Homestead Soapery is now fully vegan!
For new customers and old, we made an announcement on social media the other day that we are now going FULLY VEGAN – ALL THE TIME!
We got so much praise in public messages and lots of DMs and emails thanking us for making the decision and being mindful about it.
And I wanted to just talk about why we did it. I believe businesses should be transparent about the decisions they make.
I started the soapery using goat milks and lard/tallow based oils mixed with coconut oils to make soap. It’s an easy and fullproof way to make hard bars that have lots of cleansing abilities.
I then started including a vegan option in an 85% castile blend, which as much as I wanted it to work for me, it didn’t. The cost outlay was more than I was willing to have to pass on, and the length of time to let the soaps cure was also longer than I anticipated. Another issue was that the evaporation of the soap appeared physically more prominent so soaps cut at certain weights and thicknesses in comparison to the non-vegan options appeared significantly smaller. A final issue that plagued me with the castile was that Queensland’s sub-tropical weather proved too finicky for my soaping studio, with many batches failing due to changes in weather and excessive heat.
Even then, I had hints in my sales data that the vegan option was sold quicker than the non-vegan.
So, I went on a journey to reformulate my vegan soap batter with specific caveats:
- I was committed to being a soapmaker who did not use palm oil in any capacity. So, that needed to remain. I still do not use palm oil in any of my soaps.
- I have a very strong opposition to GMO anything, so that needed to remain. My oils needed to stay non-GMO. By non-GMO, I need you to understand that the crops my oils are from have no GMO options. So, it’s not just that the particular oil I chose is GMO free, it is also the crop that - at least in Australia and to my best knowledge - has never been tampered with in GMO practices. When I say GMO, it means all the way to crop level.
- My supply chain needed to remain as Australian as possible. Inevitably, some raw ingredients may need to be sourced out of country and there is nothing wrong with that. But I know how clean Australia’s raw ingredients are compared to other countries, so it stuck with my values and my company values in staying clean, whilst also supporting the Australian businesses producing those raw materials. Also, because of covid, the access to crazy elaborate raw materials had been reduced significantly, so I needed to make sure my Australian supply chain was robust and always accessible.
- My soaps needed to continue to remain less is more. What I mean by that is, my soaps stay clean by using less ingredients, not more. As mentioned many times, a notable and large soap company with huge reach has and offers vegan soap, and when I looked at their ingredient deck, they had 27 different ingredients, many of them synthetic but vegan friendly, in their soaps. I’m sorry – but I won’t do that and do not support that. My soaps use materials that come from the earth and from plants. That’s it.
- I also wanted to support people making ethical or personal choices. Some of my clients may not be able to use products made with animal by products for several reasons, and I would be daft if I didn’t understand that. So, I wanted to make purchasing soaps from Homestead Soapery easier, more convenient and for customers to know that they would be safe in purchasing from someone who offered fully vegan handmade soap.
So, I reformulated my soap and sent it out for feedback with a questionnaire. All the feedback was positive. The bigger sized bars, the scents, the feel, the lather. All the feedback was positive.
I launched the vegan reformulation early in 2021 and sales were fantastic. All the vegan soaps either sold out within the first week, or majority sold out in the first week. The older, non-vegan batter soaps remained stagnant.
Making the decision to change to fully vegan was a no-brainer for several reasons. Sales data and client feedback shows that clients want vegan options and even if they are not vegan personally, prefer vegan options in skincare, soap, makeup and the like. People are being more environmentally conscious and aware, and having vegan options is important to show that you support that change.
I would be remiss if I decided to not go fully vegan in my soap business. I want to show my customers that I listen to their feedback and concerns, and that I agree. You can only show your efforts in leading by example and taking feedback honestly.
Tto all my wonderful new and old Homestead Soapery clients, thank you for your support thus far in my little operation here. I love making soaps and I love sending them to new homes. Most importantly, I love getting the positive feedback and showing my growth as a small business owner in this venture. I hope that going forward we continue to have open discussion and feedback loops on what is working and what isn’t working and that I can continue to evolve as a soapmaker in years to come.