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Introducing Sophia and her Tappermade Soaps

Ella Austin

In the early days of Wool on the Exe, Sophia attended a Sock 101 workshop with Debbie, which sparked her passion for knitting. From then on Sophia became a regular customer, a member of the shop, and a friend that we are always pleased to see!

When we heard about Sophia’s soap making venture, Tappermade, we were keen to find out more. Now, having seen (and smelled!) how lovely her soaps are, we are very pleased to share them with our customers! New in store we have a choice of Peppermint, Lavender, and Geranium locally handmade soaps. We have also bundled the soaps with some cotton yarn and a knit or crochet washcloth pattern, ideal for gifting.

We’ve invited Sophia to tell us more about herself, her love of knitting, and her beautiful soaps.

Hi. I’m Sophia. I am a mother, maker, fitness coach and chemist. I am creative and find a lot of enjoyment in learning new skills to create functional, beautiful and environmentally friendly items. From knitted jumpers and mittens to soaps. I studied chemistry and was awarded my PhD in 2008. I decided academia was not for me and went to work in a laboratory. This was also not for me. I learnt early on that I am a much happier person when I play at work (rather than work at play) and from then on my goal has always been to make money doing the things I enjoy. 

I LOVE sea swimming with friends and spearfishing with my fiance. This summer we were at sea with our boy's lots and started foraging seaweed. I have been using this in my cooking and skincare formulations. I am also interested in fitness and coaching. My other passion is to help motivate people and give them the confidence to enjoy fitness.

I am local to Exeter, I grew up in the region and dragged my French fiancee to live here. I have travelled lots but always knew that Devon has always been home. The sea and moors are nearby and these are the areas that influence me the most. The beautiful colours, calmness and wildness. I love the variety! 

Five years ago I went to the Sock 101 workshop with Debbie and from then on knitting has been a passion of mine. I was rather awful and poor Debbie had her hands full with my basic questions and painfully slow knitting. She was kind and so patient and I am a stubborn and diligent pupil so I have thrived under her guidance. 

Knitting is a way to be productive with my downtime/headspace. Knitting is something I can pick up for a mindful moment and has been a lifesaver for me. Having Wool on the Exe (WOTE) nearby has been so important for my mental wellbeing. Knitting is a creative activity I can take anywhere and do for a few minutes or all day. This was so important when I had babies. You never know how long you will have for a tiny snippet of time to yourself - knitting is the perfect creative activity. 

Soap making is something I have been thinking of doing for years but have never managed to find the time to do it. Enter 2020 lockdowns and voila, let's do this! I now have a range of Salty Soaps inspired by the sea, stocked at WOTE. WAHOO!

I make my soaps in St Thomas, Exeter. I have a small separate area next to my kitchen and safe storage for my ingredients. My soaps are made using cold or hot process methods. This is the traditional process of mixing Lye (aka caustic soda or sodium hydroxide) with oils. When these ingredients react it is called saponification! The mixture emulsifies and reaches trace (thick enough to draw a line in) and then you pour it into a mould to set. Once the loaf is set I de-mould it and slice it into bars. These bars are not quite ready to use yet. Depending on the recipe they take 2 to 6 weeks to fully cure and be ready to use. Lye needs to be handled with a lot of care, I recommend going on a course if you'd like to try this out.

I am a member of The Guild of Craft Soap and Toiletry Makers. This means that you can be assured that my soaps are compliant with all the standards that are required. I pH test my soaps before releasing them and have friends test them out and provide feedback.

My soap business is completely independent, 100% mine and therefore like me, totally unique. Tappermade is authentic and represents my chemistry studies and being an environmentally conscious maker. The products I produce envoke the calmness I find while being at sea. 

You can find out more about Sophia's soaps here:

www.tappermade.com

Instagram: @tappermade

The Tappermade products that we're stocking at Wool on the Exe can be found here.



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