Candice Suchocki Weir uses bees wax from Tugwell Creek Honey Farm & Meadery in her soapmaking. Left

Cleaning up in Jordan River — naturally

Soapmaker creates artisan soaps in small home-based business

ordan River is a haven for many who choose to abandon city life and make their home in the dark forests and seaside community best known for its surfing. The lifestyle there is one of a deep abiding respect for nature and the outdoors. It’s nowhere close to a city and because of that the people who choose to live there are a self-sufficient lot, making a living in the ways that suit them best.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” is a proverb of unknown origin, but it is also the impetus for a home-based business in Jordan River.

Jordan River Soapworks came about when Candice Suchocki Weir found her skin could not tolerate strong scents and ingredients.

“I have skin concerns that led to an obvious need to find products I could use,” she said. “Lots of natural products have ingredients I’m allergic to and my products are designed out of necessity and other people enjoy them too.”

Soap making is an age old industry, with the earliest recorded evidence in 2800 BC in ancient Babylon. These days small batch producers make artisan soaps using a vast array of ingredients. Gone are the days of tallow and ashes. These days oils such as shea, coconut, olive and palm are used replacing the animal fats used over the centuries.

The soaps and body products Weir makes use only essential oils and absolutely no artificial colours or preservatives. Nor does she add ingredients for aesthetic purposes.

“I’m most proud of my sources,” said Weir. “I source as many local products as possible.”

She uses sea salt from Sooke Sea Salts, beeswax from Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery and seaweed gathered by Dakini Tidal Wilds. A natural clay comes from up Island and peppermint is harvested on her property.

These products have led to one of  Weir’s best selling soap which is made from sea salt and seaweed and a touch of tea tree oil.

Everything else she uses is organic and is sustainably harvested. Her Plain Jane unscented soap is completed neutral using organic natural products. Others in the line up include lavender and clay, grapefruit and bergamot, rose geranium and hibiscus, as well as peppermint. Body butters and lip balms are made from cocoa, shea and coconut oils. Her workshop may be small, but her aspiration are huge.

Jordan River Soapworks is a young business, in its first year. Weir makes all the soap and body products in small batches, paying special attention to the packaging. She learned by trial and error and through books and on-line information. She developed her own recipes and keeps trying, testing, failing and trying some more. It’s an ongoing process.

She is focussed on grassroots marketing and has her products in 15 shops on the Island, in Vancouver and Kelowna. She attends pop-up markets, which seem to be trending these days offering small businesses an opportunity to expand their market exposure. For the month of June and perhaps longer she will set up a pop-up market in Victoria in the Murchie’s building. She has seen some success as well at the China town night market in Vancouver.

“The Internet makes it possible to have a home based business in Jordan River,” said Weir, “and it’s miles from a major centre. This would be impossible without that.”

For more information on Jordan River Soapworks, go to: www.jordanriversoapworks.com and you can find them on Facebook.