What do soap and chocolate have in common? Normally, not a lot. But in the case of Amherst Soaps’s Tangle Chocolate bar, they have some of the same ingredients! Suzanne Forman, Tangle’s founder, approached Juliana Farina, owner of Amherst Soaps, and offered her our cocoa husks and dust, the byproducts of chocolate making, to use in her soap. Suzanne had heard of other soap companies using these ingredients as exfoliating agents, and wanted to have a partnership with a local soap maker. Juliana used these ingredients to create a cocoa butter soap that’s smooth, luxurious, and slightly fragrant. You can find it through Amherst Soaps and in our newest box of goodies, which we call “Let the Light In.”
We’re so excited to be partnering with an amazing local business, and we wanted to give Tangle customers a chance to get to know Juliana.
Juliana is a full-time public high school teacher in addition to being a soapmaker, and it was through her teaching that she started making soap. She was looking for an activity her home economics club could do, and after finding an easy soap-making recipe, she “caught the soap bug” and has been making soap ever since.
As a science teacher, she loves the chemical process of soap making––“how you can mix all these different foods together into something so stable and so different. You can make something that’s so completely different, and something that’s so good for your skin.”
She also loves how having a soap business gives her a strong “sense of community” and that she’s been able to work with a lot of local businesses to create her soaps. “It’s really brought the Valley to life for me.” This connection to local providers, she believes, increases the quality of her product, and also makes her soap “more ethical, more mindfully produced.”
Juliana uses Baraka brand cocoa butter for the Tangle collaboration. She loves the quality of this cocoa butter so much that it is “like night and day” compared with other cocoa butter brands she’s used before. Baraka is a brand based in women empowerment, which is one of the aspects of her own business that Juliana is most proud of––“Amherst Soaps was just started around my kitchen table, it’s a woman run business.”
Juliana also believes that using handmade or high quality soap is an underrated way to improve your life. “Soap––my soap or any handmade soap––is the easiest way to bring luxury in your life. Skin is this huge organ, and you’re really taking care of it by using handmade soap. It’s the easiest way to feel super fancy.” With the addition of this newest bar, Amherst Soaps has twenty-two kinds in their lineup, including the Back to Basics bar and the Oatmeal, Milk and Honey bar.
For others who want to open a soap business, or any kind of small business, Juliana advises, “Become an expert in what you do.”
As Juliana looks to the future, she hopes to continue trying new recipes, grow her wholesale footprint, and create new products that fill a void in the market.
As for this collaboration, it's a great way for Tangle to upcycle our waste products, add a gentle exfoliator to the soap, and dress up the bars of soap a bit—Juliana sprinkles some husks on the tops of them. The resulting soap is like our chocolate: simple and natural. But don’t eat it!