Shaye Yearsley, creator of the gorgeous skincare range Aporah, trained as a wholefoods nutritionist shortly before getting married six years ago. She says she has always been a little obsessed with making things herself “Whether it be butter, sourdough bread, washing powder, cider, cheese… basically I love learning how to do things from scratch. I have always been driven by scent and, after studying how much our bodies are affected by food, I got interested in aromatherapy and wanted to make real, pure skincare products that would feed the skin from the outside – as our skin just soaks up everything we put on it!”
The name “Aporah” was inspired by the combined names of her two daughters – Zipporah (four) and Arwyn (one and a half).
What do you make?
I make ‘food for your skin’. Most products are for everyday use and some are for a little indulgence. I make some face food products which start off with cleansing oils (a traditional and gentle way of cleansing), toner (a herbal infused vinegar based toner) and a face cream (which is the only ‘cream’ I make as it is time consuming and I really want to steer clear of using chemical preservatives). I whip the cream together rather than rely on processed plant emulsifiers and only use the gentlest preservatives (potassium sorbate, cinnamon, honey and citric acid) so this means it doesn’t have a very long shelf life. Even so, this is my best selling product!
I also make a range of lip balms and body balms which can be used therapeutically (for headaches, colds etc) or just for moisturising. In a lot of these products I use herbs infused in organic olive oil which harnesses the amazing qualities of the herbs to get all those benefits topically. Along with these I make a range of body butters which are made out of pure plant butters, e.g. shea and cacao. These are literally just whipped up by hand, so don’t need added emulsifiers or thickeners added. They are whipped decadence in a pot!
Along with all these skin care products for adults I also make a range for babies (as that is where I started). This covers things that I have found useful in my few years of mothering. Baby balms, baby oils, teething pulse point, sleepy time oil blends and kiddie chest balm.
The last range I guess is the essential oil blends. These are blends specifically put together to use in the home or out and about for those who love using essential oils in everyday life… but without needing to buy all the single essential oils! The pulse point roll-ons are part of this range.
Everything I make is in small batches and is made by me… so this does mean it is time consuming, but also I have control over what happens with every batch.
I am also playing around with making totally natural solid perfumes, but these are still in the experimental phase. I am finding it hard to know when to stop!
How did you get into your craft?
I guess I ‘officially’ got into skincare about three years ago after the birth of my first daughter Zipporah. I wanted to know exactly what I was putting on my daughter and was sick of finding ‘natural’ skin care brands still full of chemical concoctions I couldn’t even pronounce. I decided to just make the nappy balms etc myself, out of ingredients which were totally natural and traditional (such as tallow and herbal infused oils). Then I realised how much I had been missing out on and it all just went from there!
It has a taken a good three years of experimenting (on my children and myself) to come up with the range I now have and lots of friends have been willing guinea pigs for me!
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I trained as a wholefood nutritionist originally, so that gave me the background of knowing what is needed internally and externally for keeping our skin in balance. I was introduced to aromatherapy and making healing balms while still at college, but I don’t have any formal qualifications there. I have educated myself on aromatherapy since then. The product recipes have just come through trial and error, plus lots of experience in the kitchen!
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I just LOVE essential oils. Every time I work with them I just get lost in a world of scent. (I think I am a very ‘scent’-driven person!) I have a collection of about 60-100 essential oils now and have such fun playing around with them, whilst still giving them the respect they deserve – they can be quite powerful and dangerous if not used properly. I also just love using products that are pretty untouched and are as close to how God made them as possible.
I use everything organic where possible to cut down exposure to environmental toxins and the oils and butters I use are almost always raw, cold-pressed and unfiltered as I believe (as with food) that less processing is better. This makes the oils and butters a pleasure to use as they really smell like the plant they come from – earthy and full of nutrients, rather than rancid and lacking in smell and colour.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the beauty of nature and God’s creation first and foremost. The scents and sights from just walking around our herb garden or brushing past a rose bush are so precious. I love being able to educate my daughters on these things, and then be able to use those same herbs and aromas in my own products. I love being in touch with nature in this way and doing something which women have been doing for years and years for their own families, traditions that have been passed down from mother to daughter.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My philosophy is to create skincare that is simple and feeds your skin using totally natural products that have been around forever. When I say natural I mean it! No plant-based or artificial emulsifiers, preservatives, surfactants. Just real ingredients that are totally edible.
Describe your workspace:
Haha… my workspace kind of ends up being similar to my brain space… cluttered and busy! Once a week my kitchen gets transformed into my ‘Aporah’ space and I get a few precious hours to whizz up my creations. All my oils and skincare ingredients stay in a cute little cupboard that can be tidily shut up when not in use. I am a mother first of all so I only spend a few hours on this a week, while the girls have some Grandma time. But if I do anything outside of this time I try to make sure that it can be a learning opportunity for my girls. They love to ‘help me out’… or just sit there sniffing essential oils all morning!
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“My skin is seriously addicted to your products, please never stop making them!”
What are you currently listening to?
Nursery rhymes… over and over again!
Your favourite childhood book?
The Little House on the Prairie series for sure. A simple lifestyle, which I’m sure was hard but also satisfying. No obsessing with material possessions and the next big piece of technology. Something I’m sure we could with a bit more of these days.
A favourite quote:
“This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Do you have any pets?
I don’t have any pets yet, but soon we hope to welcome some chickens into our backyard! Productive and cute, I am hoping!
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
Some sweet cards from a friend of mine who designs and paints them (‘Thursday’s Child’). She also does amazing paper cuts, which are on my wish list but haven’t quite got one yet! The quirky, simple little scenes she designs are what attract me to her cards!
You can see more of Shaye’s luscious skincare products in her Felt shop here.
Shaye has very kindly offered a this treat of one Winter Indulgence set, a lovely collection of products chosen specifically for their skin nourishing and warming qualities over the cool and dry winter months, to one lucky Felt blog prizewinner. The Winter Indulgence set contains Sweet Sesame butter to keep your skin all buttered up (we are assured this butter smells seriously divine!), Winter Spice essential oil blend (a cosy and warming scent for your living space) and Cacao-Mint lip balm (protective, nourishing and delicious!).
If you’d like to be in the prize draw, just leave a comment below telling us what inspires you about Shaye’s story and her products. The draw will be made on Friday 15 August and is open to New Zealand residents only.