ZOP Handmade Soaps: Richard Roden’s Artisan Soaps
Monday, January 10, 2011
Why soap, of all things?
Besides the fact that I love creating things from scratch? I always noticed when I visited gift stores in New England that beautiful handmade soap was one of those things that was always missing. My father owned an antiquarian book shop in Putnam, Connecticut, and I found a really old book, written in French, about soapmaking. I had it translated and taught myself the process. It took me six months of trying to get a good batch. Eventually I got it right. It’s a fun, creative thing to do – coming up with fragrances and colors. But it’s also time consuming -- some soaps might take up to four months or more to finish as they need to sit and cure.
So what are some of your customers’ favorite products?
I offer about 30 fragrances of soap, including grass, wildflowers, hay, pineapple, apple, cinnamon, cucumber and coffee. I also sell lotions, shampoos, conditioners and other items – I love to come up with new products. Much of the soap is triple-milled – which means it’s the highest quality – and people like the feel of that. What’s popular depends on the season and who’s buying. In spring fragrances like grass and wildflowers are big; in colder weather, people like apple, cinnamon and coffee.
Why is the kind of soap you use important?
Most commercially-produced soaps contain artificial preservatives and stabilizers, and that’s not good for your skin – they can dry it, irritate it, or you can develop allergies. Zōp soaps are made from olive, palm and coconut oils, which are then infused with pure glycerine. Glycerine is a natural moisturizing substance and humectant that actually passes its moisturizing capabilities onto your skin, leaving it feeling soft, silky and healthy. What I make is all natural, in small batches and some of the ingredients I pick or grow myself, or I buy from local farmers.
How do you know what an individual needs?
I custom-make soap for several clients who have sensitive skin. Everyone’s skin has different needs. I’m not a dermatologist by any means, but if you tell me what your skin problems are I can customize a formula to meet those needs. Also, more and more people have tattoos now, and they need to use anti-microbial soap. But many mass-produced anti-microbial soaps contain ingredients that react with metals in tattoo inks, causing sensitivity or a rash. Come in to the store and talk to me. I can tell you what will work best for you.
Zōp Handmade Soaps, 186 Union Street, Providence, Rhode Island, www.zopsoap.com.