What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?
I create luxurious organic face and body products – in my Brooklyn apartment kitchen – that pamper even the most sensitive skin. Soapwalla organic face and body products are specifically designed to cleanse with natural ingredients without stripping the oils that our skin naturally produces. This is important because these oils form part of our bodies’ natural immune defense system, and are essential for optimum skin health.
I use organic and food-grade ingredients, never questionable additives such as sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens or harsh and synthetic ingredients. Soapwalla products are never tested on animals. Feed your skin with products good enough to eat.
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
I got started making these items out of sheer necessity. I have lupus, an autoimmune illness that can manifest itself in a number of ways. Like others who suffer from lupus, I get terrible skin rashes, hives, and terribly irritated skin patches. When it was at its worst, I could barely use water on my skin without irritation.
Soapwalla was born one late night, after months of unsuccessfully hunting for face and body products that wouldn’t aggravate my skin issues. I tried everything on the market I could find, and finally decided to start making my own products that were as healthy and wholesome as possible. The product line grew from there.
I’ve always been artistic; I am a classically trained violinist and composer, and I train in the circus arts. I also am an avid ashtanga yoga practitioner.
Is there a story behind the name of your shop?
A friend who spent time in India dubbed me a master soap walla (walla means ‘creator’ or ‘maker’ in Hindi) and it stuck!
Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?
I work alone, although my partner helps me tremendously, especially with day-to-day operational tasks. I also use my friends and family as product guinea pigs and as sounding boards, when I’m thinking about introducing a new product. And I am always looking for suggestions and ideas from my clients!
Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?
I sell my work online via etsy.
The majority of my clients are referred to me via word of mouth, which is how I love to work. I love selling in person, because I can see a client’s skin and spend time speaking directly with that person about his/her needs, principles, scent preferences, etc.
I hope to sell at some Brooklyn based flea markets in the upcoming months, including the Brooklyn Flea and Artists and Fleas in Williamsburg.
Do you have any favorite handmade shops or sellers?
I can’t recommend Alice Cho, graphic designer extraordinaire, highly enough.
Also, my friend Erin Wigger is a phenomenal photographer.
Finally, I love Lofted Designs‘ jewelry designs, specifically her rings.
What inspires and motivates you?
I constantly push myself to create the highest quality products I can, while leaving the smallest ecological footprint possible. This includes finding alternatives to the most popular skincare ingredients, like petroleum-based and synthetic ingredients.
I want Soapwalla’s products to be enjoyed by everyone – including those with even the most sensitive skin.
What do you wish I had asked you?
“What’s the hardest thing about being an artisan?”
For me it’s a combination of two things: (1) since I absolutely adore what I do, it can be hard to stick to a strict work schedule…I tend to work much longer hours as an artisan than I did as an officeworker; and (2) trying not to get discouraged when sales slow or people have a difficult time understanding what exactly you do for a living.
Thanks Rachel! And if you’d like to be featured here next, just head over to DIY Interview.