Sustainable Soap from House of Ginger Co – Women Talking talks to Anne-Marie founder of House of Ginger Co, offering a collection of handmade soaps designed to showcase the beauty of cleansing with minerals and high-quality natural ingredients that make people feel like they are experiencing the true magnificence of cleansing renewal.
What was your inspiration behind House of Ginger Co?
“House of Ginger is inspired by escapism, utility, and bathing rituals. My soaps, and the names of some of them like Rain In A Foreign Country, and African Juju Soap have embodied just that. With my brand, I wanted to create something that was utilitarian yet elegant. I love sophisticated bathing rituals and showers because for me it is a remedy for easing stress after a long day and a great way to energise yourself in the mornings.
“The inspiration behind this collection came from the cosmetic use of red ochre and cleansing rituals widely practised within some African communities. Red ochre is natural clay composed of iron oxide and other minerals. For years it has been used for protection from the sun and clarifying the skin.
“Inspired by the protective powers of red ochre, I formulated natural cleansing options featuring three variations of this ingredient. All three soaps in the Red Ochre Collection are made with clay, activated charcoal or calamine powder – all chalky fine pigments that include the same or similar skin protecting and cleansing components as red ochre.
“I learned about the cleansing and protective qualities of red ochre after watching a documentary about a group of nomadic women from the Himba tribe in Namibia. In the documentary, the women did not wash with water but cleansed with clay and took daily ‘smoke baths’ to maintain personal hygiene. I saw the women make a paste from red ochre clay and rub it all over their hair and body to cleanse and protect their skin from the harsh desert sun.
“It was the way the women worked with nature and used this red soil to maintain their skin’s needs that stood out to me. The Himba way of cleansing highlighted the beauty of using natural ingredients. That’s what I wanted in my soaps. Pure, natural minerals that gently cleanse, nourish, and protect skin against damage
“As someone who has had eczema since childhood, gentle mild sulphate-free soaps have always been a necessity for me. Natural handcrafted soap was the perfect utility to get creative with. My grandmother also made soap as a young woman, so I was inspired by that as well.”
Have you always been interested in beauty/skincare?
“Yes, I developed a serious passion for it in 2018 after attending Glamour Beauty Festival. I was obsessed with having the latest Instagrammable skincare products and fell in love with natural skincare. Soaps have always fascinated me. I went from collecting soap whenever I travelled to reviewing soap on an old Instagram account which I have now deleted, to making my own and launching my own skincare line.”
What is your best-selling line?
“The Pink Clay Soap is the most popular soap in the Red Ochre Collection, but a lot of people are curious about Rain In A Foreign Country and are keen to try it because they like the name and the story behind it. On most days it’s my favourite because it’s soothing and feels very hydrating. The formulation is slow and special because I infuse ground hibiscus petals in botanical oils and leave it to sit in a jar on a windowsill for several days and nights to bring out all the vitamins.”
Has it been a difficult journey starting the company? What have been the highs and lows?
“I spent over 12 months testing formulations, experimenting with ingredients, and creating a product that ticked all my boxes. I planned everything from names and concepts right down to the look, shape, and aesthetic. I was initially worried about how people would perceive the names like African Juju Soap or understand unusual concepts of my soaps or fail to understand how and why soaps can be inspired by escapism.
“The highs have been receiving great feedback from people who have bought the soap and cheered me on. Seeing my hard work, and something which was basically an idea in my head for ages come to life has been a high for me. Because this time last year it was still just all in my head being developed.
“The lows for me were the delays and setbacks. I haven’t had any serious lows. Every failed plan has been a source of education for me no matter how disappointed I may have felt about it.”
Are you thinking of adding to the range later?
“I’m currently working on another collection called ‘Six Nights in Naples’. It’s inspired by a solo trip I took to Southern Italy in 2018. This collection will be just as exquisite as its predecessors and feature nourishing milk, honey, flower extracts, and clays. I’m so excited about it. I’m planning to release this in December.”
Where do you retail your products?
“I retail my products on Etsy because I think it’s a great marketplace to sell handcrafted goods. My soaps are now also available at Counter Culture which is a new sustainable marketplace for sustainable beauty and skincare products.”
For more information regarding House of Ginger Co visit Etsy here