Located in Greendale, a neighbourhood just outside of Chilliwack, rests Rustic Soap Co. in the quaint backyard of Tawnya Walsh.
Starting twenty years ago, Tawnya first began her soap journey by exploring it as a way to treat her son’s eczema. Now, she operates out of the Soap Shack. Found amongst her chicken coop and vibrant flower garden, the Soap Shack is the space where each Rustic Soap Co. product is handcrafted. Its walls are lined with the variety of Tawnya’s carefully made soap, bath bombs and other goods, and each is created with locally sourced ingredients. Placing a high value on quality, Tawnya lives by a life defining “ah-ha” moment she had: what goes on your body, absorbs into your body. A belief that shaped her business and shines through in her soap products.
TFV: What made you decide to start making your own soaps and products?
TW: My son, Chase, had eczema when he was little. After some research, I thought that perhaps the soap we used was contributing to it. I tried a few batches and it got really addicting – the creativity and chemistry behind it. The mixing of oils and ingredients to create a certain type of bar, it still fascinates me! I still get inspired to create new things & geek–out on the chemistry aspect of it. Plus, I always knew I wanted a home based business, as I had two small children and wanted to be home with them. The journey trying to help Chase’s eczema has given me insight into what people go through when they have skin issues, so this led to the creation of other products.
TFV: Can you tell us a bit about the origin and use of natural and raw ingredients. Why it is important to you?
TW: To me, the whole point of using natural soap (and body care products) is that it’s natural! It is important to keep things as natural as possible – so I opt for Essential Oils (rather than fragrance oils…clays / herbs/ spices /oils) to color the soap instead of dyes. Our skin is the largest organ… so what we put ON it, actually gets absorbed INTO our bodies. Some of the ingredients I use are sourced from local producers: goats milk, beer, honey, beeswax, coffee, oats, cornmeal, flax, etc…. it’s nice to tie in other local ingredients into my products!
TFV: What products do you currently offer, and where can one find them?
TW: Bar soap, goats milk soap, liquid foaming soap, lotions, facial creams, foot cream, massage & bath oil, milk bath, bath salts, bath bombs, lip balm, foot butter, eczema butter, belly balm for pregnant ladies, diaper balm, baby milk bath, baby powder, room sprays, essential oil blends, flower waters, herbal salve, deodorant, sometimes I have sugar polish & beard oil. 😉 I have my soap shop in Greendale, online shop (free shipping in Canada for orders over $100), and a few retail locations carry some of my soap. I have cut back on wholesale and don’t take on any new w/s clients, as that’s no longer the direction I want to go.
TFV: Your backyard studio shack is an absolute dream. What is your favourite part of working there?
TW: I LOVE being at home – if I’m needed by my family, I’m here! Plus, the commute is pretty great. 😉
TFV: What is next?
TW: I’ve revamped my labels for bottles! I’m streamlining my packaging and working on simplifying my product line. Plus… Salt Bars. Oh yes!
TFV: What is your favourite winter or spring tradition?
TW: My favourite spring tradition would be planting a garden.
TFV: If you had to choose one scent to work with, which would you pick? Why?
TW: Lavender! I didn’t like it when I started, but it is my absolute favorite now! It is SO versatile – blends with almost anything (citrus, other florals, herbs, earthy scents, spicy scents…), you can use it directly on your skin (most essential oils need to be diluted), has a million uses – helps with burns, cuts, is deodorizing, a wonderful perfume, etc.! Plus… I brought two small vials of essential oils on my Mt. Kilimanjaro trek…and Lavender was one…so it takes me there. I love it. 🙂
TFV: Can you tell us a bit about your life outside of Rustic Soap Co.?
TW: I love hiking, but don’t do it as much as I’d like to! My husband and I enjoy swing dancing (the music and dance and era of the 1940’s… well anything 1920-1950’s) – we’ve travelled a lot going to dance events and have met people from around the world that way! I love road trips and travelling – absolutely love visiting and discovering new places. My dad was a travel agent for 50 years – it’s in my blood – and that’s what I wanted to be… but he discouraged me from going that route (smart choice with the internet!).
Bath Bombs or Salts?
Oh that’s a tough one… post-hike, it’s gotta be salts for my aching muscles… but bombs are my favourite!!!! They leave you smelling amazing and all moisturized – so wonderful!
Fruity or Earthy?
Tea or Coffee?
Neither! I’ve never drank coffee (but LOVE the smell – and just recently learned how to make a cappuccino and latte with my husband’s fancy Italian cappuccino maker haha! 24 years of marriage and I finally made him a cup of coffee!!)… I would drink tea with some ice cubes to cool it off if I really must play grown up… or if I find myself on Kilimanjaro again (I drank 5 cups of tea a day on the mountain! Honestly that’s the only time I really enjoyed it.)
Geometric or Floral Patterns?
Oh boy… I like vintage floral prints.
TFV: What are some of your favourite local spots in Greendale?
TW: The river is my favourite. 🙂 I also love the other local small businesses we have here… Chilliwack River Valley Natural Honey, Greendale Herb & Vine, Greendale Lavender Farm… Greendale is the happenin’ place. 😉
TFV: Where do you find your retreat in the Fraser Valley?
TW: In the mountains. I love hiking. I love the smell of the forests and the beautiful lakes and rivers we have here. I’ve done a fair amount of traveling and still think we live in the most beautiful place!
TFV: If you were a destination, where would you be?
TW: Oh goodness! As in an actual place? Flora Lake.
You’ll leave with the sweet scent of Rustic Soap Co. trailing behind you and a fully stocked, brown paper bag in hand. Soaps, body butters, bath bombs and more, Tawnya is a master of her craft and the Soap Shack is one stop you won’t regret.