By MAGGIE M, Wedgee-in-Chief, Editor, theWedge.LIVE ❤️ TO SHARE click icons at story’s end. TO SUBSCRIBE go to upper-right column. TO COMMENT click upper right of story
I drove up to the rear of a pale metal-clad industrial building on a clammy, humid–perhaps the last–hot afternoon of the summer. As I crossed the threshold my senses were taken away. The air oozed with exotic scents. I was transported by unmistakable oil of patchouli, the scent of my teenage “make-love-not-war” hippy years.
I was fascinated and ebullient by this place Co-Founder, Angela Youngs named, Ground Soap, when she lifted-off in 2009. It could have been the dopamine release; but, my senses tell me, this entrepreneur has both feet planted on solid ground.
Patchouli releases happy neural chemicals within boomers’ brains. It arouses memories of love beads, ‘flower power,’ bare feet and Bob Dylan tunes. Youngs is not limited by my precepts though. Her mastery of butters and myriad essential oils is evident, and most are in play in this lilliputian factory–except lemongrass which she “hates.” I bellowed on this idiosyncrasy.
Youngs was in the process of packing orders destined for France and Belgium when I arrived.
Ground Soap has been certified by the stringent European REACH guidelines for cosmetics and recommended by the Observatoire des Cosmétiques in France.
I mused, here is this beautiful, lanky woman, ready on-cue, at the very west edge of Cornwall, esconced among heated lye filled vats, containers of oil butters and essential oils, cutting machines, racks of colourful soap, and reams of twine and labels–all sparkling and perfectly placed. It was magical, “Willy Wonka-esque.”
“When I was seventeen, I bought my first essential oils kit,” Youngs brings forward when I asked about the impetus for founding Ground Soap. “I always loved biology and chemistry, but I bombed in the subjects at school!” School can deter and in this case, delay dreams.
“As a teenager I would crush exotic plant leaves and smell them,” she explains her natural tendency toward this business.
Youngs pivots to her ancestry–she is a “Cornwallite” through-and-through. She speaks of her great grandfather with a familiarity that transcends their generational gap, her grandfather and her father walking his dog ‘Tippy’. She orients you to her family’s enduring presence in the Cornwall region, namely ‘Youngsdale.’ There are streets named after the family. This is home.
Suddenly, Youngs shifts again and declares, “I have epilepsy.”
She was diagnosed in her teenage years following a head trauma, suffering through endless seizures for almost half of her life. Her description of a ‘grand mal’ seizure is heart-wrenching; yet, this interloper vanished when she ceased bartending and started pursuing her dream.
Certain scents like lemongrass and melon used to trigger ‘petit mal’ seizures; so, the earlier “hate” is a couched emotion.
“I have not had a seizure for nine years,” she exclaims, “when I started this business.” A skilled neurologist in Ottawa helped a great deal; yet, it seems soapmaking has washed away the pain.
GROUND SOAP BARS : UNDUPLICATED
The freshly cut bars (cut with guitar strings) are wrapped in colourful fabric squares, leftover pieces from batiks produced in Indonesia, then wrapped with twine, and an upcycled quilt story is tucked into the fabric’s folds. Youngs connection with these batiks emanates from her mother, a Dutch woman born in Indonesia. Youngs has traveled to the nation and met with their producers.
Youngs asks her customers to return the squares by mail to be re-purposed into quilts which are then auctioned off for charity to United Way. I will have difficulty parting with my square, but I will relent.
These organic handmade soaps–generously sized–are not to be outdone by presentation and benevolence. They are exceptional for skin health and safe use. I have read many science-based reports that state skin absorbs 60% of products we use everyday. The market’s saturation with hygiene products filled with harmful ingredients is no longer a myth.
The list of ingredients on my first choice “Aum” is telling about the aforethought and complexity of these soaps:
Organic Olea Europaea (olive) oil, Organic Cocos Nucifera (coconut) oil, Water (aqua), Organic Mangifera Indica (mango) seed butter, Butyrospermum Parkii (shea butter) fruit, Theobroma Organic Cacao (cocoa) seed butter, Pogostemon Cablin (patchouli) oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (orange) peel oil, Allantoin, Prunus Serotina (wild cherry) bark powder, Pogostemon Cablin (patchouli) leaves, Vanilla Planifolia (vanilla) powder.
To visit Ground Soap click here.