Bath Crafts interview

Bath & Crafts Irish Handmade Soap is an Irish shop located in Kenmare, County Kerry. They make bath and beauty products from natural ingredients. All their products are suitable for vegans.

Please tell us about Bath & Crafts Irish Handmade Soap. When did it begin?

I have been making soap for years as my son had eczema as a baby and I did not want to use prescribed lotions because of the chemical content.  It was  basically a hobby. We then decided in 2011 to license our products so we were able to sell on markets.

What motivated you to open Bath &  Crafts?

The weather! We did markets and rain and soap do not mix. We heard about a shop in our local town of Kenmare that was available. It had a kitchen to make our products and also a bathroom so we could try new products out straight away. It was a bit of a risk but we decided to go for it.

What products do you sell?

We sell soap, bath bombs, sugar scrubs, massage bars, moisturisers, hand cream, foot balm, body butters, spa salts, shaving soap, after shave balm, shampoo bar, bath melts, dog soap, toners, dry face packs, eye serum & wedding favour soaps. We also sell accessories such as loofahs, exfoliating soap bags,   foot  lava stones and shaving brushes.

We also have a section of our shop set aside for local craft people to sell their goods. And a treatment room upstairs offering reflexology, massage etc.

What is the most popular product?

Our most popular soap is our dog soap. We have many repeat customers who love it and they also bring their dogs in to meet us which is always nice. Other than that it is our massage bars. They last a very very long time and are much better than oil as there is no spillage or waste.

Do you have an online store?

We do. It’s kenmaresoap.com | Facebook/Bath&Crafts.

You also run soap-making workshops. Can you tell us more about it?

We decided it would be nice to teach others how to make a completely natural soap for themselves. We also wanted to take the opportunity to educate about the difference between natural and chemical ridden products that claim to be natural. You can actually get a natural certificate and your products only need to be 85% natural which I think is very misleading to consumers.  Our classes are very intimate with only two pupils so we can really get into discussions and questions.

Are you both vegans and if yes, since how long?

Bath Crafts interview

We are not vegan, however Hugo’s entire family have been for 30+ years. We live very close so we more or less live a vegan lifestyle. We decided to make our products vegan for two reasons. One, there is no need for animal products in cosmetics, soap, etc, and two that way everyone can enjoy our products without messing around with label reading to see if they can use it.

How easy is it to live vegan in Kenmare?

We have two wholefood shops in Kenmare who both stock vegan food. The local supervalue also has soya milk, a free form section and a vegan selection so shopping is good. The restaurants don’t have a vegan menu however all the chefs understand veganism and are happy to accommodate. We have a really nice vegetarian cafe called The Bookstop. They have lots of vegan food and it’s all freshly made there and then. So I would say it’s pretty easy.

What do you think are the most effective ways of helping veganism become more mainstream?

I would say concentrate more on showing the health benefits it has to offer. We live in a very health conscious society now so people would listen more and be liable to make the health choice to turn vegan rather than due to the cruelty which most would turn a blind eye to as it’s easier for them.

Can you share your favourite recipe?

A very yummy cheese cake recipe. 250g digestive biscuits (crushed), enough melted to margarine to mix with the biscuits. Line a pie dish with biscuit mix and cool till it has set. 200g of plain tofu and 750ml tub of vegan icecream  (Swedish glace). Blitz together. Pre-heat oven at gas mark 5 (190). Put mix into biscuit base and cook for about 30 mins. Chill.  Add topping of your choice. Blackcurrant jam or strawberries etc. Enjoy!

Anything else at all you’d like to say or add?

We think it is important that people understand about labeling as the word “natural”, “handmade” and “organic” get thrown around all too easily now. For example, a company that has used a tiny bit of essential oil will say “natural” when in fact the rest of the product is saturated in synthetic fragrance and parabens. A company that has bought in a soap base and just melted it and poured it into a mould will say “handmade”.  It’s a bit of a pain but people should read labels if they are concerned about what they are putting on their bodies. It’s all too easy for companies large and small to make something sound amazing and natural when in fact it is not.