There’s a little gem of a shop in Vancouver’s West End called The Soap Artisan. It’s where glorious scents of lavender, bergamot, geranium and all other essential oils would greet you as soon as you pop in the store.
A Canadian Filipino born and raised in Cebu is the proud owner of this shop, and the brains behind its amazing soaps and beauty products.
She wants to be referred only as Helena, and she came from a family of artists. When she was eight years old, she started carving soaps. At age 11, she made her first soap with the help of her grandmother. She expanded her knowledge in soap making and natural healing by taking courses in herbology, iridology and aromatherapy in Toronto, and esthetics in Blanche Macdonald Centre in Vancouver.
Her very supportive family, her mom and siblings encouraged her to start a business, so in 2012, Helena officially started selling soaps.
“Making soaps was just a hobby," said Helena “But I got inspired when customers see great results with their problem skin such as dry patches, eczema, and psoriasis while I was selling my products at various farmer’s markets.”
Her soaps became increasingly popular and the number of her customers multiplied. Her family convinced her to open a brick and mortar shop, and in 2015, The Soap Artisan opened its doors.>
You can see the passion when Helena talks about the healing properties of her soaps as well as her skincare products and why they differ from commercial brands. “The soaps that you buy in the supermarket are detergents, not soaps,” said Helena, “They strip the natural oils off your skin, and sulfates are added as bubbling agents, which are quite toxic."
The Soap Artisan’s line of products is 100 percent natural, and is free from parabens, sodium laurel sulfates (SLS), synthetic fragrances, which can cause hormonal imbalances, artificial colours, and thickening agents and emulsifiers.
Her best beauty advice is to cleanse your face with The Soap Artisan’s Hydrating Cream Cleanser, tone with their Organic Rose Water, and moisturize with Face Oils that are packed with essential fatty acids. Helena also believes that part of taking care of yourself is taking some time out to draw a bath. “Everyone should indulge and have a bath ritual in order to unwind, relax, and calm themselves,” she said.
For hopeful entrepreneurs striving to start a business, Helena always refers to her bees she tends to as a hobby. “These little hard-working creatures inspire me,” she said. “When you take out the bees’ honeycomb, they build one right away! They taught me how to persevere!"
The Soap Artisan is located at 1782 Alberni Street, Vancouver. You can also check out www.thesoapartisan.ca.