|Winter Moon, Christmas Orange, Chocolate Mint|
The Essentially Ivy brand of handmade, homemade, artisanal soap is the brain child of Green River, Wyoming wife, mother and spectacular woman, Ivy Kropf. The best way for me to introduce my readers to Ivy is via an interview we did through Facebook messaging; in other words, by her own words.
Who is Ivy Kropf and Why begin her business?
Ivy: "About me. Well, I've been married for almost 20 years to my best friend! We have 5 kids; 4 girls and the lone boy. I could talk about my kids for days, but I won't. My son has Aspergers and this led me to search out more natural, less chemical ways of life in hopes that it would help. I started with essential oils, which led me to make my own lip balm and body butter. I dabbled in homemade shampoo, toothpaste, house cleaners, etc. so it was a fairly easy jump to soap. I've actually always wanted to make soap, just so when the world comes to an end, I'd at least be clean! I researched soap making for about a year before I actually made my first batch. It was as thrilling as the first time my homemade yogurt set up! It kind of felt like a miracle. I also like to make desserts involving chocolate, bake bread, and eat good pizza! In my "spare" time, I teach at a private Christian academy, teach voice lessons, scrapbook, and do custom sewing. I also belong to the largest charitable women's organization in the world, called the Relief Society. I'm a councilor in the presidency of our local chapter, which means I help plan and organize a monthly meeting aimed at helping women strengthen their homes, families, and personal lives through provident living and following the Lord Jesus Christ."
Note: As a pizza lover myself, I appreciate that Ivy likes to eat good pizza!
How and Where does Ivy get her inspiration for soap combinations?
Ivy: "Food, mostly. I once gave my son a bar of soap for his face, and he took a bite out of it before he realized it wasn't fudge! I make soap that I like, and hope that other people like it too. Sometimes I'll get a request; sometimes I'll borrow an idea from another soaper and put my spin on it. I'm always trying new techniques, always pushing myself to learn and improve. Even if a batch of soap doesn't turn out how I imagined, I don't count it as a fail, because I learn from that too. I love soap making because it's part science experiment, part craft. '
A perfect example of of "fail but learn" is the Winter Moon soap Ivy made for me.
I like the color of the greenish-grey personally as it reminds me of the wonderful sage we have growing in the desert areas of Utah.
What makes your soap better than average store bought products?
Ivy: " Most grocery store soaps have the moisturizing agents stripped out to be sold separately; they also use detergents for sudsing. As a result, they're a lot harsher on your skin. Homemade soaps are customizable. I've made soap formulated to help with eczema, acne, dry skin, etc.; adding herbs and essential oils can add many health benefits. I've never found a lemon yarrow soap in the grocery store! Homemade soaps can have whatever fun colors, scents, swirls, embeds, herbs, you want!
Down to basics, What ingredients do you find work best?
Ivy: "Soapers are a pretty friendly group, and with few exceptions, are eager and willing to share recipes with each other, much like home cooks and bakers. Basically you need two things to make soap: Fat and Lye. Types of fats have different saponification values, and provide different benefits; the holy trifecta of oils are: Coconut - bar hardness, Olive - lather and Palm - moisturizing.
However, I avoid palm as it's not super environmentally sustainable, but if I have a vegan customer, I'll use it. I usually substitute with lard or shortening. Depending on what I want my soap to do; I'll add oils like jojoba, hemp, grape seed, castor, sweet almond, safflower. Basically just about any fat or oil you can think of can be turned into soap! I've also dabbled a bit making my own herbal infused oils. Which makes me feel part hipster part pioneer!"
I tried a homemade soap that used soy in it; it didn't lather up as fast as yours did, and it left a brown stain on my skin. So, I had to use my regular soap, Dove, to wash it off. Have you used soy in your soap making, and if yes, what results did you get?
Ivy: "It was probably soy milk. Milk is tricky, because when you mix it with lye, the temperatures get up to 180F, which burns your milk if you don't do it right. You probably had scorched milk in your soap."
Homemade soaps aren't just pretty and pleasantly scented; they're not just for putting inside a dish for decor. Homemade soaps can be better for your skin; and soothing to your state of mind, well while you're in the shower or bath at least.
For more photos and details of Essentially Ivy soaps, go to her blog (http://essentiallyivy.blogspot.com/), message at Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/essentiallyivy/), or email Ivy with questions, or to order.
By the way Ivy, consider beginning a homemade chocolate making business, including fudge; I'll expect a gift box for my birthday!