I'm so excited to share today's interview with you: I had the pleasure to chat with Belinda from Love Your Suds. Belinda is a talented soap maker and a small business owner. She's also a very active member in the soap making community, always generous with encouragement and advice.
If you're a soap maker that likes to hang out on Instagram (like I do) you've likely seen her soaps before, they're kinda hard to miss 😉
Her landscape soaps especially are very unique: carefully designed with great attention to detail and perfectly executed. I can't wait to find out more about Belinda and her creative approach to soap making.
So, without further ado: let's dive right in, shall we?
1. Hi Belinda, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hey there Celine! I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia (I have an accent to prove it) and I traveled to the Pacific Northwest in my early 20’s seeking a snowboarding adventure. I also found roller derby but have since retired (my derby name was Didgeri Doom). Vancouver, Canada is now my home and when I am not in East Van I can often be found hiking in the local mountains. Career-wise, I’m a full-time art director. I love my job where I manage a small team while creating concepts, campaigns and design solutions for the companies that I work with. By night (and on weekends) I make soap. It’s my passion project and a space for me to make things with creative freedom. I also dabble in pottery.
2. How and when did you first learn to make soap?
I created my first batch of soap back in 2014 after many years of searching for a soap that worked well with my sensitive skin. It was a natural cold process soap and I was quite nervous about working with lye so I did a lot of research first, mainly online, but also through a local homesteading store. The soap was a basic blend of coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil (before I switched to palm-free), canola oil, sunflower oil and cocoa butter. I coloured 50% of the batch with spirulina and the remainder was uncoloured. Peppermint and lemon essential oils were added for scent. Of course the lemon scent did not stick around (one of the first things that I learned from hands-on experience) but the peppermint did. I made the soap in my home kitchen using an old pot and whisk. The mold I used was created from a milk carton which I then mummified in towels for insulation.
3. You regularly participate in Amy Warden's Soap Challenges. What is it about these challenges that you enjoy or value?
I’ve always enjoyed learning new things, so I like the educational aspect of the challenges. Participating helps me hone my skills too and I love connecting with other soap makers; sharing tips, learning together and cheering each other on. The competition aspect encourages me to push myself. It’s a great excuse to try designs that are more intricate or out-there. I’m always impressed with the creativity amongst the group and the challenges themselves are a source of inspiration.
4. How does your artistic background inform your soap designs?
My artistic background plays a huge part in my design process. I approach soap making in the same way I would any other design project. It’s about creating meaningful connections and telling a story. Each aspect is considered – ingredients, colours and scent blends along with the overall look or design. If I can establish a way for everything to work together, that makes me happy.
5. What online resources do you often use for soap making? (e.g. a specific lye calculator, FB group, blog, eo calculator, youtube etc)
SoapCalc is my go-to lye calculator when I’m formulating my recipes. Soap Queen and Bramble Berry have been trusted resources since I was a newbie soap maker. I also like keeping in touch with the Instagram, Facebook and Youtube community – I have been known to fall into a soap-making-video-watching rabbit hole. I’m a sucker for soap slicing videos.
6. Do you have a favorite supplier(s) and what do you like to order from them?
- Bramble Berry: Colorants and botanicals, fragrance oils, molds and cutters.
- Voyageur Soap & Candle: Base oils, botanicals, lye, essential oils, fragrance oils, pipettes and candle making supplies
- Majestic Mountain Sage: Botanicals, extracts, antioxidants and natural additives
- Nurture Soap: Micas and molds
7. What are your top 5 essential oils that stick well in cold process soap?
- Clary Sage
8. When in your soap making journey did you know you were ready to launch your online store?
When regular requests for soap started rolling in I knew I needed to become more efficient. Done right, an online store can streamline the sales process. I began building my website and learning about the business of soap making while practicing, refining and testing my creations. This helped me figure out my capacity, and the balance between my full-time work and soap making. I also took the opportunity to enlist testers and helpers. When all the important things were in place I knew I was ready to launch my first online collection.
9. Do you ever feel uninspired or run out of soap making ideas and if so how do you move past it?
I’m always thinking about new blends and designs. I keep a sketchbook with me at all times so I can jot down ideas and refer back to them later. The trick with soap making (or any creative venture) is to find the right balance between work and play. If things start to feel like work all the time then it’s easy to fall into a creative rut. It’s about finding the right balance for you. I approach this by identifying the things that I love most (e.g. conceptualizing, making or slicing soap) while being realistic about the things that need to be done (e.g. cleaning up, packaging and taxes). Then I manage my time between both so it’s never too long before I am doing something fun.
10. Thank you, Belinda, for taking the time to chat with me. 🙂
Thank you for the opportunity, Celine! Talking about myself always feels a bit awkward but your questions were thoughtful and engaging, and that made for a nice experience.
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