soap love | olive june

soap love

My name is Charlotte, and I’m the soapmaker behind Swamp Angel Soap. I live in Maine.
I am unabashedly old-fashioned, and I don’t think people make enough of their own stuff anymore. I’m not suggesting we all become homesteaders, but I’m always thinking about the pioneer wives who made their own soap – it was just one of the dozens of things they had to make with their hands each day. I’m also an idealist: I want to make the best soap possible, and it must be from scratch.etsy-blog-swamp-angel-soap-005etsy-blog-swamp-angel-soap-herbs
A bar of soap is incredibly meaningful to me – not just for its scent and color but for the wonder of its chemistry. Bear with me, here: soap molecules have a water-loving side and a dirt-loving side. Soap can grab the dirt and then wash it away. When I see a pump bottle of liquid detergent “hand soap” at someone’s house, my face scrunches up and my heart breaks just a little bit. I don’t want to wash my hands with chemicals. I want a solid bar of soap, preferably resting in an old Ironstone soap dish.
In order to make soap, I have to be inspired. I prefer to use materials that I’ve gathered myself, whether it’s lovage, mint and sage from my garden, or birch bark sustainably harvested from our woodlot. When I gather plants with my own hands, I can’t wait to put them in soap or infuse them in olive oil. I do everything for Swamp Angel Soap: calculate soap formulas, test scent blends, pour lip balm, hand-cut the soap, and wrap, package and ship all of my orders. I’m a bit fastidious in that I treat every box as if it were a care package for a friend. Every detail has to be just so.etsy-blog-swamp-angel-soap-s01etsy-blog-swamp-angel-soap-s02
I’m not sure what my favorite part of Etsy is, but I think it’s amazing. The first reason is that no one tells me that I can’t scrape highly expensive Madagascar vanilla beans into my soap. I know it’s costly, but it’s my soap and I want tiny real vanilla beans floating in it. Second, I value the Etsy community and each and every piece of feedback I’ve received from my lovely customers.
For years I worked in a career where creativity was firmly squelched, often to the detriment of the bottom line. I’ve been making soap for almost 12 years, and my family and friends urged me to sell on Etsy. At first, I looked at the soap section and was completely overwhelmed. A big voice inside said “I can’t compete with this.” But I listened to the little voice that said “just try” instead. And since then, I haven’t stopped trying.
All photographs by Swamp Angel Soap.
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