At Good Juicery, we love collaborating with creators who are striving to make this world a better place to live, one innovation at a time. Recently we met the uber-talented Divya Menon and what followed was a balmy afternoon filled with stories. Read on to know more about her journey so far.
Please tell us what you do.
My name is Divya Menon. I’m a designer-turned-actor and more recently a vegan & cruelty-free skincare formulator at skincandy.in
I’m an independent artisan who is always searching for holistic, non-toxic and Eco-friendly methods of self-care & personal beauty. I believe in skincare from the inside-out, clean living and sustainability. I make handmade soaps, scrubs, lotions and potions in small batches from scratch, using traditional practices of ancient Egypt, Marseille, Aleppo and Indian Ayurveda – maintaining complete ingredient transparency. I believe people deserve to know what is in their products.
What does it take to excel at this craft, and the skills needed?
My workstation is a lot like a pastry chef’s kitchen and a lot of my inspiration comes from patisserie and gourmet desserts – hence the name, Skincandy. Creating essential oil blends takes a bit of finesse, trial and error as well and I love every bit of it. Formulating a good recipe takes constant study, experimentation, patience and integrity. Oh and a whole lot of calculations and measuring! I wouldn’t give a bar of soap to someone that I can’t give a loved one. I am dedicated to finding answers for problem skin, and like me, most of us are tired of chemical-laden products that offer no comfort. I still believe in local markets, fresh ingredients and grandmother’s recipes – I bring all that into my craft and try to make them available to people who crave quality, warmth and extra TLC.
What inspired you to get started?
Once you use a traditional cold processed soap there is no going back! In my case, necessity was the mother of invention. My family and I have struggled with Psoriasis and after searching the shelves and modern medicine for something gentle and effective, I almost gave up struggling and turned to mother nature. The only thing that worked was these oddly shaped soaps I made at home using good quality Olive oil and shea butter… just like traditional Marseille soaps made in France. I began studying more and dove into the deep end. Cold processed soap lasts 5 years and up to a lifetime if stored properly which is fascinating and bewildering why we even switched to synthetic detergent based soap, to begin with. The largest organ of the human body is not only for vanity, fairness and scrubbing it till it cries. It deserves to be genuinely healthy and protected.
What inspires you about your work?
I am inspired by new ingredients I get to experiment with, fresh produce, spices & essential oils. Since the ph of soap is high, almost all natural ingredients are self-preserved into it. I get to try out clays, superfoods, fruit peels and juices in my recipes! My studio constantly smells amazing and the fruits of my labour are rewarding. I get to use my design degree to create seasonal soaps which change according to my mood and time of year. Making themed boxes that reflect textures, colours and experiences that are almost delectable! I can get lost in these kinds of journeys.
How did you make the jump from hobby to business?
It’s been natural for me to put my products out there for people like me.
I was lucky enough to know enough design to build my website and design my own packaging. I handcraft everything with dedication… I then gave my products out to as many people as I can. Once they saw the difference it made to their skin they kept coming back for “that bar of soap” and I’ve got a business on my hands.
Please walk us through a typical day in your life.
A typical day in my life starts from the night before. I plan my day in advance and note down all the orders that need to be shipped. I box and label everything and try to make it as personal as I can.
After this, I’m usually going through social media and taking notes for future products based on customer needs. I love getting to know people personally so I can tailor-make meaningful products for them.
I shop fresh produce and prepare tinctures, infusions and oil that I then use in my recipes. Some days its drying peels and petals, some days making extracts using matcha or chamomile. I try to make the design fun and inviting which means even when you find that avocado soap “quirky looking” you stay for its nourishing lather. A typical batch of soap is aged like fine wine or cheese… It needs to be air cured on racks for 4 weeks until they become mild and gentle. Some of my soaps age for 6 months before I send them to their new homes.
I take a lot of pictures of my process and creations. Documentation along the way helps me keep track of the design and techniques I’ve used. It is also a way I can express myself and the philosophy behind Skincandy.
So right about an early evening I create content for my channels and move on to the best part – testing! I hardly ever use a full-sized product on myself because I’m frugal and would rather have someone else have it. I make everything in small batches that leaves me with thin end pieces (equally precious) that I take with me to the shower. I plan for the next day – rinse and repeat!