Introducing Little Loving Things and the brilliant lady behind them: Quigley Ashton. These beautiful, locally handmade soaps and hair bars, have recently graced the shelves in our store and we could not be more excited! Aesthetically pleasing and created with sensitive skin types in mind, these products are bathroom essentials! We sat down with Quigley to learn about her journey, process and juggling her creative passions with her day to day duties, in a home of six.
When did you learn how to make soap, did someone teach you this skill or did you teach yourself?
I’ve always thought of myself as a wannabe clever person. This has somehow allowed me to give myself permission to learn new things
( and not feel bad to call myself a “beginner”, regardless of my age ).
I’d dabbled in soapmaking about 5 years ago whilst attempting to follow youtube videos and various blog instructions. However, my results displayed themselves in mushy disintegrating lumps in the shower.
About 6 months ago, I found a local instagram soap account, Allison @gigglesuds. Her beautiful soap is similar to what I envisioned myself wanting to create. After making contact I was fortunate to be kindly welcomed into her home for a soapmaking workshop. I’ve been mixing, combining and creating my own recipes and blends ever since in my kitchen :)
Tell us about your journey, when did you start Little Loving Things and what inspired you to start this handmade soap venture?
I’ve never really enjoyed using soap. My sensitive skin has always found it too drying, irritating or heavily fragranced. My husband, however, loves using soap. I became frustrated with spending money on soap that had weird stuff in it and decided it was high time to have a go at making some. I wanted to make something that was kind to my whole family’s skin as well as something that was beautiful to look at and lovely to smell.
Now, our whole family loves using soap (all six of us!). Personally, I love enjoying how much my skin is nourished. The ingredients are all beautiful oils and the results are that my skin is not as dry nor as reactive. AND! My shower doesn’t smell like a hospital anymore (no offence to hospitals).
How long does it take to make each batch of soap, please briefly run us through your process?
Each batch of soap is pretty special. It takes a few hours to mix and blend all of the oils together just so. Then, after mixtures are poured into moulds, they have to sit for two days so that all of the ingredients can hang out together and celebrate the amazing thing that they are creating!
Then, it’s time for my favourite part... slicing! ( I often post the slicing process on my instagram account @littlelovingthings ) It’s so soothing... like cutting the most beautiful butter with a sharp knife.
After bars are sliced, the soap sits for 4 - 6 weeks in a quiet shady calm part of the house so that it can cure. This means that the water slowly evaporates which allows the soap to harden so that it lasts a really long time at your house!
We understand that you make soaps for different skin/personal needs (eg. sensitive skin, dry skin, vegan etc.) and you mainly scent your products with essential oils.
Please run us through a couple of soaps that are best for these needs and why you use certain ingredients?
All of the soaps from Little Loving Things are Palm Oil Free. This means it’s a bit more expensive to make, but also more appealing to many customers. I’m really happy that I am able to meet the requests of this supportive community in a sustainable manner.
Little Loving Soaps are also only scented with essential oils. This scent is softer than fragrances which works better for sensitive skin and can be a bit kinder on the nose. Essential oils also have many wonderful benefits which is a lovely way to make using the soap an even more nurturing experience. As you probably know, Lavender may be calming for some, whilst Peppermint may be uplifting for others. Both wonderful qualities to have in your soaps whilst you are starting or finishing your day.
The soaps are vegan (except for a couple varieties which use a bit of beautiful local honey) mainly because I have an unusual allergy to meat which makes me unable to work with tallow, another soap base (which is not vegan). However, it’s also nice to know that vegans can use this soap with confidence knowing that it ethically aligns with their beliefs as well as beautifully nourishes their skin. Some people prefer an unscented very simple soap, which we have as well. Our Refresh bar is made of only olive oil for soothing sensitive skin and little bit of castor oil for a good lather. This soap is plain, luxurious and only available after a minimum 6 - 8 week cure time.
What is your personal favourite, go-to soap from your collection?
Well, that is a tough question! Is it trite to say that I love them all?
I really find them so beautiful to look at. I also love the way they feel as I lather up in my hands. The subtle scents are so lovely too, as they’re not too strong on my nose. Did you know that each bar looks different? Because of this, I feel like I’ve won a prize with every bar that I choose! I’m going to officially say that I can’t choose wrong - they’re all my go-to!
You are also an amazing artist! How long have you been painting and what inspires you when creating art?
Why thank you! I’m so flattered. You see, as a wannabe ;) clever person, I’m still strengthening my “accept compliments” muscles. So, thank you very much.
When painting, I love love love to be led intuitively. I love to pick a few colours and then just go. Let my hands, wrists and fingers move as they may and see what happens. Its a very freeing, terrifying and invigorating experience. Every time. Then, I sit back, breathe and allow the painting to come together. Quiet things down. Finally, a completed piece results. A reflection of wild abandoned chaos and quiet calm together on a page. Perhaps a depiction of my life?
( usually more the wild chaos than the quiet calm )
As you are a mum and also have another job, do you have any tips on creating balance between busy routines and finding time to be creative?
Work life balance does not exist!
Whether your work is in the home or outside of the home, this whole balance concept can be crushingly misleading. If I’m soaping, the house doesn’t get cleaned. If I’m on school holidays with the kids, the soap has to be put on the back burner a bit. I’ve set up my painting area in the kitchen so that I can paint in between making a meal. Sure, it’s great to have hours on end, but more often than not, painting is me with 5 minutes or 30 minutes on a timer.
Ready! Set! Go! ...and I’m only allowed to celebrate the results. Celebrate that I somehow carved out a moment for myself to create. That always feels good.
We have to forgive ourselves more, and just do what we do.
That is where the balance is.
Shop Loving Little Things soaps, hair bars and wooden drying racks in-store.