Melissa Thomas was teaching at a secondary school when she started making soap which catered to the needs of her own sensitive scalp and skin. Fast forward ten years and Thomas is now at the sudsy helm of her own gloriously scented soaperie Washpool in Ballandean, in Queensland's Granite Belt.
Thomas creates a range of soaps that are handcrafted, ethical and authentic. 'I make everything from scratch,' she says. The products look and smell delicious - and are probably even edible, given that they're made from natural ingredients such as olive oil, cacao butter, coconut, tapioca, goat's milk, sea salt and botanicals including rose petals and lavender.
Soapmaker Melissa Thomas teaches soap making classes on site. Author image.
While in-person soap-making workshops are on hold in line with current health restrictions, the delightful Washpool soaperie store is open for business (and is the online store). It's easy to spend a socially distanced couple of hours in here, browsing the soaps, candles, bath, body care and giftware items.
The store has built a loyal local following, with Thomas able to customise the products to take customer needs and allergies into consideration. As if to prove the point, a bloke pulls up outside in a ute, seeking to purchase from the 'seconds' range to soothe his itching skin. While the Thomas family still have ties to grazing, Washpool has evolved into a global business. 'This is no longer the side hustle,' Thomas says.
These cakes of soap look good enough to eat. Author image.