12 Apr 2009

Artisan of the week, Rebecca of Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen

Today's Artisan of the week is the creator of delightful soaps, creams and body butters. Rebecca of Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen has taken the handmade on-line selling sites by storm. Rebecca's husband Adam is the creator of the on-line community Made By Hand. By ME. and Rebecca helps to run it. They make a great team! Now I'll hush up and let Rebecca tell you all about her soap business.

1.Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?
My name is Rebecca D. Dillon and I make and sell cold process, shea butter soaps under the name Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen. I have a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Roanoke College where I studied a bit of everything including photography, screen printing, graphic design, pottery, 3-D design, drawing, painting, art history, poetry and even writing. I love to read, blog, and of course, make soap. I live in Southwestern VA in a medium sized city called Roanoke. I was born and raised here and plan to stay I guess since my roots and family are all here and my husband has the luxury of being able to work his job in Arlington from home. There's also a great city market here where I sell my soaps. It's my fourth year now selling on the market and I have an awesome local following of customers.

In addition to soap making I'm also wife to M. Adam Kendall - a super geeky programmer and creator of the new handmade community http://byhand.me - and a mother to a brilliant and athletic twelve year old son, Cody. Cody is only in the sixth grade but already he has plans to plans to attend UVA with a major in law and a minor in history once he graduates high school. Despite having exercise induced asthma, he currently plays soccer and will be running track as soon as I get the medical release back from the doctor.

2.What led you to take up your craft?
I've been making soap since 2001. I have always suffered from sensitive skin. Mom would always wash my brother's and my clothes twice. Once to get them clean and then again without detergent to get the fragrance out. Luckily unscented detergents are now easy to come by. It was just before I started making soap that I started buying handmade soaps. They made a huge difference in my skin and I never turned back. I figured since I was buying handmade soaps all of the time I may as well start making my own. And the rest just progressed from there.

When I first started out in 2001 the idea was to sell soaps that smelled like delicious favorites from the kitchen. I still do sell food scented soaps, but I've also evolved into non-food based scents as well to meet customer demand. All of my soaps are made using the cold process soap making method in small batches to ensure quality control. I use shea butter in all of my soaps and only vegetable based oils. Many of my soaps are vegan though I sell goat milk varieties as well for those who choose a different lifestyle. I scent all of my soaps with the maximum recommended amount of scent to ensure a great smelling bar from start to finish. All of my soaps have a rich lather that makes them great for shaving. They also work well as facial soaps - my unscented goat milk soap is a favorite for this - and as shampoo bars.

(You can read in more detail how Rebecca started out in the soap making world here.)

3.Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
Definitely the end result. Unmolding a log of a new soap I've made and seeing how it turned out. Sometimes it's hard to wait for it to cure so I can give a try!

4.Which part do you find hardest?

The hardest part is staying focused and making soap even when I just don't feel like I can possibly make any more soap. The thing I hate most is lining my soap molds.

5.Where do you hope to be in 1 year's time?
I've thought about this and I can't make up my mind. Part of me wants to have my debts paid off so I can start soaping part time instead of full time. I miss having a neat and tidy house and I'd like to have more free time. But then the other part of me wants to grow even bigger. So, it's a toss up really. I think in the end I'll slow down rather than speed up. I've already planned to sell less often on the market. I'll only be selling on Saturdays from this point on and maybe an occasional weekday
- but no more than two days a week. In the past I was selling up to 6 days a week on the market and making soap when I got home. It was just too much. Now that my online sales are more steady I have the luxury of staying home more.

6.What is the best advice you have ever been given?
It was probably the advice I got before I ever even had my own business and while I was working my first job with my dad. And that is you have to spend money to make money.

7.Could you name artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?
There are so many I love. But here are just a few.
Petit Plat
Seth Ellis Chocolatier
Sarah Seven
Noadi's Art

8.What is your favourite sandwich filling?

Turkey and ham with American and Provolone Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Salt and Pepper, Heavy Mayo and Light Mustard.

Thank you for joining in with Autonomous Artisans blog Rebecca! I understand your dilemma over where you want to be in a years time. With all the commitments you have you must be rushed off your feet. For those of you that want to keep up to date with what's going on in the world of Rebecca you can subscribe to her blog soap deli news and Shop ByHand to hear the latest. Oh and Rebecca thanks for the link to Seth Ellis. You have made this chocoholic very happy!

Written by Lynne of Hyperloop Hoops and PiratePixieCrew


  1. Thanks so much for the interview Wonderful to hear about Soap Deli (Rebecca) Met her on Blockhead Radio and love to get to know the person nice to put a background to a user name !!

    Vanilla Butter cream Soap Boy there are Really times I would really like to taste the soap!!!

  2. Looks great! Thanks so much for interviewing me!

  3. Her soaps smell so goooooooddddd! I got a package the other day, it was my first order, and when i opened the mailbox when I got home, it smelled like heaven. I guess the angel wings soap had some of the angels left on it ;) Thanks for the interview! Rebecca is stinkin' Awesome!!!! (and that's a great thing BTW right BHR)

  4. Wonderful interview! The soaps sound amazing and look great too. Some good enough to eat! Soapdeli is a great name as well.

    Stover Tile and Design

  5. Great interview.
    Its nice to know more aboiut Rebecca!!!!!


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