Kicking off this new interview series with a bang and introducing Sophie from @thequietcreative.ie! I've followed Sophie for some time via instagram and purchased some of her beautiful wildflower cards and a print. I reached out to her six months ago for help, with product photographs, for my own website. I bundled up a box of skin mousses and a selection of soaps and sent them to her Cork studio.
Can I just say, it is not easy to relinquish any creative control when you are an online creative business. It is only possible when you 1) trust the individual and 2) realise, and accept, you absolutely can't do everything and choose what you can delegate, to that individual you can trust.
It's the summer of 2021. My favourite hours are spent like this, pottering in the kitchen garden, with the girls chattering away to me. Emmy - who is almost eight, a wise old soul and my second in command in the soap studio, took this photo of me.
Flashback to 2019 and The Leitrim Design House ran a Meet The Maker video series. They featured local makers and creatives from Co. Leitrim. Laura and Padraig came to film me on a damp autumnal November day. I remember that we had the stove lit! I hope the 'behind the scenes' video below, of my attic studio here in rural Bornacoola, will help to introduce me. My hair is much longer now and I've more wrinkles, as you can see from Emmy's photograph, but my favourite Lucy & Yak navy dungarees are going strong...
I thought it would be fun to share with you how I set up for craft fairs and events. I've been attending events for almost 6 years now. There are some things I have fine-tuned and find work well for me.
Here are the the things I find essential for my craft fair set up...
You've been making lovely soap and body butters for a while. Everyone says you should sell it. Can you? What do you need to know and do in order to legally sell your soap (or other skincare) within Ireland and Europe? What about the U.S.? How can you ensure that you are protecting yourself should someone have an allergic reaction to oneof your products?
This week has included the making of my favourite handmade soap bar "Honey Bee". Honey Bee has completely natural, plant based, ingredients including unrefined organic shea butter, organic honey and finely ground, certified, gluten free oats.
Here's a short 'behind the scenes in the soap studio' video of me cutting the soap bars and explaining this soaps skin loving qualities. (Loving the afternoon sunshine in the video!)
Did I mention at all it was my favourite soapbar? I did?! Well here are the reasons why.
It's gentle and extra moisturising
Unrefined and organic shea butter is added at the end of the soap making process. This means more of the shea butter is available to 'super-fat' the soap. This is what makes a bar more gentle and less drying on the skin. Organic honey also is a natural humectant. That's quite a fancy word but just means it draws moisture to the skin.
It's naturally antibacterial
The organic honey is also good for skin healing and has antibacterial properties. To keep as much of these properties within the soap, Honey Bee is blended at the lowest possible temperature. It's also kept cool during the next 24 hours so the soap doesn't overheat.
It's skin soothing and exfoliates gently
Honey Bee natural handmade soap also contains finely ground gluten free oats. Oats are known to be soothing to dry skin conditions. For example, many people use preparations of oats in bath water to help soothe eczema prone skin. These oats are really finely ground so that within the soap they exfoliate gently. They are certifed gluten free as for some individuals their gluten intolerance is so high that even oats cause an immune reaction.
If you are really sensitive skinned, like me, then unscented soap bars (and skincare products in general) may be better for you on a long term use basis.
There are heaps of natural skincare businesses springing up in Ireland, UK and Europe at the moment. It's a huge area of growth as more and more customers are thinking about what they put on their skin. How do you choose which brand is for you? The choice is overwhelming, even for me.
So you may be wondering what's special, different and unique about Lucy's Soap Kitchen, Handmade Sensitive Skincare?Well here you go...
It's been one whole month since I unveiled my new branding for Lucy’s Soap Kitchen. A new name and logo with vibrant colours I love. Who knew 'pomegranate' was such an amazing colour! In fact - who knew it was even a colour?!
But why did I take the plunge and rebrand?
When I first started selling my soap and skincare 3.5 years ago I didn’t know where my business would lead me. I had a romantic ‘rose tinted glasses’ vision of me making and selling a variety of crafts and thought calling myself 'Made in Lucy’s Kitchen' would leave the way open for it all to come under the one brand ‘umbrella’.
A steep learning curve and a huge investment of time and money, in soap selling admin and assessments, later and I knew I needed to concentrate ALL my focus on skincare.
What also followed over the next 18 months was the realization everyone thought I was selling food! My brand name “Made in Lucy’s Kitchen” didn't help. More than a few people have actually taken a bite of my Sugar Scrub Cubes! Event organisers never got my business name right. They always called me Lucy's Kitchen. As I began to focus on my online presence I also wished many times I had included ‘soap’ in my brand name, to help with basic S.E.O.
Even though I knew my name wasn’t ideal it was always too much for me to tackle and didn’t seem worth the upheaval. But 2016 has been a changing point for me. Why??
At the end of 2015 I had got focused on my business vision. Where I wanted to go, where I didn’t want to go, what was working for my family’s needs, what was not and what needed to change.
I got sharp on my numbers, realized I needed to streamline my range and increase some of my prices.
I wanted to produce promotional banners, point of sale & a brochure but with no graphic design skills I approached a graphic designer, Vicki Nicolson, from brandingtherapy.co.uk, whose work I had followed from afar, for help. We had some brilliant skype chats (a great way to chat business by the way - a new one for me but one I'll definitely be doing alot more of!) and I quickly realised this was a unique opportunity for me to make those changes (that were now obvious with hindsight) and the focus and direction this would actually give me.
With some brilliant photography by Rooskey based Jason Christopher jcphotograpy.ie, branding and graphics support from Vicki, I feel incredibly proud of Lucy's Soap Kitchen. With a focus on sensitive skincare, that's natural and gentle for all the family and my very own soap kitchen being built here in my Leitrim home the future is decidely soapy!