When it comes to sourcing the perfect favours, it's so important to find a trustworthy company with a passion for what they do. We caught up with the owner of Oakwood Soaperie, Ceri Aitman, to discover what they offer couples on their special day. Read what Ceri has to say below.
"Being creative has been a passion of mine for most of my life. I've made things from scratch for as long as I can remember, starting with simple balms using beeswax and rosewater. As a child, I'd take petals and pack them into jam jars with water, leaving them in the sun to infuse their scent. Of course, these would go bad, and I'd have to ditch them into the compost pile – I've learnt a lot since those childhood days. Over the years, I've studied art, design and textiles through school, graduating with a BA (Hons) Fashion Design degree from Northumbria University in 1996. After many years in non-creative jobs, I had to make the big scary leap and start my own business with creativity at the forefront. I launched Oakwood Soaperie in October 2010 from my passion of making cold-processed soaps and skincare products from natural ingredients. Right from the beginning, I wanted to use only natural ingredients like plant oils and butters, pure clays and essential oils while making beautiful products without artificial additives. It's important that the products are as eco-conscious and sustainable as possible.
“Oakwood Soaperie is a small independent business that consists of just me. I do everything from formulating and making my products, growing botanicals to use, wrapping and photographing items, marketing, attending craft events, website maintenance and more! I have a lovely studio in a converted farm building in the heart of the Tyne Valley near Stocksfield, Northumberland.
“I have a genuine passion for the natural world and wish my business to have as little impact on the environment as possible. I make careful choices with ingredients and packaging to be environmentally freiendly. My dad is a beekeeper and we have fresh raw honey and beeswax by the end of each summer. I love to garden too and the aim is to grow all the botanicals I need for my products. I’m not quite there yet, but each year I’m buying less.
“I offer a custom wedding favour service where I can individually hand-make beautiful favours for guests. I wrap each item to match any colour scheme or theme. My handmade soap favours are my most popular products and each one is created traditionally with four to six weeks of cure time. Like a good wine or a cheese, they need time to become their best selves while being safe and ready to use. You would need a minimum of eight to 12 weeks when ordering the favours, more if possible, to allow me time to make the products, source packaging to customise and wrap everything to the desired aesthetic.
"Making natural soaps are my favourite part of the job. The process is addictive, and there are so many different ways to combine an immense variety of natural ingredients to create something beautiful and practical. It’s totally absorbing yet slightly scary as there’s always the slight risk something won’t work out right. My recipes are a formula for a chemical reaction between the natural plant oils and the alkali solution that creates real soap. It’s pretty methodical but has its safety implications too and is not to be attempted unless you know what you are doing. My recipes are all fully safety assessed by a cosmetic chemist to make sure they’re safe. It requires a great deal of concentration to make real soap, but it's also creative and satisfying.
“I also offer mini versions of my other products for favours including salts, massage oils, votive candles and lip balms, to name but a few. I can also provide wedding party gifts with customised tags stating the names, wedding dates, and special messages to the recipient. My favourite product changes all the time, but I’m currently a little bit addicted to my flower-shaped body butter bars. Formulated from raw cocoa and shea butter, beeswax, sweet almond oil and pure essential oils, they’re a multi-purpose solid lotion bar that fits perfectly into the palm of your hand. Customers can use the item to moisturise after bathing, as a hand balm, a lip balm, a dry skin treatment for elbows and feet, or even a hair tamer for dry ends. I’ve tried it in so many ways, but I’m sure there are still more to discover.
“For couples planning their special day, I think it’s always good to have a clear and realistic plan to help you achieve everything you want for the big day. Choose to support small businesses if you can, while being true to yourselves and your style. Allow plenty of time and a realistic budget to achieve your wedding dreams.”
Discover what the company offers here: www.oakwoodsoaperie.co.uk
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