Thursday, October 25, 2007

Squaw Valley Soap Works

'Tis the season for bumping into (and bumping heads with) fellow soap makers. It cannot be helped, not with all the craft shows bumper to bumper from now until the weekend before Christmas. Sooooooo . . .

. . . I'm bloggin' them.

Maybe I should do a whole series of soap maker blogs entitled, 'The Good, the Bad, and the Rude As Hell!'

Fortunately, Ms. Connie Nerison of Squaw Valley Soap Works in Squaw Valley, CA, wasn't rude at all at the craft show we both attended in, where else? Squaw Valley, California.

I'm very cautious about approaching another soap maker at a show. You know, it's like Forrest's mother used to say, you never know what you're gonna get. I always approach with an open mind and closed mouth. First, I check out their goods. If I'm impressed, and often I am, I'll ask questions ~ what oils do you use? Do you use fragrance oils or natural oils (though I can pretty much figure it out based on the scent wafting from their displays), are you local? How long have you been soaping? Then, if they seem like confident, open, friendly people, I'll tell them that I also make soap and where my booth is located. This garners many different responses. Total shut-down is one, but the hardest to comprehend, from my viewpoint, is the banshee response. I love talking to other soap makers and don't feel an iota of self-consciousness about my creations, so I don't understand the raised hackles, showing of spiky teeth and glaring eyes reaction at all. But it happens. A lot.

So, back to Squaw Valley Soap Works. On my first round with this booth, I didn't say anything. I looked at the soaps, determined how they were made (hot process, cold process, rebatch, etc.), saw some things I liked and decided to come back later in the day when I had more time to shop. When I finally made it back, I came with barter/trade/giveaway materials in hand ~ well, hidden in my hand because even when you get a good vibe off someone, they can still turn on you like a cat with its butt on fire. I picked out a few soaps I liked -- Clary Sage Oatmeal and Orange Clove. The bars were not uniform, a little unevenly cut and wrapped in adorable crinkly wrapping paper. The soaps each weigh about 4 oz, though some are a little larger, some slightly smaller, all hand trimmed and gussied up for presentation. Very cute. After purchasing the two bars I liked, I handed her my soap and said, "I'm a soap maker too," pause, watch the eyes, looks good, ok, go! "And I have a booth on the other side of the show." She smiled and took the soaps I offered and she and her daughter oohed and aahed over them a bit, then she looked up with a smile and said, "Thank you!"

Ok. Not bad. I go trudging off to my booth with my newly procured soaps and a brochure in hand feeling pretty good about the whole experience. If you think I'm making too much of this, you have NO idea what it's like to meet one of the nasties. Horrendous. Evil. And there's more of them than there are of the nice ones.

A little bit later in the day, here comes Connie, with a gift in hand, to check out my booth. We talked a little about soap making techniques; mine are made in small batches, hers are made in larger batches, but she implied she'd make even bigger batches (which in soap talk ='s 'I'm selling this &^%$ so fast I can't keep enough around!') if she could lift a bigger pot. That was the only thing that put me off. I don't care if you make 3 lb batches or 200 lb batches, the issue is whether or not your soap is any good! Again, fortunately, Connie's is good. I'm also not altogether thrilled with the use of fragrance oils, but that can be overlooked so long as I don't dry up, break out or have an asthma attack after using the soap.

I've tried three of the four soaps I received. I haven't used the Peony yet because ~ well, I just haven't gotten that far yet. I was gifted with or purchased a bar of Frankincense & Myrrh, Orange Clove, Clary Sage Oatmeal and Peony. Good soap.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Squaw Valley Soap Works a 8.5.

There is no website for this company, but I encourage you to call her up and order the soap. Here's why: The 4-5 oz bars are only $2.50 each! Can't beat that with a hickory stick!

The offerings include (this is straight off the brochure):

Bear Mountain Mint ~ sweet spearmint combines with lavender and grapefruit essential oils. Cocoa butter adds moisturizing benefit. Enjoy a blast of cool green energy!

Clary Sage Oatmeal ~ clary sage, lemongrass & rosemary essential oils are blended with oatmeal to make a clean scented and gentle exfoliating soap.

Ginger Peach ~ summer scented peach and spicy giner revealed in this sudsy cleansing bar. A cream colored soap swirled with paprika and parsley. Sweet!

Green Tea ~ somewhere between forest and floral. My personal favorite with a mossy-green clay swirl.

Honey Almond ~ intense bitter almond and honey so sweet ~ an appealing blend with cocoa swirls. Love it!

Honeysuckle ~ this soap carries the heady aroma of a favorite spring flowering vine. A creamy white soap with rich lather that is absolutely irresistible.

Lavender Comfrey ~ the most sought after fragrance of all time. Blended with lavender essential oil. Comfrey root adds a creamy texture.

Lily of the Valley ~ graceful, floral fagrance symbolizing ever returning happiness. This creamy white soap with rich lather is perfect.

Orange Clove ~ everyone loves this soap. A perfect blend ~ not too sweet with a hint of spice and bold red clay swirls.

Peony ~ a flower that rivals the rose in beauty. These floral notes will delight the senses. The soft pink bar is lovely as well.

Sweet Grass Goats' Milk ~ this soap is favored for its mild, creamy lather. Rich in emollients and proteins enhanced with the clean scent of sweetgrass and herbs.

Violets, Silk & Cream ~ silk protein, goat's milk and a delicate violet scent swirled with marshmallow root make a sumptuous soap.

Wild Rose ~ a most perfect scent. Subtle, soft and reminiscent of the wild roses down by the creek. Pretty rose clay swirls add a feminine touch.

Lemon Verbena ~ an aromatic blend of lemon verbena and lemongrass essential oils create a strong lemony herbal scent. Sprinkled with calendula petals and swirls of parsley powder. A captivating favorite

And there is the seasonal Frankincense & Myrrh, which isn't in the brochure.

More from the brochure:

Lavender Heart Warming Pillows ~ $6.00, a soft chenille heart shaped pillow filled with scented lavender and buckwheat hulls. Warm in the microwave 20 sec. per side. (Do NOT overheat)

Soothing Lavender Eye Pillows ~ $6.00, an exquisite satin brocade pillow contains cooling flax seed and lavender to relax away tension.

Lavender Moon Warming Pillow ~ $9.00, a large crescent shaped chenille fabric pillow filled with scented lavender and buckwheat hulls. Gentle heat relaxes neck and shoulder areas. Warm in microwave 30 sec. each side. (Do NOT overheat)

Lavender Hand Cream ~ 4 oz jar, $4.50, extra rich blend of my lotion with aloe vera gel, beeswax jojoba oil and lavender essential oil.

Lavender Lotion Melts ~ $4.50, pretty sunflower bars provie ultimate care for damaged skin. Packed in take-along tins.

Perfume Oils in Roller Bottles ~ .3 oz, $2.00, favorite scents to carry with you. Choose Lavender, Wild Rose, Lily of the Valley, Green Tea or Honeysuckle

Herbal Body Mists ~ 4 oz, $5.00, a glass cobalt bottle with mister filled with a delicately scented herbal water. Choose from lemon verbena, lavender or wild rose.

Lavender Herbal Lotion ~ 8 oz, $6.00, a nourishing 100% vegetable based lotion rich in plant emollients. Choose lavender or wild rose

Squaw Valley Soap Works, Squaw Valley, CA, (559) 338-2631.


  1. Veronica12:00 PM

    Wow, Justine
    It's mighty nice of you to give these folks a free adverising on your own blog and not to be even a bit greedy about it. I guess it shows some people are more mature and generous then others...

  2. Well, the days of 'I make better soap than you do' were over for me before they even started. I just don't think that way.

    'Sides, her soap is pretty good, and she wasn't all fangs and claws and blood shot eyes. And her prices ~ oy vey!

  3. I tried three times now to put words to my thoughts, but all is lame. I'm in awe by you generousity and openminded spirit. If all in the NP/BP world would act the same, I think we all would benefit from it. Instead "they" grew claws, fangs and dark lanky hair with white stripes and go "your stuff sucks and I'm so good". Well it seems that what goes around comes around and each get what they deserve - hurrayy!!!!
    You my dear J is a rolemodel for us all.
    LOVE YA!!

  4. "they can still turn on you like a cat with its butt on fire. "

    This can also refer to the Southern-Suburbia-Soccer-MOm-Stepford Wives that roam around here. Driving in their giant, gas-guzzling-always clean (never mind we're in a DROUGHT over here!!) SUVs.


    That line is a scream!!!



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