Coraleen Skincare is a range of natural soaps, handmade in small batches at Honeysuckle Cottage Farm in Berkshire by Kevin Troy. Using fully certified organic ingredients or some which are wild and naturally occurring. We hear from Kevin about his passion for handmade organic soap.
What’s your role in the business and how did you get started making soap?
I'm Kevin the Founder, Dreamer, Enthusiast, Maker and Doer.
One of my friends was making handmade soaps and gave me a bar, which I really loved. Prior to that, I was fairly typical and used Lynx and similar products. I became really interested and started to make my own.
We launched our little brand in February 2020.
Why did you start Coraleen Skincare?
I have been making soap for around 4 years and I was always really passionate and loved how it made my skin feel. My daughter Coraline (pronounced Coraleen) was born in August 2017 and started to have some skin reactions to shampoos and other cosmetic products. I decided to start using my soap to wash her hair and body and we never had any issues – her skin and hair was beautifully soft.
I always knew that I wanted to turn my passion of the purest, organic soap and skincare into a business, and now I had the perfect reason. I knew I wanted to help others have balanced and moisturised skin.
What is the story behind your brand name?
To be honest, it didn’t take very long to decide the name as I am just so inspired and proud of my little girl Coraline – many people comment how unusual her name is and the only variation was to name the brand Coraleen as that is how her name is pronounced.
What is your Coraleen Skincare’s ethos?
We really want to make products which make us proud, and that people are happy when they receive them. That starts the moment that they smell the product through the envelope when it arrives, The anticipation when they open the envelope and see our eco packaging, and finally, when they use our products – how does it make them feel. How does their skin look and feel afterwards. That is our absolute passion, and we do this through attention to detail - using only the finest organic ingredients, making our own essential oils and ensuring we never compromise on those fundamentals. We also want to ensure that we are able to help others who need it most, which is why we proudly support Small Steps, where our daughter attends. Small Steps help physically impaired children in taking their first steps.
What is your most popular soap and why?
It is definitely our ‘Herbal Heaven’ Soap twin pack – it is so refreshing and smells so good. Plus your skin will feel super smooth and calm after using our soaps, even after one wash!
Which product did you launch the brand with?
Our core range of 6 soaps is our opening range but we are already developing ideas for new soaps and some body butters and balms. We have been out foraging and distilling wild Douglas fir which is simply incredible, and is going to make a stunning soap.
What’s the best soap for dry skin?
Well we have found that all of the soaps will help if you have dry skin, but in particular, the Lavender, Chamomile and Nettle will be really effective for anyone with dry skin.
What’s the best soap for oily skin?
Peppermint and the Juniper and Orange.
What would be the 3 soaps you’d recommend to someone who is trying Coraleen Skincare for the first time?
Herbal Heaven (Lavender and Peppermint Twin Pack) and the Juniper and Orange for some body exfoliation. It smells so good.
What hints and tips do you have for using your organic soaps?
Really rub the soap into your skin over and over to create the lather, then leave it on your skin for a minimum 30 seconds before rinsing off. This allows all of the oils and essential oils to really soak into your skin to deliver the soft skin you love.
What does your own beauty routine look like?
I use our soaps (obviously) and I use a body butter that I am currently developing for my body. After a shower I usually apply an oil blend with a little of our own organic lavender essential oil on my face. At night use a little hydrating toner (a by product of distilling our essential oils) and a few drops more of my oil blend.
What’s next for Coraleen Skincare?
We are currently developing a range of body butters, skin balms and deodorants which we aim to launch in Autumn 2020. That is plenty for the time being. And also developing new essential oils so we can keep growing.
How are you standing out from the crowd?
We believe we stand out mainly by distilling our own organic or wild foraged essential oils – these really do elevate our products to the next level. Being able to truly say exactly what is in each and every product is key for us.
How do you source the ingredients for your organic soaps?
I spent over 15 years as a chef and 10 years working in high-end food suppliers so I very well used to researching new products. We research all of our ingredients in great detail to ensure they are all organically and ethically/fair-trade sourced – we hold all of the organic certifications from our suppliers – and reference each delivery from them for our batch records to ensure we are exactly what we say we are.
How do you make your organic soaps?
Well at the moment we make the soaps using the cold process method. We pour into insulated silicone moulds and then cut our soaps by hand after 2-3 days to cure, harden and to wait until they are safe to use. Our soaps usually take around 5 weeks to be within safe pH levels.
How long does it take you to develop new products?
I usually have an idea when I’m out foraging – then often I have to wait until the right time of year. For example, I have always wanted to develop a Douglas Fir essential oil soap – the smell is incredible in the forest. It smells of pine with a really lovely citrus smell. You can only really extract essential oils between May – August as they need warmth to really maximise the yields. Happily I managed to get some last week and will spend the next couple of months distilling so I have enough for a limited run of that product. In a way, it is like cooking – seasonal ingredients are what I love.
How are you tackling sustainability?
Luckily for us, we launched in February 2020 when sustainability is a no brainer really. It was relatively easy to research and ensure that every little element was looked at. We use only recycled and recyclable packaging, we do not use any single use plastic in any part of our business, we even compost all of the used plant matter from making our essential oils.
What have been your biggest successes so far?
There are so many I could go on for ages – learning how to distill essential oils, consistency in soapmaking, testing recipes so we were happy, learning so many aspects of launching a business (so many elements are not natural to me such as marketing/social media or regulatory), getting through the last few months of Coronavirus with all of that in good shape to push on. It is so important to be grateful and proud of all successes and to remind yourself of these when times are not as rosy, which is inevitable.
What’s been your biggest learning?
Oh my – I could go on for ages about this also! I have learnt a lifetime’s lessons this last 10 months – essential oil distillation, building a website, setting up a limited company and VAT, regulatory side of cosmetics, marketing/branding and social media, labelling, not to mention balancing all of this with family life. There have been many things that haven’t worked out as hoped, but we do not dwell on these. It is so important to learn the lesson and move forward.
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