Our eyes lit up when we first spotted Etc Body at a Brisbane Rummage! Handmade soaps are so lovely, especially when you know they’re free of drying and toxic ingredients and will be kind to your skin. It’s exciting to meet a hand maker who derives so much happiness from their craft and that’s why we’re very chuffed to introduce you to Etc Body!
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do? I’m a hobbyist, so I love to make things. When I need a break from soaps, I also enjoy embroidery, macrame, felting, book binding and paper making. I’m hoping to learn how to tapestry weave eventually… But how I got to this point in time was because I became disillusioned with the whole concept of working a 9-5 job where I’m stressed and unhappy. I found I was taking that stress home with me and it was significantly affecting my relationships. So I decided to quit my job and focus on this little soap making hobby I had been doing for about a year. That was in September; now I work on running my own business full time making soaps. Even though it’s pretty stressful trying to make a living with little guidance or regular pay, it’s been so liberating and has allowed me to focus more on me and my mental health.
Can you tell us about your wares? Everything I make is as close to natural as possible. The soaps I make only have ingredients that you know and can actually pronounce the name of. I think my forte is soaps and shampoo bars, so that’s what I focus most of my energy on, but I’ve also branched out into making a small selection of conditioner bars, lotion bars, natural deodorants, lip balms, bath salts, beard oils, solid perfumes… the list goes on. It’s really interesting that pretty much all of the ingredients I use to make soaps can also be blended into other natural body products too.
Why do you do what you do? I really love making soaps. I also found that a lot of minimal/zero waste products are pretty expensive, and it’s sometimes hard to do your part in reducing waste when you don’t have the money to buy those stainless steel bento boxes or spend $12 for that one bar of unpackaged soap. I thought I could combine my love of soaps and environmental issues with making affordable and accessible soaps and body products.
How did you get into it? I stumbled across this blog written by this soapmaker called Jan Berry. She walked me through the process of making soap and how to handle lye so you’re not afraid of it, and some basic soap recipes. The first soap I made was a bastile soap – just olive and coconut oil with water and lye. Then I made a green soap with real avocado, and it was a popular birthday and christmas gift. Then it sort of snowballed from there I suppose.
Who are some other artists, crafters, creatives that you love? And why? I really love this little Brisbane business called Two Itchy Bums; they upcycle things into new products and I love the rustic style so much. Ben Adamz who runs Freak Street has some amazingly relatable and quirky illustrations that just speak to me somehow. And this soap company in London called Primal Suds who are super down to earth and are all about affordable natural soaps. They definitely helped inspire me to push myself.
What excites you? A lot of things. I get pumped learning about a new horror movie coming out, or a new podcast episode being released. I get excited coming up with new limited edition soap recipes for Easter or the Winter Solstice. Speaking of, the thought of winter (or air con, or even an iced tea) excites me to no end.
We think of a rummage stall as a mini shopfront, how do you make your rummage stall your own? It definitely helps that I stand out from other stalls just by selling something different and a little unique. Otherwise I think a simple, clean aesthetic helps to draw the eye.
Can you offer any tips on setting up a rummage stall? The first rummage I did, I didn’t do a practice set up at home, which was a big mistake. I thought I had a good idea of what the setup should look like, but that went out the window. I’d also recommend organising your suitcases to make setup fast and easy. Keep things in their displays and pack them tight.
What do you like about attending Suitcase Rummage? It’s a great place to make connections with other people who are like-minded, and it’s got a really nice spread of people who walk through the square, so a wide audience to market towards 🙂
What is the next step for you? What does the future hold? I dream of being able to have my own warehouse/studio/shop front with curing soaps lining one wall, raw ingredients in jars on the other, herbs infusing in massive jars in the front window, and filling every bare space with plants and more soap. But for now, I’ll just settle for getting my name out there more, attending more rummages and other markets, and getting my soaps into a few more stores around Brisbane.
What’s your favourite place or thing to do in your city? At the moment, it’s just hanging around any place that has air con. But I really enjoy taking long walks around the city and just noticing things I never had before.
Where can we find and follow you? Instagram and Facebook is @etcbody
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/etcBody It has a very limited selection of some of the things I made outside of the soaps.