Artisan Products, A Must Have
Have you ever been to Saltspring? Many moons ago I made a few visits to this grandiose island—every visit left me enthralled. Saltspring is internationally recognized for its artists, artisans, and musicians as well as its breathtaking scenery, abundance of wildlife, and year-long mild temperatures. Located off the east coast of Vancouver Island, Saltspring Island is nestled between the latter and the city of Vancouver. Home to a plethora of farms, wineries, yoga retreats, B&B’s, and many artists’ studios, Saltspring has been called a jewel of natural beauty. The island features 130 kilometers of shoreline and an incredible amount of choices when it comes to outdoor activities. They include kayaking, hiking, cycling, diving, and boating.
Located on the jewel of Saltspring Island is Saltspring Soapworks. They are a family based company churning out natural and sustainable high quality body care products, started approximately 30 years ago in the family homestead by Linda and Bill Quiring. It all began with the premise of “getting back to the land”. Linda decided to throw together her own batch of homemade soap with some basic ingredients, including olive oil. What came of that first batch was an epiphany; it was smooth, it was creamy and lo and behold, Linda could wash her face with it. (She had never been able to wash her face with soap without acquiring an itching and burning rash before.) Pleased with her results, Linda went out to find as many recipes for soap as she could. This turned out to be quite difficult. She did hours of research and discovered that at the time most commercial soaps were being made with synthetic compounds, despite the world’s most highly regarded soap makers in France and Italy using palm, coconut, and olive oils. Along with the natural oils she was using, she began adding in herbs and flowers from her very own garden. She enjoyed making the soap so much that, because of the abundance she now had on hand, she began giving it away. The excitement from friends and family members was quite strong—since most people had never used handmade soap before, and they were loving it, Linda knew she was on to something. She attended a few small craft fairs and brought her soap as well as a few of the other items she made such as lavender sachets, massage oil, etc. She promptly sold out of everything.\
Saltspring Soapworks has come a long way over the years; the company is now run by Linda and Bill’s Son, Gary Quiring. We had a chance to catch up with Gary and ask him about life as the King of Soap. We asked Gary about the early days of soap-making in the house first. He let us know there were many evenings of melted spoons, no dinner, and odd contraptions in the kitchen. Today life is pretty good—Gary has a treacherous 2 minute commute to “the office”. He works hard in the morning making soap, filling online orders, and managing his 3 retail locations. When asked if he saw the company expanding beyond BC, he replied with 3 lovely words, “Small is beautiful”.
My faith in the products of Saltspring Soapworks increased greatly after hearing Gary’s insightful words on the destiny of the company. “[We aim for] constant innovation and great natural products that become lifetime personal favorites to our fans. To ensure this continues we plan to keep showing up, being truthful about our promises and looking out for our customers’ skin and wellness without them necessarily knowing it.” Saltspring Soapworks now carries a large line of very natural and sustainable products including natural shampoos, body scrubs, creams and moisturizers, a line of Organic Baby Care, and a line of natural pet products. The company is currently moving back into glass and out of plastic bottles where they can. It is also moving into organic oils and botanicals.
My personal favourites are the dreamy body gelato, a body scrub that includes Shea Butter, moisturizing Cocoa Butter, Sweet Almond oil, Sea Salts, decadent scents and flavours. Just in time for Christmas the stores have many seasonal scents available that will knock your socks off. Their products can be found in boutiques scattered across Vancouver Island, including Chemainus, Duncan and Victoria. If you’re not living or planning on traveling to Vancouver Island you can easily order their products on their website.