Kerryn sells the soap on her website, and to shops in the north and south islands...
To make the soap, Kerryn gently heats and melts the coconut and palm oil to a liquid and adds them to the already liquid olive oil. A lye solution is then used to saponify the oils. Lye is caustic and tricky to make which is why Kerryn prefers to buy it. The last ingredients to add to the mix are the essential oils which give the soaps their appealing aromas.
The mix is poured into moulds and left for 24 hours before being taken out and cut. Kerryn’s soap cutter comes from Canada where hand-made soap is popular, and every batch she makes is cut into 220 perfectly-even pieces. The soap is then cured – a process which takes six weeks – then the soap is ready to be packaged and sold.
When they bought the business, it was producing four different scented soaps but Kerryn and Phill have now increased it to 10, and they believe there is potential to expand the range further. They have also been pleased with the response to a new dog soap and shampoo, and gift options of scented soaps wrapped in coloured felt.
Kerryn sells the soap on their website, and to shops in the North and South Islands. She has a market stall in Takaka and also travels to other craft markets in the summer months. She says she enjoys the interaction with her regular customers, and there is great local support and a number of repeat internet customers. Unlike selling food products, soap keeps, so there is no wastage, but fortunately there has been good demand for it.
The best part is the satisfaction of selling a product from a cottage industry that is appreciated by customers, and doesn’t harm the environment, says Kerryn.
“We live in such an amazing country. It’s about looking after it.”