It’s been a while since I posted, but there have been so many things happening in my life, and I’m so excited to finally share some of them with you. This is also the post that kicks off a new chapter for In My Soap Pot!
Last year, before Covid hit and shut down the whole world, I had my own health struggles, with my iron and blood levels dropping dangerously low. I consider myself really lucky that this all happened before March, and I had my surgery scheduled the week before lockdown was announced. I went from pure physical exhaustion to having an incredible health journey and a lot of reflection last year. And I lost a ton amount of weight as a bonus too!
So what have I been up to?
I got elected as the chair of the New Zealand Soap Makers’ Association (NZSMA) and that’s something that I’m really invested in. I’d like to see the NZSMA as a place where soap makers can go to for information, resources and support. We’ve got an awesome bi-monthly magazine, and I’ve set up a guest speakers series for members, with speakers like Jo Haslauer, Kevin Dunn and Jess Matthews, people willing to share their knowledge and passion. You can find more about the NZSMA here.
In My Soap Pot
One of my problems I had was that I didn’t have a clear vision on what I wanted In My Soap Pot to be. The past year, with its lockdowns, gave me time to reflect and think about what I’m really good at and what I want to share with you. I’m the first to admit that I’m not the best soap maker in the world. I don’t even come close. My soaps are good, but not great. Just go on Instagram or Pinterest and the soaps that some people create just takes your breath away! There are real soap artists out there! When you see what other people make, it can be really intimidating, and I’m just like everyone else – I have doubts and insecurities. But you know what? That’s ok. My taiwan swirls might not be the prettiest, but I do know my stuff. What I love is the science part and I love teaching and inspiring people. I get the most joy and satisfaction when someone who has done one of my soap making classes finds their passion and continues to make soap. And I get really proud when they end up being one of those soap artists I admire! After all, it was me who started them on their journey! ❤️
I don’t want to be another Soap Queen or Humblebee and Me or Lovin Soap duo. They already exist and they have their own great websites and resources that you can go to. You don’t need another one. My strength is soapy knowledge and science, and that’s kind of missing in the internet world. If you need a recipes, there are tons of recipes out there, but who has tested different types of olive oil in soap? Or compared soaps made of a single type of fatty acid? I love doing tests and fact checking. So that’s what you’ll see a lot more of. Interesting blog posts about lots of different things.
I have ADHD. That’s a fact and people who have been to my classes can definitely attest to that. I can be all over the place. This makes my life exciting but sometimes also rather chaotic. I’ve had to put some real organisation tools in place to make my life more manageable. Not affiliated to the following products, but these are the ones that help me keep on top of things: Evernote and Trello. The latter is like a pin board with post its notes, but on your device, and it’s a lot more organised. It helps me keep track of everything I need to do and I’m not having to juggle a million bits of paper with lists that usually ended up crumpled in my jeans pocket or more likely lost somewhere. Evernote is where I keep all my notes and ideas. Those two together have been life changing for me.
ADHD also means having just one pot to stir in is very, very boring. I need lots of pots: soap pots, cooking pots, gardening pots, science-y pots, creative pots and lots of other fun and interesting pots. And that’s what you’ll see on my website. The main pot will still be the soap pot, but every now and then I’ll be posting about some other pot I’ve been stirring. Like the yummy spice blends I whipped up last summer – easy to make and versatile to use – I’ve had to refill some of our favourite ones several times this year already!
I talked about insecurities. Despite having a science degree, which is in geology and geography, and I also studied maths and physics right after high school, but none of these subjects are very soap-y. And thismakes me feel I don’t have the qualifications to back up what I know. That’s probably silly, but in a world where certificates and degrees matter, I really feel I need this. I’m working on the Soap Guild qualifications as a Master Teacher (so many tests and soap samples to do) and I’m also doing the Formula Botanica Diploma of Organic Skincare Formulation (more on that later). Regardless of if I need the qualifications or not, it actually has been a lot of fun being on the other side again of teaching. I love learning, so in between everything I’m filling in my chemistry gaps on the side. As you do, right? 🤣
Speaking of courses – I’ve been asked so many times when will I finally teach online classes. The answer is soon! I have finally figured out how I’ll be doing it and found the platform, and I’ve been practicing doing videos with the subscription DIY Soap Boxes, which now come with a video tutorial each month. I just need to decide on which course first! Any suggestions? Feel free to comment below.
And last but not least, Formula Botanica. I had a look around at some of the schools that offer courses, and even signed up for several to see what they are like, and by far, Formula Botanica exceeds all of them. Most schools will teach you the basics and then mostly different recipes for products. Formula Botanica is different. It has a huge team (worldwide) with formulators, teachers and cosmetic chemists behind them. This gives them (and for their students) a huge advantage, because they can offer resources and information that no other school can. The quality of the material is university level. And what they teach is not just a recipe, they teach you how to formulate your own formulations and really encourage you to do your own testing and designing. You do get recipes for products as well, but the focus is to teach you to create and test your own formulations. And have I mentioned resources? You have libraries with information available to you and tutors who will reply to your questions (unlike one school, which will remain unnamed, that lets you submit only two questions per month! Really?!)
I’ll be posting about what I’ve learned and sharing any awesome formulations I create with you. I have some willing testers, who are quite critical, so if a recipe does end up on my blog, you can be assured that it’s been given the ok by them. Keep checking back for new content. Btw my cold blended conditioning hand cream, which I made on a whim for a kids class, is apparently a hit! I just need some better pictures for it and then I’ll post a tutorial for it.
Now, if you think that’s a lot I’ve been up to, I also have my gorgeous two bunnies keeping me on my toes. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that one of them, my mini-lop girl called Hope, likes to nibble on soaps. Those two, plus the guinea pigs, and the rest of my family, and everything else that I do, keeps me very busy. And that’s just how I like it!
PS I also knit, bingewatch (you have to watch Brokenwood Mysteries!), have a Cricut-obsession, and have just re-discovered my doodling ‘talent’ on Procreate….. Please do not tempt me with any more hobbies!