Farm Soap Co. - Homemade botanical hair & body care

Our first Newsletter

17 June, 2020

Our first Newsletter

17 June, 2020
Hurray, it’s our first Newsletter!

Every month we will place all the new names that have signed up to receive it in a hat and pick a winner at random to send out a lovely gift box as a way of saying thank-you. Our next one will be mid July, and you have to be in it to win it!

We promise not to... 
Bombard you, spam you, bore you or annoy you.
Instead...

We would like to...
Tell you about things we have learned and loved since launching our business (on the day Boris Johnson announced the lockdown!) sharing a little insight from behind-the-bubble-scenes at Farm Soap Co. HQ – the good, the bad and the soap dramas.

The Good
We have lots of new stockists, the online shop is going well and we are developing new products all the time. Some are bespoke soaps for retailers and hospitality businesses due to open later this year and others are for our own wholesale and retail customers.

The Bad
Soap is actually really hard to make, some days can be quite frustrating technically and at the end of the process there is a tonne of washing up – the most important piece of kit is a pair of Marigold gloves!
Good workshop spaces are really hard to find – we’re still looking.
Whenever a delivery comes to the house we can’t say the H or T words (“Hello” or “Thank-you”) because our aged Fox Terrier Gumdrop goes berserk and starts barking manically…..

YES
  • We really are making soap in the middle of West Dorset, in a workshop, on a farm, not too far from the sea, growing our own botanicals in the walled organic gardens at Deans Court.
  • Yes, Dorset place names are quirky (Puddletown, Piddletrenthide, Briantspuddle, Tolpuddle, Toller Pocorum, Toller Fraturnum, Ryme Intrinseca, Puncknowle, Shitterton, Scratchy Bottom…. ).
NO
  • Our life does not look like our Instagram feed – we edit out the messy bits.
  • No, Silvana still doesn’t understand really thick Dorset accents.
  • No, John-Paul cannot work in the workshop without music on Radio 3.
John-Paul’s soap-making soundtrack:
Eric Coates - London Suite
John Adams - The Chairman Dances
Sean Shibe - Scottish Lute Manuscript
Sibelius - Karelia Suite
Brahms - Piano Concerto No 1
Soap is actually a SALT!

It’s the sodium salt of a fatty acid (think oils or butters meeting an alkali - lye). In our Journal we tell readers all about how our soaps are made.

When you use soap for cleaning, it dissolves and disperses dirt and grime, washing it away in the rinse water. Soap disorganizes the lipid membrane of viruses and bacteria, denaturing their proteins. Soap is magic!

'A good invention has many fathers'
The many histories of how soap was created

From the Babylonians to the Phoenicians, Mesopotamians, ancient Egyptians and Hebrews, so many civilizations record in their history books that they invented soap, way back as far as 3000 years before the birth of Christ.Well, the person who gets to write the Newsletter gets to pick the narrative, and seeing as Silvana is Italian, we can tell you with consummate historical accuracy that in fact, it was the Ancient Romans who discovered soap in 200 AD.

Legend tells how a group of women were washing clothes along the Tiber River at the bottom of Sapo Hill and the clothes ended up much cleaner at that specific location.

The ashes (lye) and fats (tallow) from the fires used to kill sacrificial animals at the top of the hill mixed with the rainwater as they were carried down to the river to create a soap like substance, named sapo (sapone in Italian means soap).

The happy Pantone

Our new soap fragrance is launching – Lemon & Lime – just in time for the summer. If you can’t get to Sicily, let Sicily come to you.

These two citrus fragrances together are really refreshing, light and zesty, making you feel clean and fresh the old fashioned way.

We could spend hours and hours looking for the right Pantone colour for our soap labels. Our graphic designers, Robert and Lucy Carter in Bruton, have helped us since day one to create a really simple, clean look and have steered us towards some great colours. Standards must be maintained – we can’t let the side down.

The shades of the labels need to fulfil so many requirements – they need to blend harmoniously together (think stacks on retail shop shelves), be suitable for chic hotels and B&B bathrooms and also provide the customer, at one glance, with a visual reference to the flower, herb or fruit in the fragrance.

The printing on the box is in dark navy so we have to make sure that we don’t choose too dark a colour or you wouldn’t be able to read it. In the end we went for such a happy colour, Shadow Lime, evocative of many wonderful memories of holidays in Italy, scrunching icy limoncello granita, drinking wine while sitting in flower filled piazzas under the hot sun.

Seeing as none of us are going anywhere in 2020, the scent of this soap will have to do instead of this year’s holiday.

BUY NOW
We have had the hottest, driest May we can remember and we have been struggling to keep all our new herb and flower plants in the walled garden at Deans Court watered.

Every week we hoe, weed, water and tend our plot as diligently as we can – but because it’s completely organic Mother Nature does overflow with abundance (it’s what she does). It seems a crime to hoe too much, as wild flowers and native species self-seed everywhere and become home to so many invertebrates. The more we interfere the more we disturb.

The plot is home to many different varieties of bees, butterflies, ladybirds, beetles and hover flies in their thousands as well as a cheeky, fearless robin that follows us everywhere, in case we turn over earth and there’s a worm. No such luck for him – we are practicing no dig gardening.

We plot our herb plan in our Journal and each week we show it in our Instagram stories. Our IG stories are drowned out by the birdsong – it’s a little piece of paradise on earth.

The walled garden plots are divided out into sections – one section is planted for the vegetables and fruit that are eaten by the Hanham family that lives there, another section is planted with fresh produce for the café and for sale. The polytunnel heaves with new salads, tomatoes, chillies and aubergines and the herbaceous flower beds have overflowed with peonies, roses, delphiniums, irises and campanulas – all at the same time.

You can’t keep a good business and a talented entrepreneur down – during the lockdown so many businesses all over the country have faced an uncertain future. If they didn’t reinvent themselves speedily and reach out to customers, now unable to visit them, in new and innovative ways, the future looked bleak.

Dorset businesses stepped up to the challenge with vigour and we saw a number of them engaging via social media to let everyone know they were still in business, still trading, cooking, making, producing – their survival instincts and reinvention skills highly commendable. Here are just a few.

Brassica Restaurant Handmade Meals
Cass and Louise, the team behind Brassica Restaurant and Mercantile Shop in Beaminster, have created a tempting online shop and are delivering delicious ready meals, wines, seafood and larder goods within a small radius of their shop - or you can collect from them directly in their restaurant in Market Square. They also sell the beautiful Rambling Rose Flowers bouquets by Kate Reeves @ramblingroseflowers Get in quick – everybody has their favourite meals, tipples and bunches and they sell at the speed of summer lightening.
@brassicarestaurant_mercantile
Farms To Feed Us
A brilliant collaboration organised by Cathy St Germans to create a UK-wide database of farms, farmers, growers and producers that are making, growing and delivering food during the pandemic. Do follow them on Instagram and look at the IG stories too – this group has galvanised and rallied the collective force of land workers and lovers alike.
@farmstofeedus
Haypenny Market Garden
Lally and Tomas, the brilliant organic growers at Fivepenny Farm, are still growing, very busy in their polytunnels, their small field and also in their own home, where they grow beautiful indoor tomatoes. They deliver to Fruits of the Earth Veg and natural foods shop in Bridport and also to Felicity’s Farm Shop. You have never tasted anything better in your life, I guarantee it: produce is so crisp, fresh, tasty and enticing. This is what great food used to taste like.
@haypennymarketgarden
The Botanical Candle Co.
Amalia, James and their team at The Botanical Candle Co. in Shaftesbury have such a huge, loyal and enthusiastic customer base that they wait, religiously, for the days when the online shop is open to dive in and raid the website for scented candles, vintage cloths, designer matches and beautiful home accessories. Their Quietude candles have reached legendary cult status – the team cannot pour them fast enough. Now they are open, just slightly, for collections only, as well as online. I foresee a stampede.
@thebotanicalcandleco
Deans Court
The recipe and gardening videos and photos keep coming. Throughout the lockdown we have all been watching the Deans Court family and team making pasta, cakes, cordials and cocktails in their beautiful old kitchen or planting and sowing in the organic walled garden – what an informative and inspiring way to spend lockdown.
@deans_court
Bridport Times
A great way for us to stay tuned in to what’s happening in the region is to follow the local magazines, the Sherborne and Bridport Times and their showcase of creativity and ingenuity. They are the best quality local magazines we have ever seen – beautifully photographed and edited, this is what good local journalism is all about.
@bridporttimes
We're itching to get out and about and explore Dorset this summer. And once lockdown is lifted we have a list of the 6 Dorset places we are definitely planning to visit. Click below to find out where we want to go...
6 Dorset Places To Visit After Lockdown
We are following the work of really talented soapmakers all over the world. These are a few of our favourites...

From Oregon:

From New Zealand:
From Canada:
We came across the work of Olivia Thorpe on IG @vanderohe – such an impressive natural skincare company that has won awards and accolades globally and is also very passionate about the environment and marine conservation.
Take a look at the beautiful new collection of stationery and accessories by Laura Stoddart @laurastoddartillustrator.
The IG account and book of Making Dorset @making_dorset is really interesting because it highlights the work of so many makers and crafters in the area – this county is really filled with skill and talent. Below is the work of ceramicist Ali Herbert who we have commissioned to make some soap dishes for us.
There’s a new way of buying natural, plant based and eco-friendly laundry and cleaning products and toiletries and skincare brands in London and it’s called Charrli @charrli_refill. The team travels through Islington and Hackney (mainly) by e-bike, delivering and refilling products they have individually chosen (Farm Soap Co. is one of them!). You can subscribe to their deliveries depending on how much product you need – find our more here!
RANT OF THE MONTH

This month’s rant is all about the chemicals used in sunscreen and their effects on, not just your skin and general health, but also marine life.

The sunscreen market is worth a staggering $20 billion globally, but it is also responsible for 14 000 tonnes of skin creams being washed into the oceans every year from tourists, threatening coral reefs and all the species that live in them.

Here are the facts: sunscreen does not stay on your skin – if you go into the sea with it, it washes away and does all manner of harm to sea life. When you shower it enters the waterways. Most sunscreens contain oxybenzone, benzophenone-1, benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-benzylidene camphor, nano-titanium dioxide and nano-zinc oxide.

Here is a list of how these sunscreen chemicals can affect marine life:

  • Green Algae: can impair growth and photosynthesis.
  • Coral: accumulates in tissues. Can induce bleaching, damage DNA, deform young, and even kill.
  • Mussels: can induce defects in young.
  • Sea Urchins: can damage immune and reproductive systems, and deform young.
  • Fish: can decrease fertility and reproduction, and cause female characteristics in male fish.
  • Dolphins: can accumulate in tissue and be transferred to young.
The best way to protect your skin against the sun’s rays is not to go in the sun – or wear a straw hat, sit under an umbrella, wear a linen shirt, seek shade in the middle of the day and choose safer brands that have natural, botanical ingredients – like Ren, People Tree, Jason and Aesop.
Until next month,
Silvana, John-Paul and the team at Farm Soap Co.
Read other journal entries
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