When I meet someone for the first time, I am usually asked "How did you get interested in making soap?" It's a hard question to answer. I've always been interested in "things" science, and making soap is science. I was intrigued by the idea that you can take two totally different things, oil and a base, and make a completely different substance, soap. But there wasn't a lot of extra time in my life with a full time job and a family, to explore soap making. In 1998, I was working in a Physician Office Lab as a Medical Technologist. I loved my job, the staff and the patients. But changes in the health care system made it too expensive for the doctors I worked for to keep the lab open. When they shut down the lab I was out of work. I found a job in a school system as a Science Materials Coordinator, and followed a school schedule. For the first time since I was a student, I had the summer off. I wanted to do something productive with it. I went to the library took out a book on soap making. I went to the butcher and got some beef fat, rendered it into tallow (and ran my family out of the house with the stink!), and made soap. I quickly realized I could use different oils instead of beef fat, and made soap the whole summer. I still have a few of those bars of that batch of soap left (see above). I continued to made soap whenever I could the next few years for my family and friends. My husband liked the way his skin seemed to clear up when he used it. And friends always wanted more.
While I'm making soap, life goes on. My children graduate from high school, and then college and move out of the house. So now I have even more time to make soap. My daughter comes home one day and tells me I have enough soap in the house to clean the state of New York and maybe I should start selling. My son is designing web sites and wants to put one up for me. My husband thinks if my soap helped his skin, maybe it will help someone else's. So I start playing around with different recipes, ingredients, colors and designs. Since fragrance oils give me headaches, I start using different essential oils to scent the soaps. I realize I Love to blend scents, and my house now smells amazing! My dad is a carpenter and he makes me my soap boxes and drying racks. I join the Handcrafted Soap Guild (http://www.soapguild.org/) and Indie Beauty (http://www.indiebeauty.com/). I make so many friends and meet so many people who also have a passion for soap and other handcrafted items. I start selling and meet even more people who love handcrafted soap, customers who have become new friends.
So "Why make soap?" I guess I still can't really answer, except to say I'm very glad I do. I'm grateful for all the wonderful people soap making has brought into my life. I'm happy to be learning something new every day, even if it is learning to deal with QuickBooks (ugh!) or trying to figure out what Twitter is all about. I'm excited (and exhausted) to have to stay up most of the night to wrap an order, or (even better) to try out a new batch of soap. And I'm looking forward to what new soap adventures 2012 will bring.