Before learning to make bar soap, Tania with Soapish wasn’t a fan. That all changed when she tried her first batch. Tania now creates cold process soap, lotions, scrubs, bath bombs, and more. All of her gorgeous creations have a distinct look - you know it’s a Soapish bar right away! Learn more about how Tania got started, what inspires her, and her soap making tips.
How long have you been making soap and how did you get started?
I started soap making on August 11, 2013. I know the exact date because I posted a picture on Instagram of the first soap mold I built. I was always fascinated by the process of making soap, and I even bought a soap making book years and years ago, but I didn’t try it right away because it seemed so intimidating!
After nervously making my first few batches, I was completely addicted. Soap making was basically all I did and thought about for the next year. I joined a soap makers forum, watched every YouTube video I could find, and read and read anything about soap I could. The really funny part is that I used to hate bar soaps! All of my friends were so amused at my obsession; they all knew how much I disliked soap bars. After I tried handmade soaps, I was hooked.
What sort of advice would you give to those makers just starting their businesses?
The first bit of advice I would offer is to find out and follow carefully all of the labeling and insurance requirements in your area. Next, I’d say to get tons of feedback from people outside of your friends and family. Ask for unbiased thoughts and opinions on everything from the products themselves, your packaging, website, and your social media photos. That helpful advice can give you the perspective you need to successfully sell your products. Lastly, talk about your products to anyone who will listen and always carry samples. You never know when someone may be interested in having local handmade bath and body in their shop.
What is your favorite type of product to make?
Cold process soaps are my favorite! Although I only make them once in awhile, I really love creating complicated designs that challenge me. My favorites are scented with anything citrus!
What inspires you to create?
Everything around me inspires me! Flowers and plants, fashion, textiles, and photography are the top of my list. I love looking at color palettes and patterns that immediately make me want to recreate them in a bar of soap. I can’t get enough of other soap makers’ photos, because they inspire me to want to create too. I’m also inspired by a challenge or necessity. I’ve found that I’m at my most creative when I’m being forced to think outside of the box.
How did you come up with the name for your business?
Coming up with a business name is not easy! Everything clever and catchy having to do with soap, bubbles, and baths was already taken by someone. I think it’s the Los Angeles in me, but I add “ish” to everything I say. That’s probably why “Soapish” just came to me one day. It was perfect because at the time I was starting to add lotions and scrubs to my product line, it tells people I make soap, but not only soap! Now I realize that my business name didn’t have to have the word soap or even have anything bath related in it: it just had to be individual and say something about me.
You share some of your projects on your YouTube channel. What is your favorite thing about making videos, and what are your tips for getting started?
I love making videos because I love watching them. My favorite part about creating videos is that I enjoy teaching, and for those few minutes I get to teach someone something new or at least inspire them to try a technique or create. What I would tell anyone wanting to make good videos is that you don’t need fancy equipment to shoot them. I shoot my videos with my iPhone and edit them with an app right on the phone. My main recommendations for great soap videos is to always have good natural lighting. This means recording during the daytime, which isn’t always convenient. I also use the editing program to cut down the long, noisy parts (that stick blender can be loud!) And lastly, always try to have a clean, uncluttered work space so your viewer can see what you’re doing without distractions.
What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
It’s really impossible to choose just one thing because there are so many that I can’t do without. If I have to choose just one it would be the Ginger Ale Fragrance Oil. It just makes me happy and it behaves extremely well for swirls and designs.
What is your favorite soaping technique and why?
My favorite soap technique is stripes. I love the modern look and I like the challenge of getting the lines perfectly even and straight. I also like that it makes a pretty soap, but not one that’s so fussy people won’t use it.
Left, clockwise: Tiny Triangle Embed Soap, Diagonal Cut Stripe with Swirl Soap
Your photos have such a distinctive look. What tips do you have for photographing soap?
I just try to clean up the soap bars and other products nicely and present them in a way that looks good to me. After that, it’s really all about that natural lighting!
Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
People are surprised to find out that I have 4 kids; 2 girls and 2 boys. They pretty much run my life for now, haha. I’m also a power tool loving mama, and I love to build things. My dream girls night out is a stroll through Home Depot with a cup of coffee in my hand.
What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
In addition to soap making, I make and decorate cakes with sugar sculpted flowers and figurines. I love to cook and have dinner parties, and I’m also passionate about home renovating and decorating. My husband and I bought a new house a year ago and we spend most of our free time fixing, building, and painting.
What is your number one soaping tip?
My absolute number one soaping tip is to know your fragrance. A badly-behaved fragrance oil can mess up even the simplest soap. I’d say that 95% of the batches I’ve botched were due to either accelerating fragrance or discoloring fragrance. Always read the reviews carefully. If you can see photos of test results, that’s even better! If in doubt, make a tester; it could save you a huge mishap!
Tiny Triangle Embed Soap, scented with Energy Fragrance Oil
Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
I have definitely had a soapy fail! I think we’ve all had those batches that go wrong. There are batches that are so stressful you start sweating and then inevitably a drop of raw soap finds a spot of your skin that’s exposed, so you have to deal with that in the middle of the chaos. When I’ve had those moments I tell myself “get it in the mold.” If I can do what I have to do to get it in the mold, I can usually make something good out of it the next day. Either I can chop it up for embeds or sometimes it turns out better than I expected. And in the worst cases, my friends get a few bars of ugly soap. These experiences also remind me to wear long sleeves when making soap!
What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
I love it when someone writes me a card or sends me a message telling me how my products have helped their skin. Being able to create these pretty things that are colorful, creative, pieces of useable art and knowing they helped someone… what more could you ask for?