Interview with Ania of Lux Leonis
Ania of Lux Leonis is a university professor and a soap maker. This combination, along with her enthusiasm for fragrances brought her to the foreground. Ania's unique take on soap making, along with her thirst for information is enough to want to know what is below the surface of Lux Leonis.
What prompted your interest in soap making?
I have always been interested in skincare and wanted to share with as many people as possible but it's hard to convince people to try formulations on their face, but I wanted to share my passion for skin love so I started making soap because it was easier for friends to try and then I got obsessed. Skin and hair care formulations are still a very big part of who I am but soap, there is element of obsession, a healthy one.
Did you have knowledge of soap making before you began.
No, I started with melt and pour and then quickly wanted to create my own, but fear of lye kicked in. I studied and studied and watched other soapers, talked to soapy friends until I got brave enough to do it by myself. Then, I got obsessed because I wanted to create the perfect soap.
How did you arrive at the name of your business?
Lux Leonis was born from an idea and need for better skincare while benefiting others: creating job, fair pay, making better environmental choices, help students grow while contributing to a real business, but also a need to leave my children a legacy.
Lux Leonis logo was hand drawn by my student from Mercer University freshman class. His name is Lucas and he is a true artist. Inspiration behind the logo is my coat of arms as my family belongs to Polish nobility .
In our coat of arms, you can see a lion holding a truth, a round disc which represents it.
The first mentions of this Coat of Arms come from year 1407.
Now onto the name: it is a Latin name that means "Light of a Lion". In Bible and beyond, light is often considered to represent truth.
Influences of my heritage and reliance on traditions and traditional beliefs can be seen in my products like the new collection in making: Polish herbalist or ingredients in many of my products. I believe in wisdom passed from generation to generation and that includes skin care. The researcher in me, however, makes sure that my products not only rely on traditional wisdom but are also supported by science. It's the best of two worlds.
What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?
I hope that my little business will help others:
- Local community by generating jobs (hopefully).
- It helps students learn through internship opportunities.
- Improving wellbeing and offer fair pay to communities stricken by poverty either by importing raw materials directly from them (hopefully one day) or by teaching them soap making via missionary work with my school: Mercer on Mission. So it's actually not a soap design that gets me going but the mission behind it.
What is your favorite way to connect with other soap makers?
My favorite way to connect with others is through scent. I think I connected with more people talking about fragrances and inspirations related to scent than with anything else.
How do you design your soaps? Do you choose scent first or colors or… ?
I take on two approaches. Usually, it is the fragrance that takes me on a journey to imaginary places or walks me through memory lanes and then everything falls into place. Second approach is I imagine a person, often idealized. Sometimes it is inspired by literature, people I met, or just my vivid imagination and I create for that person: empress and emperor are an example. I am still working on these collections.
Where do you find your inspiration for your soaps?
I find my inspiration in my imagination, memories, travel, nature and people and sometimes it can even be a sparkle in someone's eye, an attitude, however, I find most of my inspiration in scents.
Are there things in your environment that aid in your creativity?
Yes, outside. I live on a farm so flowers and scents. I am surrounded by them. I often use plants from my farm and garden for soap and candle photography (without picking).
What is your favorite part of soap making?
My favorite part is when oil and lye reach emulsion and of course that moment of cutting soap. It is always a surprise.
What do you do that is not soap related, but aids in your creative thinking?
I am a university professor by day, I teach marketing and analytics. I am surrounded by unique students, beautiful campus landscape. There is a beautiful magnolia tree right by department, that’s how Lady Magnolia was born. Also, after a long day at work, my brain longs for a break aka soaping session.
What soaps, fragrances oils, colorants etc. have you created or used that surprised you?
Oh, so many… Lately Pear and Freesia are my obsession. I used it in my daughter's detangling conditioner so I can smell it all the time when I hug her. Is this weird? Maybe. I just love beautiful scents. I am certain it will become a new collection. My imagination is still working with respect which direction decide to take it. When it comes to colorant, Maya Gold from Nurture soap. It is everything to me. I don't like gold in real life, but my soapy life loves it!
What soaps have you made that got a reaction from others you did not expect?
My recent, Polish herbalist soap got some reactions I didn't expect. I thought it would be a muddy mess but everyone LOVED it. It turned out almost 3d. Another one was spring awakening with Sorcery Soap Dough. I thought it was bland but, it was not.
What makes you laugh about making soap?
To me, I always laugh because the soap never really turns out how I envision in. My imagination is better than my creative skill. After all, I am an analyst by day. At least I know that it's perfectly formulated.