12 Jul 2009

Artisan of the Week, Irena of Ginger's Garden

I don't know about you, but for me this week has been a bit of a hard slog and I could do with a bit of pampering and a soak in a hot bath, so I went in search of some handmade bath and beauty products and came across a wonderful site. You can pretty much get all you need in toiletries from it, so lets all get cleaned up this Sunday with Irena of Ginger's Garden.

1. Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?

I am Irena and I own a business called Ginger's Garden. I was born in the Czech Republic and came to the US as a teen in 1969. I am an Aromatherapist and a third generation Herbalist, Soap maker and Skin Care Manufacturer. I am also a Licensed Esthetician. I make handmade artisan soaps, lotions, creams, lip care and body care. I also sell gift baskets, custom Aromatherapy Blends, Perfumes and Sculpted Soap Flowers.

2. What led you to take up your craft?
My mother and grandmother made soaps, herbal potions, balms and salves. I am following in their footsteps. As a child I remember grandma making soap outside in a big kettle over an open fire. The lye was made by pouring ashes over rain water which my grandma collected during the rainy season. When she had enough lye, she would suspend an egg to see if the lye was strong enough. If the egg sank, the lye was too strong. If the egg just barely floated on the top of the water, the lye wasn't strong enough. But, if the egg submerged just half way, the lye was just right. She collected grease drippings in the kitchen in an empty coffee can. This soap was mostly used to wash laundry and dirty dishes. Our clothes were washed in a tin tub with a wooden washboard.

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
I enjoy the formulating of recipes and making the actual products. I get a lot of ideas from nature; the bark of a tree, the color of a flower, the blue of the ocean, the sky at sunset.

4. Which part do you find hardest?

All the paperwork that this business entails.

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?
I hope to enlighten more people that handmade soap is better for you and properly made handcrafted lotions have therapeutic ingredients and many skin care benefits. I hope to convert more people to buy my quality products.

6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Don't skimp on quality ingredients. Have the best products and best customer service.

7. Could you name artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?
WAHDesign on Etsy.

8. What is your favourite sandwich filling?
Turkey with cranberry jelly.

Thank you Irena for taking part in our blog. I agree with the advice "Don't skimp on quality ingredients. Have the best products and best customer service." Although I work in yarn and make hula hoops this advice still holds true. Quality is what keeps bringing people back, but even if you have the best quality, bad customer service will drive people away. I'm hankering for some quality pampering so I'm off to look through your site for the perfect product. Dear readers I would urge you all to do the same. Pamper yourselves!

Written by Lynne of Pirate Pixie Crew and Hyperloop Hoops

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