I have some long overdue updates on my soaps!
Because of the pandemic and especially the war in Ukraine (where most of the sunflower oil in stores comes from along with Poland) the price of all oils but especially sunflower oil (one of my main ingredients) had exploded (like tripled!!!). I didn’t want to have to raise the price of my soaps and I managed not to by substituting out a portion of sunflower oil for good old Canadian canola oil. I had never made soap with canola oil before but it turned out to be a wonderful addition, making the soaps lather even smoother and creamier than before. I found this online about it
« Canola oil - Not only does it contain Vitamin E, an anti-oxidant that will help to protect your skin from free radicals, it also contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which help to combat premature ageing and soothe dry, irritated skin »
So who wouldn’t like that;)
I have have also started adding beeswax to my soaps to help make them stronger when they are accidentally dropped in the shower and less likely to break. Since we became beekeepers a few years ago I try to use our own wax, (which we now have a lot of) in my soaps. What started out as a mild curiosity in beekeeping for me and an indulgent tolerance by my boyfriend Steve in buying me a hive for my birthday back in 2019, has now led to an all consuming passion for him! I have to pretty much stay out of the way of the hives unless I want to spend at least half an hour at each one minutely examining each and every frame with him (and there can be almost 60 frames in some of the hives!!)
I also tried substituting (for about a month) the fairly pricey plastic wrap I use to wrap my sea salt soaps in with compostable parchment paper… This was surprisingly unsuccessful, even after just a few weeks in sealed tubs with plenty of natural dessinant packages (and a dehumidifier!!) they still managed to attract moisture to them and crinkle up the parchment paper very unattractively (and potentially detrimentally to their legally required ingredient labels). I found salt soaps definitely need to have to plastic wrap to prevent them from attracting moisture, and the extra protective layer of wrapping paper keeps the labels dry and is very good for my customers storage options (please don't leave them unwrapped in a bowl or towel in your bathroom until you're ready to use them!)
Another pandemic problem I had (and still have) was finding enough sea salt for my soaps… I refuse to use table salt, it makes the soaps sweat a lot during their drying period (which I try to keep around 3 months, most soap makers do around 1 month) and it just doesn’t seem as clean and nourishing to me. The sea salt I did manage to find was very coarse, and after making a few batches my normal way and getting some very sharpish lumps in them (some people do seem to prefer them that way but I don’t) I’ve decided to purée all of my salt before I use it, which does take extra time but I find it worth it for the smooth creamy lather they give.
Well that was a lot of updates for now but I also have to make one about my hand balms which will be coming soon!
I do occasionally get told that I look young for my age (49) well maybe part of it is that I have been scrubbing my face with my own salt soap 2-3 times a day for many years! Please click on the link below to read this interesting article at Healthy Huemans
How Salt Soap Can Treat Your Most Frustrating Skin Woes
Happy 10th Anniversary To My Business Savonnerie de L’Estrie!
It was late May / early June ten years ago when I sold my first bar of soap! I had started making soap the December before and then spent the rest of that winter planning and designing all the business stuff that went along with it (as well as taking care of my four year old twins and my twelve year old full time). By the end of May I had everything ready and sold my first bars at the Rocket in South Bolton and Farfelu in Sutton. It has been a very challenging ten years but mostly satisfying and I plan on continuing to sell my soaps as long as there is a demand!
For my anniversary I had planned on giving 10% off for the rest of this year in my Etsy shop as a thank you to my loyal customers, but unfortunately the incomprehensible war in Ukraine started and one of my main ingredients, sunflower oil, more than doubled in price... Along with the increase in price on the other oils I use as well as increased shipping costs etc…etc… I am instead now just trying to not to have to raise my prices for the rest of the year:-(
Hopefully everything will start to stabilize soon and the world will start to get back to some kind of normalcy.
If anyone is interested I will be in the artisan tent at Canada Day in Knowlton's Lion's Park July 1. Come by and see me and mention this post and I'll give you a really good deal;-)
Have a great day!
Joyeux 10e anniversaire à mon entreprise Savonnerie de L'Estrie! C'était fin mai/début juin il y a dix ans quand j'ai vendu mon premier pain de savon ! J'avais commencé à fabriquer du savon le mois de décembre précédent, puis j'avais passé le reste de cet hiver à planifier et à concevoir tout ce qui allait avec (ainsi qu'à m'occuper de mes jumelles de quatre ans et de mon fille de douze ans à plein temps). Fin mai, j'avais tout prêt et vendu mes premiers bars au Rocket à South Bolton et au Farfelu à Sutton. Ces dix années ont été très difficiles mais surtout satisfaisantes et je prévois de continuer à vendre mes savons tant qu'il y aura une demande ! Pour mon anniversaire, j'avais prévu d'offrir 10% de réduction pour le reste de cette année dans ma boutique Etsy en guise de remerciement à mes fidèles clients, mais malheureusement la guerre incompréhensible en Ukraine a commencé et l'un de mes principaux ingrédients, l'huile de tournesol, plus de doublé de prix... Parallèlement à l'augmentation du prix des autres huiles que j'utilise ainsi qu'à l'augmentation des frais d'expédition etc… etc… J'essaie plutôt maintenant de ne pas avoir à augmenter mes prix pour le reste de l'année :- ( Espérons que tout commencera à se stabiliser bientôt et que le monde commencera à revenir à une sorte de normalité.
Si quelqu'un est intéressé, je serai dans la tente des artisans à la fête du Canada dans le parc du Lion de Knowlton le 1er juillet. Venez me voir et mentionnez ce post et je vous ferai une très bonne affaire ;-)
Passe une bonne journée!
Coming Soon To A Boutique Near You - New Floral Wrapping!
Salt soaps are unique to other soaps in that they need to be wrapped completely (mine also have to have an interior wrapping of plastic too) - this prevents the high amount of sea salt they contain from attracting moisture from the air and ruining the ingredient label they are required to have by law, and also keeps them from damaging (with moisture) property in whatever store/home they are in or purse/shopping bag they are placed in. Although I would love to be able to make them low packaging/low waste I know that probably will never be the case because of this feature. I like to think that they make up for it in how very much longer they last than regular handcrafted soaps that don't contain such a high amount of sea salt and also how gentle these uncommon soaps are to even the most delicate and damaged skin!
Early last year I decided to drastically reduce the amount of regular olive oil based oatmeal/clay soap I produce, stop making body butter, and focus mainly on my sea salt soaps and lotion bars and try to get them into higher production and larger stores. It wasn't really a very difficult decision for me to make but some people have been surprised by it. My olive oil/oatmeal based soaps are very expensive to make, even though I don't use expensive coloured clays and fragrance oils, and so time consuming to cut, stamp, wrap, and try to make less lumpy and imperfect looking that it’s such a relief to be mostly finished with them (I'll keep making a few of the most popular scents and I still have a lot left if anyone is interested - they are still available at Farfelu, Brome Lake Books, L’Emporium North Hatley and if you contact me directly) Also they are what all of the other handcrafted soap makers produce with an astounding array of options. I decided to concentrate on the sea salt soaps because they are such a unique product that are not seen very often, especially here in Quebec, and they've been becoming more and more popular over the years since I started to sell them in 2014 (it's hard to believe I almost gave up on them in the beginning because they are a much trickier advanced soap to make and I didn't think anyone would be interested!). I have been perfecting my own recipe for 6 years now so I like to think they are pretty special :-) There are 8 scents and two sizes - the 160+gram lighthouse and a smaller 50+gram rectangle that I’m hoping will make it easier for people to experiment with the different scents before investing in the big lighthouse (or to just try on a whim and get addicted;-)
I created a flyer to go along with them (the text turned out to be much smaller than I expected) but here’s what it says:
Discover The Luxury Of Your Own Sea Salt Spa Treatment ....At Home!
You don’t need to live near the ocean to enjoy the many healing benefits rejuvenating sea salt can give to the skin. Naturally antiseptic, nourishing sea salt is an excellent natural detoxifier that draws out impurities and very gently exfoliates them away along with dead skin cells to give a soft, clean, refreshed feeling.. Sea salt in water has been known for centuries to improve minor as well as more serious skin conditions which is why it has always been so popular in spa therapies.
Completely handcrafted in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and made with with an exceptionally high amount of pure sea salt, this unique soap also contains coconut, olive and sunflower oils to create a low, creamy lather that gently exfoliates as it cleans. It can be very beneficial to people with acne prone skin, sensitive skin, chronic skin conditions and also to get a nice smooth shave. It’s a wholesome, gentle deep-clean for gardeners, mechanics, bubble bathers and just to keep handy by the kitchen sink!
Available in 2 sizes and 8 scents: Earth Mother, Herbal Tea, Garden in Provence, Pink Grapefruit (with pink kaolin clay), Tea Tree & Rosemary, Unscented, Winter Forest, and Witch’s Garden
Découvrez Le Luxe De Votre Traitement Au Sel De Mer...À La Maison!
Vous n'avez pas besoin d'habiter près de la mer pour apprécier les nombreux avantages de guérison et propriétés rajeunissantes du sel de mer pour la peau. Naturellement antiseptique, le sel de mer est un excellent détoxifiant naturel qui attire les impuretés et exfolie délicatement les cellules mortes de la peau pour la rendre propre tout en procurant une douce sensation de fraîcheur. Son usage est tres populaire dans les spas puisque qu'il est reconnu depuis des siècles pour améliorer les problèmes de peau mineurs à graves.
Fabriqué à la main dans les Cantons de l’Est du Québec, ce savon unique contient une quantité exceptionnelle de sel de mer pur. Il est également composé d’huiles de noix de coco, d'olive et de tournesol afin de créer une mousse crémeuse qui exfolie la peau tout en la nettoyant. Il peut être très bénéfique pour les personnes ayant une peau sensible, à tendance acnéique ou autres affections cutanées, ainsi que pour obtenir un rasage en douceur. Il procure un nettoyage sain, doux et en profondeur qui est parfait pour les jardiniers, les mécaniciens et les baigneurs. A garder à portée de la main près de l'évier de la cuisine!
Disponible en 2 formats et 8 parfums: Terre mère, Thé d’herbes, Jardin en Provence, Pamplemousse rose (avec kaolin rose), Huile de théier et romarin, Sans parfum, Forêt d’hiver, et Jardin de la sorcière
I also created an Etsy store to make online sales much simpler, it's still under construction (and unfortunately the "de" has to be missing so it's savonnerielestrie) but here's the link to it and please like it if you can!
Have a great day!
"You’ll stop caring what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do."
- David Foster Wallace
At the beginning of the year I was talking to an old friend Judy Mullins who makes wildly popular, one of a kind Santas. For years she used to be on the Tour Des Arts and various local artisan boutiques and fairs (and was one of the founding members of the former Quoi De Neuf Artisan sale) but for the last few years she’s been selling her Santa’s almost exclusively at Lambert & co. right inside Château Frontenac in Quebec City. I asked her almost jokingly if she thought they might sell my products there and she said why not try, do a painting for the labels that might appeal to them focusing on Quebec City instead of the Townships and she’d put me in touch with the people who own the boutique and see what they say.
So over the next few months late at night I would painstakingly work on my painting of the Château itself under a night sky with a few of the other landmark buildings around it, and early March I sent it to Judy, she sent it to them and they seemed interested. During March break I took my 9 year old twins to visit the Castle and leave off samples of my products for the owner to try (we sneaked around and explored as much of the castle as we could get away with and had hot drinks in the basement Starbucks!) I couldn’t afford to stay overnight at Frontenac itself but we did stay in town (the indoor pool was all the twins cared about anyway) and we explored the old city and had a delicious supper near the castle at a place called Cafe du Paris/Omelette. The next day after a long morning swim we spent all afternoon at the Citadel where actors were giving an historical tour, and then we came home. A week later I heard from the owner that I was in!
It’s taken months of waiting and preparation but today my parents and I and the twins went to Quebec City for a day trip and dropped off the soap and the display! We managed to park right inside the castle itself and set up the display in the boutique, we had a really good lunch at the same restaurant, walked around the old city a bit and then left for home so my parents could get back to their dogs!!
What a great day!
I have some big changes to announce to the Savonnerie De L’Estrie website!
There’s a pretty good chance no one will even notice but my website is no longer an e-commerce website... It was SO not worth the money to keep (and I’m happy to say I’m getting reimbursed for a lot of it;-) There are a surprising number of people looking at the website, learning about the products and then going to the boutiques they’re in to buy them, skipping the whole tediously made-by-me PayPal payment system. Supposedly Quebecers are the people least likely to buy online in North America and now I believe it! You can still buy all my products online through my website though, but instead of doing it with PayPal you will now have to contact me directly on my Contact/Policies page. You just have to list what you want, I’ll confirm the amount and price with another email (and how long it will take to have some products ready before they ship, I don’t like keeping too much stockpiled because I want it to be fresh), and then you send me an interac e-transfer for the amount, and once I get that I ship out the order! Don’t worry, I’m sure it will be much easier than it sounds:-)
I’d be surprised if anyone ever even noticed it but my website was actually 2 different websites joined together with two different hosts. I transferred all the data from the e-commerce site into the Weebly one (this one) that I want to keep and then completely made over this website. It looks fresher and modern and cleaner and less cramped, (at least to me anyway), and I finally got around to adding all my French translations - I’m very happy with how it turned out and I hope you enjoy looking at it (and maybe ordering from it occasionally) too!
Happiness ... not in another place but this place,
not for another hour but this hour.
Wow I just realized it’s been a year since my last blog post! In my defence it’s been quite a year... I got divorced, I moved my way-too-much stuff, my business and most of my big garden to my wonderful boyfriend Steve’s large, almost empty unfinished house (which we now share with our combined 5 daughters!). I’ve been working at my local hardware store up to 5 days a week for over the last year but now that I should finally, starting very soon, be down to 3 days a week this will give me much more time to work on and slowly expand Savonnerie de L’Estrie and Farfelu, which I haven’t had enough time to give the attention they deserve this year but are both slowly growing in sales and recognition.
I’m also still involved in the Salon de L’Artisanat Sutton (mostly my contribution was to make the website https://salonartisanatsutton.weebly.com/ ) which is this weekend!! Formerly the Quoi de Neuf annual Artisan sale, this will be our second annual show under the new management and name. We hope to see you there, so much work and expectations go into these kinds of shows that we really hope as many people as possible come to help support their local creative artisans and artisanal food producers.
From the website:
The "Salon De L'Artisanat De Sutton" is an annual artisan event consisting mainly of local artisans from the Sutton/Knowlton area but also including participants from the surrounding Eastern Townships. Formerly known since 1995 as The "Quoi de Neuf" Artisan Sale, in 2016 founders Debbie and Dodi Hornig, Anne Johnston, Judy Mullins, and Mary Ann Martin decided to retire from the organizationonal side of the event and passed that responsibility onto Lucie Fiset, Lise Bourque, Theresa Goyette, Kara Needham and Qita Reindler with the condition of using a new name, and so the "Salon De L'Artisanat De Sutton" was born!
The cozy boutique-style atmosphere of this event in a beautiful autumn country setting offers customers a chance to chat personally with the artisans and make custom orders for really personalized gifts or unique items for their own home. The artisans give so much of themselves, hours of personal creativity are reflected in the items that they sell. Showcasing a wide selection of arts and crafts for you to browse through, we will have some more new faces joining us this year, alongside your favourite artisans from previous years.
At "Salon De L'Artisanat De Sutton"you’ll find everything from pottery to rugs, toys to sculptures, soaps to furniture and everything in between. With over 30 artisans showing their products, whatever your taste or budget, you’ll find something you can’t resist!
Each year the artisans contribute examples of their crafts towards a raffle supporting the Brome Lake Food Bank. "Salon De L'Artisanat De Sutton" Artisan Show and Sale is truly a wonderful shopping experience. A place to get unique gifts, unusual items for home, customized pieces, one on one consultations with the artists, Christmas goodies, or just to experience the wondrous creativity in a beautiful country setting.
"If I give up who I am, I become who I might be."
For one weekend every year since 1995 the annual Expo Quoi de Neuf artisan sale has given the public the opportunity to shop for some of the best handcrafted creations of the eastern townships all in a beautiful autumn country setting. Approximately 40 accomplished artisans participate each year, but this year is going to be a little bit different...
The original founding committee of friends Judy Mullins, Debbie and Dodie Hornig, Anne Johnson and Mary Ann Martin decided to retire from their organizational duties, passing on the torch to friends Qita Reindler, Lucie Fiset, Lise Bourque, Theresa Goyette and myself Kara Needham. On the condition that we change the name, which we did to the 'Salon de l'artisanat de Sutton', our first, hopefully annual show, debuts tomorrow! With many returning favourites, and also many new, very creative artisans to choose from there is bound to be something for every taste, style and budget! We hope to see you there!!
Kara Needham is the founder and creator of Savonnerie de L'Estrie, a small manufacturer of handcrafted, all-natural and affordable artisan skincare in unique folk-art packaging.