About the Shop
About the soap Nicole sells
I started making soaps for my child who has sensitive skin. A decade later, soap became a staple of our off-grid homestead in the hills of Vermont.
Why are the majority of the soaps I sell not vegan?
You will notice in my Shop that most bars of soap are not vegan. I use tallow (fat rendered from an animal) in my soap, which is the traditional way of making soap.
In the past century, industries have switched away from using tallow in the soapmaking process and started using Palm Oil instead.
First, I craft and make things with my hands not because it is cheaper for me to do so, but because I want to avoid hidden costs of industrial production. A lot of vegan soaps labeled as cruelty-free use palm oil, or other vegetable oils that are harvested far away, on a global market that values money more than ecosystems or human lives. The environmental cost of using palm oil has been devastating to entire ecosystems.
Second, I want people to be paid a fair wage for their work. I have received the latest batch of fat from a friend who had an excess of it. She also makes soap but was happy to share it with me. I would rather go to my local farmer, see how she treats her employees and her land, and buy directly from her. As with my food, I trust buying locally more than any labels on the industrial consumer market.
Third, I am not dependent on this source. I am not creating demand for a source of lard, I am using the excess that would go to waste otherwise. Anyone who has visited a butcher will know that they have an excess of fat on their hands, as consumers have turned to use other oils in their cooking and baking.
If tomorrow, someone can make a vegetable oil that is local and a byproduct of something else, I will happily switch.
For now, though, I believe using animal fat for making soap to be the more harmonious choice.
What kind of animal fat do I use in my soap
I use lard (pig tallow), beef tallow, sheep tallow in my soap. I plan on expanding depending on what local farmers and hunters have on hand.
I do make a few bars of Vegan soaps (no honey, milk, animal fats) to accommodate people who have followed a vegan diet or are not using animal fats for religious reasons. These are in limited scents and are more expensive to make. I am committed to using only the highest quality ingredients, preferably organic when available and from trusted local sources. These choices are reflected in the price.
About the Stories I share
Nicole and Ben - We are originally city people who found our way back to the land. We both grew up in cities, Brussels, Belgium for me and Lyon, France for my husband. We both immigrated to the U.S. for college at 18 and ended up in another city, Salt Lake City, Utah. We fell in love with the U.S.
Shortly after our son was born, we started to have doubts about city life. It was all we knew and driven by a desire for space and greenery, we tried the whole Urban Farm thing. It worked well, but we quickly found the limits. But we wanted more for our son. More space, more nature. We wanted more than a city could ever offer.
We packed our bags, and decided to move to Vermont, where land was more affordable, water abundant, and values more in line with our own. It was a leap of faith, and we knew it could fail. We also knew we wanted to have at least tried it.
It has been 9 years now since the leap. We ended up building our off-grid home on several acres of forest. We continue to build today as money and time allows, and have been growing our homestead ever since.
Nicole - I share our stories and my makings on this blog and on Instagram. I hope our journey inspires you to live a more connected life, wherever you are.
I am always available at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat or sharing resources.