As part of our founder interview series, we speak with Geoff and Rob from Friendly Soap to learn more about their ancient “cold-process” method of soap making and their vision for the future of sustainable soap.
What makes Friendly Soap….friendly?
Friendly Soap put ethics before profits. From start to finish, no stone is left unturned in the quest to produce low-impact soap. Sustainability and ethical integrity are top of the list, bringing you fabulous natural soap that is skin friendly, animal-friendly and earth friendly.
What were you doing before launching Friendly Soap? What inspired you to start making soap in particular?
Growing up in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, in the 1970s, Rob Costello and Geoff Kerouac found themselves immersed in a hotbed of alternative, hippy and punk culture. This proved to be fertile ground for radical, political thought and social and environmental awareness, still deeply held to this day. It came naturally to them to rally against the capitalist model and strive to find a fairer way of doing things. And, living in such picturesque countryside as they did, they also felt an instinctive connection to nature.
These values led them, later in life to, work at Suma Wholefoods Co-operative. An experience that proved invaluable, putting real substance behind their ideas. Here they learned that it really is possible to run a successful business where ethics come before profit.
Now inspired, motivated and environmentally aware, they were ready for the next step, an ethically-based business of their own. Here was a chance for them to live out their ideals and give something honest and good back to the world.
What is the ancient “cold-process” method of soap making, and why is it better than other methods of soap making?
Cold process is mixing natural oils and fats with a lye solution to produce a natural soap. It creates gentle soaps that when cured over 4 to 6 weeks produces a long-lasting bar with incredible moisturising properties.
This traditional soap making technique allows us to choose only the best natural ingredients and essential oils to produce soap that’s even suitable for sensitive skin.
Why is it important for you to use natural ingredients, and how do you ensure they are all ethically and sustainably sourced?
By sourcing our own ingredients we can guarantee quality and sustainability. We can also make sure that the companies we buy from are keeping up with their responsibility to the environment and its inhabitants.
Outside of the ingredients you use, what steps do you take to reduce your ecological impact?
Friendly soap is made using the ancient cold-process method which creates a biodegradable soap with zero by-products. Energy consumption is kept to an absolute minimum - each and every bar is poured and cut by hand and packed in recycled and recyclable card boxes, here in the UK.
How do you try and live more sustainably in your own personal life?
We try to live a vegan lifestyle as much as we can and try to encourage our workforce to do the same. Lunchtime at Friendly Soap is a strictly vegetarian affair.
What do you look for in other brands that you support?
For them to be trying to push the same agenda as us. Sustainability and ethics before profit or vanity.
What has been the most surprising part of running your own sustainable business? Just how easy it is if you really put the whole company’s muscle behind it.
What is your favourite Friendly Soap and why?
I love the Shampoo Bars. They have transformed my bathroom experience. There is no longer any plastic to be seen at home or on holiday.
Lastly, how would you like to see Friendly Soap expand in the future?
We just want to see our products sat next to commercial detergent-based soaps so that people have a choice.