Hello! It’s been raining a lot in San Francisco lately, and although a lot of places experienced flooding, where I am, it feels like everything has been cleansed. Speaking of cleansing, and of those last minute holiday gifts I’m scrambling to find, this week’s blog post is about a small-scale soap making company that has flawlessly married food and skincare by using natural and organic products. Etta + Billie was founded in 2009 by Alana Rivera, when she decided to leave her desk job behind for soap making glory (she makes lip balms and other body products as well!).
Generally, I search for stories of transition when I’m out and about, of entrepreneurs who are striking out on their own. Alana’s is one such success story in the making. As we stood amongst rows shelves of soaps and body balms in her San Francisco studio, she shared with me how she began making soaps out of her home. To keep things manageable, she would invite friends over for food-laden soap wrapping parties. As her business has grown, she has learned to adjust her practices to grow with it. Now, her soaps are carried by over 70 retailers, and she sells soaps online and in person at special events (we met at Remake 2014 in San Francisco!). The company is named for Alana’s grandmothers, and their love lives on in Alana and her work.
What inspires Alana nearly as much as handmade soap? Food. A self-professed hungry girl, she has beautifully joined her two muses to make her business flourish. With scents like Anise Peppermint, Horchata, Praline + Burnt Caramel (in collaboration with bakery Craftsman and Wolves) Payback Porter (using beer from San Francisco’s Speakeasy Brewery), and chai tea, she has a way of engaging all the senses. I especially love how real and appetizing her products smell. There’s no cloying sweetness or exaggerated chemical aromas. They smell like actual earl grey tea, or Douglas fir trees. Not only that, they’re beautiful. Just look at them!
I have a bar of geranium patchouli soap at home now, and am loving it! I haven’t tried Alana’s other delectable products at home yet, but I hope to soon!
Happy holiday shopping!
And some more beautiful soaps curing on their little shelves: