Today I am pleased to feature Lisa Miller of U-Naturally Soaps and Skin Care. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll recall that several months ago, I had an ongoing artisan feature. Lisa makes soaps from raw, organic foods and skin care from organic ingredients. Her products are just heavenly and so, so good for your skin. I have purchased and used several of her soaps, and each one has been amazing. Below, Lisa shares her inspiration, process, and interest in Ayurveda.
Can you tell us a little about your journey in becoming an artisan soap maker? When did you create your first soap that you really liked?
I first got interested when I wanted to start eating more healthfully. When you start doing this your life just changes. Then I started wanting to put purer products on my skin, but I couldn’t find what I wanted. I got really interested in herbs and started buying them dry. In my studies I learned that fresh herbs were better so I started growing them and it just grew from there. A whole new world opened up for me. I started with making Crisco soap but I knew right from the beginning that I wanted better ingredients. A lot of the soaps now use oils that are less costly which makes their soaps less expensive. Also a lot of soaps are made with tallow which is an animal product. I don’t do meat so I had to keep searching. When I made my first olive oil soap bar, I knew that was it. I switched to organic extra virgin olive oil because it tasted better. It feels like heaven on my skin. The first soap I really loved was my first olive oil bar. The smell of making it took me back to my grandmother’s house. I remember those homemade bars in the bathroom to wash our hands with. I didn’t realize that, that was what it was until I recognized that familiar smell.
What I love about your soaps is 1. that they are both luxurious and organic, and 2. you incorporate fruits, vegetables, and herbs from local farmers markets and from your own extensive garden. I have never seen an entire soap line dedicated to using ingredients such as okra, pumpkin, kale, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and more. What inspired your “Creator’s Corner” line of small-batched soaps?
Small batches keep things fresh and new. Nobody wants something that has been sitting on a shelf for a long time and neither do I. The only problem with creating small batch masterpieces is that they are gone real fast and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Sometimes I write down the recipes of creator’s corner, but most times I don’t. I never run out of ideas, just time to make them. Creator’s Corner came out of the need not to have a rigid recipe to follow making the same soap. With Creator’s Corner, I am free to do as I please. It’s sooo refreshing and my absolute favorite thing to do. I could make these all day, every day. I run out of shelf space, which is the reason I have to stop. What goes in them is what is beckoning me at the Farmers market.
Describe your creative process. How do you usually get ideas for a new soap or skin care product, and what is your process for creating and testing?
My creative process just flows through me. It just comes. I prepare myself and clear the space I will be working by burning incense, candles and essential oils. Usually I like it quiet so that I can feel and hear and I go to work. Before I know it, it is hours later and I’ve created something I feel is unique and magnificent. I test on family members mostly and they are happy to do so especially because it’s free. I also have people with skin sensitivities and allergies and they are gracious enough to test for me. I really don’t worry about it because I do not use chemicals. Most problems come when you use those; however there are people who do have food allergies so I keep things as pure as possible.
What do you like to do when you are not creating soaps?
I have been studying Ayurveda for the last few months or so. It is all of the things I love all wrapped up into one neat little package like healthy living, chakras, meditation, aromatherapy — stuff like that. I just started studying it so I am not real versed in it yet, but I am enjoying what I have learned so far and plan to continue. My intent is to tap into my “higher Consciousness” and explore expansiveness. There is a universal energy we are all a part of. The key is just becoming aware and present especially in our choices and everyday living. How many times have we been performing a task, but think about what has happened in the past or what we will be doing in the future? There is no past, there is no future. There is only now, this present moment and that is all that matters, all that is important. When we learn how to tap into that universal source we get and are given everything we need and our lives are so much more fulfilled. Mind you, these are just my thoughts, what I am finding to be true for me.
What is your favorite ingredient to use and why?
My favorite ingredients to use are food. Real, clean, fresh, organic, pure, whole foods. I use fruits and veggies mostly because they carry the most nutrients or nutrition, but as my knowledge base expands, so does the possibilities.
How do you know when you’ve created a soap that you would like to add to your permanent line?
That’s the funny thing. The more ideas that come into my head, the more I don’t necessarily want a permanent line. I know I have to have one because customers like to return for their favorites just like I do, but my joy, my absolute joy is to just to open up and let creations flow through me through my creators corner.
Can you describe the best feedback you’ve ever received, or describe an interaction that you had that made you feel good about your creations?
I get tons of positive feedback, which is what keeps me going. My customers know I search for the finest ingredients and I stand behind each and every one of my precious creations. They are like little gems of wonderfulness. I would not ask them to put anything on their skin I wouldn’t and I am persnickety. I am finding that my customer base is becoming more and more people who have allergies and skin sensitivities who don’t want chemical scent or actually any scent in their products. The majority of my products are unscented, and the ones that are scented incorporate essential oils and resins only. They are just pure goodness. You have to remember the skin is porous and whatever you apply to it is absorbed inside. The food ingredients in my products are all organic because that is what I chose to put into my body. Why would you put something on your body you wouldn’t put in it?
What plans do you have for your offerings in the fall and for coming months? What should we be looking out for?
I try to use foods that are in season so I never really quite know. I just know it when I see the food. I shop at local Farmers Markets where I get tons of inspiration and ideas. I enjoy the open air ones in the summer. You get to know and interact with the farmers who grow the food. All food has vibration and energy. It gives you their information when you touch it and ingest it. This is what I feel and feed off of at the markets. This is how I create.
Do you have any favorite crafters or artisans that you would like to share with us?
No not really. I love, love, love homemade things people make. I do enjoy meeting different people selling their wares at markets because you can feel that these people really enjoy what they’ve creating. They are sharing themselves with you through their craft. They are giving you a piece of their soul. Their face lights up when they talk about their wares and they can go on and on. And then they hand you their precious creation and you receive it and at that moment, you become connected.
What advice would you give to budding artisans who are looking to present their wares to the public?
Just love what you do and do what you love. The rest will come.
All photos copyright U-Naturally.com