Five Questions With Washpool

Written by Melissa Thomas
on 25 October, 2019

Last season Washpool Skin Wellness gifted the Finders Keepers team lip balms during our Brisbane event, and let us tell you what a savior those soothing sticks were! We absolutely loved the opportunity to learn more about this local soaperie; creating ethical, nourishing and authentic bath and body care. This one will have you switching to natural in no time.  Be sure to support the makers behind Washpool this season at Finders Keepers Brisbane. 

Tell us a little about Washpool Skin Wellness and how soaps became the inspiration for your business! 

While raising three young daughters and living with my husband, Warren, on our drought-declared remote cattle station, I realised that I was focusing on choosing wholesome, healthy food for my young family, but that the products we were putting on our skin were anything but nourishing.

My growing ‘ingredient awareness’ started as a result of my reaction to shampoo, in particular. I could also see the drying effect of many skin products and found myself lost because the moisturisers to correct the dry skin would often sting my children’s skin.

My parents gave me a handmade soap bar and I was so impressed with how my skin responded that I began researching and eventually made my first batch of soap in the farmhouse kitchen. Demand grew and I realised I had found my passion. When we moved to a smaller farm at Ballandean we purchased the storefront and workshop where we are now located.

Can you share the creative process behind creating some of your best selling wellness products?

Our product range is customer-driven so whether it’s my three teenage daughters who need a new product or our beautiful clients, we listen to suggestions and try to fulfill desires. Demand for more natural skincare ingredients is also resulting in the release of cleaner, greener ingredients that deliver results, which means reading, thinking, experimenting and sometimes tweaking existing products or creating new ones.

My favourite quote is:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” 

— Maya Angelou

Monday is my study & experimental day – the shop is closed but you’ll find me in the workshop looking a bit like a mad scientist surrounded by test tubes and pots galore.

What is it like living in the heart of Queensland, in Ballandean and how does it inspire your work? 

Ballandean is the heart of the Granite Belt Wine Country and just down the road from the gorgeous Girraween and Sundown National Parks – about 20 minutes south of Stanthorpe, 20 minutes north of Tenterfield (NSW) and about 3 hours south-west of Brisbane.

We moved to Ballandean because of the constant drought in the Roma region, but the Granite Belt is now also experiencing the worst drought in recorded history.

It’s still a beautiful place to be, even “in drought and flooding rains.” There is something very special about the washed, muted palette in our region, especially at golden hour.

We take pleasure in providing meaningful employment to people living in our rural community in an industry that’s not as dependant on the climate as many other businesses in the region.

What do mornings look like for you? How do you nourish and nurture yourself, do you have a daily self-care/beauty ritual? 

I’m not a morning person, even though I wish I was. I find the easiest way to get myself going is to think that our farm dogs need a walk, not that I need to exercise for half an hour. It’s a mental thing.

I tend to choose which soap bar I grab according to mood and gravitate towards fresh scents in the morning.. I do use our Ivory & Rose Kaolin Clay Facial Cleanser soap for my face, as I’ve formulated them to be especially kind to delicate facial skin.

I spritz my face with a hydrosol that we’ve distilled from local plants (watch this space) and then apply a few drops of our Nourishing Face Oil. I find this dewy base works well either on its own or with foundation.

A combination of winter, prolonged dry weather and aging has meant that I find myself reaching for our Replenishing Body Butter more often

Why is it so important for you to sell direct to customers and what do you love most about being part of Finders Keepers. Can we expect to find anything new at your stall this season? 

I know I’m not alone in wanting to provide my family with the healthiest, most socially responsible products that are affordable every day, not simply as a gift or a treat. Placing a product we’ve made with our own hands directly into the hands of our customers allows us to deliver the most value, both in terms of quality but also the richness of the artisan/customer relationship.

I love heading to Finders Keepers to get to chat to our regular online customers and show them what’s new. We often get to meet existing and prospective wholesale clients and we also source products that we then sell in our store. 

We have quite a few new products since our last Finders Keepers stall – we now make our popular lip balms in recyclable slidey tins (very cute and retro) and our new shampoo bars (which we’ve been working on for a long while to perfect & outperform other shampoo bars on the market). 

Bonus Q: What’s on the spring/summer wishlist at this years Finders Keepers for you? 

To see what new fabrics that are available in the AntiCraft Do Rags – my eldest daughter, Emily, and I are big fans and each have about a dozen of them. It’s become our shop uniform, helping us to look fabulously groomed even when it’s not hair wash day!

Because our regular visitors to our physical shop don’t get to attend the big capital city markets like Finders Keepers, we like to bring our favourites back to the store and introduce our customers to other handmade, ethical makers.

washpool.com.au
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