Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday Spotlight on Julia and Wayne of Belle Terre Soaps

You've seen their products on my blog before, I've mentioned meeting Julia at craft shows here in town and their soap is in my shower.  Juli and Wayne are a husband and wife team who are trying to live a simpler life, more organically, closer to their food and the environment.  To get there, they started a small hobby farm in the North Carolina foothills and established Belle Terre, their little soap company.

Tell us three things about your soap.
1. Our soap is handmade by us using organic ingredients.
2. We buy the ingredients for our soap from a company called Mountain Rose Herbs. They aren't the cheapest but they share many of our values and pay a living wage to their employees.
3. We only use essential oils to add scent to our soap. This means our soaps contain no synthetic fragrance oils, making our soaps 100% natural. In short, we think being clean should be natural!

Unscented All-Natural Handcrafted Soap

How did you get into making it?
We started making soap because Julia has super sensitive skin and can't use chemical based store bought soaps. After buying natural soaps for a couple of years, we decided to try making it ourselves. We had lots of fun and got great feedback from friends and family with whom we shared our soaps. From this point, the idea of Belle Terre was born.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve made?
It is hard to pick one thing because it changes depending on what is going on. Some days it is our rich, creamy lotions that make my skin feel so soft. At the end of a long day though, it is definitely the bath salts. In early spring when it is cold and windy I never let go of my vanilla lip balm.

From where do you take inspiration?
We are both inspired by nature. Whether it is the scents of wildflowers, the incredible work ethic and commitment of our bee colonies, or the breathtaking landscapes that one finds meandering through the Appalachian foothills we find limitless inspiration and renewal in our natural surroundings.

Lemon Sugar Scrub

Name one other soapmaker you admire and why?
Krugs Eco-Logic. We share many of the same values as Erin from Krug's Eco-Logic. Also, she has been gracious enough to share with this fellow soaper when we have had questions. It isn't often that you come across someone who is willing to share with a competitor. It really speaks to Erin's class and professionalism.

What are you doing when you’re not crafting?
We both work full time, so normally we are working our "day jobs". We are also working on converting 6 acres in the foothills of NC into a sustainable hobby farm. These two activities keep us fairly busy when we aren't crafting.

Four Pack Orange All-Natural Handcrafted Lip Balm

If you had to give up your medium and pursue another, what would it be and why?
For Julia, this would some sort of crafting with fibers. For Wayne, he would rather be farming.

Tell us about a time you were making something that came out better than expected and how it happened.
Ok, so Julia is the creative one and deserves credit for 99% of the cool stuff we do. However, one time a customer requested a bath salt for her boyfriend. She was looking for something a little more masculine than our Lavender and Rose offerings. Wayne decided to play around with some essential oils we had used in one of our holiday soaps. The result was a combination of Virginia Cedarwood, Scotch Pine and Fir Needle that makes you think you are taking a bath in the middle of an ancient wood.

Who is one person living or dead, famous or not, who you wish owned one of your bars of soap and why?
We have both lost loved ones who we cared about a great deal and who will always be an important part of who we are. These were individuals who were taken well before their time, and before they had a chance to fully explore and enjoy the bounty that life has to offer. Sharing our craft with these individuals would be very meaningful for many reasons, but most importantly, to let them know that we are alright.

What’s your favorite part of the process?
Our favorite part of the process is selling at markets and festivals. We so enjoy when a customer picks up a bar of our soap, takes a deep sniff and exhales a sigh of wonder at the purity of the smell. Knowing that you have created a product that people really get excited about is a wonderful feeling.

One random thing you think people should know.
Dogs make our lives better.
(Sidenote from Jessica: I totally agree with Wayne and Julia on this.)

Avocado Oil All-Natural Soap

Your shop address/facebook/Twitter/blog/website. Etc.

If you could have one superpower what would it be?
 Patience. Anyone who thinks this isn't a superpower is goofy.

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