I’m a sucker for soaps, especially if they’re made with natural ingredients and the packaging is cool (the latter being a product of my Japanese upbringing), so I was thrilled when Hubert announced we were going on a field trip to his friend’s savonnerie for lunch and a tour.
Olivier quit his job at a pharmaceutical company, moved out of the city, bought himself a gorgeous old stone farmhouse, renovated it and runs a savonnerie out of the second building on his property. They have two adorable dogs and a billion cats that run around on their property. N and I watched him with admiration as he told us his story over lunch of Hubert’s vegetables, a toasted baguette, fresh local cheeses and organic eggs.
After tea, Olivier led us to the savonnerie and had us don Crocs before going into his workshop. This was the first time in Crocs, and I totally get why people fall in love with these things.
The smell of drying soaps greeted us as we walked upstairs where all of the magic happens. Olivier walked us through his soapmaking process, which includes using an industrial handmixer, various custom-made molds and countless ingredients. He experiments with different combinations like a mad scientist concocting potions. This was serious stuff and the results were beautiful.
Because Olivier uses a cold process for soapmaking, the soaps have to dry for six weeks before being ready to use. He says that while this is a much longer technique than the hot process, it creates a much better quality soap. Well, I’m sold. For an additional coolness factor, Olivier had his artist friend design all of his packaging with cute illustrations.
Over the past four months, we’ve met quite a few people who left the rat race to follow their passions and to live a quieter, more meaningful life. It’s admirable and courageous, and we hope that one day we can also create a similar path for ourselves.
To find out more about Olivier’s awesome soapmaking, check out his site.