We Heart Handmade: Fat Lye Soap Co.

Let’s face it: soap can be boring. But thanks to Winnipeg’s Fat Lye Soap Co., it doesn’t have to be.

Founded by Jenn Chung, the local company produces a line of natural, vegan and palm-free soaps. Each bar is hand-poured, naturally-coloured and wrapped in plantable paper.

In addition to creating incredible scents inspired by everything from coffee and cedar to grapefruit and pineapple (and making bath time a little more enjoyable), Jenn is committed to environmental sustainability. The plantable seed paper used to wrap Fat Lye soap not only cuts down on waste, but yields wildflowers which are wonderful for bees.

Fat Lye also shows love for the local makers’ community by collaborating with local companies, like Botanical Paperworks and Beeproject Apiaries.

In the latest edition of We Heart Handmade, Jenn shares the story behind her shop’s name, her favourite Fat Lye soap and more.

What’s the story behind your shop’s name?

This was one of the hardest things I had to do when I decided to set up my business. Coming up with a name that was memorable – and something that I wasn’t going to be bored with – was quite the challenge. I toyed with a number of iterations; one example that I remember is Winnipeg Soap Company. In the end, I wanted to keep it simple. Since soap is made with both fat and lye, it made sense to name my company Fat Lye Soap Co. It’s also a play on “big fat lie.” At that point, I knew it was the right name for me.

What motivated you to become a maker?

Every year I try and find DIY gifts for co-workers, and one year I read about homemade soap. At the time, I had no idea you could even make soap at home! So I gathered all my ingredients, made some soap and gave them away. Someone simply asked whether they could buy some bars from me and I thought, ‘Sure, why not?’ That got me interested in researching oils and the soap making process itself. Being a maker also provides the creative outlet that I need outside of my regular office job.

What do you love most about being a maker?

I love the process of soap making itself. The idea of taking a combination of oils and mixing it with lye to produce a bar of soap is something I find fascinating. To this day, I still run downstairs the day after I make soap to see what it looks like –even though I would have made that type of bar countless times before that. (I’m also paranoid at the possibility of soap behaving badly e.g. exploding!). Soap making is just one of the best combinations of science and art rolled into one. I love making things and adding new skill sets. Soap making is just another skill set that I’ve amassed, but this time I get to share it with other people.

What’s your most favourite thing you’ve made, and why?

My personal favourite bar of soap is one that I’ve called Nyx. It’s a black bar coloured naturally using bamboo-activated charcoal and has Japanese peppermint essential oil. I love how it feels on my skin and love the invigorating nature of the peppermint essential oil. It smells awesome in the shower.

What advice would you give a maker who’s just starting out?

Take the leap! You won’t know what will happen if you don’t at least try.

We Heart Handmade is a series featuring the best artisans Manitoba has to offer. For more on Fat Lye Soap Co. and the local makers’ scene, visit www.madehereforyou.com

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