A few weeks ago I came across this gorgeous little company. Their designs immediately caught my eye because they were so unique; Amazing fragrances that smell divine and designs that looked good enough to eat. But much more than that when I spoke with Lesley – the lady behind Simply Portugal Soaps, I found their start-up story was just as delightful. So it is with immense pleasure that I can today introduce you to one of ITC’s newest network members ~ Simply Portugal Soaps…
Who is Simply Portugal Soaps?
My name is Lesley and I own a small company that sells the most beautiful handmade, natural soaps. Our soaps are made in Portugal by my friend Shelley (and by me when I get the chance to be there!) who lives in the mountain area of Oliveira do Hospital. She and her husband have a small farm, and the olives grown there are pressed locally each year to make olive oil. We use this as the base for our soaps, adding shea butter, sweet almond oil, cocoa butter, goats’ milk from Shelley’s neighbour’s goats and natural essences and fragrances. I met Shelley through an online forum and we got chatting through our love of cooking. As my husband and I also have a house in Portugal, we became firm friends thanks to our love of the country and when Shelley sent me some of her soaps as a gift I was hooked; they were just so beautiful that I wanted to share them with my friends too. Things went from there and I decided to start taking the soaps to craft fairs and markets in the South West. Over the last couple of years we have gone from strength to strength and we’ve developed some lovely new designs and fragrances for our soaps.
How do you come up with your designs/ what influences you?
Shelley and I love chatting about our ideas and things just spring from there. We wanted some really indulgent fragrances for Christmas last year, so we put on our thinking caps and started thinking about the smells that said ‘Christmas’ to us, and we came up with Frankincense & Myrrh, Mulled Wine, Snow and Deck the Halls. They all had their own distinctive scents and really evoked the spirit of Christmas. Then for a bit of fun we thought why not try a Cocktail range, so we picked a few of our favourite cocktails and Shelley developed the fragrances. We went for White Russian, Kir Royale, Mojito and Cosmopolitan and they have been a huge hit at the craft fairs and markets!
What would you call your ‘style’?
Our style is very natural, using the scents and plants of the countryside both in Portugal and the UK. We are committed to keeping our products as pure as we possibly can and we want to use only the best ingredients.
What is currently your favourite design?
At the moment we are running away with ideas for our cupcake soaps. They are just so beautiful to look at and our ideas for new designs and fragrances are endless! My favourite by far are the new ice cream-inspired cupcake soaps; they really do look good enough to eat, they wash beautifully, moulding to your hand shape perfectly, and if you think they’re too pretty to use you can just leave them in your bathroom to fragrance and decorate the whole room.
Who inspires you?
Shelley is a huge inspiration as she is a fantastic soapmaker and is always on the lookout for the latest trends and ideas, and of course nature itself is our biggest inspiration.
If you could design a soap for anyone in the world who would it be and what would you create?
I think it would be for the Queen, as it is her Diamond Jubilee year! I’d make her a beautiful cupcake soap fragranced with rose and almond blossom, and I’d go all out on the decoration with a crown and some gorgeous handmade roses and flowers.
What is your greatest achievement?
This is a difficult one to answer as Simply Portugal Soaps has only been going for 18 months now, but just getting the products recognised by the public and seeing people become inspired by the wonderful soaps is a huge achievement. I adore our soaps and I want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy using them too.
If you weren’t doing this job what do you think you would be doing?
Quite possibly something to do with cakes, as a few years ago I used to spend a lot of time making novelty cakes for special occasions. I would also be riding a lot more than I do now; I have had a love of horses since I was old enough to walk and have had the pleasure of owning some stunning and wonderful horses in my lifetime.
How do you spend your time when you are not working?
We have just downsized to a beautiful cottage in a village in Somerset which needs quite a lot of modernising, so at the moment a lot of my time is spent working with builders, plumbers and electricians! I also spend time with my lovely retired ex-racehorse, Impi; he is 20 now and can’t be ridden because of the arthritis in his hind legs and back but has given me and my daughter some wonderful years of riding and fun, so it is now my turn to give him as much care and attention as I can in his old age.
Do you have a current special offer for Ice the Cake readers?
For the month of April and May, when you order any of our cupcake soaps as wedding favours, party favours or hen night favours, the bride or the special person who is celebrating will receive a gift pack of our beautiful cocktail soaps as a thank you. This is for orders received in April or May, but the items ordered can be for weddings or parties happening at any time in the coming year.
A Message from Simply Portugal Soaps…
We can supply beautiful wedding favours, soap bars or cupcake soaps for your special day. They are absolutely gorgeous and make a wonderful change from the usual sweets, and they will give your guests a lasting memory of your wedding. We are happy to make soaps to fit your own design and fragrance ideas, so get in touch and I am sure we will come up with something very special for you.
Tomorrow Simply Portugal Soaps will be giving our readers an insight into the design and inspiration process of their absolutely exquisite soaps…