A few years ago we attended a local fair. My husband gave me the nod as he saw a well crafted soap with a familiar stencil. To my surprise it was a Buck Stencil I had designed! I wanted to meet the artist, and so we paused at her booth. The second I saw the recognition on her face I knew we'd like each other. Clarissa made me feel comfortable immediately. We had a lovely chat and I bought her soap, took photos and shared my delight in her soap works with others.
Now, she's agreed to be interviewed for our Soap Makers Interview series.
1. What prompted your interest in soap making?
It initially started out as many of our stories seem to start out- wanting to make more holistic products for our families that have less scary-sounding chemicals in them at a fraction of the price that others charge for their products. As I've educated myself more on this journey, I've learned what many of the "chemicals" in common skincare products are and the purposes they serve, and now am able to formulate my products more intentionally and with a more educated standpoint. I've also come to appreciate other makers' products and pricing, especially since I now know the effort and knowledge that goes into their products and my own. I've been making soap since 2012 and finally got the courage and confidence in my products to begin selling late 2019.
2. Did you have knowledge of soap making before you began?
I'd read a few books from the library, and some internet articles I came across on Pinterest and Google, but other than that, I had no prior knowledge, no relatives to pass down recipes or anything like that.
3. How did you arrive at the name of your business?
It's actually pretty on the nose! My business partner and I arrived at the name after her husband suggested it; I make the bubbles, she makes the bows! We have since expanded from just soaps and bows, and now offer bath bombs, pocket scrunchies, head wraps, faux leather wallets, lip balms, lotions and such.
4. What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?
Formulating! I have a basic recipe that I've perfected over the years and that I use for the majority of my recipes, but when I get a new oil or additive, I try to make a special edition soap with those ingredients, just to see how they change my recipe and the feel and composition of my soaps.
5. What is your favorite way to connect with other soap makers?
In-person events, for sure. I love nerding out with other soap makers, and right now in particular shave soap!
6. How do you design your soaps? Do you choose scent first or colors or… ?
I usually have a rough design in my head for a lot of my soaps, especially my landscape soaps- the design, then colors, then fragrance. However, for my simpler designs, I usually go fragrance, then colors, then design. Fragrances inspire colors for me.
7. Where do you find your inspiration for your soaps?
A lot of my inspiration comes from other soapers, especially when seeing new design techniques! I want to try pull-through designs next, but that'll have to wait until after the holidays.
8. Are there things in your environment that aid in your creativity?
I use a lot of inspiration from my area; I live pretty close to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and use both areas for a lot of my inspiration, especially in my landscape soaps. Idaho is also a big agriculture state, and I like to use as many locally available ingredients as is feasible. I render my own leaf tallow from a local butcher, and use potato starch in my shave soap recipes.
9. What is your favorite part of soap making?
Pouring the lye water into the oils. I could watch that all day.
10. What do you do that is not soap related, but aids in your creative thinking?
I'm an avid gardener and crazy plant lady. I've also been studying the art of bonsai, but haven't been able to practice that much lately due to some life struggles recently. Things seem to be mellowing out, so hopefully this next spring will bring me a bit more joy in this area.
11. What soaps, fragrances oils, colorants etc. have you created or used that surprised you?
Jade Green mica from Nurture soap throws me for a loop every time I use it! In the bag, it's the perfect rich green color, then the second I combine it with my soap batter, it turns the color of overcooked pea soup- then after it's set up and saponified, goes back to that beautiful green! It cracks me up every time, but it sure gave me a scare the first time I used it!
12. What soaps have you made that got a reaction from others you did not expect?
Hands down, my baked potato soap that I made for a local festival. I even made shredded cheddar cheese soap, and had a few small children eat it right off the top and had instant regrets upon doing so. I thought people might see them and think they were the dumbest soap they'd ever seen, but I've sold out of them every time I am a vendor at that festival. It just goes to show, you can't ever anticipate what people will like!
13. What makes you laugh about making soap?
The amount of clean up associated with it- because honestly if I didn't laugh about that, I would cry!
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