Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weekend Bits and Bobs

This blogging business is still a very new idea to me, but as I am accustomed to writing from my previous job, I find it rather enjoyable =) The shop has been busy lately, with customers realising the soon ending storewide promotion. I am especially thrilled to see more returning customers in Jan (some as many as three times since Dec!) which is so so rewarding! Other than that, I do intentionally leave weekends "work" free to spend quality time with hubby...hmmm....what did I do last weekend?

...watched the movie Hachiko: A Dog's Story...
Sob! For all dog/animal lovers, this is a must! Seriously I am never the type to sob my eyes out in movies (more the lip quivering but stay cool type) but jeez...i broke down like a crying baby!! This is especially touching for pet owners (and for those who have subsequently lost them like me). Totally loving this whole new dog drama genre that is so popular these days! Just watching these balls of furry cuteness is more than worth it!

...loving my new Kindle!
I am an undeniable book worm and I am proud to own the Amazon's Kindle in my cute Fuschia faux leather cover =) Reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown which unfortunately...is...not very good...yawn...

...trying to get husband injected but failed...
No, he is not sick, but I am trying to get both of us injected before we head to our Safari Honeymoon!!!!! Unfortunately, husband has an irrational fear of needles and after some bargaining, we decided to postpone the jabs..again..

...scratching my head for new goodies at the shop...
Skincare, cosmetics, accessories, quirky cute things, I want them all in Soap 'n Sorbet! Already have my eyes on some very unique brands =) One thing I am resolute about is skincare, I gotta have this! And yet this is so challenging cos there are already so many choices out there!! Not to mention, us girls are (rightly so) very particular about what we put on our faces, and besides whether or not something works depend on so many things that we can't control: weather, stress, hormones...etc...still, I am working on this! Any suggestions are MORE THAN WELCOME!!

...and finally, I killed my plant.
I never had a green thumb. But my recent trip to Hokkaido's lavender fields has ignited my interest in planting and I decided to plant my own lavender pot! I must say, all was going well, until I took my mother's "advice" (whom believes she has a green thumb) to add water to the plate underneath the pot while I was away during X'mas, so that my plant will be "watered" by itself...and I think I just drowned it...Genetics is just such an amazing thing isn't it?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Interview with Nostalgia Organics

In today's material world, one can find almost anything in any kind of shop out there, mind boggling really! I am very used to walking into a store, pick up a certain beautiful looking goodie, and pay for it without knowing much about what I just bought. Many of such products are mass productions that, it seems pointless to know who created them or what their origins are.

But, when you see something truly unique and exquisite, do you feel the urge to find out the story behind it? I know I do! In a way, I think it makes the product feel more personal, more connected, and also it's almost like a tribute to the efforts that the creator put in :)

By now, you would know that I absolutely adore Nostalgia Organics - such a darling, pretty collection of goodies. Any new creation that they churn out takes time, patience & efforts, making it all the more special! So, it is natural that I asked Elea - the lovely creator - about the background of all this, how it started and all. Here is a little interview that I hope will make you feel closer to the brand!

How did you start making soaps and balms?
I started experimenting with handmade soaps and balms about 9 years ago - purely out of curiosity. I enjoyed mixing and testing ingredients and learning how they all work together. I had a particular interest in natural essential oils and herbs and the benefits they provided so I also started taking classes and reading a lot of books on the subject. I worked full time in the corporate world until a few years ago when my son was born. So my "experiments" were just a fun way to feed my creativity and interests. However, during my pregnancy, I started creating my own products, such as belly balm and aromatherapy spray for morning sickness, because I couldn't find similar products or 100% natural versions in stores. Developing those products, paired with my love of design, really planted the seed for my future business.

How long does it take to design your packaging?
A long time! It took me well over two years to finish all the designs on the fabrics and papers that house the soap. From concept to completion, it generally takes about 2 months for me to design the packaging for each product. I have drawers full of sample bottles, jars, boxes, papers and just about every type of packaging you can think of - that I experiment with until I finally decided on the direction to take. But, I love designing and drawing and sketching out new ideas for the fabrics and prints - so that part never really feel like work. I also carefully consider packaging for its recycled or recyclable content or try to offer packaging that can be repurposed after the product is gone. So, it's a slow, nail-biting process, but seeing the joy on people's faces when they touch the little bows and grin at the bluebirds - makes it all worthwhile.

Where do you find your inspiration?
I draw inspiration from a lot of different sources, but most of it comes from my childhood and grandmother. I love the purity and wonder of childhood. And, somehow, for me, that directly correlates to offering wholesome, natural products. However, my grandmother is definitely the biggest source of my inspiration. She was just a really special lady that took time to consider even the tiniest detail - if she thought it would put a smile on someone's face. For example, she would hand-embroider flowers and birds and things on my pillowcases because she knew I loved it. So in her spirit, I try to add happy little details like that in my collection. I'm also inspired by colour palettes and imagery from of my grandmother's day.

On a personal level, what do you like to do when you're not working?
I love spending time with my family and discovering new things with my 2-year-old son. We have our daily outings together that I really cherish. We walk to the park, journey to the zoo or play silly games like hide and seek. I also love travelling, watching a good movie or trying new restaurants with my husband. If I'm not doing any of that - I'm probably crafting something.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lalicious...Turn Your Home into a Spa

Since the opening of Soap 'n Sorbet, many customers have asked me about Lalicious...What are the scents like? What is the texture of the oils/scrubs/butters? So I thought I'd write my own little review here to share my experience :) In addition, X-Wen from Fash-Eccentric also reviewed Lalicious with flying colours! Read her blog to find out what she thinks!

Delicious Scents
I'd say the things I love the most about Lalicious are 1) the deliciously addictive scents; & 2) the nice whipped textures of the products! My first was the Sugar Kiss Sugar Souffle Scrub, and I remember how the scent just couldn't wait to escape from the tub when I opened it! There are a total of 8 scents, and we carry 5 of the most popular:

Sugar Kiss
: Sweet scent that reminds me of cotton candy in a theme park!

Brown Sugar & Vanilla: Sweetest of the range and also the most popular. Resembles warm baked cookies, or warm caramel

Passionfruit Lime: In between sweet/fruity, just like fruity sorbet

Island Guava: Just like freshly squeezed guava juice. The most refreshing of the range!

Coffee Bean: Smells like the must-have cup of cafe latte in the morning. It also acts as a temporary body slimmer due to the caffeine within.

My favourite changes depending on the mood, but I'd say it is a struggle between Sugar Kiss and PF Lime. As for my customers, Brown Sugar & Vanilla, PF Lime, and Island Guava are the most popular. I love the fact the these wonderful scents linger subtly on the skin after 1-2 hours of application! (with the exception of Coffee Bean, which will fade away faster in my experience).

Greatest scrub of all...
Some background info: I have sensitive/dry skin. Usually my priority is to moisturise like crazy, but at the same time my back is prone to spots (especially during THAT time of the month) which I totally avoid any oils. However, I do have some annoying bumps on my elbows/legs that I try to scrub away. I have honestly tried many scrubs. Either they are too harsh that I feel like being tortured (especially salt scrubs), or they cover me with such thick layer of grease that I need a second shower! Body polishes are way too mild. With the Lalicious Sugar Souffle Scrubs, I find it very effective by following their instructions:
  1. Use after shower on wet skin. Scrub till sugar crystals melt. Note: The crystals can feel quite rough at first, but as they melt away in about 1-2 minutes it will give you a good effective scrubbing without peeling away your skins.
  2. Wash away excess oil. Note: This is the part that feels the most oily as the scrub contains many skin-loving oils - coconut, sweet almond, soybean & vitamin E oils
  3. Pat dry with towel. Note: There will still be some residual oil on the skins, but they get absorbed amazingly quickly, and very soon you will feel baby smooth :). However, I would still avoid any acne-prone areas
  4. The scrubs can be used everyday. Note: Tried and tested, and my skin is still with me :)
  5. The full size tub is big, and will last you at least 2-3 months even if you use it very frequently!
I agree with X-Wen that the scrub is best used at night if you keep your AC on. For most people, there is no need for body lotion after the scrub, but sometimes, I still lather on an extra layer especially on my dry legs. Even though the scents from the scrubs linger on, I find no problem applying other scented lotions on. At one point, when I was sent samples of all the scents from Lalicious, I was literally scrubbing myself everyday to try! Amazingly, the persistent bumps on my elbows were gone! Yippeeee!!

Looking inside: Authentic & sealed.

Special whipped technology, no separation of oils & sugars
Very Light & Fluffy texture!

Fast Absorbing Body Butters...
The Whipped Body Butters and the Bath & Body Oils are two of the other Lalicious products that we carry, as they make a wholesome home-spa experience with the scrumptious scrubs! Again, what I love about Lalicious is that everything is very moisturising/skin loving whilst not overly heavy for the Singapore weather :)

The butters come in the same scents (excluding Coffee Bean which only comes in scrub form). I'd say the phrase "Body Butter" is actually quite misleading. To me, the texture is in between a runny body milk and a heavy butter, although not as light as Steam Cream. The butter itself resembles a whipped cream type texture, and absorbs amazingly well without feeling sticky. As mentioned, for my skin type I am even able to lather on an extra layer of Body Butter after the Scrub at night.

Freshly opened, smells lovely! Whipped cream anyone?

Versatile Bath & Body Oil...
Finally, the Bath & Body Oil is interesting in that it is highly versatile. It can just about be used for anything! Make up remover, moisturiser, cuticle oil, hair treatment, bath oil...The texture of the oil is quite runny and I don't find it too greasy/sticky at all. In fact, it is so runny that I find it a bit messy to apply as a cuticle oil, but it does wonders for the rest! Often I use the oils for my very dry legs, which reminds me of the famous Skin Deep Dry Leg Oil by This Works, only this is twice the size and much cheaper! This comes in Vanilla, PF Lime, Island Guava, & Coconut Cream.

Note that under colder temperature (aka in AC), the oils may condense into a white gooey texture which is totally normal and reflective of the lovely coconut oils within. Simply place it under room temp and it will slowly revert back to oil form.

Runny, clear texture

Monday, January 4, 2010

Handmade soaps..Yay or Nay?

During my search for the lovelies at my store, one of the challenges was to decide what type of products to include at the initial launch. Scrubs, creams, butters, perfumes...these are all pretty straightforward. Soaps, on the other hand, were a bit of a dilemma. Yes, I used to belong to the camp of skeptics against soaps. Like an average city girl, I have been used to the squirt - rinse - jump out of shower sequence with a shower gel. "Troublesome" was the word that I associated with soaps - don't they just turn into gooey mess beside the bath tub and melt away?

But with so many soap-making brands out there (Saipua, Claus Porto, and of course Nostalgia!), and all with such beautiful products...perhaps I am missing something? So I purchased a bunch of natural hand-made soaps for me and family to try. Since then, I have been a firm convert!!

Goosebumps - Perfect for a good scrubbing!
Happy Days - Zesty & refreshing
Sweet Orange - An extra dash of moisture for dry skins
Mud Pie - Chocoholic's heaven
Lavender Flowers - Calming after a day's hard work
Velveteen Rose - Unscented for very sensitive skins
Mixed Greens - Who doesn't need anti-oxidants?
My Deerest - A minty wake-up call!

The first soap that i tried out is the Happy Days from Nostalgia Organics. Admittedly the soap was very blocky to use at first. Good or bad? Good because bigger size = better value! But it was a tad uncomfortable to hold. This issue goes away after a few showers as the soap slowly becomes more rounded to fit better in my palms (I do have very small hands).

The rest, I have no complaints at all!! In addition to the deliciously refreshing aromas, the soap lathers up extremely well with very smooth foams that almost felt like whipped cream. Normally I have extremely dry skin, but the soap left me cleansed but not stripped of moisture. Best of all, my back which was prone to spots for god knows how many years, have slowly cleared away!!

The soap lasted for 2+ months, almost as long as any bottle of shower gel can offer. Did I take special care to dry the soap after use? Not at all! I probably should have and my soap would last even longer. But I simply left it next to my bath tub in a soap dish (without cover), which was away from direct shower sprays but by no means under a dry/ventilated area.

Scrutinising the content, I see saponified olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, natural vitamin e - all are well-known skin loving ingredients. Then compare this with my old shower gel (found in all drug stores, supermarkets), I see petrolatum, SLS, mineral oil...no wonder why my back used to clog up like crazy.. Yes my shower gel certainly is sold cheaper than my soap, then again, I have lost count of the amount of money that I spent trying to rid my back of spots..

Finally, it has been an interesting trend to observe among my customers especially during X'mas season. Some are obvious soap lovers and have literally stock piled them as gifts. Others however would hesitate as their friends "probably don't use soaps". I have already shifted sides from the Nay to the Yay camp. How about you?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Congrads to Our Winner of Nostalgia Soap & Balm Set

Congratulations to the winner of our FORTH & FINAL of our Grand Opening Giveaway - who will soon receive a fabulous set of Nostalgia Soap & Balm in her mail box :) This concludes our Giveaway series during which we have already given out:

- 1) a Flower Garden Steam Cream

- 2) a Gin & Rosewater Tokyo Milk Parfum - all the way to Philippines!

- 3) a Sugared Grapefruit Love & Toast Hand Cream, and finally...

- 4) a Nostalgia Organics Soap & Balm set!

For others, we promise to run other exciting members' promotions periodically so do check back! Of course, we will also inform you via email should you be on our mailing list. And remember, the 10% Grand Opening discount will be valid till 31 Jan. So grab your goodies today to enjoy!