Gill meets Soapsmith
When was Soapsmith founded and what was your first ever product?
Soapsmith was founded in 2010 but did not start selling until 2012 when we launched in Harrods. We wanted to get the products and the scents absolutely right before launching. Our first product was (not surprisingly) handmade cold process soap made with Shea butter, Cocoa butter, other natural oils such as Olive and Coconut oil. It is soap made the way it was made hundreds of years ago – I love the old artisan way of doing things. The problem is this traditional cold process method produces heat as part of its natural chemical reaction, so it took us ages to come up with scents which stayed strong and true and were not burnt off in the process. With us, the quality and lastability of the scent is something we will never compromise.
What is your background?
Corporate events and Chocolate Fountains. I’ve done events for the likes of Clarins, FCUK, the BBC. I’ve always worked for myself.With Soapsmith I wanted a business which was manufacturing focused, London based and had been dabbling in soap-making as a hobby for years. I am just a sucker for high quality scents and enjoy the process of creating and matching the scents to the products. Also, I’m a London girl born and bred and wanted a range which showed the real London as well as the bits the tourists see.
What was the inspiration in the creation of Soapsmith?
London. And strong, long lasting scents. I was tired of all cold process handmade soaps smelling of the same old essential oils and wanted to use them but liven them up a bit. Oh, and I loved the idea of reviving the old artisan way of making soap but doing it with a modern twist. Did I use the word artisan already? Who cares? I love it. Whenever I ran the London place name idea past someone they said what a great concept, how come no one has done that already? What better name for a lavender soap than Lavender Hill, or for a rose based soap than Bloomsbury? Why London?
As the Mayor of London famously said last year, if you visit New York, you meet New Yorkers. if you visit London you meet the world. It’s a melting pot of inspiration. Where else can you find such a cosmopolitan city but with so much history and tradition? It’s full of exciting contradictions. It helps that I was born and bred in London so I had a lot of information and historical reference at my fingertips. The first scent direction was Lavender Hill, in the 18th Century, Lavender Hill in SW London was a major area for growing and distilling Lavender essential oil hence why the streets off Lavender Hill are named Lavender Sweep and Lavender Gardens! All of these little real life points about London we find so interesting here at Soapsmith HQ!
What is the philosophy behind the brand?
Great scents, excellent quality, but at a very accessible price point so it can be more than a special occasion gift – everyone deserves a little everyday pampering. I like to think of Soapsmith as utilitarian yet a little bit edgy and chic at the same time. We also wanted to manufacture all of our non-water based products (soap, body butter melt, bath soak) by hand in London – and settled in the end on sunny Walthamstow,
E17 (yes, that East 17).
Tips for using your products?
Only use a very small amount of the Body Butter Melt! A little goes a ridiculously long way. If you’ve used it, you’ll know what I mean.
Also, if you want to freshen your bathroom up, don’t waste money on an air freshener, just use a couple of scoops of our bath soak (again, if you’ve used it you’ll know what I mean).
Your three hero products and why?
Handmade soaps (unsurprisingly), body butter melts (over 70% natural butters, totally handmade) and bath soaks (leaves your skin silky smooth and your bathroom smelling nice for at least 24 hours!).
Although the brand is very young, what is your current bestseller?
It depends on the stockist, but probably still the soaps. Though the body butter melts and bath soaks are coming up fast on the rails now.
The bath soaks and body butter melts are the products that once people try, they get hooked and wonder why they didn’t try it before. The many, many great comments about our bath soaks proves this.
What are you currently working on?
If I told you that I’d have to kill you seriously though, expanding our scents to our existing products, more bath and shower based products that make your skin feel and smell great is our aim.
So many products to launch and so little time! As well as fleshing out the existing range by taking more of the scents right across the board, I can never resist bringing out more soap scents. We’ve got so many cool street names still to use – you never run out of them in London. Also, I can’t wait for our spa range to come out next year – ‘Greenwich Me Time’ – just because the name of it always makes me smile as well as the GMT link.
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