Once upon a rainy day, a mum of two small children bought a 'melt and pour' soap making kit as a fun indoor activity.... and that's how College Green started!
We loved making our first soaps, which involved melting a block of clear soap in the microwave, stirring in essential oils and colours before pouring it into silicone moulds to set.
So that's how you make soap, I thought. Yet after some soap making research, discovered another soap making method, which created soap from scratch: the `cold process' method.
Very simply, cold process soap making mixes oil with a solution of caustic soda dissolved in water (lye). When the oil and lye are combined a chemical reaction occurs and the mixture then hardens into soap.
In reality it's much more complicated - involving a carefully curated blend of oils and butters (each of which lends a different property to the finished soap), the precise weighing of ingredients, the addition of essential oils, and if sold, a safety certificate prepared by a certified cosmetic chemist. And insurance.
Not long after I had nailed down my ideal blend I was invited to start selling College Green soaps by Clare Honeyfield, who needed a new soap seller for the Made in Stroud shop as one of its regular suppliers had moved out of the district.
My first batch was made with the same recipe I'm still using today (although the presentation is a little different now.)
And that's how it all began!
The soaps are still in small batches by hand, using spring water from my local church yard. I've added a few more products too, including aromatherapy bath soaks, floral facial steams, candles, reed diffusers and gift boxes.
You can find me on the fourth Saturday of every month at Stroud Farmers' Market, and online.