BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT & BECAUSE THE RIVERSIDE FARMERS’ MARKET TOLD YOU TO
If you follow your nose through the Riverside Farmers’ Market to the source of fragrant lavender, bergamot, lemon and more, you’ll find tables of vintage suitcases filled with handmade soaps from Wanderlust Soaps and Sundries.
Owned by LaGrange Park resident Susan Fagan, Wanderlust is named for Susan’s mother, Mary Jo, who loved to travel. Years after her mother had passed away, Susan discovered Mary Jo’s collection of hundreds of travel soaps from every hotel her mother had ever stayed. Susan was already making handmade soaps for fun and for friends, and when it came time to start and name a company, Wanderlust seemed a fitting tribute.
Susan started making her soap 13 years ago after buying a book about how to make soap from a used book store. The art of making soap successfully involves a process, Susan explains.
“To make soap, you need to have base oils and something that will “saponify” them (turn them into soap). For bars of soap, sodium hydroxide is used and for liquid soap, potassium hydroxide is used. This sounds scary and like it would be a very harsh product, but the lye neutralizes as it saponifies the oils. It is a precise process, however, so one has to be careful and be sure to wear a lot of protective equipment,” Fagan says.
The base oils that are used are a combination of canola, olive, palm and coconut and the soap is scented with essential oils.
“I think my most interesting ingredient is corn meal from the Graue Mill. I grind it a bit more and add it to soap with a lemon scent to make a great kitchen and garden soap for scrubbing off all the dirt and food smells,” said Fagan.
Wanderlust began as a hobby for Fagan, and after years of making her soap and giving it away for free she joined the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild, and shortly after that she established Wanderlust Soaps and Sundries LLC.
Even with this soap business flourishing, Fagan still considers herself a full-time wife and mother of three daughters; a 5-year-old and 7-year-old twins.
“My husband is supportive of my business and my girls love to come to the market with me,” Fagan says. She is working at building the business slowly so she can still be supportive of her children as they grow up. In the mean time she plans to turn her business into an original homemade soap store.
Susan is taking this week off, but will return to the Riverside Farmers’ Market on August 28.
-By Gabriella Stone, guest blogger