Jolene with Scent and Sensibility Inc started making soap in 2012 after her best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Jolene wanted to make products that everyone, including people with cancer, can use and enjoy safely. She sells soap, body oil, lip gloss, and more. Her beautiful products are made with simple, sensible ingredients. Learn more about Jolene and her creative journey in the interview below!
How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
I started experimenting with soap making in March 2012. I was inspired to lead a more natural way of life and get rid of the toxic chemical products because of my best friend. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years prior and finding products that were natural was hard and most importantly, expensive. I wanted to do something to honour her fight and surviving breast cancer and wanted to have a line of bath and body products that everyone, including people with cancer, can use safely. I decided then that should I decide to do this as a business, the charity component to my company would be at the core of the company. I donated soaps and raised money for charity every year since I started my business.
I learned how to make soap by purchasing a soaping kit that came with a soap mold, lye and all the ingredients measured out for me so there was zero room for mistakes. I also watched a lot of YouTube videos, like Soaping 101 and Soap Queen as there were no soap making classes where I was. These two wonderful teachers make soaping look so fun and easy and after my first batch, I was hooked. I spent one year experimenting with soap making and other products like scrubs, lip balm and bath fizzies. After 1 year of just making and giving away soaps and other products to friends and family (I call them my human guinea pigs), I decided then my soaps are good enough and that I was then ready to sell my soaps and Scent and Sensibility Inc was born in October 2013.
This custom soap is made with turmeric, paprika, and cocoa powder for the pencil line.
What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
I would say enjoy the process, read and research about the ingredients and make more than at least 15 to 20 batches before you even think about selling them. I have seen newbies who made maybe 2 or 3 batches and decided that they are ready to sell. That is not enough testing in my humble opinion. Also, don’t copy. You will find your own style after soaping for awhile. Be patient and you will get there. I see too many copy cats and these are obviously very talented soapers. Also, if you are unhappy with the way a product turned out, even though it may mean you would lose money, don’t sell it. Don’t sell a product that you would not use on yourself.
What is your favorite type of product to make?
I love to make soaps! Every batch is a challenge and I learn something from it every single time. Different ingredients, even different temperature…I also love to make felted soaps as it allows me to be even more creative.
Jolene loves felting soap because she can get creative with the design.
What inspires you to create?
Food…drinks…baked goods…change of season…art…everyday life. Many of my customers say that my soaps look edible! Haha. I also love to use food, like vegetables, spices to make my soaps. Very often, I am inspired by the benefit of a certain ingredient and will create a recipe around that ingredient so that I can use it.
You are constantly trying and perfecting new soaping techniques and designs. What’s a recent favorite of yours and why?
One of my favorite technique is the Circling Taiwan Swirl. I love the wispy swirls that I get from simply using a chopstick.
This soap was made using the Circling Taiwan Swirl technique.
Your Instagram features gorgeous photos of those new techniques. What tips do you have for taking photos?
I use my study table, which is made of wood, to take my photos. My table is right by the window where I get a lot of natural light. I think natural light is our best friend for taking photos. I don’t take photos at night or when it is grey and raining. The wood table makes for a nice background and makes the soap or other products look natural and rustic.
How did you come up with the name for your business?
Scent and Sensibility Inc – the Scent part comes obviously from the scents that one picks up from using essential oils and fragrance oils. Sensibility – because I use simple, sensible ingredients. Anything that is unnecessary will be omitted, like SLS, like paraben laden products. I do my best to use eco-friendly and sensible packaging for my products and many of them can be recycled. Hence, the name.
What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
I LOVE your molds! Why – because they are awesome and so well made!!
Clockwise, top left: Glossy Lips, Flower Power, Body Nectar, and Not Your Usual Cherry Blossom Soap
Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
I love to dress up! If I ever move to Japan, I will so take part in Cosplay! LOL
What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
I love to crochet, travel, dance and I LOVE OWLS and PIGS!!!
We love Jolene’s felted owl soap so much we featured it on the blog.
What is your number one soaping tip?
Soap at room temperature and write down everything you did during the process. I had soaped at 110 degrees F when I started making soap as that was the preferred temperature of many soapers I watched on YouTube. But room temperature soaping gives you more time to play around with the oils, swirls and if you are using a new fragrance or essential oil, don’t do a water discount. Water is a friend of soap making. Curing the soap might take longer when we use more water, but it will save you a lot of heartache especially if the FO or other additives speed up trace. Writing down how much batter you used per color, etc, allows you to recreate the very same look if you follow your notes.
Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
Yes, many times! Sometimes, there is enough time to plop the batter into the mold and pray for the best. Other times, you just have to give in and note in your journal that the recipe or EO/FO doesn’t play nice. By making notes of everything I make, I can refer to them when I want to attempt the same recipe and know to add more water, or not to use the stick blender and adjust accordingly so I won’t be surprised again.
What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
I love that I know exactly what I put in the product I make and that it is safe and not toxic. I can pronounce the ingredients that I put into my products and I know I am safe.
Soaping 101 and SoapQueen were (and sometimes still are) my two primary soaping teachers. Both are great and I really appreciate all they offer.
Thank you so much Eric! 🙂
-Kelsey with Bramble Berry
Lisa List says
I discovered Jolene back in 2015 just before I got back into soapmaking myself. I was very impressed with her products and her photography skills are amazing. Keep it up Jolene! It works 🙂
Love all Jolene’s pictures on Instagram!! She’s so talented. 😊
Agreed, she has such a cool aesthetic. 🙂
-Kelsey with Bramble Berry