Maker of the Month: Miner's Daughter

The beauty of nature has always inspired Kelly with Miner's Daughter. She's been studying herbalism since she was a teenager, and now grows the plants that she incorporates in her products. The result is simple and stunning soap, salves, candles, and more. Get to know Kelly below!

kelly with miners daughter

How long have you been making soap, and how did you get started? How long have you been selling your products?
I have been making soap for seven years. I started out making soap because I had just left a job unexpectedly and was home trying to figure out what to do next. I was literally in the shower one morning when the idea of making and selling soap came to mind. (I get my best ideas in the shower). Then the second thought was that I would name the business Miner's Daughter. Being the daughter of a zinc miner, I was very aware of the ways in which we harvest things from the earth. I wanted to be very thoughtful about the ingredients. Most of the ingredients I use are organic, locally grown, or fair trade.

I had never made soap before, so I called my herbalist friend who knew how to make soap and the rest is history. I made soaps, lotions, infused oils, and salves just about every day. I started giving it away and pretty soon after, started selling at craft shows and at holiday events. I traded in my flip phone and got a smartphone so I could join Instagram. I started to take pictures of the soap and pretty quickly got some interest. In 2016, I started the business. Honestly, creating and having a small business has been a slow and beautiful and sometimes stressful process. I have learned so many things about myself in having and growing a business. 

fall soaps by miners daughter

Fall soaps

What do you love most about making bath and body products?
The thing I love most about making soap is working with plants. I have been studying herbalism since I was a teenager, and have always loved plants and flowers. To be able to grow, harvest, dry, and use the plants in soap is such a beautiful process.

What inspires you to create?
Nature, beauty, and simplicity is what inspires me to create. The alchemy of using plants, oils, and lye to make a beautiful, useful, simple product is so rewarding. Making each loaf is like art for me. The colors, textures, and scent are all a part of the creative process.

What are some of your favorite herbs and flowers to work with?
My favorite herbs to work with if I had to pick are calendula, comfrey, and roses. I also love nettle, lemon balm, chamomile, lavender, and rosemary. My favorite herb to bring out color in soap is alkanet root, because I'm never quite sure what color it will be. 

lavender hibiscus bath bombs by miners daughter

Hibiscus and lavender bath bombs

Who’s another maker you admire? What do you love about their work?
Some other soap makers I admire are Boreal Folk Apothecary in Canada. I love the way they harvest and how they distill plants and flowers to use in their products. I have also recently come across Hog and Tallow Soaps and I admire them because they create a very sustainable product. 

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get started?
My advice for someone who is just getting started is to take good notes, have fun experimenting with recipes, and don't be hard on yourself when something goes wrong. I've also recently started to reach out to other soap makers, and that has been amazing to be able to share information and ask questions. 

jojoba oil and calendula cream by miners daughter

Jojoba oil and calendula cream

Have you experienced a fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
I have experienced some fails in soap making. I am now looking at fails as a learning process, which makes it much easier to work through and learn from. One time I made goat milk soap and used frozen goat milk. The lye didn't fully dissolve and when the soap was finished, there were little lye crystals in each of them. I learned to slowly pour the lye on the frozen milk instead of pouring it all in at once, that way it has a chance to dissolve. I have also had other kinds of fails too. Because soap takes so long to cure, I have mistimed making enough soap to have in the shop for after the holidays. Another problem I have had is not drying and storing enough herbs and flowers in the summer months to have enough to use through the winter months. So learning timing has been a big lesson for me.

What plans do you have for your business moving forward?
I have a lot of plans for my business moving forward. I am working on a website right now where I will be sharing more about my soap making process in a blog and finding ways to be a more locally-made soap maker. I am in the process of saving up for a copper still, so I am super excited for that. In the future I would love to create my own hydrosols and essential oils for my soap.

plain jane soap by miners daughter

Plain Jane Soap

Kelly's top Bramble Berry picks

  • 5 lb. Mold With Sliding Bottom - I like the 5 pound molds because I can make a lot of soap at once, but if something goes wrong it's not so much soap that it is overwhelming. I also wash the molds and they never warp or anything. I have 4 of them and they are all the same size, so my soap is always consistent.
  • Activated charcoal - I have been using the charcoal for years, and it is my best-selling soap. I call it Coal soap and every time I make it, it sells out pretty quickly.
  • Alkanet root powder - The color that it brings to the soap is amazing. I like the powder because it is super easy to use and a little goes a long way. When I've added alkanet root and madder root together, I have gotten the most gorgeous color. I use that color in my Lavender & Oats soap.
  • Rose clay - The rose clay I haven't really found anywhere else and it is such a great additive for soap. It gives the soap this beautiful pink color that I love so much while adding a gentle detoxifying element to the soap.

I absolutely love the Fragrance Calculator as well.

What’s your favorite Bramble Berry project?
The Bramble Berry project that helped me the most was the rebatch video. When I messed up the goat milk batch, I was able to melt it down in a Crock-Pot and rebatch it. The soap actually came out prettier!! I learned with doing rebatch soap you can add more infused oils and tea with that process. 

minty rose soap by miners daughter

Minty rose soap

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