What started out as a hobby for Dawn Demain, owner of Carnlough-based Antrim Rain Natural Soap Co., has turned into a successful brand, gift shop and tourist experience
Initially making soap to pass the time and give them out as gifts, Dawn has steadily built up a client base for her product including the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre and the 5-star Water’s Edge bed and breakfast in Glenarm, as well as numerous visitors to the County Antrim town.
Opening her shop Ebb & Flow in Carnlough at the harbour has meant Dawn has been able to support other crafters.
“Our range is exceedingly high quality,” she explained. “What is stocked is very much design led artisan goods, my handmade soap and quirky unusual things.
“I suppose you could say it is an eclectic mix of quality crafts and gifts mostly by local artists and makers. We have ceramics, jewellery, books, and candles. There are all sorts of glassware, handmade purses and bags, scarves, artwork, sandblasted slate work – gifts that people can take away – from small things like keyrings right up to £400-£500 paintings.”
As well as making her soaps Dawn has been running workshops from Ebb & Flow, for beginners to learn how to make their own soap.
“It is a fun and educational activity that the weather won’t spoil,” Dawn said. ‘Participants in my classes create their own product to use themselves or to gift.
The classes are suitable for groups of 4 to 6 people, held on shop close days or evenings to suit different groups. Partakers can enjoy the refreshments provided while they learn about theory followed by a demonstration. After lunch participants make their own batch of soap, using 100% natural ingredients which is theirs to keep and has a retail value of £50.
As well as the workshops she hosts demonstrations of how she goes about making soap. These demos can be as short as 15 to 20minutes or longer depending on the groups’ requirements.
“You can see the soap being made in the shop which attracts attention in that it is made and sold on the premises. I am able to tell purchasers what’s in it and what it does.”
All Dawn’s soaps are made using the traditional cold process method and the water content is locally collected rainwater from high in the County Antrim hills, which is filtered, to provide a completely natural product.
“Each soap is scented using a unique blend of essential oils, which unlike artificial fragrances, give a soft subtle scent and in themselves have therapeutic properties,” she explained. “The soaps are gentle on the skin and suitable for all skin types with no artificial hardeners, preservatives, colourings or perfumes.
“Some of the soaps have colour or texture, which is achieved by adding natural herbs, spices or skin nourishing botanicals. The soaps cure for about four to six weeks before each bar is hand cut, trimmed and hand wrapped.”
In keeping with her own principles of her eco-friendly soaps Dawn sources stock for the shop in the same way, with mostly products that are plastic free, and fair trade produced.
Antrim Rain Natural Soap Co. has also launched a new range of solid shampoo bar to complement the existing range of handmade soaps already on sale.
The new product range is solidly based on her ecological principles.
“My new range of solid shampoo bars are formulated with lots of hair loving oils with added Rhassoul clay and a touch of tussah silk,” she explained. Introducing the new product range means a natural way of hair care with no plastic waste.