and Felted Soaps, both pictured here below:

 

La Bobineuse is located in the Plateau neighbourhood in Montreal. This store has been in the area for nearly half a century, a mecca for fiber enthusiasts, knitting addicts and beginners alike. They also offer classes on how to knit and crochet (which I plan to take as soon as possible). I spent lots of time in this cozy store last winter – buying skeins of beautiful turquoise merino, luscious baby alpaca and sheep’s wool (yes, I can’t even knit) – so I’m very happy and proud to see my Wool Wash and felted soaps on their shelves.

La Bobineuse is located at 2196 Avenue du Mont Royal East, Montreal, QC H2H 1K3.

Antique Teacup Aromatherapy Candles

 

What are they?

Antique teacup aromatherapy candles are a beautiful way to enjoy the benefits of essential oils, especially now that the colder months are upon us. Right now I have three different aromatherapy blends – Calm, Happy and Relax – in three different cups: a dark rose pattern, a dusty pink rose pattern and a blue flowers and vines pattern.

What are they made of?

These all-natural soy candles are made with 100% EcoSoy, a wax made from non-GMO soy and a cleaner alternative to paraffin. Most commercially available candles are still made with paraffin wax, derived from petroleum oil, which releases the carcinogens benzene and toluene when burned. As an added bonus soywax is also biodegradable, non-staining and easy to remove! The wicks are made of 100% cotton and also primed in soywax. To the wax I add my own blend of pure essential oils and then this is poured into an antique tea cup and left to set.

Why teacups?

I select teacups that are made with fine china, have distinct features that I enjoy, like gold rims or interesting handles and that have a feeling of  history to them. Some have matching plates and some I have matched with plates from other sets. In the end each candle is unique. While it is cute to set a candle on a plate it also serves a function to catch possible spills and make it easier to transport a lit candle with hot wax in it.

Aromatherapy?

The aromatherapy blends were designed to create specific “odorous” ambiance and give relief to the stresses of the daily grind. I imagined the candles being used at the end of the day, while having a nice bath, or having a warm cup of tea and reading a book. As a mom I know that these moments are few and far between but much needed and can do wonders to the tired worn mamas and papas out there. So here are the blends:

1. This is a woods blend I call Relax. It is a blend of Siberian pine, cedar wood and ho wood. Ho wood is an ecological alternative to rose wood which is now a restricted  and endangered species. Pine, cedar and ho wood all have stress reducing properties, and this blend is designed to reduce nervous stress especially. If you can’t take a walk in the woods, this candle will give you a little “forest bath” in the comfort of your own home.

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Aromatherapy Candle in Antique Teacup: a woodsy blend of pine and cedar to help you relax

2. A rose blend called Calm made of palmarosa essential oil, ho wood and Victorian rose aromatic essence. An aromatic essence is 100% natural but is not an essential oil. It is derived or extracted from plant material through alcohol distillation and mixed with organic vegetable oil. Palmarosa, ho wood (known as the peace oil) and rose are both calming and soothing, perfect if you are feeling wound up, irritable and in need of a bit of peace. It also smells really nice 🙂

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Aromatherapy Candle in an Antique Teacup: a rosy blend of palmarosa, ho wood and rose creates a calming atmosphere.

A. A citrus blend called Joy made of lemon, grapefruit, lemongrass and bergamot essential oils. Research shows that the smell of citrus can lessen stress and makes people feel happy. Remember that perfume from the 90’s, Happy? It is mostly citrus. The smell of citrus can lift your mood, brighten your day, and take the edge off frayed nerves. So a citrus candle might just be what the doctor ordered for those long dark and cold winter months: brightening in both senses.

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Aromatherapy Candle in an Antique Teacup: a blend of citrus essential oils to brighten smiles and lift frowns.

Flora & Pomona’s debut at Marché Angus

Yesterday, October 7th, I debuted Flora and Pomona at Marché Angus’s Parc Jean Duceppe location. It was a gorgeous day, tall blue skies, lots of sun and summer-like temperatures – perfect for an outdoor market!

I was the first one to arrive, clearly the newbie on the block. So I poured myself a cup of lemon balm and peppermint tea and started setting up my stall.

In addition to my soaps, I also brought two types of bath bombs, chocolate mint bath truffles, aromatherapy tea cup candles, an herbal balm and two types of lip-balm. The coconut lipbalm turned out really well, if I do say so myself.

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All my soaps are cold processed and in bar form, except this keychain soap sampler. Isn’t it cute? I got the idea from a baby book my daughter has.

There are five soaps on the rope: peppermint, lavender, orange, cinnamon and unscented. They are all colored with natural herbs and spices. The hemp string has a bit of a story. Apparently, it’s made by an Italian family owned company that has been making hemp rope for five generations, and this was from the last roll the Montreal store received from them before they went out of business. It’s very fine string indeed. Marche-Angus-Flora-&-Pomona-October-7-2016 (41).JPG

This teacup aromatherapy soy candle is called “Woods – Relax” because it is scented with an essential oil blend of Siberian pine, cedar and ho wood. Pine and cedar are good for relieving nervous tension, anxiety and stress. Cedar has a calming effect, helping you unwind and relax, while pine gives you a lift when you’re feeling down. Ho wood is referred to by aromaweb as a “peaceful” oil that helps you relax and unwind and like cedar and pine is perfect for someone who feels anxious, stressed and has trouble sleeping. This candle is ideal for the holidays, in so many ways. Smells like walking through an evergreen forest, or sitting next to your Christmas tree. I’m very happy with how it came out 🙂

At the end of the day the sun came around into my stall. At the far end I had my bathbombs, bathtruffles and teacup candles. But of course, the soaps did better than the bath products, and out of the soaps, the best seller was Pink Salt and Grapefruit. It’s my favourite as well 😉

Flora & Pomona will be back at Marché Angus next Friday, October 14th from 3-6PM. The location can be hard to find unless you know the area, but aiming for the corner of William Tremblay and Augustin Frigon you will get you right into the market. Hope to see you there ❤