Soapwalla products were created in founder Rachel Winard’s kitchen for her own sensitive skin caused by lupus. Today, Soapwalla’s products are still made by hand in small batches in Brooklyn!
Using sustainable, organically grown, and edible ingredients, all of Soapwalla’s products are vegan. And they’re unisex – so you can share with the whole family!
Rachel shared her journey of creating Soapwalla with us. Read on for more.
Made Safe: What got you started in the realm of safer products?
Rachel: Necessity really. In 2001-2002 I went through the process of being diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Commonly referred to as “lupus,” it is a systemic autoimmune illness. Literally overnight, I went from being healthy to being ill, and my skin went from being normal to really, really sensitive. I went from being a normal consumer who thought that pretty packaging was indicative of good products, and that if it said “natural” on the package, that meant it was good. So out of sheer desperation, after trying every product that said natural or sensitive, I realized I had to make it myself if I couldn’t find it. That took seven years of teaching myself chemistry, botany, aromatherapy, and basic skincare formulation to make sure that what I was creating was not only natural, but sustainable and safe.
During those seven years, I realized that shelf stability drives production from the mass production side, and from the natural side, there isn’t as much focus on efficacy and safety (for example: will products grow bacteria?). I launched Soapwalla on December 1, 2009 using all the knowledge I’d gained researching products for my own use. I actually believe that skincare products should have a shelf-life. Soapwalla’s products nourish your skin like food nourishes your body because they are made from ingredients from nature (not a lab) and maintain time-limited shelf-stability.
Made Safe: What do you wish shoppers knew about the kind of products you make?
Rachel: I would love to better educate consumers to think of our products like vintages of wine rather than something you pick up at a big box store. The truly beautiful thing about natural ingredients is that I see the impact of how atmospheric changes – like a drought or significant rain – can affect our ingredients. For example, if it’s a dry growing season, the lavender from the farmers who supply it may have a slightly different color or scent from the previous season. These changes reflect the experience of that plant, but do not impact the efficacy of the product.
Another way our products are more like fine wine than mass-produced products is that we hand cut our soap bars; they are not cut by machine, or created in a lab. Batches of our products are small, much like fine vintages of wine. There is a lot of research, time, and love put into making our products.
Made Safe: Why are your products different from other, more conventional, products in the space?
Rachel: I love this question! The quality of our products is the best, bar none. I spend the majority of my time sourcing products and building and maintaining relationships with farmers so I think we have 100% natural products that are more effective than the conventional products and ours don’t contain synthetics or petrochemical byproducts. My rabid commitment to the quality of our ingredients and our diligence to maintaining that are reflected not only by my experience using these products but by consumers’ reports, reviews, and repeated purchases over the last 16 years.
Made Safe: Why are you excited to work with Made Safe?
Rachel: I think the work that Made Safe is doing is so incredibly vital and thorough. Made Safe provides independent third-party authentication that what we say is in our products is both what is in our products AND safe to use. I really value Made Safe’s commitment to providing clear and helpful information to consumers in a digestible way.
Made Safe: Why are you concerned about toxic substances in everyday products?
Rachel: I think it is always about weighing risks and making decisions that make sense for you. For me, with a compromised immune system, the combination of ingredients I found in my skincare products, cleaning products, and in my daily life outside my home, was just too much for MY compromised system. I had to find alternatives that were less toxic to give my immune system a break. As more and more people develop autoimmune diseases, I think this will become increasingly important. Having knowledge about what is in products gives people a chance to make the best choices for their lives. I understand that not everyone can spend $14 on a bar of soap, but if they look at what changes make sense for them, maybe once-in-a-while they’ll choose a Soapwalla soap that is certified MADE SAFE.
Made Safe: What keeps you feeling healthy?
Rachel: I practice yoga and I box, and those two things together keep me sane. I think it is important for women to know how to punch, not just for the “in case you need to,” but to know that you have the capacity to punch something. I think yoga and boxing can both be considered martial arts, they both ask you to focus on your breath and be in the moment.
Certified Products from Soapwalla: