Meet the owners
Meet Vicky & Jason
With its array of nature-inspired soaps and pottery, the aptly named Soap & Clay is all about great quality, sustainable living that doesn’t cost the earth. Owners Vicky and Jason Axell tell us more about their Magdalene Street emporium.
What drew you to the idea of selling both soap and pottery in the same shop?
There are three reasons really! First, we absolutely love pottery and it is always good to sell something you love. Second, we used to sell at craft fairs and when converting people to real soap we would explain that you need a soap dish as well: real soap has a higher oil content and needs to stand free of water.
Pottery is traditional and sustainable so we would always promote pottery soap dishes above plastic ones. And if you’ve got the soap dish, why not have a matching bowl, vase, plant holder and so on? Finally, most of our soaps contain clay. It’s an amazing ingredient: it’s cleansing and contains beneficial minerals; it adds colour and texture; and it helps the soap to retain the scent of the lovely essential oils we use.
Do you have a favourite soap or scent?
My personal favourite (Vicky) is our Dead Sea Spa soap which is available as a soap-on-a-rope or a hand soap bar. It contains Dead Sea Clay and Dead Sea Salt which makes it super cleansing and also means it lasts forever! But mostly I love its combination of Ho Wood and Rosemary. Ho Wood is a lesser known plant oil but it has an amazing green and woody scent. It makes for a really fresh bar that is great in
Green living and sustainability are clearly important to you – can you tell us a bit more about this?
Like many people we are concerned with the amount of single-use plastic we all use in our lives. Although the problem can seem overwhelming, actually everyone can make a difference in a small way. Switching to soap bars is a good start. You can also make your home beautiful with items that are inspired by nature but don’t harm it. We try to buy as local as we can and/or from ethical suppliers that are Fairtrade, sourcing products that are plastic-free, biodegradable and long lasting. We don’t use plastic in our packaging and our soaps are cruelty free, palm oil free and, except for the products
that use honey and beeswax, vegan.
What sort of pottery do you sell and how do you find your artists?
We’ve made connections with artists via Kiln Cambridge and good old Instagram! We tend to favour artists who create very organic pieces with neutral colour palettes that reflect nature. We also stock prints that are inspired by nature or folklore or the city of Cambridge. We’re always interested to work with new people – especially if they’re local. And we’re passionate about selling work that is affordable for most people: great quality, sustainable living shouldn’t cost the earth.
What other nature-inspired gifts do you sell?
Obviously we have our soap and bath products – and there are more cosmetic items coming in the future – and smaller ceramic items such as soap holders, vases and bowls. We have some lovely prints (some of them our own) and our cards are really popular. Our Fairtrade products go down well; we have just a few select items, decorative hangings, string lights, and baskets. We also sell macramé plant holders and will have some other crochet items in the shop soon.
What do you love about Cambridge and being an Indie business here?
Cambridge is a beautiful city with a long history of being alternative and ground-breaking. It seemed like the perfect location for an ethical business venture. We love our location, so close to the river, colleges, Kettle’s Yard and the Museum of Cambridge. Historic Magdalene Street is a lesser known gem and is 100% indie which is amazing. We are so grateful for the wonderful feedback we receive from our customers and look forward to building a regular customer base while not forgetting the tourists. As we always say, soap isn’t just for Christmas.
Visit Soap & Clay at 13 Magdalene Street, Cambridge CB3 0AF or soapandclay.co.uk
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