Purple Sage Soap Company
A new face will be joining us at the Country Living Christmas Fair in Glasgow this year and we can’t wait to give them a warm welcome! Ann Carter, founder of Purple Sage Soap Company, will be exhibiting with us for the first time this year. We caught up with Ann to hear all about her company and the journey she has been on as a fledgling business starting out in just 2021! Read on to find out more…
Tell us a little bit about your work…
Purple Sage Soap Company produces handmade, vegan soaps and natural skincare products. Located in the beautiful Scottish Borders, we are a rural, woman owned business. Using only plant-based ingredients that are ethically sourced, we create luxury products that are kind to your skin and the planet. All of our products are made in small batches, not commercially produced, using the traditional cold process method of soap making. With our products being handmade, this also makes them unique!
How did it all start?
My love of soap making began whilst I was living and working in Germany. I spent hours watching some of the best soap makers such as Ariane Arsenault, Jerika Zimmerman and Sorcery Soaps to name but a few, and I was hooked. So I purchased a kit and that’s where the story starts. I returned to the UK in 2020 and immediately started to plan my soap business. Even though the company was incorporated in 2021, because of COVID and life I spent most of the time experimenting with soap making, selling at small shows and working full time for another company. In the later part of 2022 I decided that I wanted soap making to be my full time job and have spent the last 18 months really planning out our journey, developing our brand and this year, getting our brand out there.
What inspires you?
There are many things that inspire me. Living in such beautiful surroundings, other creatives, traditional crafts, magazines, social media – this list is endless! At the moment I’m giving some of my soap bars names based on themes such as mythical queens – we have a soap bar named Guinevere. Another bar is named Lillie after my daughter’s Haflinger Horse – the colours of the soap match the colour of Lillie’s mane and coat.
What is your creation process?
I use the traditional art form of soap making – the cold process – which means that I make soap from scratch. I know and choose every ingredient that goes into my bars of soap. I don’t use melt & pour bases (pre-made bases). Using the cold process means that I work with lye, which may frighten some people, but as long as you follow all the safety procedures, then it’s a great process to work with. We combine natural oils and butters with the lye, which in turn saponifies and creates the soap. Of course we add in other natural, plant based ingredients such as luxury clays, micas, salts, essential oils, botanicals and powders. I have a plan in mind for each loaf of soap created – not that it always goes to plan! Using the cold process method, also means that the naturally produced glycerin, stays in the bar and moisturises your skin, unlike commercially produced bars that have the glycerin taken out and sold on to make other products. This is why cold process soaps are so good for the skin – made from natural, plant based ingredients, free from synthetics, artificial fragrances, detergents and other nasty additives. After pouring the soaps into a mould, they are left to set for 24 – 48 hours, then de-moulded and cut. Cutting the soaps, for me, is so satisfying and I know a lot of my customers love watching this too. After this, the soaps are left to cure for around 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the bar of soap. Finally, after curing, we stamp and bevel the edges of the soaps, pop them in their own individual soap sleeves, label them and pack them off, ready for their new homes.
What makes you, your brand or products unique?
Every bar of soap is unique as it is never mixed, swirled or poured in the same way twice! Sometimes the soaps determine what they are going to look like, despite my best plans for them. Apart from the uniqueness of each bar, our company is also much more than making and selling. We grow our own botanicals to use in our products. More importantly, we run a Make & Donate project which means we donate soap to local organisations, charities and good causes such as animal rescue centres, women’s centres, NHS, food banks and charity raffles/auctions. Customers can also contribute directly by our Pay it Forward facility on our website. Giving back to the community is very important to us and plays an important role in the company.
What is your next project?
Our major project is to get the Soap Barn up and running, which will allow us to upscale our production and in turn, allow us to employ another worker that we can train in the art of soap and natural skincare production. We also want to run soap making workshops on a regular basis at the Soap Barn – this is the most exciting project that we are working towards.
What is your biggest achievement?
In all honesty, my biggest achievement (at the moment) is that I haven’t given up! It has taken a huge amount of learning (especially around social media), practising and refining my craft, designing my brand, learning about all the other (not so glamorous) aspects of running a business. I have taken every opportunity to learn about growing and developing my business and have had some great support from organisations such as the South of Scotland Enterprise, Scottish Borders Chambers of Commerce and Business Gateway Scotland.
What is your best-selling product?
Our best selling products include the Gardener’s Soap, Fruit Soap, Dry Clay Masks and our non-scented Dog Shampoo Bars made with our own botanicals and infused oils. We also have a zero waste policy, and so all the soap cuttings that come off the soaps when they have been bevelled are collected and put into a sisal soap bag. These soap scrap bags have been a real hit with our in-person customers who love the idea of not letting anything go to waste.
What are you looking forward to the most about exhibiting at the Christmas Fair?
I am so excited to be attending the Christmas Fair for the first time this year, in Glasgow. I love to meet my customers, old and new, chatting with them and getting to know what they like about my products. I value their opinions and feedback. I’m looking forward to meeting other makers and creators – people are so talented & knowledgeable and I love sharing information, tips and tricks.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers…
Where do I start? I’m still learning and I don’t think that will ever change. But what I will say is never give up – believe in yourself, your product and your worth. There is so much help and support out there for businesses, don’t be afraid to take it.