In this most recent homesteading blog post article, we get to chat with Dragana Skoro from SoapScapes based here in Abbotsford British Columbia Canada, who creates and sells hand-made small-batch artisanal soaps with love and amazing naturally sustainable ingredients that are healthy for your skin and the environment. Check out what we discussed below and consider connecting with her on social media.
Who are you, where do you live and what do you like about operating your craft business?
My name is Dragana Skoro. I live in East Abbotsford and operate my small business from home. I have a decent sized store with my products in my home, and a rather large studio that I spend my days imagining, creating, testing and finally making everything from.
How did you get started with crafting and what are some useful tips for those who want to get started?
I’ve had creative juices powering most of my life. They emerged in different forms at different times, but my life was always creative in a way. I used to write poetry, I am classically trained pianist, I dabbled in paper arts and jewelry making, I used to love singing (only in my shower these days). My soap making days started in Eastern Europe, learning from my grandma about different herbs and potions and salves, I also watched her make soap over an open fire. I came to Canada, to Vancouver in 1994, and after moving to Abbotsford from Vancouver in 2011, I have started making products to replace store bought ones with. My younger son, 6 at the time, had sensitivities that I wanted to help with. First products I ever made were a laundry powder (still make it to this day), and a few soaps (all of which have undergone many changes over the years). My favourite tips to share? One – do not give up. Keep envisioning yourself where you want to be in your life. And work on it. Work hard, work with love and passion, and you will get there. Two – never cut corners. Three – start small, whatever small might be in your case. Pour your heart into it, make the start of it the best you can, and then add more. It takes time, like everything, so take your time. Four – dream about your job. Dream about what you want to do, some of my best ideas came out of dreaming.
What are the products that you offer from your home and where can people buy them?
I offer a very wide range of products, so brace yourselves for a long list.
I make bath/shower products, including bath bombs and bubble scoops, shower steamers and soaps, bath salts, bath teas and milk soaks. Skin care line includes body products and face products. Body lotions, hand creams, magnesium oils, body sprays, after sun care products, feet care products (one of the most popular products is our feet salve made with neem oil), face masks, creams, serums, micellar water, toners, tattoo care balm, different herbal salves, beard balm and oil, you name it and we’re likely to have it. We also offer a selection of essential oils and couple of our signature blends for diffusers as well as roll on applicators. For home and laundry room, we offer room sprays, candles, wax melts, and laundry powder. I am sure I am forgetting something.
Our products are being sold online on our website. You can also shop through our Instagram profile – @soap.scapes or Facebook as well @soapscapes. We have a home store at 3335 Vernon Terrace, shopping time is by appointment. We do not have steady operation hours – sometimes I am creating in the studio, or cooking or walking my dog. You can also text me on my cell (604) 916-0145 and see what I am up to if you would like to pop by.
There are a couple of other places that carry our products – “Found”, a boutique by Union Gospel Mission in New Westminster has a full range of our products, while two art galleries carry a smaller selection – Pitt Meadows Art Gallery has a bigger selection of the two, while Port Moody Art Gallery offers a limited selection at Christmas time.
We are always looking for other opportunities as well. I go to craft markets as often as I can, those are advertised on our Instagram and Facebook, as below.
What are the benefits of using your products?
Our products are made with unconditional love and care, using the highest quality ingredients we can find. Skin is the biggest organ in our body and what we put on it is becoming more and more important given all the environmental changes happening and the pollution that is surrounding us. The biggest benefits that our products offer is a peace of mind knowing that you are choosing the best available products for your skin.
How are they different from products that people might be using?
Not all the bars of soap are created equal. Some, even though they are being sold as soaps, are not soap at all, they are synthetic surfactants depleted of the goodness we need for our bodies. Same goes for other products – reading the ingredient lists could easily become a full-time job for shoppers. We make it easy. Most of our ingredients don’t sound scary, and you can pronounce them. For me, the most important thing in my business is that I create and offer products that you will want to use repeatedly, and you will love them as much as we do. These products don’t only do the job – they are the best for the job.
What are they made of?
Our products are made with many organic ingredients. Whenever possible, oils and butters we use are cold pressed and/or unrefined. We choose to make our products with ingredients of the purest quality – we use raw honey, colloidal silver and herbal extracts. Many botanicals are grown by us and we try to use as many local ingredients as possible. Synthetic fragrances we use are all paraben and phthalates free; we are using essential oils as well in wide range of our products. There are also unscented products available to those with fragrance sensitivities. We are always happy to work with you on your custom products and are ready to make something special just for you. These practices matter and make a difference in products quality. Researching your choices has become even more important than ever before, and we are happy to answer any questions about our products.
What are the benefits of operating a small home-based craft business for yourself and/or your family?
Once upon a time, I’ve dreamed of being a corporate worker. My major at university was electrical engineering, and I sometimes think it was a draw of luck that a war in my country interrupted my studies. Kind of silly, no? After landing here in Canada, I worked on more creative side of things – desktop publishing, web design and creating sell sheets for movie industry. All that changed when I had my first kid. I wanted to be a mum first and stay home with my children. I did not want to go back to work immediately after my maternity leave. Being able to work from home, and work on something that I am passionate about, made me a better person and a better, more patient mum. I was able to be a tutor and friend to my family and others as well, all while not losing myself or depleting my soul of what it needed. Being a mum is sometimes a very lonely job. Being your own boss is a lot of work, however, the rewards are immeasurable. The satisfaction of knowing that you did it, YOU did it, all by yourself, or with help of those closest to you, cannot compare to anything else.
Who are some crafters who inspire you to get better and try new things?
There is a huge list of people I admire for what they do. I do love Wild Bluebell, of course – so many neat things to see and learn, but some of the soapers I follow and dream to be like when I grow up are – @awesoapco in Ontario, @roughcutsoapco in Oregon, @wouldntknowem in New Zealand and @sleepyhollowhandmade in Pennsylvania.
What is the one main life lesson that running your own business has taught you about yourself?
Probably that I can do anything and be anyone that I need to be. Personal growth and self-assurance resulting from running your own business and learning what it takes is the most important tool in my toolbox now.
Outside of crafting, what do you get up to for fun in your personal time?
Cooking is a big passion of mine. We do not eat processed foods, and if I have time, I am trying new recipes. I preserve the summer bounty, so we haven’t bought jam, salsa or pickles in about two decades. Spending time with my friends is a must, and very often it is over the new recipes and it always ends up in live music sessions. I love learning, it happens every single day. It could be about my business, or something completely unrelated, but there is no day I haven’t learned something new. Most days you will find me lost in a book or researching on internet, or discussing a topic with someone who knows more about it than I do.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like people to know about you or your business?
Oh, I think I talked plenty, looking forward to hearing from you and sharing my soaps with the community.
Wild Bluebell Homestead is a charming hobby farm located in Abbotsford that offers a range of hand-made artisanal products, curated vintage furniture, sourdough bread, and other homemade items. The homestead is dedicated to creating unique and high-quality products that are beautiful, functional, and long-lasting, plus each item is carefully crafted with attention to detail. Customers can expect a warm and welcoming experience and a range of products that are perfect for adding a touch of rustic charm to any home.