It looks pretty. It smells refreshing. It was made by my own two hands. Can you believe it?
I like to think I'm crafty but I never would've thought that in my lifetime, I would ever make my own soap. That recently became a reality when my friends, Sahily of Pretty in Pigment and Dawn of Simply Sassy's Style invited a fabulous group of South Florida fashion and beauty bloggers including myself to experience pajama-wearing Bloggers Night In at Shoppe 561 in West Palm Beach.
Shoppe 561 opened its doors at 319 Belvedere Road late last year. It's a dream come true for owner, Janelle Lang, who created Shoppe 561 as a way for local artisans to display and sell their work but also a way to give back. A portion of the profits each year will be donated to groups focusing on putting an end to human trafficking and helping those who have been trafficked.
While at the shop, I got a chance to check out some of the hand-crafted works of art including a green-stone bangle and clutch that I purchased. I love supporting local artisans and great causes. It just makes you feel good.
The shop's owner also wants to bring out your inner artisan. That's where this soap-making class comes in. It's taught by Scott Spell who is a professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University and also owns Washburne Soap Company. His venture into the soap business was inspired by his daughter. A medical condition led to the development of a rash - a very itchy, irritating rash - on her skin that wouldn't go away. A father wanting to relieve the pain of his daughter, Scott looked into what she was using to cleanse her skin. He noticed the ingredients in the average "beauty bar" were too harsh. He worked to change the formula by removing what's not needed and leaving in what is - giving you an actual bar of soap that won't irritate your skin.
Scott took me back to my high school chemistry class as he explained how we were going to make the soap. Then he appealed to our creative side by introducing the bright colors, fragrance oils and exfoliating properties we could include in our soap. I chose purple because it's one of Money and Lil Tank's favorite colors. Despite how bright the color powder looks in the picture, it comes out a little more muted in appearance. For the scent, I went with cucumber and aloe. It smelled refreshing and clean, just how I wanted to feel after a shower. I also chose a pinch of finely ground clay and vanilla bean to add texture. Be careful how much you put in though, because it drastically darkens the color of your soap. I know because my first batch turned out a cement gray. That wouldn't have made for pretty blog pictures. Plus, I didn't want to lather myself up in gray soap. Thankfully, Scott let me give it another try.
Once all the ingredients are mixed in including lye, it's time to stir. Stir. Stir. And stir some more. This activates the chemical reaction to create your soap. Once it's reached the optimal consistency, we transferred the mix to a plastic container which Scott would put under a heat blanket overnight to "cook."
I returned to Shoppe 561 a few days later to bring home my made-with-my-own-two-hands soap. I had fun cutting the block into several smaller pieces to share with family and friends especially Monkey and Lil Tank. It was their favorite color after all.
This class was so much fun! If you'd like to get a group of ladies together for a private party, you can. You could also take this class with your spouse or even your child. Go here for the schedule. Soap Making 101 costs $30. Soap Making 201 costs $35. After my initial experience, I think I'm ready for that higher-level class now. Well maybe not, I did have to give it a second try. Oops.
Oh wait, you're probably wondering what it was like to use the soap. Well, you can't use it right away. After taking it home, you should let it cure for two weeks. I was patient and did. The soap leaves me feeling refreshed and clean, exactly how I wanted it. The smell of cucumber and aloe isn't overwhelming like some body washes can be. It's just the right amount of fragrance. The vanilla bean grounds give me just enough texture to feel like the dead skin cells are being removed. I highly recommend taking this one-of-a-kind class. You'll leave feeling like you've awakened your inner artisan, will have supported a local artisan and can share the final result - your soap - with others. A great gift!
DISCLOSURE: I was invited to participate in a complimentary soap making class in exchange for sharing my experience. All opinions are my own.