Friday, 20 May 2011

Feature Friday - Ayntre Soaps

How's your week been then??  Mines been hectic to say the least.  My boss in the day job has been on leave so I've been left to hold the fort at work (and had her mobile to answer!) I've also got another issue I'm having to deal with which I may blog about when it looks like things are going in my favour!

So there wasn't a feature last week because I ran out of volunteers but my feature is back this week and I've found another pool of talent I would like you to meet -Lynne and Peter Allen from Ayntre Soaps. 

Describe what you do,when you started doing it and what made you decide that was what you were going to do.

My Son Peter and I make handmade, cold process soaps.  We were both carers for my Dad and about three years ago we started making soap as a hobby.  We took courses in Cold Process Soapmaking and Advanced CP Soapmaking.  We used to give our soaps to family and friends but so many people were asking us for them that it became a very expensive hobby!  We decided to start up our own soapmaking business last year (cue another course in Labelling - the Eu regs for soap are an absolute nightmare).  Because we were working from home it meant that we could take care of Dad and work part-time making soaps.  After Dad passed away in January this year the business became our full time occupation.

What makes you different from other people selling/ doing the same craft?

Palm Oil is one of the three main soap making oils, however, there is growing deforestation, particularly in South East Asia, due to the growth of palm plantations.  As a result many species, including Orang Utans and the Sumatran tiger are on the verge of extinction.  We decided that we were going to develop our own palm oil free recipes and I'm proud to say that all of our soaps are completely free of palm oil.
Where do you get your inspiration/ ideas from?

Mmm a difficult question...Usually I have most of my bright ideas when I'm lying in bed trying to get to sleep - insomnia does have it's uses I guess.  We also try to make our soaps look the way they smell, if you know what I mean so, for example, our Mango Soap is mango coloured, and the Dragonsblood Soap was just crying out for a real gold topping. 
Where do you make your items, do you have a studio?

I wish we did! We make the soap in our kitchen, the garage contains our curing racks and the dining room is our office.

Where do you sell and how do you market yourself?

We sell on our website  We also have a stall every Saturday at Ormskirk market in Lancashire, we do craft fairs when we can and we're hoping to add a couple of retailers that we'll be supplying but I can't say too much about that at the moment.  Most of our publicity is via twitter and facebook although, again, watch this space ...

Where do you see yourselves in 5 years time?

We would definitely like to increase the wholesaling side of the business.  It's difficult taking on too much retailing ourselves as we also need time to make the soap.
Do you have any advice for people out there who might want to start a craft hobby/business?

It's really important to write a business plan.  It's an absolute pain to do and everyone hates it but it really helps you focus on what you're going to do and how.  Also, when your hobby becomes your business you need to think differently and a business plan helps with this.
...and this week's random question - where's your most favourite place to be??

In the Lakes or Snowdonia with my paints and a flask of hot coffee.

More info about Ayntre Soaps:
Member of The Guild of Craft Soap & Toiletry Makers
Fulled licensed in compliance with current EU regulations

Member of Team HandmadeUK


Tiny-Gems said...

lovely to hear more about a lovely local company. Great blog, brilliant soaps :o), Sarah x

BaggieAggie said...

Excellent interview, and so heartening to see something positive come out of what must have a difficult and distressing situation for Lynne and Peter. Hats off to you both. :)

And I'm now convinced that I really do need to write a business plan...!

Rosie. xx

BaggieAggie said...

Oops! Apologies for the missing 'been'! x