I’ve been on the search for natural soap for a while, but after watching The Human Experiment, a documentary about how the toxic chemicals in our beauty products are harming us, I decided to finally take the plunge when I ran out of the mainstream bar I had in the shower. It’s difficult to know which products are truly natural and which are just benefiting from the growing ‘natural’ market – so I was ecstatic when I came across Knitty Gritty Soap Co. at my local farmers market this summer.
I fell so in love with the beautiful lavender bar I picked up that I cut it in half and used it as hand soap as well. Not only did it keep my skin moisturized throughout the day with vegan ingredients like coconut oil, but the lavender scent helped to calm me as well. When I ran out I was sure to get in touch with the owner to not only stock my supply but to share the love with my fellow FLURTs!
Portia Lloyd, the creator of Knitty Gritty Soap Co. was generous enough to send me a care package of gorgeous products and that were wrapped in straw bows and included bits of dried flowers. The package also included cupcake-shaped bath bombs and petite knitted face-cloths. After trying the soaps out for a couple weeks, my favourites have become the Fizzy Lavender Bath Bomb, the Coconut Lime bar and the Under Da Sea bar (which smells divine and brightens my day every time I shower).
I spoke to Portia about why she started her business, the importance of natural products and how you can get some to share with loved ones this holiday season.
“in 2013 a very dear friend of mine showed me how to make my first batch of soap. It was like finding my skin’s nirvana,” she says. “For as far back as I could remember I have struggled with sensitive skin issues. Everything from eczema, psoriasis, acne…you name it! This was not something I could keep to myself. I began making soap at every single opportunity and giving it away to anyone who would take it.”
After making a few batches, Portia started to realize that making soap is a fantastic medium for artistic expression. With an endless array of ingredient combinations, soon Portia had more soap lying around than she knew what to do with and selling it became the next natural step. She decided on ‘Knitty Gritty Soap Co.’ as a way of tying in her first crafty passion – knitting and crocheting.
The Edmontonian, who’s a biologist and an all around crafty person, focuses on plant ecology in her day job. This ties into her working to keep her products as natural as possible, as she even goes so far as to collect her own botanicals and harvest plants that have medicinal properties. Portia says there are some exceptions where she’ll use synthetic fragrance oils based on demand, availability and cost – but she makes sure to label her products accordingly, specifying if they contain fragrance oil, essential oil or are unscented.
All of Portia’s products generally contain a standard list of ingredients to which she modifies. These most frequently include olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil (certified sustainable), sweet almond oil, avocado oil, Shea butter and cocoa butter – all things that are both good for you and leave your skin feeling amazing!
While most of Portia’s products are vegan, one of her most popular soaps is not – the Oatmeal, Milk & Honey bar. Portia says she tries to make most of her products as vegan as possible, but sometimes the skin care benefits of some ingredients draws her in.
“In this case, honey has been used in skin care products dating back to ancient Egyptian times,” she says. “Honey is a natural anti-bacterial as well as an antioxidant that not only helps to cleanse the skin but also to rejuvenate and give your skin that extra glow.”
However, Portia says that if someone contacted her and expressed interest in a soap like the Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Bar to be completely vegan she would love to make it for them!
Portia says that none of what she’s accomplished so far would have been possible without the love and support from her partner Keith. “He’s always encouraging me to to experiment and try new things and has a knack for promoting my products,” she says. “He’s my top salesman and my biggest fan!”
Portia currently only ships throughout Canada, but I have a feeling she’ll be in more international demand before long. Contact her at email@example.com to order your own soaps, or follow her on Instagram @knittygrittysoaps. Each natural soap is around $6.70 CAD and is large enough to split in half for both your hands and the shower. Portia also loves playing around with different ingredients and is taking custom orders for the holidays before November 24.