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Penning a good soap story
Some of your favorite drinks could come to bath time thanks to Shannon Wiggins and her Slightly Askew Studios.
Wiggins combines beer, goat milk or wine with fragrances to make pleasant smelling, long-lasting soaps and other natural products for a growing clientele.
“It’s a difficult medium to work with finding the right colors and scents,” she said about the artistic challenge behind her business.
Started six years ago under the name Galloping Goats Farm, Wiggins began using her own goats’ milk to make soap. This year she changed the business’ name after she stopped farming and began incorporating more products like journals and other skin care items.
Currently she has 36 scents of soaps available at the Sequim Open Aire Market, The Red Rooster Grocery, Olympic Stationers in Port Angeles and through her website.
Another special touch to the soaps is that she recruits local businesses to partner their products, such as milk from Dungeness Valley Creamery and beer from Silver City Brewing in Silverdale, to add vitamins and/or anti-bacterial elements.
“I’m always looking for more opportunities to incorporate more businesses and products in soap,” Wiggins said.
One of her most popular soaps is black raspberry vanilla, but her personal favorite is Bee My Honey. Wiggins said lavender/mint is popular, along with a complex fragrance called Happy Hippy.
Wiggins said all soaps have lye in them and are safe for skin, using all-natural ingredients compared to many store-bought soaps, which add chemical hardeners that might irritate skin.
The soaps’ shelf life is good for years, she said, and the soaps can last a while in the shower depending on whether the bather uses it away from the shower nozzle.
Wiggins has promoted art with her family since her five children, now ages 16-25, were small. Her daughter Andrea Gosling recently has joined the business, creating journals and writing booklets.
Gosling, an aspiring painter, said it’s hard to sell her art, pointing to a corner filled with her work, but she’s found people have connected to the journals at the market.
Wiggins loved her daughter’s journals and got into making them, too. Another daughter, Sarah, is contributing to the business as well.
“It’s an easy commitment to people to buy,” Wiggins said. “It’s useful art.”
The mother/daughters team mostly uses books from the North Olympic Library’s Friends of the Library book sales to create new items in traditional or Coptic binding.
Gosling’s favorites have been a pirate, an owl journal and another based on the Day of the Dead. She began taking custom orders and recently made a friend’s wedding guest book.
She also crafts recipe books, journals and photo albums.
Slightly Askew is branching off into more natural products, too, such as skin salve, insect repellent and lip balms.
Wiggins said she’s made products for men because at her booth she’s seen them shy away, thinking the products are just for women. One example is the magic potion skin salve, which Wiggins said acquaintances, including construction workers and nurses, give high approval.
Wiggins seems proud of her business so far but admits she’s not sure which direction she wants to take it. If she were to go full time, she’d want to hire someone else to help.
“If this can be viable, I’ll be curious to see where it takes us at end of the season,” she said.
For now, the mother/daughters team goes to the Sequim Open Aire Market on Cedar Street from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. Wiggins said she loves the environment and people who come to the weekly event.
“I like how supportive they are of buying local,” she said. “I have a lot of local customers now and tourists who order online like people in New York and Alaska.”
Wiggins said she plans for Slightly Askew to be at special events like the Opulent Art show on Sept. 10 at The Cutting Garden as part of the Burning Down the House art collective.
For more information on Slightly Askew Studios, call Wiggins at 452-4439, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.slightlyaskewstudios.com.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.