Please note: I no longer support or will buy from One Hand Washes the Other due to actions from the owner. I do not condone or support bullying or harassment.
July’s Independent Spotlight is a real treat! It’s with none other than Becca of One Hand Washes the Other.
How did you come to the decision to open your One Hand Washes the Other?
I was laid off from my job and decided to make my jewelry-making hobby into a source of income. My experience at my previous employer was less than awesome and I honestly didn’t really want to get right back into another situation like that, though I did try for awhile to find a new job. I’d been making jewelry on the side for awhile while I was still gainfully employed, but then work got so busy that I didn’t have the energy for it at the end of the day anymore. I picked it up again, started selling it once again on Etsy, and was hanging out in their chat and forums a lot, when I saw that people, individual people, actually made and sold handmade bath and body products there- up till then, I had no idea you could do that! I knew you could buy pre-made stuff and sell it, and had seen that done, but I didn’t know that people were making things from scratch and selling them- it was eye-opening. It sounds stupid now, not knowing something like this, but oh well. I decided to finally stop thinking about making B&B products, and actually start doing it. Why not? These other people were doing it, and if I could come up with something that was actually good, I might be able to sell it, and maybe I wouldn’t have to find a job. It was definitely worth a shot! I’d read up on how to go about making cold process soap, after trying some we’d bought at the Big E (a country fair for all of New England, and then some), but had decided it was too dangerous to try making it with the kids running around- again, this was back when I was still working. By the time I got laid off, though, they were in school full-time and I had plenty of time to start safely experimenting. I decided to start off with glycerin soaps, then worked my way up to rebatching pre-made cold process soap before tackling sodium hydroxide. This whole process started in earnest about two and a half years ago now, and in that time I’ve learned how to make and formulate all sorts of goodies, soapy and non. And yes, I do still make jewelry when the urge strikes.
How did you come up with your company name?
Hehe, this was totally inspired by my love of idioms and double entendre! This one referred to washing and since I was going to be selling soap, I decided that I had no choice but to use it. The name’s a little long, and the abbreviation is a bit awkward, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
About how many hours a day do you work? How many days a week?
It depends on the day, but I usually work from waking up to sleepytime, with breaks for meals, walks, dealing with the children, and the occasional tv show or movie. So, probably 10-12 hours, 5 or so days a week, with the occasional day here and there for playing and restoring my sanity. On the weekends I work, too, but far less, in an effort to spend more time with my family
What spurred you to create your first bar of soap?
I was (and still am) making steampunk jewelry, and wanted to create a steampunk soap. I wasn’t able to find anything like that on Etsy at the time (Etsy was also all I really knew of the handmade marketplace; sites like Artfire hadn’t really caught on yet). So I learned how to craft with glycerin soap, and did just that- created steampunk soaps. I haven’t been making them lately, as they are a bit time consuming, but they are the coolest things ever. I created my own molds of skeleton keys, and wings, and created what I liked to call “Art Soaps” with the soaps I cast in them. I’m hoping to be able to bring them back soon.
What drew your interest in body products? How long have you loved them?
I have always been a bath and body junkie; Bath and Body Works used to get a good amount of my pay. I first discovered them when they opened up in my town, I think I was 15 or so? So, let’s just say I’ve loved B&B for a LONG time! When I realized I could make my own, given the tools, supplies, and knowledge, it was an epiphany. I decided I would learn everything I could about soaps, and balms, and lotions, and preservatives, and all the bits and pieces and processes that go into making all manner of smelly things. I am someone who gets bored easily, so lucky for me, the B&B world is always changing and there is ALWAYS something new to learn, and ALWAYS new products coming to market, so I should be able to keep boredom from setting in for decades.
How do you come up with your soaps? Your solid lotions?
I usually create a product to fill a need, be it my own, or someone else’s. My Black Magic soap, for instance, was created because my skin was being horrible and nothing I’d tried had worked to calm it. Same for my Balms, and Whipped Cocoa Butter. I’ll also sometimes make a batch of soap because I have a scent which screams to be soaped, or because I have an ingredient I want to use in soap form.
What about your other products?
It’s the same story there; I tend to create things in order to fill a need or a request. Lately, requests and suggestions have been driving much of my scent formulation, which is a really fun process for me!
What inspires you to create them?
I’m inspired by nature, music, and art. Mostly. I’ve been studying herbs and their uses for decades, so there’s definitely some influence that comes from all that. Sometimes, I will see a commercially-available product and think to myself, “hey, I can do that, but with fewer chemicals/a better smell/less expensively!”, so sometimes that’s where the inspiration for a new product comes from, too.
What is your favorite product to create?
It’s either Cold Process (CP) soap, or Lip Tints. CP soapmaking is my chance to play “Mad Scientist” for the day, with lab gear and everything! It’s a blast! It’s also really cool to see oils and water mix and transform into soap, it’s almost like magic. Or alchemy, at least! I adore making Lip Tints, too; playing with colors is the best!! However, I also hate designing a new label for each shade, so I’m going to be designing a universal label for that category so I can start making more than a handful of colors.
What are your favorite scents to wear and to create?
Fall scents are always fun! Pumpkin and spice and all that, but I find I only like to wear them in the fall and winter months. Lately I’ve been on an “ocean” kick, and have had to restrain myself from mixing up about a hundred different water scents. It’s summer, and hot, so right now I’m sticking to light scents for the most part.
What is your all time favorite scent?
This is such a hard question to answer. I really don’t have one. Scents I adored a year or two ago, I rarely touch now- this goes for scents I’ve created, and those I’ve purchased elsewhere. I am rather fond of citrus-y scents (especially grapefruit), though.
Do you have a favorite way to create new products?
I find the products/scents I like the best, and which also tend to be the most well-received, are the ones I create on a whim, as inspiration strikes or soon thereafter. The ones I create when I ought to be doing something else, but the urge to bring them into being is too strong to fight. It’s nothing I can really plan for, but it is the way that I think I come up with some of my best stuff.
What’s your skincare routine?
I wash morning and night with my OHWTO Black Magic soap (the bar version) and moisturize with C. Booth’s 24- hour antioxidant oil- free daily moisturizer. I’ll add SPF if I’m going outside, and if I remember to. I’m admittedly horrible about applying sunscreen but am committed to doing better. Oh, and I’ve also recently started using a rose hydrosol spray every now and then between washing and moisturizing.
What are your favorite colors?
Teal and purple.
What’s your favorite way to accessorize?
I usually keep it minimal; a pair of bright and/or sparkly earrings or a necklace, sometimes a bracelet. I love rings and have quite a few, but rarely wear them, as I work with my hands most days.
What colors have you dyed your hair?
Not counting the permanent marker phase (LOL), I’ve only ever dyed my hair shades of red. Not “natural” red, but, fire engine red. Right now it’s plain old blonde, last summer I dyed the ends with Manic Panic Vampire Red while leaving the rest natural. Loved the result, and will be doing that again soon.
What’s your favorite chocolate?
Munson’s Triple Chocolate Layered truffles, hands down. Easiest question EVER
Do you have any pets?
We have one cat, named Strummer (after Joe Strummer). He’s a biiiiiiig cat, weighing in at about 18 lbs, but he’s only probably a pound or two overweight. He’s ginormous, and Longcat’s got nothing on him ^__^ He’s currently with my sister back in CT, and her 2 cats, though; she volunteered to hang on to him for us until we got a place here in SC. Now we just have to figure out the best way to get him down here!
Do you play any video games?
I play a lot of Final Fantasy games; I’m currently on 13 on the PS3 and I have 2 of the DS ones going as well (I’d have to go look to see which ones they are, though). With our recent move I kind of put video gaming on hold for awhile, though I will play around a bit with Little Big Planet 2 every now and then. I’m definitely an old-school one-person RPG-type gamer; multiplayer games don’t really do it for me. Unless we’re talking about handheld device games, where I’ll pretty much play anything- Word With Friends is a favorite in that category!
What are your favorite tv shows?
Dexter, House, and Fringe. I also enjoy The Office but it’s been weird without Steve Carrell, and 24 was amazing. Oh and we recently started watching Skins (UK) on Netflix! I don’t watch much TV, though- there’s too much other stuff to do.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
I have two tattoos… well, three if you count the tiny square I put on my foot one night :/ The others are pokemon! ^__^ I have no “alternative” piercings, just a hole in each ear.
What is your workspace like currently?
To say it’s “disorganized” would be an understatement. Moving has completely messed up my routine and my way of doing things, and I’m still working out how I’m going to work here in the new place. For now I have a table set up for smelly work, shelving in another room for storage, and am working on setting up another table in my bedroom for my jewelry work and non-smelly projects. More storage is in the works, and my tools and equipment are all in cabinets in the kitchen- we lucked out with this place and there’s a TON of cabinetry!
What color is your bedroom?
White, decorated with cardboard boxes I’d paint it a nice periwinkle if we were allowed to paint, but we’re not, so, I’m going to be collecting lots of fun things to hang on the walls in there to liven things up a bit. And I’ll be getting rid of the boxes, too, eventually 😉
What colors do you like to decorate with in your home?
I prefer a cool palette, ice blues and violets and taupes and colors like that. That said, warm earth tones are nice, too!
What do you do to relax?
I like to garden; playing in the dirt might just be the most therapeutic thing ever. I take it indoors, too, with a collection of succulents and, lately, orchids. Shopping for frivolous things is always a treat. Not stuff I “need”, just, stuff I “want”. Or beads, heh. Even if I don’t buy anything, it’s nice to get my mind off of THE THINGS WHICH MUST BE DONE. I prefer e-shopping to mall-shopping, but either one works just as well to help me decompress. I also enjoy long walks alone, or hikes, sometimes a run!
What do you do to pamper yourself?
A nice hot bath is always a treat. I don’t get around to taking them often, but I love a good bubble bath and ten minutes of quiet.
What’s on your iPod or Pandora station?
I haven’t properly used my iPod for music, just games and apps, really, but on my Pandora I have The Real Tuesday Weld, Ice Cube, Chuck Ragan, and NOFX. Quite an eclectic mix of “stations”, I know, but it works. On my old phone (with iTunes) I used to listen to The Draft, The Loved Ones, and She Wants Revenge on random to get me motivated, but I haven’t loaded much of anything onto my Windows phone because I hate it. I think The Decemberists are on there, though- brilliant storytelling there.