I recently featured one of Rachel’s soap in my “All stacked up” post and got to looking around her shop. If you venture over to it you’ll find an old world mix of handmade soap, handspun yarn and the most adorable baby photo props you’ve ever seen. She even offers a Fiber Arts yarn club where you get a new skein of yarn each month! Rachel is offering a great sale for our readers in her Etsy shop to help fund her mission trip to Mexico.
So, now I introduce you to Rachel Johnston, aka Woolgypsy on Esty.
Me: Hi Rachel! Tell us about yourself.
Rachel: I’m a soapmaker and fiber artist. I have been on 7 trips to Latin America during the past 9 years to work with children. 5 of those trips were to Mexico, where I’ll be going again this fall. I travel to the costal town of Bucerias with a humanitarian organization. Each trip is a bit different, as a church that we work with there tells us where we are most needed. On this next trip, our goal is to build a house for a family. In addition to that we will have fun activities for children from area schools and orphanages, and possibly a vision clinic to provide people with glasses. It has been a huge privilege for me to be able to return to the same place so many times. I have wonderful friends there, and I look forward to working with them again to make a difference in a community I have grown to love. All proceeds from my shop go towards my trip.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by lots of things! Natural materials inspire me, that’s why I love both soapmaking and working with fiber. I like being able to take a raw natural material and create something useful and/or beautiful.
How did you get your start in soapmaking and fiber arts?
My mom and I learned how to make soap when I was 17, but I just started making it again and selling it in my shop last year.
I learned to knit about 7 years ago, and after I had been knitting for a while I decided I wanted to spin my own yarn. I’ve been spinning for 4 years now and I love it! I also crochet, dye and felt.
How do you set your soap apart from all of the rest on Etsy?
I don’t really think too much about that, because there are so many talented soapmakers on Etsy. I’m not trying to compete, I make what I love and I hope others will love it too. I think that if you love what you do, your products will reflect that.
I love asking soapers what their favorite soap making rule to break is. Mine is taking temps. I simply don’t. What’s yours?
I don’t think I break many of the important rules, but I also don’t let guidelines limit me. If I have an idea for a soap that isn’t common, I’ll try it and see how it turns out.
What are your favorite soap ingredients to use when crafting your soap?
I love adding shea butter and/or cocoa butter to make the soap really rich and creamy. I also like to add herbs to my soap.
What’s your favorite EO/FO?
I don’t use fragrance oils but Sweet orange is my favorite essential oil.
Do you have a favorite supplier for your soap supplies and materials?
I love Mountain Rose Herbs. They carry so many high quality ingredients, including oils, butters, herbs, clay, and essential oil. Many of their products are organic and/or fair trade. www.mountainroseherbs.com
I recently started using Mountain Rose Herbs! I love them and they have a great newsletter that you can subscribe to.
Do you have any advice for a new soaper?
Don’t be afraid of lye! Many people hesitate to try soapmaking because of this, but as long as you respect the lye and use common sense, you’ll be fine. Making soap from scratch is fun and rewarding, so don’t be afraid to give it a try.
Favorite book, movie, song and website?
I have a lot of favorite books….my favorite crafty book is Intertwined by Lexi Boeger. I like the book and movie “The Constant Gardener”. My favorite song is always changing, but I like anything by Phillip LaRue and Derek Webb. I love www.etsy.com , www.mountainroseherbs.com , www.rejectapathy.com and www.lonelyplanet.com .
Nice to meet you, Rachel! Thanks so much for stopping by!
Rachel is having a great sale in her Etsy shop through the end of August! She’s trying to raise money for her mission based trip to Mexico and all sales in her Etsy shop are going towards funding that. The special in her shop is 10% off everything. In addition to that she’s giving anyone who ventures over there from here an additional 5% off of any soap purchases! So that’s 15% off! Just mention that you saw her interview at www.lovinsoap.com in the comments field when you make your purchase. Visit Woolgypsy on Etsy!
Oh squeee! I love Rachel and what a wonderful interview!