This month's interview is with candle and soap maker, DeShawn Marie.
Tell me something about where you live and your family if you wish.
I've always been a rolling stone. I've lived in 14 states and have traveled around the world. I currently call Florida home, but also spend quite a bit of time in Boston and NYC. My other half is French Swiss and he always keeps me on my toes! No kids to speak of, but one crazy and entertaining cat named Luna who stole my heart when I found her in my car engine at 3 weeks old. She's 7 yrs. old now.
How did you get into soap making?
I got in to soap and candle making all at once. Back in 1996 I lived in Seattle and that Christmas I was looking for unique gifts for my family when I stumbled across a soap & candle making kit in a new age shop. I thought "what the heck, I'll give it a shot" So I bought the kit and raced home to see what I could create. Everything came out super cool and I haven't stopped since. It felt so natural to me and I became obsessed with coming up with new designs and recipes.
Can you explain a little bit your process?
Soap & Candle making is like combining Art, Science and Cooking Class all in one. You can be really creative with it, but the chemistry and recipe have to work.
Soap making can be quite challenging at times as just one ingredient can throw the whole recipe off. To make soap you combine fats (oils such as coconut and olive) with a lye solution this begins a process called saponification which turns the solution in to soap. You can add many different oils, scents, colors and clay to get the look you want.
Candle making you work with wax, wicks and scent. The combination has to be just right for it to burn properly. I've spent thousands of hours over the years developing wax formulations and researching oils to get the proper burning qualities.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work, and how do you manage it?
Well at this point in my career it is the physical work as my hands, shoulders and elbows are feeling the wear and tear over the years. I try to take breaks and take it easy when possible. I also do physical therapy, yoga and ice down my swollen tendons and achy muscles. If I ever make it big with this business I want a live in massage therapist :-)
Do you have a “day job” or do you work at your craft full time?
I've done this full time for 15 yrs. I had a couple of temporary jobs to fill in the gaps early on, but I've pretty much made a living from this for 15 yrs.
In what ways do you market your work?
That has changed over the years. When I started this business the internet was just beginning to catch on. I had my own brick and mortar shop for about 7 yrs. and did art and craft fairs non-stop until 2007, then I started getting more and more online business. In 2008 I opened my Etsy shop and a few other online shops and focused all of my marketing and business to online shopping. I'm happy I did and haven't looked back. The internet is limitless and the ways to market online are endless. I use just about every social media marketing tool there is, it's hard to keep up with them all though.
What do you do for fun when you’re not in the studio?
I love to cook, travel, dance and listen to music. I really enjoy the simple things in life, hanging out with friends with a good bottle of wine, amazing food and great music is what I love most. I also love to paint and decorate, having a comfortable home to relax in when not working is important to me.
I’m infected with the travel bug, whenever I have time to take off and get away from things I’m never hesitant to jump on a plane and go to some far away land. I love both nature and city life so it’s always to one or the other. I’m just as comfortable in Paris as I am climbing the Rocky Mountains. I’ve been fortunate to be able to combine all the things I love in life with my work.