La Fille De La Mer
Magdalen Islands, Quebec
I love to get to know my fellow soapmakers and why they love soap as much as I do. I want to thank Ariane who volunteered to be first up in our new Soapmaker Interview series for the Lovin’ Soap blog!
Ariane offers a wide range of beauty products including handmade soap, creams, butters, lotions, and balms, along with salts and scrubs. I love her cute little shop in the Magdalen Islands of Quebec, Canada, and her workshop is a soaper’s dream!
Check out some pictures of her soap making talent!
Amanda: How long have you been making soap?
Ariane: This year, it is 15 years in the soapmaking business!
Tell us how you got your start in soap making.
Many years ago, when I was still in University studying visual arts, my mother bought a small shop located in a very touristic spot in the Magdalen Islands, where I am originally from. She asked me if I could use it over the Summer to sell my arts & crafts!
Ideas started spinning in my mind and since soap had always been a curiosity since childhood, I just had to give it a try! My mom didn’t like the idea, but my father told her that I didn’t have much to lose if it didn’t work out!
So, against all odds, I started making melt & pour soaps in my 3rd floor tiny apartment in Montreal and came home that Summer with around 140 soaps, handmade jewelry, and a few handcrafted post cards!
I’ll let you guess what sold out in my first week!
Describe your first batch of soap. What do you remember about it?
The first batch of soap I ever made was melt & pour!
I purchased some soap base, lavender essential oil, and soap colorant. I used a clean and empty waxed milk carton, added some sand from our islands to create an exfoliating texture, and made soap! Just like that on my stove top!
Later, I made a more durable plexiglass mold and made 8 bricks of soap to take home with me on my first summer!
After such a great start, I quickly wanted to learn how to make cold processed soaps from scratch and took a few night classes in a private herbalist academy!
I was hooked.
Have you ever had any big time soaping fails? What did you learn?
Well, you may have heard about that time I almost burnt down my house because I left some oils on the stove top and left for 2 hours! It caused lots of damage, but it all ended well.
This one time, in the first years I was making cold process, I wanted to make a bigger batch from my original formula so I decided to double my recipe. Everything seemed okay. I added my lye water to my oils, the soap emulsified, I poured into my molds, insulated my soap and came back the next day to find my soap had completely separated!!! Just then, I realized I had doubled everything except the lye!!! Oops! It was the only time that has ever happened to me ever!
I learned to double check everything and to run my recipes through a calculator each time I modify my batch size! It was a lot of wasted supplies. I still remember the warm eucalyptus smell while dumping it all out!
What is your favorite soap to make just for yourself?
I love to create design and texture in my soaps, but when I want to treat myself, I love to make a plain uncolored soap with lots of moisturizing oils and butters and scent it with lavender essential oil.
What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
Playing with colors, making swirls, piping soapy cupcakes! Thinking of ways to make a pretty design in a big slab mold is always a challenge and I like the thrill it gives each time! I am never 100% sure my soap will behave well even though I always double check everything.
Most of the time, things go as planned, but sometimes it’s a plip-plop go, go, go into the mold before I get a soap on a stick! Slam the mold to pop air bubbles and cross my fingers the soap turns out nice anyways! And most of the time, unexpected things happen and create happy results! lol!
I love soapmaking! I’m so lucky to love my job, I have a blast every time.
What is your favorite scent?
Lavender essential oil is very pleasing to me. I use it in many products. When I create a new line of cosmetics, there will be lavender for sure in one of the new products.
Where do you find inspiration for your soap designs?
Living on an island surrounded by the sea, I am greatly inspired by my environment. I love using local additives such as handpicked herbs, home grown lavender, locally harvested kelp, sand, local honey and beeswax, milk, beer from the microbrewery and much more! I will choose an additive to use in soap, then think of a design to go with it. The ocean waves are a recurring theme, that’s for sure!
What advice would you give to people who are interested in learning how to make soap?
Start at the beginning, don’t rush it, take a class from a well-known soapmaker, follow safety guidelines and good manufacturing practices! Ok, I know I sound really “by-the-book”, but I truly believe this is the way to go.
What is your best soaping tip?
Use quality ingredients! If you wouldn’t use an ingredient for yourself, don’t use it at all.
What advice would you give to soapers who are starting their own businesses?
Don’t think it’s easy and that you will make loads of money! Creating a brand is something that takes time and you must work hard to succeed. Think of the final products you want to create. Think about what you want people to think of when they see your soaps.
With the many suppliers out there, it’s very easy nowadays to find your niche and buy the right supplies. If you want all natural, vegan, colorful, organic or any other kind of soap, it is something to consider at first. Then, make sure you are aware of your country’s regulations on making and selling soaps and cosmetics.
Consider investing in insurance to protect both yourself and your customers.
What is your favorite resource for business information and advice?
I am a member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, and I encourage anyone to join as they are an international and reputable guild for our industry. Other than that, well you can read the Lovin Soap blog, as well as many other great blogs, such as Soap Queen and Modern Soapmaking. There are also many great YouTube channels to watch! Lovin Soap has a great post on the 20 Soapmakers you don’t want to miss on YouTube.
How did you choose the name of your business?
My father gave us the idea while we were brain storming for a name! He said “La Fille de la Mer”, which translates to “The Daughter of the Sea”.
As a child, yes, I was born on an island surrounded by the Gulf of St-Lawrence, but I also sailed the East coast of the States, the Caribbeans, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the French and British Virgin Islands and I event went to Haiti aboard my parent’s sailboat! I learned to swim and climb before I could walk so it just made sense when my father proposed this name!
At the time, we never guessed I would still be running that business after 15 years!
What do you like about being an entrepreneur?
Being my own boss is pretty great!
I can do pretty much what I want, when I want to! I am a very well-organized person, but my work structure isn’t quite conventional. I work my way, at my own pace, but it works for me. I am great at multitasking, and I quickly learned to navigate through social media to get the better end of it. Soapmaking is my only job, but I only make a 6-month salary at the moment!
As an entrepreneur, I have to set some goals and then run to reach them! My next goal is to generate a yearly income. I know I will get there with time and effort.
What is something unusual or unique about yourself?
This is always a tough question! I have no idea what is unique or unusual about me. I find myself a pretty normal and an outgoing type of gal. I am a very passionate and loving person in everything I do. I enjoy giving time, help, and support to my friends and family!
(Note from Amanda: I LOVE Ariane’s spirit of giving and helping in our industry. Check out one of her newest YouTube videos!)
What are some of your non-soaping hobbies and interests?
I grow my own garden every summer, I have 9 laying hens and a rooster in my back yard. I have my own beehive, and I love to cook! I make my own bread, brew my water kefir, make my own sauerkraut and other various homemade goodness. I love taking pictures, raising my kids on our beautiful islands and being outdoors as much as I can.
What do you offer for soap makers (eg YouTube channel and Patreon Page)?
After receiving so many messages for help through email, phone calls, Facebook and other social media, I decided to launch a Patreon Campaign, which is basically a recurring crowdfunding platform where my YouTube fans can support me and become my patrons!
If you like my videos and simply want to give back to help me create more great YouTube videos, you could choose to give me $1.00 / month or more! Each pledge level gives access to some rewards.
I create soap & cosmetic content, give monthly recipes and ask for my patron’s input. I have an “Ask me Anything” reward level where my supporters can have their questions answered. I also created an exclusive Facebook group where I host a Facebook live event each month on a subject I was asked for.
It’s great! I love it because I can help others who also help me. I was just overwhelmed with all the requests I received (and still get every day!) and now I have an option for those people wanting to connect with me. Please take a look at my Patreon campaign here. Your support really makes a difference for me, and I want to say thank you to my patrons!
HOW TO FIND ARIANE
Ariane’s website is www.lafilledelamer.com. It is in French, but you can select the English version, it will convert it all to English.
Ariane’s Facebook business page is https://www.facebook.com/LaFilledelaMerSavonnerieArtisanale.
Ariane’s YouTube channel is https://www.youtube.com/user/AudreeSoluna.
Ariane’s Patreon page is https://www.patreon.com/ArianeArsenault.
Ariane’s email is [email protected].
I hope you enjoyed getting to now Ariane as much as I did!