Where it all began...

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

I started Jurassic soap kitchen in 2018. For most of my career I had been a pastry chef in 4 star hotels across Dorset. My husband and I then had an opportunity to work in Lyme Regis in 2002. Setting up home in the East Devon town of Axminster. A few years later we were able to take on the lease of a lovely 17th century thatched pub, from there I carried on being the pastry chef and helped managed the pub with my husband and two daughters.

It was at this time my eldest daughter suffered with eczema and most soaps were too harsh for her to use, I looked into making my own soap without the chemicals and make them as natural as possible. I soon realised it was not as easy as that. Even though the chemistry is similar to pastry work, where the recipe has to be exact, it was still complex and running a business with a young family looked daunting so I put it on hold.

Nine years later we decided to sell the pub (the girls had left home and we felt it was our time to reduce the stress levels) . I took on a part time job which started 6 till 11 in the morning which meant I had the rest of the day to myself. Three years later I decided to reignite my dream of making soap and that is where our journey begins, learning something new.

The journey:

1. Research

First I needed to decide what sort of business I wanted to aim for. Who would my audience be? Once I made that decision then the fun began. My background has always been in cooking, being creative and thinking outside the box. My research started with Pinterest which is one of my favourite websites. The information, designs and inspiration really got the ideas flowing. Deciding on the name of the company was very important to me. I knew I wanted the word ‘kitchen’ in the title somewhere, but how? Then just by looking around at the surroundings we live in, such a beautiful part of the country. The inspiration of nature and the Jurassic Coast was just perfect. And the Jurassic Soap Kitchen was born!

2. Practising and testing

I wanted to find recipes that were palm oil free and only using natural ingredients (definitely no chemicals). After lots of trial and error I developed a formula I was happy with. It was an anxious wait for the first order of ingredients to arrive, I just wanted to get started. I pretty much had everything I needed except some items I hadn’t thought about, and things that weren’t your everyday household items like goggles, rubber gloves and a face-mask. After hours of YouTube tutorials I was ready to get making!

My first soap was a Rose and Patchouli,

the two scents really work well together. I air dried them for 4/6 weeks to cure and harden. Then badgered my family, friends and work colleagues to test the soaps for feedback which was very helpful, they were certainly very honest. In the time of waiting for the soaps to harden I made bath bombs and different flavour lip balms. Now I was happy with the recipes, the designs of all the soaps, bath bombs and lip balms, it was time to send them certified. Which felt like to too forever but it was actually about 8 weeks with a few emails back and forth having to adjust a couple of measurements. Then finally they were approved. Hooray lets get selling!

Now I had the recipes I wanted to do something amazing, something eye catching, and something new! Charmouth beach is just a stones throw away from where I live and is renowned for fossils so we wanted a soap to look like an ammonite. I bought a fossil, some silicone and made a mould. I was so pleased when the first attempt turned out okay.

3. Packaging

But it’s not all about the product. Great soap needs great packaging. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful friend called Kevin who is a graphic designer and he came up with a fantastic design. We had them printed into labels, found recycled card to make sleeves and matched the colour to each label so each soap has their own identity. Kevin even designed the fantastic logo.

4. Marketing, social media and website

This part of setting up the business was quiet scary as I am not confident on the computer, I’d rather be doing practical things and getting my hands dirty then sitting a

t a computer. But I knew I had to get with the times and embrace this whole new world of technology. Again I am very lucky to have my eldest daughter, Lauren and her boyfriend Charlie, who do this for a living and were kind to take on the task of not only teaching me but also building the website complete with online shop. For this we needed professional looking photos of the products, so I roped in my husband who built a light box and then found a new love of taking the photos (at time he got carried away and didn’t always do what Lauren and Charlie had asked for). Regardless the end results are very pleasing, I am over the moon with the website very fresh looking and easy to navigate through.

Social media is the next new thing for me to get my head around. I am learning, how to put pictures on, how to do posts, adding videos and I am sure there is much more to learn. Thankfully Charlie is taking charge of doing adverts, I just give him a budget each month and he does it in between doing his full time job. Steph, our youngest daughter does a lot of sharing of the posts and has even got her work colleagues and friends to buy the products so she has also played a role.

5. Getting out there

It’s all very well and good doing this all from the comfort of our home but we needed to get out there, meet people and most of all show off our fantastic new products. I managed to get two concessions one in Seaton Devon called So Sophie which she sells shabby chic painted furniture to small gifts for every occasion. The second in a lovely coffee shop in Chard, Somerset called Cappella Lounge which displays artist paintings and other talented people goods from jewellery to beeswax wraps and lots more. This was just the start and I hope to get many more in the near future.

I’ve also booked into lots of events. I love these because I can meet my customers face to face which you don’t get to do with an online shop. We learnt so much at these events, particularly which products did well and which ones no so. I can’t wait to get the diary filled up.