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New Soap – Fiddler’s Green

I made this soap 2 days ago, when inspiration hit and getting down to making a completely new soap felt like a breeze. I’d been toying around with a formulation for gym buffs and people with severe acne or folliculitis for some time – and this is the result.

When I first cut this soap I spent a good 5 minutes just admiring the amazing shades of green on the cut surfaces (and trying not to tear up from sheer joy – I was thinking of the many ingredients I have used in the past which very sadly turned to a dull brown over time due to oxidation, or high pH environments). Spirulina powder was the magical ingredient that gave this soap its luxurious green colour, and I read that it in its natural state, it thrives in a high pH environment. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the colour will hold for months to come!

Fiddler's Green collage

Another thing I’m really excited about is its essential oil combination of sweet marjoram (new!), bergaptene-free bergamot (also new!), cypress and pine. These are all well known as being antibacterial and antifungal, so they should be helpful for those of you who have chronically inflamed pores / hair follicles. I recently had an enquiry from someone who had symptoms that fit the bill for folliculitis, which gets worse when the damaged hair follicle becomes infected by bacteria, yeast or fungi (here are some images, but beware, some are pretty gruesome). None of our existing soap bars were tweaked specifically to have strong antibacterial and antifungal actions, so I’m hoping that Fiddler’s Green will fill that gap.

That’s not all – marjoram, cypress and pine essential oils have wonderful soothing and healing properties for muscles as well. I won’t go so far as to say that this makes it the perfect post-workout soap to take the edge of sore muscles the next day, but its scent will certainly help you be in a placid, happy state of mind. 🙂

There is also a little story that I would like to tag on to this soap. Just recently I learned that the parents of an acquaintance of mine were about to go through a divorce. When I popped into her shop to say hi to her a few days back, this normally bubbly, jovial lady was on the verge of tears. She told me her story and I felt my throat and chest knot up. What a shock it must be for her, and her family. But what could I do to comfort her?

Then I thought of other friends who have their own struggles. Unemployment. Illness. Discrimination. Troubled children. All wishing to find themselves in a better place.

According to Irish folklore, Fiddler’s Green is the equivalent of heaven for sailors. There’s a traditional song of the same name that describes it – I used to listen to it when I was a child, when my father played it on a CD. 🙂

So my wish for you, my friends, is that you will all find your Fiddler’s Green while you still walk this wondrous place we call home. I am just a soapmaker…but I want to do all I can to help us all make our little space on earth a little brighter, a little cosier, a little friendlier,

even if it’s through something as mundane as a bar of soap.

Virtual hugs from me. 🙂

p/s: Fiddler’s Green will be available for sale on April 17th. Hang in there, I’m still working out its product page. :p

pp/s: A special mention goes to all my friends who saw this soap as food (specifically, kuih talam) – I found someone’s blogpost from 2010 which has an almost identical design! :))

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Naked Soap: Save Money, Save Our Environment

We are gradually introducing “naked” options to our individual soap bars so you can now purchase them without any packaging material whatsoever, and you get to save RM1 per bar. Our DreamTime and Tangy Lavender bars now have this option, since these two batches are just off the curing racks as of today. 🙂

Why are we doing this?

We agree that product packaging is important. It serves several functions: to protect the product from the elements and spoilage, to make it look presentable and desirable, to impart information to the user. However I believe that certain developments in technology and how we go about our daily lives has changed drastically ever since mass-consumer product packaging was introduced in the industrial era, and it does influence how products can be presented in this day and age.

For instance, one day while I was driving my two older children to school, Brandon (our eldest) remarked, “I don’t like seeing all these stickers all over the lamp posts and signboards. They make me feel uncomfortable.” They advertise all kinds of things, from plumbing services to personal loans, and are plastered all over any available surface in public areas in our neighbourhood, similar to this:

decal_malayisa_1

I explained that some businesses find that to be a good way to advertise their services, along with their contact details. I asked him what he thought would be a better way to go about it.

“They should put their businesses and phone numbers on Facebook.”

Now this is coming from an 8-year-old who only sees me using Facebook. He doesn’t know how to get online, let alone have his own FB account–but he has somehow understood that the internet is a pretty good place to find useful information.

By inference: the product label isn’t the only place to get information about it.

As for making a product even more desirable through pretty packaging, I have conceded that packaging design isn’t really my forté, much as I adore beautiful things. :”) Just look at the myriad of wonderful, irresistible options available from retailers such as L’Occitane, The Body Shop, and Aesop. I occasionally wander into those stores to marvel at the clever packaging designs, the immaculately presented gift baskets, and the gorgeous materials used to dress up products to make them look fabulous. There is NO way I can drum up the same kind of panache for Kinder Soaps’ own packaging. The other issue I have trouble with is the sheer amount of waste generated from product packaging, which performs its task just once, and is destined for a landfill the moment the product is unwrapped.

p-enviro5

So instead of agonizing over how to pretty up our packaging design, I have discovered that I’m quite happy to offer our soap completely bare for our regular customers who just need something to cleanse their skin. Soap bars are a product that you can use up completely and also leave nothing to toss into a landfill. They are relatively easy to transport, even in bulk. We will still offer properly wrapped soap for sale, of course, but they will still be packaged in a more utilitarian manner compared to most other brands.

What I feel to be the most important function of packaging, however, is to protect the product from the elements, and from spoilage. I truly wish there were an all-natural alternative to plastic shrink wrapping which does this job the best, but there isn’t any at the moment. Our beeswax cloth wraps do a fair job of keeping the soap bars from coming into contact with dust and the accidental splash of liquid, but they too have limited shelf lives. Malaysia’s warm, humid climate makes it even trickier to store our unwrapped soap in a way that prolongs its shelf life.

Must we really resort to single-use packaging as the only means of presenting, and protecting our products?

I strongly believe that this need not be the case, if we are willing to make some simple, minor adjustments to our own purchasing habits.

There is a lot of good advice out there about how to reduce our dependence on product packaging (and throwaway items in general), but I would like to draw your attention to some tips that are specifically meant for how to make the best of Naked soaps (regardless of who made them):

  1. Buy what you need, when you need it. Stocking up on perishables is usually not a good idea.
  2. Store your soap in a cool, dry and dark place, away from direct sunlight.
  3. Yes, you can keep soap in the fridge. 😉 I can’t say what will happen to its scent though–whether it will make your vegetables smell or taste like essential oils, or if the soap bars will absorb the scents of your fridge’s other occupants.

Now here is what we at Kinder Soaps are committed to do to help you in producing less household waste through product packaging:

  1. Our shop and studio have much better storage conditions than the average Malaysian home (we run our air conditioners at least 3 hours a day to help keep the air cool and dry). Let us take care of the safe storage of perishable soap bars, and make sure that you are sent the freshest batches of soap each time you make a purchase.
  2. I know that some of you do bulk purchases sometimes because there have been occasions where we run out of stock of soap that you really like (and need!). :”) That’s a shortcoming on my part, I’m sorry, as I’m still personally making all our products by hand. I will do my best to schedule my soapmaking to match the rate of purchases better.
  3. We will NEVER try to coerce you into buying something you don’t need. All we will do is to offer you enough information to help you make a purchasing decision that you will be happy with.

I know this is a bit of a ramble-y post, but I needed to address this issue of throwaway packaging that has been bothering me for a long time. I hope you’ll take advantage of the naked soap options and do your bit to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts about this matter.

Have a lovely week ahead!

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New: Deliveries By GoGet.my

As busy-ness moves up a notch over here at Kinder Soaps (having a new studio with new corporate clients coming on board, masses of paperwork to handle, and the new school year starting for my kids), I found myself wishing that I had someone to handle the physical dashing about to collect and deliver items from both our suppliers and clients. Timing is everything for me, especially since I need to make myself available for the children’s school runs 3 times a day.

So after several instances of missed deadlines because I couldn’t make a long drive over to a faraway part of the Klang Valley, I tried out Goget.my–and I’m now a fan! I’m not going to agonize over wasted time spent caught in traffic, or panic over a last-minute delivery or pickup that I need to do. Every single one of my job requests was completed on time, and most of my requirements were extremely urgent, meaning I needed something done within 2-3 hours (that’s a bit on the extreme end of my time requests!).

Goget.my is a well-curated network of despatch runners, called “Go Getters”, who will look out for job postings on their website and mobile app, and complete them in a timely, efficient manner. Need someone to pick up your laundry on your behalf? Just post up a job on Goget.my, offer a tip and someone will pick up your job and help you out. Want to order a great meal from My Burger Lab and skip the queuing? Go Getters can get you sorted too! Offer a reasonable tip for your Go Getter and everyone’s a happy chap. 🙂 (Visit their FAQ page for more info on how Goget.my works.)

We are now really happy to have Go Getters help with delivering your Kinder Soap goodies to you, and possibly even more quickly than any courier service can! It’s the perfect solution for those of you in the Klang Valley who urgently need something from us, but can’t find the time to drive over to our shop, or don’t want to hunt for parking spaces around our area.

Goget shipping option

After placing your order at our website and selecting “Goget” as your shipping option (we won’t be charging you any shipping fees in this case), here’s what you need to do:

  1. Sign in with Facebook at Goget.my.
  2. Create a job to collect your soap.
  3. Offer a nice tip for your GoGetter (general rule of thumb is a minimum of RM5 + toll fees, if any + RM1 for every kilometre between our shop in Damansara Jaya and your destination). I use Google Maps’ Directions to look up distances.
  4. Post up your job.
  5. Wait for your Gogetter to claim your job! Their contact details will be made available for you once they do.

(Again, have a peek at their FAQ page.)

We hope you’ll find Goget’s service as helpful, time-saving and liberating as we have! 🙂