We are so proud to make all of our knitwear in Scotland & in 2020 we wanted to celebrate some of the other fabulous businesses out there who do the same. After a Covid related hiatus we are back with this series & hope to help you find other talented makers in Scotland in this difficult year. Our guest today is Melanie from Mella Soap who lives & works on Shetland making a range of natural, palm oil free soaps, salves, body scrubs, shampoo bars & natural wax candles. Mel has an ethically & socially responsible approach to beauty which we just love!
Mel tell us that “making soap was a hobby that took over my life!” When she decided to come back home to Shetland after nearly ten years living & working in the Spanish Basque Country she wondered if she could turn her passion for making soaps into a business. Three years later she is working away in her workshop on the northernmost tip of Unst on Shetland. It doesn’t get much more northern in the British Isles – the next stop is the Arctic circle!
She started by making soap at home in her kitchen before things took off & she moved into her own work space. Mella Handmade Soap is a one-woman enterprise & Melanie realised pretty quickly that she needed some help. So she looked for a socially responsible partnership & found a social enterprise who now manufacture some soaps in a small workshop in Inverclyde. Melanie explains “they offer work and training opportunities to former addicts and ex-offenders who find gaining steady employment difficult. They provide a creative work and training environment which has a positive impact on them, their families and the community. In addition to this they use shea butter sourced from a cooperative in Ghana. I really admire the concept of the business, the people who run it and the people who work there.”
The range has now expanded with gorgeous smelling & beautifully packaged shampoo bars, hand salves, body scrubs & candles all joining the original bars of soap along with enamel & Shetland tweed accessories.
Last year Lucy bought one of the Mella Candles, the Christmas Spice which smells of cinnamon, orange & cloves – it feels like Christmas as soon as you light it! Look away Lucy’s family, you might be receiving some this year in December….. We are also very excited by the Peerie Message gift packages which include a card, candle & bar of soap. Perfect for letting someone know you are thinking of them during this difficult time!
Melanie’s own favourites are still the bar soaps that she started making at the very beginning of Mella Soap. “Bars of soap are making a comeback. Everyone is so much more aware of their use of plastic packaging.” Mel says she has always used a bar of soap as it was the best choice when travelling & her personal favourite is West Shore Spirit Soap, a lavender & citrus blend with sea salt. “It reminds me of beach walks and the fresh sea air. I’ve lived in many places but the places nearest to the coast have been my favourites” says Melanie.
And how about her inspiration, where is she looking when designing new products? “I’m inspired by the things I love, it makes sense to me to use ingredients that I love, scents that I like and if everyone else loves them too, that’s great! The thing is I think, how can you sell something that you don’t really love yourself? I really do love all my products and I’m enthusiastic about them because I genuinely love them and use them. I’m inspired by nature and using good quality skin-loving oils and butters. I’m inspired by my surroundings and my travels around the world.”
In this year of the staycation we are all looking for beautiful spots in Scotland to visit (apologies to those of you around the world who can’t visit right now, save this info up for future years!) We asked Melanie for her recommendations of beautiful places to visit “Well the obvious choice is Unst of course but a place that I fell in love with is the East Neuk of Fife. It has such a beautiful coastline and stunning countryside side by side with the lovely coastal villages of Pittenweem and St Monans. St Andrews isn’t far up the road, there’s always a buzz about the place when the students are there and Tentsmuir Forest for long walks and hopefully to see red squirrels running around, I just love it!”
Thanks so much for Melanie for taking the time to chat with us about her wonderful products. You can find her website at www.mellasoap.co.uk or follow her on her beautiful Instagram or Facebook pages. As hand washing is top priority at the moment there is Free Shipping on all UK orders over £50 – time to stock up for the winter ahead & pick up a few Christmas presents then! Let us know in the comments what your favourite Mella products are!