The 'Original' Creative Crafting Magazine written by Crafters, for Crafters

Creative Crafting magazine began in August/September 2009, when a group of crafting friends on the Creative Connections network decided that it would be a good idea to raise awareness of the crafting community. From this point they started work and the first issue of Creative Crafting was published in October 2009 and are still publishing today.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

An Interview with....-Scent Costmetics

 Published in Issue 20, December 2012

Tell us about the creators behind Scent Cosmetics

ScENT is a husband & wife team. Carla, is a Brazillian with a love for Ireland. She came over here as a missionary in 2004 to work in a meat factory with Portuguese speakers. Towards the end of the 7 month placement she met me and whether it was for a visa, or for the love of the Irish brogue, she decided to return a year later to marry. Her career background is in hospital management, social care & community development - but she has always had an interest in paper-craft, make-up, and crafts in general. Carla is the soap artist. She spends her days in the lab perfecting her art whilst enviously gazing out the window to see her three male counterparts bouncing about on the trampoline.

I'm Garreth, and I guess if trying to narrow my expertise into a job title, I’d say I’m a social entrepreneur. It just about covers me as a coach, facilitator, community worker, home-maker/child-carer, baker and occasional soap-maker. My background is equally varied. I used to be a television presenter, pastor, community & youth worker to name but a few. A degree in Theology has yet to have any use in soap-making but perhaps one day… 

Together we are parents of two boys: Eli, aged 31/2 and Tobin, 1.

We live in Cloughey on the Ards peninsula of Northern Ireland. It is a beautiful, if somewhat isolated, spot on the east coast of Ireland. We live right on the beach in my father’s house where he has kindly allowed us to live rent free in order to get our little business up and running.

When did you first begin creating your designs, and why? 

We took a decision in 2010 to move on from our previous community work positions – in part due to funding and to the feeling that we had lost the support of the very people we were trying to help. The decision left us homeless, jobless and with no real idea of what was coming next. Instead of waiting around for a job when unemployment was rising rapidly – we decided to go to Brazil for a few months to be with family. In Brazil I was struck by the entrepreneurial spirit of those who couldn’t rely on a benefit system. People with no money so to speak but able to sell home-made cleaning products, crafts, soaps, candles, patchwork, sweets etc., all in an attempt to generate some much needed income for their family. I was struck by how we in the UK have lost this knowledge. How many of us know how to make a soap or a laundry detergent?

I had always been an ethical shopper but something struck my inner conscious. I really resented spending money for global companies to squander on advertising. I began dreaming about how we should be able to make things, rediscover some “old-wives knowledge” in a bid to adapting them into social business.

My sister-in-law found a course in soap-making in Sao Paulo just before we were due to return home and as it was in Portuguese, we decided that Carla should really be the one to sit in on the course. So my desire for learning crafts became Carla’s interest also. To be honest she is far more artistic than me. I can come up with ideas but making them become a reality was never going to be my strength, so the right person got to learn about a new craft.

We got home and looked around at what other soap-makers were doing and realized that we had something unique for the UK market. Initially we needed to generate some income and began by making the normal soap bars that are typical of most soapers as a means of raising enough money to make the items which we were passionate about - items that set us apart from other’s. Our fruit soaps, stone soaps and a few of our novelty soaps (Irish Sheep/Stout) are the soaps we are most passionate about promoting, in part because it demonstrates our speciality and also because it tends to reflect a Brazillian/Irish influence. We love organic and fair-trade, so whenever possible we tend to use such ingredients in our soaps.

What is it that you enjoy about your work?

Self-employment carries with it many mixed blessings but there is no doubt that the aspect we are most thankful for is the short commute over a few blades of grass in order to work in the lab and being able to always be together as a family for lunches, tea-time and bed-times. We also enjoy the flexibility of exercising hospitality whenever anyone drops in, as well as being able to drop everything should the need arise. There is little doubt that this last year has equipped us to grow together as a family. It is a blessing we can never take for granted.

I enjoy coming up with ideas for soap - I also enjoy the networking, the on-line community and developing the vision of how this can morph into a social business in the future.

Carla: I get real satisfaction from smell – I adore spending time mixing fragrances and essential oils to get the scent I am looking for. I’m a perfectionist at heart and trying to match fruit soaps with their real-life counterparts has become an obsession. I love seeing the detail in creation and trying to find the creator in each and every item as I try to match the colour and textures. I can’t wait to create a cosmetic range.

What is your biggest crafting achievement, and why?

Carla: I see all the fruit soaps as a big achievement in themselves as it is so hard to get the details and colours to match the real thing but the Pears are quite special because I had an idea in my head and my first attempt worked perfectly. The fragrance is fresh and they look so real that I fall in love with them every time I finish a new batch!

Other than your crafting, what else do you like to do?

Garreth: As we are still a business start up – crafting seems to consume every waking moment. When it is not soap Carla still enjoys paper-work and scrapbooking. We are both avid movie-watchers and enjoy the privilege of having an open house policy which means we have a fairly busy social life. I’m quite the wine lover (beer lover, whiskey lover and perhaps even the odd gin) – so a quiet night to sit back, chat and enjoy each other’s company is my idea of bliss!

Carla: I also love spending time with my two boys! Small children at home are the perfect excuse to be childish without having to explain the reasons! So watching cartoons, making jigsaws, puzzles, crafts and dancing silly is a bliss. We both also enjoy cooking and baking… nothing like a fresh loaf coming from the oven!!!!!

If you had to choose your favourite from your creations which one would it be?

Carla: This is a difficult one. If I follow my nose I’d choose the tangerine fruit soap and the Jasmine and Tangerine bar. They are so deliciously scented. The smell takes over the house when you finish your shower and it makes you really feel fresh and clean. Now, it is hard for me to pick just one as each product has a characteristic that attracts me. The pear because of its realistic look, the mini cup cake because of its cuteness, the stout because of its creativity and masculine scent/appeal… so tough to choose!

Garreth: Carla has just been commissioned to make an exclusive soap to an internet site as one of 15 artists to be featured for Christmas Promotions. The soap she was commissioned to make was a Christmas Pudding. Not only is this my favourite Christmas food but I can’t believe the detail Carla came up with in making this soap. She first of all makes the raisins, sultanas etc as soaps in themselves and mixes them into a bowl with other ingredients you might find in a pudding. The end result is just gorgeous.

Where does your inspiration come from? 
Much of our inspiration comes from our cultural identity. Occasionally we have friends come up with something indirectly which sparks our imagination and more often than not, Carla and I can be sitting reading or watching something when one of us is struck by another possible soap idea to manufacture. At the minute I think I have about 20 or so ideas still to attempt. 

Carla: I also get some of my inspiration from music. I have 3 creations that were inspired by music and I’m glad that my brain can associate fragrance and sound this way to create something you can see, touch and smell.

If you could change one thing about what you do, what would it be?

Glycerin & Packaging. I know that this is actually two things but they are connected. Glycerin has a tendency to sweat in humid conditions and dry out in dry hot conditions. It means that until using the soap, it really has to remain wrapped. This means packaging is crucial in ensuring the soap can be seen, used for display purposes and leave enough space for labelling. Fulfilling the cosmetic legislation placed upon soapers is quite something. It has quite frankly been a nightmarishly arduous journey to get to the stage where we can say we are finally happy about how we present our soaps. Packaging is so costly and unless you have capital to invest – it is difficult to get it right. I’d love to have the capital to invest in packaging.

Carla: Some bits of legislation do not allow us to use raw materials manufactured or tested outside of the UK and EU. There are lots of excellent and safe raw materials out there waiting to be used which will add quality and great look to products but cosmetic legislation makes this impossible. Each ingredient has to be assessed by a professional over here independently making it a very costly exercise.

Do you have a favourite website?

Carla: I think Garreth got a little addicted to over the last CRAFTfest but for ideas and inspiration I would probably choose a South African site known as It’s a crafters magazine at heart but with a real love of recycling, cost-effective crafting and its always great to get a different international slant on crafting. I love their templates, photos and inspiration.

Has any person helped or supported you more than any other?

People really invest in this business baby-sitting, ironing and bringing some lunch in a busy week, making endless wooden work and designs. We appreciate it so much. But if we HAVE TO mention one person it would be my Aunt Jenny (AKA Jennifer Hunter). Jennifer runs a small B&B in Killinchy, Northern Ireland known as “Hunter’s Lodge”. It has been our home upon returning from Brazil, the place we launched from and continue to sell from, as well as the venue for many of our workshops. It is also through Jenny we received investment, advice and weekly visits to baby-sit. Quite frankly without her – there wouldn’t be any Scent.

Tell us a random fact about yourselves!

Carla, her twin and I share the same birthday albeit I’m one year older but in keeping with the randomness theme - her brother also shares the same birthday. He is effectively my twin... It is also the same day that Carla’s grandfather celebrated his birthday! Currently in our extended family 5 people celebrate their birthdays on the same date. It made choosing our wedding date extremely easy! I can remember everyone’s birthday and our own anniversary extremely easily.

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