From a little riverside cottage in Otago, Rosie Riley creates beautiful batches of the boutique soap that her shop Honey and Spice is known for. Rosie’s passion for soap-making has inspired her to build her craft into a literal cottage industry, and she can often be seen among local markets with her brightly coloured wooden barrow laden in luscious soaps, in full Victorian swing.
What do you make?
Handmade soaps and bath and body treats – lotions, creams, conditioner, facial soaps, bath salts, bombs, lip balms, body butter, massage bars.
How did you get into your craft?
I have always been artistic. I guess it started by being brought up in a wholesome way. The family’s organic market garden kept us fed and it educated me and my brothers and sisters about the back-breaking, physical work of owning your own business, yet the immense satisfaction in doing so.
I have always had creative outlets, from making candles at the young age of nine to baking drawing, painting, jewellery making, paper making, you name it…
I got into soap making fairly recently, exploring it in my downtime as a chef. It’s hard to put my finger on how it all started but, early one Saturday morning my boyfriend and I were rummaging around excitedly at a garage sale, when he pulled out a dirty looking kit of pre-milled soap base I didn’t think much of it at the time but I eventually made it up and gave the soaps to my family in a paua shell with a little flower on top and they were stoked.
I quickly realised that the soap itself was rubbish (cheap and nasty with iffy ingredients – meant for a kid’s project) but something lit up inside of me that day, and I craved to master REAL soap, and the whole scientific process. I have been on that path for three years now, and I have found it so rewarding. Although the more I learn the more I discover I do not know!
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
In my area I am mostly self taught but I have dabbled in various night classes and I am a qualified chef with a passionate background in patisseries and desserts. I have also studied the fine arts at Otago Polytechnic where I majored in painting.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
It’s hard to pick my favourite materials – I could go on and on about each ingredient and its amazing qualities!! But I would have to say olive oil, beeswax and manuka honey are my GOLDEN ingredients. I use them in all my products.
I absolutely treasure my box of essential oils. Not only are they worth a fortune, but the properties of these powerful, plant-extracted oils are astounding!! AND the scents are incredible!!
What inspires you?
Wholesome things like oats, bread, wood, sacks, plants, herbs, spices, hobbits. Vintage things, paper, fabric, my travels, markets, people, babies, kids and their skin’s needs… and Willy Wonka’s candy shop…
Five words that describe your mind: Individual, artistic, determined, analytical and contented.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My work is all about honest and wholesome ingredients. I reflect that in my process and in my packaging. I add my stamp by creating unique blends (based on my experiences and interests), to create a celebration of flavour and texture for your senses.
Describe your workspace:
Well, I don’t currently have a designated workspace as we have just bought a new house. A house that I will draw so much inspiration from. It is a little riverside cottage nestled into beautiful gardens, where I plan to grow my own herbs and flowers for my soaps and lotions (lavender, calendula, rose, etc.) In the meantime the kitchen is my creating room and I have taken over the sunroom for labeling and packing the orders. The place just smells divine with all the soaps lined up curing in racks.
What are you currently listening to?
BB King up LOUDLY! which I bellow along to whist stirring the soap pot. And some of my favourite background music would include Sarah Blasko, Angus and Julia Stone, and that French music from the soundtrack of Chocolat…
Recommend an album: As Day Follows Night – Sarah Blasko
A favourite quote: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Do you have any pets?
Yes, a fluffy white Persian cat called Molly, a handful of white doves and ten bossy little bantams, and more recently some quail, a couple of kune kune pigs, a blonde ringletted goat, a couple of sheep and a bunch of hens, all with hilarious personalities.
Your favourite childhood book? The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch
If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
Perhaps a yellowy/orange, I would have to be a smudgy one I expect…
What is on your ultimate wish list?
• a milking goat for my milk and honey soap
• a soap studio/ gallery with a little B&B
• some alpacas
• a veranda
• to be as close as possible to being self sufficient