A lot of bath product junkies won't lower themselves to bar soap. They prefer shower gel or cream or butter, complete with a loofah or pouf or sea sponge. When it comes to the actual getting clean part of showering, though, I'm a purist. Bar soap and a washcloth for me, thanks. But I do like nice bar soap. And (big surprise) I'm kind of a collector of it. I can't go to an art fair or farmer's market or street festival without coming home with a few bars from whomever is selling there. In these parts, that means a lot of Austin Natural Soap and South Austin People, both of which I like (in particular, I'm a fan of Austin Natural Soap's 78704 and S.o.A.P.'s Christmas Love soap. Since those are the vendors I am used to seeing, though, I'm always excited to see new soaps around.
Yesterday, at a spring festival thing where our rescue had a booth, I hit the soap jackpot. A vendor I had never seen before and knew nothing about who was selling loads of big beautiful bars. I came home with six.
Hill Country Haiku is a one-woman shea butter soap making enterprise located out in Spicewood, Texas. The woman behind it, Margie Lemons, was running her own booth yesterday, so I got to speak to her briefly. Sounds like her soap making started out as a hobby and has grown from there, and she's clearly (and rightfully) very proud to say that every bar is 100% her work--she designs the soaps, makes them, molds them, cuts them, labels them, sells them, ships them, the works.
And they are beautiful. Each bar is oversized, perfectly trimmed, and nicely and minimally labeled (less waste!). Margie does use dyes, so her bars are a rainbow of colors and patterns. She has tons of scents available, too--it took me forever to narrow my list down to just six. (For the curious, I came home with Honey Bee Mine, Chiara and Blackberry and Sage from the Tried & True collection, as well as Hemingway, Peekaboo Pink, and His Own, which all seem to be limited scents). Each bar is $5.95, which is a good price considering they are at least 5 oz each.
But really, the look and scent of the dry bar is hardly the test for soap, is it? How was my shower?
Fantastic. I started with the Hemingway, which is an orange and brown swirled bar scented with kumquat and chocolate, and it's divine. Rich lather, very moisturizing, lovely and not too strong scent. Felt good in the shower, felt good when I got out. I think the bar is going to last a long while, too--the soap is nice and hard and doesn't fall apart when water touches it.
Lately, I've moved away from my usual local soaps and tried a few fancier varieties from online (mainly Villainess). The price of this soap is similar or slightly higher than what I usually pay at farmer's markets and fairs, but the quality is higher too. The bars are more evenly trimmed, harder, last longer. From what I can tell so far, the quality of the Hill Country Haiku soap is more similar to that of Villainess (or Lush) than the other local small batch soaps I've tried. Margie's soap isn't just as good as any I've gotten from a booth before, it's better.