Handmade soaps from Ecuador
Just like most people today, Ana, young mother of a little girl, got tired of big companies and decided to quit everything and get the life she wanted. She had always been very manual and had lots of ideas to start a business, but one had to stand out from the crowd. And it turned out to be … soap! Just like often in the world of creation and business making, it was a total coincidence: One day that she was watching TV, Ana zapped on a German documentary on traditional soap making in Europe.
Of a romantic nature, Ana immediatly loved the slow and natural process that sounded very poetic to her ear. And so she went for it. Bought all the tools and ingredients needed and dedicated one entire year to learning the process through books and tutorials (that was the easy part) and finding her own touch (less easy part). Because Ana’s soaps are not only about cleaning. They are also, and mostly, about enchanting your daily bath time routine. Each of her soaps are a little jewel you offer to your skin and bathroom, and which will delight each of your sense (although we do not recommend you eat them, let’s not forget soaps result from a chemical process). Ana looks for beauty through patterns, but also colour combinations or the use of additional textures such as Calendula petals. But because each women should use it without fearing to damage it, Ana always make sure that her soaps have this tricky balance between delicate and raw beauty that allows you to use it without feeling guilty. Because let’s be clear, it’s still a soap and should not be over-intellectualized and considered a piece of art but a source of well being and moisturizing!
Because everytime we meet with those people who use their hands to create beauty we love talking to learn more but secretly can’t wait, in an almost primitive reflex, to see these hands in action and the object appear before our eyes, we were pretty excited when Ana told us she had planned to show us the (almost) whole soap-making process! Actually the process is divided in 4 phases that are:
- Preparing the ingredients, mixing the oils (day 1)
- Mixing the ingredients to get the soap (day 2)
- Cutting the soap (day 3)
- Letting it mature for a month.
The mixing part we assisted to was actually surprisingly similar to cooking. A big bowl (that Ana actually got from her sister who turns out to be a chef), a whisk, ingredients and protection glasses (chemestry is not for kiddos) are all you need. Ana is very serious about having the most natural product as possible and most of them come from Ecuador. I was particularly seduced by the big blocks of cocoa butter waiting peacefully in the fridge I must say.
The more Ana was adding cocoa butter and essential oils, the more the mixture was starting to get thicker. Again, remember not to eat it. The appearence was actually pretty appetizing. Ana then poured the mixture into a wooden tray, and just like a chef would put the final touch to a cake before putting it in the oven, she added Calendula petals on the top of the mixture.
And there it was, our soon-to-be soap! It would then be cut the next day before waiting for 1 month to mature and then find its new home.
The story started 4 years ago and Ana now has her own workshop where new soaps come to life each day (around 2000 to 3000 soaps are created each month). In constant search of new combinations, Ana has created over 60 different soaps over the years, always true to her fresh and feminine influences. She is now also doing some scrubs and might have some new suprises coming…
Ana’s advice should you want to quit everything and start something new? Do not compare yourself and what you do to anyone else. It’s actually good that nobody’s doing the same as you, might mean you’re on the right track. Oh and also, although you must anticipate, do not focus too much on the obstacles you might face on the way, it’s the best way never to start anything. Easy peasy!