You can get yourself clean with boring soap, but the experience would be a lot less awesome. We talked to this wildly creative soapmaker and are now considering career changes.
Rachel Chieppa found an unexpected outlet for her artistic leanings when her favorite soapmaker showed her the ropes. Now, she’s hooked on the endless possibilities of swirling colors and scents, making something truly unique every single time.
She is so very bubbly and cheerful about soap, that it made me remember how I used to insist on handmade soaps in fun fragrances. It truly does turn each morning shower into something that feels very luxurious and ends up making your skin feel perfectly nice.
Well, dang it, now I’m going to quit and become a soapmaker myself. Here’s what I learned after speaking with Rachel.
The pictures of your soaps are really incredible. What do you use for inspiration? How do you know when a soap is “done?” There’s so much art to these! What’s it like matching visual art to…scent art?
I do love colors and patterns! For inspiration, I love looking at other artists’ works as well as the many gorgeous color combinations in fabrics and paintings that are truly inspiring. Sometimes just seeing paint chips in a magazine helps me to get started on a new scent and color combo. Oftentimes when I get started, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with a batch of colors until I start pouring.
I guess you just know when it’s “done.” It just feels that way.
Many of the scents are careful combinations. Matching the colors to the scents is the fun part. Sometimes I just use the obvious corresponding colors, but often I throw in a random color just for fun! I just want to use as many colors as I can. Sometimes a batch calls for swirls and sometimes just layers. It’s pretty much what I feel like doing that day!
Why soap? How did you start making soap and why do you still make it? What do you like about the process?
Since I was little, I’ve always collected soaps. My Grams would bring me back those hotel soaps from her trips, and I would store them away. For years, I always bought handmade soap wherever I went.
My mom, husband, dog, and I have grown and sold cut flowers at a local farmers market for over nine years. During the first four years at the market, I bought soap from the vendor next to us. One day, she informed me that her husband was being transferred to another state and she would like to pay it forward by teaching me to make soap.
After one evening learning the basics, I was off on my own adventure. Along the way, I had lots of support and assistance from my husband. He makes all of my molds and displays, and is my biggest fan. More than five years later, I’m still making soap. For me, it’s an opportunity for me to use my creativity to make a useful product. Each batch is like a blank canvas to me. No two batches ever look the same, so it’s always exciting to see what the bar will look like when you start cutting the loaf.
The gift of soap making has been a blessing. My husband and I have met so many wonderful people. Our customers are more than just customers to us. Many of them have been with us since the beginning and are now friends. I always want people to feel beautiful when using our soaps, and I want them to get to know us.
What’s better about artisanal soap than the average beauty bar we pick up at the store?
The best part about artisanal soap is that you know who made it! Also, you know what’s inside each batch (i.e. ingredients you can pronouce). Handmade soaps contain glycerin, which is produced during the soap making process. That glycerin helps your skin to retain its moisture and softness. Many commercial bars are missing this element. If you’ve never tried handmade soaps I would encourage you to give them a chance. With regular use, you will definitely notice a difference in your skin.
What are your favorite scents, and what kinds of scents would you like to experiment with in the future?
For the most part, I like all of our scents. I tend to only make scents that we like, but I am a fan of the citrus scents, and my most favorite bar is lemongrass lavender. We’re always trying to think out of the box and come up with something new and different. There’s no telling where my artistic whim will take me next, but I do appreciate suggestions from customers.
Do you have any other favorite local makers? What kind of things do you like to buy locally and handmade?
I love buying local! I have always been drawn to local artists. As an artist myself, I know how much heart and soul goes into each piece. The best part about attending these shows is that it exposes you to many artists and styles. You never know what you might find, and every show is different. I buy all kinds of things local and handmade. Recently, I bought some ornaments for our tree, a handbag, cards, pottery, a scarf, jewelry, honey, meats, vegetables, and even soap!
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Remember, you may not eat these soaps. You will want to, but you will feel very ill afterwards. Find Rachel, The Daily Scrub, and about a zillion other crafters and makers at this year’s Handmade Holiday on Saturday, December 5th at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
Read about the rest of our Handmade Holiday featured crafters and makers by clicking on this very link! They are mega-inspiring!