No more Pebble

Sadly I got an email to say that the shop in Watford High Street where we rent a shelf is having to close. We’ve been renting space at Rebel Pebble for about a year now and have only just got to exhibit our new label there. But the climate for a business like this is terrible. We were contemplating pulling out a few months ago, but decided to give it until the end of the year.

As I have said many times, Watford High Street has been ruined by the concentration of a behemoth Tesco Extra at the bottom end, along with Intu (we all know it as the Harlequin) which is now all national chain stores, plus the same old restaurants outside and opposite (Nando’s, GBK, Pizza Express etc), so no real reason to venture any higher up the road. The rents are spiralling out of control and many independents (who are way more interesting) just can’t compete with the big boys, and it’s sad because the council don’t seem to care about the little people.

So we will be going to collect our remaining items at the weekend. It was fun while it lasted ūüė¶

Benefits of Bar Soap

I believe we have been totally brainwashed over the last couple of decades into discarding bar soap and only buying liquid soap and shower gels. I hear it at my stall all the time: “I only use liquid soap!”

We used to use Imperial Leather when I was growing up, and I loved using Pear’s Soap in the bath (love that coal tar scent!), and later Dove, but we gradually switched over to shop’s own brand handwash and Sanex or Simple shower gel in the 90s. (For some reason I seem to remember having Dettol in the bath as a child. Anyone else??) However, since becoming interested in what is actually present in my skincare, I decided to go back to natural bar soaps, rather than the cheap detergent ones. I also switched from having a bath every day to showering, and then only having a bath when I really want to chill out in some steam. I do use shower gel nowadays, especially in my gym bag, but for hand washing I am NATURAL BAR SOAP ALL THE WAY.

We have become paranoid about bacteria and believe that the only thing that will keep us germ-free is liquid soap. TV advertising is great at achieving this aim, with every advert about germ-killing products showing nasty, evil bacteria creatures contrasted with a bright, blindingly white kitchen or bathroom, which looks more like a laboratory. I am still not entirely sure when it comes to meat-handling and hygiene in the kitchen, so I do keep an anti-bacterial liquid soap in there, but if I’ve not handled anything like that, I just use my Kelp or Tea Tree soap to wash my hands – a lot of essential oils are anti-bacterial.

The thing that makes me laugh is that these companies are packaging one product in different bottles, and you buy them all, not realising the shower gel, the bubble bath and the hand wash are all exactly the same thing!

I love bar soap, and that’s why I make them, so here is a list of the Benefits of Bar Soap:

  • Looks SO MUCH nicer by the sink than an ugly plastic bottle
  • Less packaging, therefore better for the environment
  • Takes up less space and lighter to carry
  • Easier to fit into your suitcase and won’t leak
  • No chance of not being able to get any soap out because of a faulty pump
  • Just as hygienic, despite the claims of liquid soap manufacturers
  • All the properties you require can be present (e.g moisturising, exfoliating, anti-bacterial etc)
  • Glycerine soaps like ours¬†and cold processed soaps are not harsh and drying like the mass-produced supermarket detergent soaps
  • Most liquid soaps are full of nasty chemicals and petroleum, where as natural soaps are not
  • The Soap Cabin soaps are locally produced and contain amazing essential oils!

Have I convinced you?…

Spotlight on Sweet Orange & Patchouli

This week I made 2 loaves of our lovely Sweet Orange & Patchouli soap, which contains pumice powder to scrub off dead skin. Although Lemongrass & Lime is our best selling soap, I am hooked on the sweet yet citrussy scent and vibrant orange colour of this transparent soap, with it’s fine powdery layer on top. It is almost mouth-watering!

Sweet Orange

Sweet Orange Essential Oil (Citrus dulcis) is pressed from the peel of the almost-ripe sweet orange, and has sweet and fruity top notes, with radiant undertones. The sweet-orange tree grows in Israel, America, Italy, Brazil and Australia. Because of its uplifting effects, it is known to be good for anxiety, stress and insomnia.

Therapeutic Properties: anti-inflammatory, anti-sceptic, sedative, digestive, anti-depressant

Patchouli 

A lot of people tell me they love the smell of Patchouli because it reminds them of the 70s…

Patchouli Essential Oil (Pogostemom cablin) is a dark orange coloured oil with spicy, woody topnotes and earthy undertones. It is steam-distilled from the dried fermented leaves of the perennial shrub, which is found in Mauritius, Indonesia, China, India, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

Therapeutic properties: anti-inflammatory, anti-sceptic, anti-microbial, anti-depressant, deodorant, aphrodisiac, sedative

Looking ahead

Our last market was the French market in Rickmansworth High Street, so what have we been doing since then?

Our web orders have increased, and we have also had a few orders from local people following the French Market, which is great!

We are also busy making products for the Autumn fairs we have coming up, and we’re thinking about Christmas, which is going to be extremely busy with¬†St Clement Danes Craft & Gift Fair¬†and a new one for us this year –¬†Beaconsfield School Christmas Fair.¬†Very excited about that!

We’ve just booked a spot on the new annual Harefield Village Fair in September after we were tweeted by the organisers last week! Although I do want to pace myself, the Harefield fair is a local opportunity not to be missed! This way we can connect with the community on the other side of the canal! My aim was always to become known locally, and this will definitely help. You can’t beat face to face interaction, despite what Facebook may claim!

Harefield Poster 2015

Kelly Hoppen Bedroom Make-Over

You may know from previous blog posts that I am obsessed with renowned interior designer Kelly Hoppen (Dragon’s Den is not the same without her!) and I had purchased her book¬†Kelly Hoppen: Ideas,¬†but had only looked through it once while I was on holiday in Cornwall last September. So last week I decided to leaf through it again and see if I could glean any Ideas¬†to spruce up my bedroom a bit using Kelly’s incredible style, without breaking the bank, because let’s face it, the examples in the book are all of amazing Notting Hill billionaire homes. Here’s how I got on:

“Hems that brush the floor…like an Italian man’s trousers”

CurtainI took down boring mid-length cream curtains that fell just below the windowsill and replaced them with these taupe curtains from Very that are slightly too long and therefore brush the floor and look kind of luxurious. They were unlined, but let a bit too much light in, so I added clip-on linings to the back of them.

“Chic banner-style cushions”

Cushion1

I bought one dual-textured banner-style cushion from Homebase to add a bit of layer and texture. I chose a cream cover so that it would go with any duvet design.

“Bedside lamps are an essential element”

I had some bedside touch lamps with cream shades that had discoloured in the sun, and so I replaced the shades with those of a muted pink from TK Maxx/Homesense. Ta-da!

“a…rug is a blessing under your feet…”

Fur rug

Yes it is! I bought a pair of these cream fur rugs from Ikea.

“Have two things together side by side”

I had some boring mass-produced art on the wall, which I replaced with 2 white picture frames from¬†Homebase¬†and two¬†New Yorker¬†greeting cards from¬†WH Smith.¬†I have to say I’m really pleased with these, and you can replace the cards at any time to change things up a bit. I also hung a white cube shelf from¬†Ikea¬†behind the door to use as a mini bookshelf.

“The final layer in a bedroom is scent”

Scent

I purchased this Coconut Milk & Pineapple reed diffuser from the Van Hage garden centre in Chenies (near Rickmansworth). It keeps the room smelling tropically fresh, which definitely lifts the spirits. I’m thinking of those dark November mornings to come!

Kelly Hoppen Ideas

Hope you feel inspired!

Quotes from: Kelly Hoppen Ideas: Creating a home for the way you live, Jacqui Small LLP (Aurum Press), 2009

Summer Skincare

I don’t normally buy Oprah Magazine, but this week I did (because the cover was bright and shiny!), so I thought I’d share some summer skincare tips I picked up courtesy of Oprah, mixed in with my own tips:

Breakouts

“In hot weather, your skin’s oil production tends to increase”

Like me you may find you get more spots on your face and body. To counter this, make sure you use a sunscreen. Instead of being tempted to over-wash your face with harsh oil stripping cleansers, I would suggest using the oil cleanse method to balance your skin’s oil production:

You will need a mixture of Castor Oil, Olive Oil (or Sunflower Oil) and Tea Tree Oil and a wash cloth. (Don’t apply neat Tea Tree Oil directly onto the skin).

  • Massage the oil mixture into skin, focusing particularly on areas with spots
  • Place cloth in steamy hot tap water and squeeze out water
  • Place cloth over face to let the pores open
  • Once the cloth has cooled, use it to gently wipe oil from face
  • Rinse cloth and repeat cloth application action a few times
  • If skin feels tight, use a little oil to moisturise

Dry Skin

“It’s usually the result of too much time in the water or chlorine”

You may even find that your skin is generally drier in the summer. Prevention: Try to shower only once a day and exfoliate to allow your moisturiser to penetrate the skin more effectively. Our Shea Body Butters are excellent for moisturising post-scrubbed dry skin. When you get out of the pool, rinse skin with a creamy hydrating cleanser.

Shaving Rash

“Those little red bumps”

You are probably shaving more often, so this can lead to inflammation of the hair follicles. Prevention: Avoid using rich lotions after shaving and cleanse with an antibacterial soap Р I would suggest our Tea Tree & Lime soap bar, which has excellent antibacterial properties. Also make sure you exfoliate regularly.

Hyperpigmentation

“No matter how careful you are with the SPF”

Too much sun exposure can cause uneven skin tone and darker spots, particularly from previous sun exposure. Prevention: Use a sunscreen along with a Vitamin C serum.

Heat Rash

“Things get itchy when sweat glands are blocked”

Blocked sweat glands trap the sweat beneath the skin and cause intense itching. I have actually had this a few times on the face from overheating at night. After this, I stopped sleeping with the duvet over my head!  Prevention: Exfoliate your skin daily with a mild body scrub. A cold compress will help calm the itch followed by a moisturiser containing calendula (such as our Soothing Skin Oil). The other thing I get from overheating is little water blisters on my hands. The only thing that works for me for taking them down is talc, and cooler weather!

From: Oprah Magazine, Jennifer Linder MD, Summer Skincare, July 2015