Christchurch maker Angie Agatsiotis makes and sells a luxurious selection of organic soaps, shampoo, face oil, scrubs, natural room spray and beeswax wraps under her label Kerrs Road Organic Beauty. Using certified organic plant based ingredients where possible, she weaves her philosophy of making beautiful and sustainable goods into every aspect of her business.
What do you make?
I predominantly make cold-process organic soap and beeswax wraps. I have recently been adding to my range with solid shampoo bars and am currently in the process of making a massage oil.
How did you get into your crafts?
I’ve always been artistic and attracted to natural health. Essential oils have long been a love of mine. I wanted to find a way to use them in a beneficial and beautiful way. I taught myself how to make soap a few years back and slowly have started to combine my passions into the little business I have now.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your crafts?
My background is a bit of a mixed bag. Jewellery making and printmaking (namely, etching) have been two disciplines that I have dabbled in and both of those crafts inform a lot of what I still do.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Hmmm, Beautiful paper, fine pens, hand lettering, essential oils, patterned fabric, organic materials, wood, beeswax – these things make me happy.
Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your products?
With making soap, ensuring that I get the temperatures of both the oils and the lye (sodium hydroxide) to the same degrees, (approx 43 degrees celcius) before mixing together is crucial. If they are too hot, the essential oils (which give handmade soap their divine scents) will dissipate and if they are not hot enough, the soap can set too fast, leaving me with lumpy soap in a pot.
Lye can be dangerous to work with. As long as you take the necessary care however, making soap is a lot like baking.
What inspires you?
Many varied and accidental things can inspire me. The main thing that drives me is my intense desire to make things of beauty and practicality. I find ugly and many mass-produced objects depressing. A small and simple item of beauty can uplift.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
When I first started making soap it was my main desire to make an object of beauty. The wraps were almost an accident when I was playing around with fabric from the soap packaging.
Then, since I started to seriously make the wraps, my attitude to what I have been producing has evolved into it being of utmost importance to be making things not only of practicality and beauty but to be 100% sustainable, recyclable and organic where possible.
I’m not particularly one to wax lyrical on the problems of this world, however the overuse of plastic on the earth has definitely reached crisis point and I am proud to be making a wee tiny difference in offering an alternative to using plastic.
So I guess I have a bit of a philosophy now. Anything I put out there must benefit the earth and encourage positivity!
“I am proud to be making a wee tiny difference in offering an alternative to using plastic.”
Describe your creative process:
My creative process is somewhot haphazard as I’m fitting most of my working day around an energetic two year old. I tend to get a lot done early in the morning between 6am and 8am, making soap or wrapping bars at the kitchen table while my son and I have breakfast.
Then again, after dinner I can get into a nice rhythm with some good music and a glass of wine.
Describe your workspace:
My work space is the kitchen and the dining table. My partner kindly made me some shelves to house a lot of my materials and I have a cute soap-curing shelfy-cabinet thing that make our house smell so good!
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Your soap is so moisturising, I no longer need to use any lotion.” I have been told this a few times. The organic plant oils in the soap are so creamy and there are no chemicals that dry your skin out. (Note: when soap has cured for the correct amount of time, 4-6 weeks, all of the lye will have dissipated, leaving you with a completely safe and luxurious bar of plant-based goodness!)
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
The Wind in the Willows. Adventure, friendship and a lot of laughs. Toad!
What are you reading now?
I’ve been attempting to read Nigel Latta’s book, Mothers Raising Sons for about six months…
Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
I don’t have a favourite, there are too many.
A favourite quote:
I love quotes! My favourite one for today is: “I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks and the way you feel. Life is Art.” – Helena Bonham Carter.
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Just start. Don’t overthink it. Have fun. Try not to doubt yourself – if you like what you are making, chances are someone else will too.
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I’m obsessed with ceramics, the last two pieces I bought were ceramic bacon and eggs from The Art Centre Market here in Christchurch.
What’s in store for the rest of 2018?
I’ve had a part time job at the fabulous Piko Wholefoods for the last four years and I’ll be finishing up there in a couple of weeks time to do more of this! Going to miss my lovely co-workers, but the next chapter is calling.
Angie has a sweet wee prize prize for one lucky Felt reader this fortnight – an eco-friendly and very useful beeswax wrap (in a seriously cute print!) and one of her lovely Volcano soaps (see below). Volcano is a creamy, lathering soap with a clean and earthy scent. It contains activated charcoal, tumeric, and organic plant oils to leave your skin clean, soothed, and soft – just the thing in winter!
If you would like to be in to win, let us know in the comments section what you enjoyed reading about Angela’s story and her environmentally conscious creations. The draw closes at 5pm on Monday 11 June and is open to New Zealand residents only.