Updated: Aug 23, 2020

When I came across startup Bubble and Blake's amazing handmade, natural and vegan soap bars earlier this year, I knew I had to introduce you to them. Scented beautifully and exclusively with essential oils and handcrafted with ingredients found in nature - and made right here in the UK - you can't get much more ethical and sustainable than this. I wanted to take home their entire stock right then and there. Here to introduce you to Bubble and Blake (as part of my #spotlight_on series) is founder and creator Angela Lopez.

Hello! My name is Angela and I am the creator and owner of "Bubble & Blake". This little dream of mine started in the summer of 2018 inspired by my passion for herbalism, natural cruelty-free skincare products and my concerns about the amount of plastic that is produced and thrown away on our planet on a daily basis.

It was about a year ago that I started to feel very worried about the amount of plastic we had in the bathroom and around the house in general. That really got me thinking about what actions I could take to reduce the use of plastic as much as possible. One day, I was reading about it online and I came across an article talking about the benefits of using bars of soap not only for the environment but also for the skin. Just like that, the idea was planted in my head and I decided to go for it.

"I spent the following days, weeks and months reading about how to make soap, ingredients, essential oils, natural colours, etc"

I watched videos online, bought some books from Amazon, did a lot of research, wrote down ideas, I basically became obsessed with it! One day I decided that it was about time to make my first batch of soap, so I ordered everything I needed and made soap following a recipe from a book. I was so excited and instantly hooked!

After my first attempt at making soap following a recipe from a book, I spent the following months experimenting, making mistakes and learning from them, gathering ideas . . . In the end, after a lot of trial and error, I formulated the base for my recipe together with eight different variants.

"This process took me a very long time because I wanted to create a product that would leave the skin nourished, smooth and moisturised"

Therefore, I spent quite some time trying different oils and butters and reading about their benefits. It was a necessary process to go through and totally worth it.

Bubble & Blake’s soaps are made using the “Cold Process” method, but what does this mean?

"Soap is basically a chemical reaction obtained from a saponification reaction"

Saponification is a chemical process in which a fat (oils in this case because my soaps are vegan) reacts with an alkali (caustic soda) to give soap and glycerine.

Normally, people think that soaps made with caustic soda are dangerous due to the use of this component but they are not. During the saponification reaction, the soda disappears completely when it reacts with the fats. What we get is a mixture of soap and glycerine, which is the one that I put in the moulds. After 24-48 hours, the soap has worked its magic and it is ready to unmould. However, it is not ready to use yet. The water in the soap needs to evaporate to make the soap hard. Also, the oils and butters need some time to react with the soda properly. This curing or drying process takes about 4-6 weeks.

When making soap, I also use a process called over-fatting, which allows to keep free oils and the naturally occurring glycerine in the soap. One of the main ingredients I include in the base recipe is mango butter, chosen for its high levels of unsaponifiables, which means it is very good and nourishing for the skin.

The reason I started to make soap was mainly to replace all the shower gel and shampoo bottles we had in our bathroom. After using handmade soaps, they felt so good on our skins that we started to share them with family and friends. They were very happy with the soap too and kept asking for more. So, it was then when I decided to create a small business and start selling my products.

"The next step was to get the recipes assessed and certified. I sent all the required documentation to a cosmetic assessor and my cosmetic safety report was sent to me about 6 weeks later. I thought: ‘This is it! I’m a business now!’"

Since that moment, what started as a hobby has grown into a mini production line in my kitchen, I opened an online shop and I sell my products at craft fairs around Surrey and London.

Bubble & Blake’s soaps are cruelty and palm oil free, vegan, handmade and natural. We also work really hard in keeping our business plastic free and sustainable. That’s why, we source all of our ingredients in the UK (or locally when possible). I always request things are posted without plastic and if this requirement cannot be met, we change suppliers.

"It took a while to find manufactures that share our commitment with the environment but we finally found them and we are very happy with them"

As explained above, our soaps are handmade using ingredients found in nature. No nasties go in them and they are waste free. They are wrapped and labelled by hand using recycled paper. The envelopes, boxes and tape we use is 100% recyclable too. We also like to reuse as many things as we can, so we tend to reuse boxes as often as possible.

Personally, I have made a lot of changes in my daily life to reduce the use of plastic in the last year and as a business I am always looking for ways to reduce our waste but also the waste we give to our customers. That’s why we use 100% recyclable materials and minimal packaging.

"I believe that together we can make small but meaningful changes, slow but steady we can all become more environmentally friendly, raise awareness and strive for the wellbeing of our planet"

Blog by Angela Lopez

Shop for Bubble & Blake products here: www.etsy.com/shop/bubbleandblake

Find Angela on Instagram @bubbleandblake

A massive thank you to Angela for being part of my #spotlight_on series, where I host a guest post monthly from artists, creatives, small business owners and eco warriors (and a big thank you also for selling me those gorgeous soaps I got my cousin for her birthday - she loved them!)

Check out last month's #spotlight_on post from ceramicist Anne Wagstaff here. And be sure to check in next month for a brand new post from Tropical plant business @the_tropical_plant_studio, whose gorgeous succulents are all hand grown from seed.

Thanks for reading! Is there someone you think should be part of my #spotlight_on series? Leave a comment below, DM me on instagram @howellillustration or email me at nicola@howellillustration.co.uk and I'll see what I can do!

Nicola x

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