Soap Interview with Desiree Velazquez, Lilasuds
Desiree came on the Sorcery Soap radar from her stunning photographs of her unique and peculiar soaps on Instagram.
This interview needed to be added to Sorcery Soap archives along with our fun and exciting collaboration. This soap witch made the embellishments and shipped them clear across the the US to that soap witch to stir up a mystical soap in her cauldron. Desiree did NOT disappoint!
What are you favorite types of soap making? CP, HP, CPOP… ? I love doing cold process because of the creative liberty I have with it. I guess the same applies to CPOP in that aspect, but I usually don't like to gel my soaps. I have not done HP before but I guess it's more of an aesthetic thing. I can be very particular about details so that's why I lean towards CP, but HP is indeed in my list of soap making to master soon!
When did you discover you loved soap making? I recently discovered soap making not that long ago- about 2 or so years ago in fact. During the past 7 years I developed severe eczema all over my body. After a long process of elimination with my allergist, I found out that regular store bought soaps were causing my skin to react negatively. My solution was to try handmade soap. It seemed like baking to me (which I have done for 16 years). I've always had the mentality that if there's a recipe or instructions readily available, I could do that myself! I thought, "Heck, I can modify it to fit my skin needs!". So I started as a lot of soap makers do and jumped into the Internet, Youtube, and soap making blogs. I already had experience with melt and pour before that but it wasn't enough of a challenge in my head (silly me). At first I has hesitant to start soap making because I had so many hobbies already that living in a small NYC apartment is a challenge when your hobbies require so many materials and supplies. So up until that point I had done a lot of research about ingredients, different processes, troubleshooting, etc. That Christmas morning, my fiancé gifted me a soap making kit with absolutely everything I needed. He basically opened that floodgate! With his blessing to fill up our apartment with yet ANOTHER hobby of mine, I went in deep into soap making. I already had written down recipes so I was ready to go in. I'm happy to say that my first recipe is still one of my all-time favorites.
What are your favorite parts of soap making? I just absolutely love the planning part. Granted, with soap it's a bit of a gamble regardless of all the planning you do. Sometimes it goes exactly as you planned. Sometimes it goes horrible wrong. Other times it goes horribly wrong and it turns out way better than you expected! I just recently had a huge soap disaster where I had 3 lbs of soap batter just splashed all over my kitchen floor (and myself). It was a lesson in soap safety for sure, but I was able to save quite a bit of it and I had to improvise on a whim. The end result was not what I had planned at all, but I ended up loving it even more than the initial design. So I guess it boils down to the mystery of "What is in that loaf of soap and how will it turn out?". I think that's also why I love cutting soap. Every bar is a new surprise. And I obviously love the versatility of techniques, particularly soap dough sculpting. It's art for your shower!
What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making? The thing that makes me happy to jump out of bed and dash to make soap is that every soap I make is a new story. It's kind of like a new book, or new favorite song, or a new movie. I get to start all over in every soap and create a new narrative that I hope people can relate to. I love sharing those stories with my friends and customers. Hearing back about their excitement and their enjoyment of my soaps really warms my heart.
What is your background? What skills contribute to soap making? Well, I guess I could start my background story since I was able to hold a crayon in my hands! My mom is an artist and always encouraged me to be creative. My grandmother too. She actually kept a crayon doodle I did of her all over her walls for a while because she thought I had done a great job for my age. I had even drawn her glasses! If we're being formal, I have a BA in fine arts specializing in drawing and printmaking. I also have a degree in fashion design. Needless to say my day job is pretty fun considering I get to use both of those aspects on a daily basis. So the art and design really contribute to my soap designs. I think it's easier for me to edit things down and make sure that every soap, every product shot, and every narrative are clear. I also picked up baking when I was 15 years old and have done sugar work since. I think this definitely helps with my soap dough stuff because I can apply the same techniques into soap.
What are you favorite oils, butters, micas and/or processes or other? I absolutely love working with avocado oil for its nourishing properties. I use it in all of my soaps. And unrefined cocoa butter because it smells great! Some of my favorite colorants to use are bright, neon micas. Granted, I use them sparingly but that's just because I like to make sure I don't overdo it. Of course, I became obsessed with soap dough even before I started making soaps because it's literally like using play-dough (which is the one thing my mother never let me play with as a child because it was too messy so I think that now as an adult I can express myself through soap dough like that. Ha!). I have this obsession with making tiny things so soap dough definitely lets me do that.
What were your hopes for creating your soap business? (To help you answer: What hopes came true, so far, for your soap business/process? What are you still hoping for?) At the moment, my business is pretty new but ever since I officially opened for business it has grown faster than I ever imagined! I remember my first launch I sold out in under 8 hours. I couldn't keep up with demand! I think now I have things a bit more under control, but now my focus is planning every launch strategically. The main reason I opened Lilasuds was to create something gentle enough for my skin issues while still keeping it fun. Now, don't get me wrong. I love a good simple bar of soap, but in my exploring of options for sensitive skin I realized so many things were left plain and well...lifeless. There came a time I was actually bored with showering because it had lost all of the fun since my skin issues started. So I wanted to make sure that even the sensitive options I made had a quirk to them. Whether it be a fun color, a fun shape, or an interesting texture, the important thing was that there was whimsy in it and that's what I want my business to be about. I want there to be magic in everything I create and I want people to know that there is a little bit of something for everyone. I've got a few things coming up this year (my wedding included), so I'm hoping by next year I can expand a bit more. I've already introduced a few other products but I want to take it step by step. I'm hoping I can start working wholesale and custom orders in the upcoming year.
What other interests do you have when not in your soap laboratory? My close friends and family members know me for my obsession with baking. Unfortunately I have not been able to do it as much since I opened Lilasuds, but the types of soaps I do always come back to my baking roots. Before Lilasuds I would bake something every other day. I would spoil my co-workers with tasty treats on a regular basis. Halloween and the holidays were my favorite times of the year because my creativity boosted with gingerbread and cakes. I also love making gumpaste flowers. It's almost therapeutic to me. Other than that, I'm always drawing, making something out of nothing with anything and everything in my art supply box, and reading. You can also catch me around my neighborhood zipping around on my bicycle. Oh, and I'm a full on crazy cat lady!
Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry? I do hope that in the future the general public gets out of their head that bar soap is bad. Handmade soap is good! I also can't wait to see how the soap community evolves. I love how everyone has their own take on things. I do hope that the community can tighten even more and support each other. I mean, do people realize how many people there are out there to clean? There's room for everybody!
What do you want people to know about your soaps/business? Lilasuds is all about enjoying yourself and your "me" time. There's something nurturing to the soul about enjoying a creatively crafted bath and body product. Use the fancy soap! I'll make more!
What makes you laugh about making soap? That at the end of the day... it's just soap! Don't ever take it too seriously!