Chatting with Kenna of Modern Soapmaking

A talented crafter whose soapy empire seems to expand year after year, Kenna of Modern Soapmaking and the Gratitude Soapery (formally Amathia Soapworks!) is one businesswoman we sincerely admire. Kenna has been soaping for almost a decade, and in that time she has made a name for herself as someone with a meticulous eye for detail. No swirl or sparkle is ever out of place! I often draw inspiration from Kenna and her designs, and earlier this year we were pleased to feature her 100% coconut oil cold process recipe on this blog.

Earlier this month, Kenna announced the retirement of Amathia Soapworks and introduced Modern Soapmaking, which she hails as the soapmaker’s companion. Loaded with tips, tutorials and ebooks, it’s a soapmakers best friend. Not only that, she also announced her newest business outfit, Gratitude Soapery. A portion of the soapy sales go to a featured charity, as well as to programs that benefit Kenna’s local community in Kansas City, Mo. Read on to learn more about what inspires one of our industry’s most cutting-edge soapers:

Soap Queen: How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?

I have been soaping for almost ten years now. I began soaping in 2004, with my introduction to soap making guided by a lovely local soap maker named Judy, the woman behind Sunrise Soaps. At the time, they had a shop on Main St. in Gardner, Kansas. I wandered in there one day and we hit it off.

And then there was Kathy Miller’s website. At the time, Kathy’s website was one of the very few online resources for soap making. My first batch was peppermint soap with a red clay swirl. I used common grocery store oils, from a recipe on Kathy’s website. It was poured in a $2 kitty litter pan I bought at Wal-Mart and lined with a trash bag. That batch made something ridiculous like 30-40 bars of soap, but turned out great and sparked my love affair for the craft.

Soap Queen: What inspires you to create?

EVERYTHING. I have made soaps inspired by nature, music, people, colors, artwork, moments, scents, and so many other things. I have always been a very artistically expressive person, who feels the need to be creating something. For me, soap making has become a passion of exploration and refinement that fulfills that need and in essence, inspires itself. For instance, once I made a rainbow tiger stripe, I wanted to see how many other design techniques I could put rainbows in!

Soap Queen: What is your favorite type of product to make?

Cold process soap, of course! I’m a soap maker through and through, no other skincare product comes close to that passion! Sometimes, I make melt and pour or hot process, but I feel cold process allows me the largest playground to frolic around.

Soap Queen: What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?

Oh, gosh, I could give all kinds of advice. Most importantly, I think it is uber important to be 100% invested and confident in the products that you make and sell.

Beyond that, my biggest mistakes in business have always been not planning or budgeting properly. I think knowing how you are going to sell your soap is far more important than making it. From marketing to branding to packaging to sales venues, and so much more, there are way more factors to a soap company than making great soap.

Plus, having a plan of action (and set milestones/goals) helps in holding yourself accountable for what steps you are taking towards success. Even when you are self-employed, somebody still has to be the boss, right?

 

Soap Queen: How did you come up with the name for your business?

When it came time to choose a name for my first soap company, my affinity for Greek mythology reared its head. Amathia is the name of a nereid in Greek mythology. It was said that the nereids were graceful sea nymphs who often accompanied Poseidon and provided aid to sailors during dangerous storms. Amathia (Amatheia/ Ἀμάθεια) was mentioned in both Homer’s Iliad and Hyginus’ Fabulae.

My new company, Gratitude Soapery, was named simply for what soap making has given me and what it gives others – absolute gratitude. I wanted a name that would be memorable (no one ever remembers how to spell or pronounce Amathia), as well as a name that made it clear what the purpose and product was.

Soap Queen: Tell us something unique or unusual about yourself!

I hate questions like this, so I asked Benjamin of Prairie Soap Company (a very dear friend!), and this is what he had to say: “Patient, thoughtful, really picky eater, driven by caffeine but not coffee, performs good deeds, hoarder of fonts, great mother, great cook, hardworking, loves cream cheese.” Truth, all of the above!

Soap Queen: What is your favorite Bramble Berry product?

Without a doubt, the 10” Silicone Loaf Molds. I have so many of them. Even when I’m making upwards of 20 lbs of soap, I will line up those molds and do multiple pours. The soap is so easy to get out of the silicone, with nice square corners. Having a ton of them on hand was more cost effective than buying larger block molds made in silicone, plus I can use just one for a test batch or limited edition, or I can fill them all for a production run. Love!

Find Modern Soapmaking:
On Facebook

Find Amathia Soapworks:
On the Web
On Facebook
On Twitter
On YouTube

Find Gratitude Soapery:
On the Web
On Facebook

27 Responses to “Chatting with Kenna of Modern Soapmaking”

  1. Amanda D. says:

    I love Kenna, she appears to be so passionate and genuine in her giving and in her work. I aspire to be so transparent and motivational one day. Hopefully sooner than later. lol

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Amanda!

      We totally agree, Kenna is such an awesome soaper, and those are great things to aspire to! So glad you enjoyed this post.

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  2. Hajni Kele says:

    Absolutely inspirational lady! Sharing your admiration! Go Kenna go!x

  3. Joan says:

    What a great interview! Beautiful soaps…she knows herself well.

  4. I love looking at Kenna’s soap. They are bright, vibrant and uplifting just by admiring them on the web!

  5. Krystal says:

    Kenna is such a fantastic person, she is always open and helpful to her fellow soapmakers. I have learned so much from her and she is my soaping hero.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Krystal,

      So glad you found this interview fun to read and also helpful! Kenna is such an awesome soaper and business woman, we find her incredibly inspiring as well :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  6. Patricia says:

    Kenna is top notch in my book! She’s made some gorgeous soaps and she’s a gifted blogger – I’ve loved reading her stuff and have purchased her Efficiency in Scaling e-Book. I have it in my heart to do charitable work one day, too.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Patricia!

      So happy to hear you enjoyed this interview and love Kenna and her soaps as much as we do! That’s awesome that you purchased her e-book, I bet it’s great! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  7. Kenna says:

    Seriously beaming at all the kind words. Thank you, to each and every one of you with such nice things to say about me. I can’t honestly find the words to tell you how much it means to me. Keep being soapy rockstars!

    Kenna

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Kenna!

      Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, and thanks for being such an awesome part of our soaping community! We can’t wait to see what you make next! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  8. Dawn says:

    Loved the article, happy to see someone who is passionate about something, enough to make big bold moves to make a difference. Kenna has a lot of great tips on soapmaking, truly cutting edge!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Dawn!

      So happy to hear you enjoyed this interview as much as we did! You’re right, Kenna is so passionate which is always inspiring!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  9. Melanie says:

    That was an awesome interview! Very motivational as well, Kenna! Your soaps are some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen! I’m getting ready to start soaping and try to make a go of a home based business of it. I’ve been trying to learn all I can and watch ALL of Soap Queen’s you tube episodes as well. To tell you the truth, I’m a little scared to get started. Also working with lye is a little concerning to me. Would I really need to get the kids out of the house to work with lye? I have two young girls and a 4 month old. So I’m pretty busy, but I want to do this so bad! Also, I would LOVE to know how to experiment with different colors in cold process soaps and have them turn out beautiful like yours, Kenna! Any tips or resources I can turn to? Thanks so much! Keep up the AWESOME and BEAUTIFUL work! :)

  10. […] Did you catch my interview with the infamous Soap Queen, Anne-Marie of Brambleberry? Huge thanks to the fab team over at the Soap Queen blog and […]

  11. Mary Hall says:

    Hi I am wondering if you would have any recipes with meadowfoam oil. I bought a bramleberry kit and just started making soap but I see none with meadowfoam oil.Anything you can tell me would be helpful! Thank-you!

  12. Teresa says:

    I want to mix scents like orange and black cherry with something to give me a ‘cream circle’ scent. Whet is best scents for this?

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