I started my own company, Soaps By Selina, in January 2009. I had taken a cold-process soap course in 2008 and found I had a creative passion for soap-making. I then made the decision to start a soap company committed to handcrafting luxurious, all-natural soap, using the “hot process” soap-making method.
With any soap-maker there is always a story of “my very first batch of soap” and the experience that follows. With great enthusiasm I prepared to make my “very first batch” of all-natural soap, and here is my story of that important learning experience.
My plan for my first batch of soap was to create “all natural cedar soap”. I infused oils with cedar for two weeks, steeped a lovely cedar tea for my lye water. I planned to use ground cedar as my natural colourant, especially proud that I’d hand-picked it.
On the day I set out to make soap, I carefully added the lye to my cedar water. Within 30 seconds I witnessed, with great shock, what lye was capable of. My beautiful cedar tea had not only turned a murky brown colour, it also had the stench of stagnant pond water. However, not to be deterred, I continued with my cedar soap recipe. Once the soap had fully saponified and I’d poured it into the mould, the stench had not lessened. In fact, with added heat, it had become worse. Being the frugal person that I am and not happy about wasting my creation, I reluctantly walked my soap outside to the trash bin. By this time, the aroma had permeated my home and was becoming unbearable.
My personal philosophy is that there is always a positive aspect to all experience and, in this case, I had successfully made soap! It really lathered and felt great on my skin. My first soap-making venture was indeed a success as I learned a great deal from that valuable lesson. I was eager to make another batch of soap with all that I’d learned from that first experience!
Since those early days of soap-making I’ve made many revisions to the process such as changing the shape of the soap bar, experimenting with natural colourants, blending essential oils and exploring their healing properties. It has taken many hours of dedication and research to create the “perfect soap recipe.” I’ve chosen to replace the term “trial and error” with the more empowering term “research and development.” I’m not convinced there is ever a time when I will arrive at my final destination of creating the perfect soap bar, as with each success there is always another avenue to explore, more ingredients to trial, and more information available. There is great value in the creative process and the wisdom I have received and earned, whether it’s in my personal life, my professional life as a nurse, or my soap-making business. If everything was perfect and none of us was ever challenged, life would become monotonous and dull.
I’m truly blessed and extremely grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to turn a creative, soul-stirring passion into a successful business.
Marketing and promoting my business is as important as the time and consideration given in creating the product.
When I convey information to customers about my product or any ingredients I use, it’s foremost in my mind that I’m still a Registered Nurse. As a nursing professional, I maintain a license – a duty to impart only truthful information to the public, in accordance with the College of Nurses standards as well as my own personal integrity.
A great deal of time as a nurse is spent in teaching others. This also remains true in my business, for those interested in what they are purchasing. This can include answering questions about the ingredients I use in my products or, what the difference is between a fragrance and an essential oil is. With my products, I always include a brochure and an explanation of how to care for your soap.
I’m committed to my products as a healthy, natural alternative to the chemically-laden commercial soaps. Most of these commercial soaps have a high alkaline ph that strips the skin of its natural oils. I consciously choose my wording about ingredients and their usages such as “considered beneficial and considered useful,” when conveying information about ingredients.
Based on customer response, I can surmise that what is bringing me success is twofold: the oils and certain ingredients I use that are considered beneficial, especially for certain skin conditions or sensitivities; and what I am not putting into the soaps. I do not use any chemicals such as parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, dyes or synthetics.
Although I’m not an aromatherapist, I do research the essential oils I use. Essential oils are from a natural source. However, they are extremely concentrated and potent so I always advise caution in their use. “Always test patch soap on your face first and, if irritation develops, stop using the soap and consult a medical professional.”
All of my products are registered with Health Canada.
My vision and commitment in developing my business, and delivering a quality natural product, will be based on customer feedback, together with ongoing research and development.