Today on the Phosphene Journal, connect with Liz, founder and creator of Wild Lather - a collection of cold process soaps for all bathing bodies, made by hand in California. Wild Lather is a day one brand for us at Phosphene, having graced our shelves and community since we opened in September 2019. From the get-go, we connected with Liz - her journey as a business owner, having quit her job and traveled the world, seeking something and having that moment of clarity where you knew deep down 'what was next'.
Every Wild Lather batch is crafted with their nourishing blend of five organic plant oils: California Olive, Shea Butter, Coconut Butter, Coconut, Camellia and Castor, saponify them, then combine them with naturally occurring clays and solar-infused botanicals. Liz and her partner Conrad then swirl in a house-blend of steam-distilled essential oils and allow them to air-cure for one month. A time-honored process that's so worth the wait. Haven't tried cold pressed soap or made the switch from body wash? Trust us when we say - this is the one
Read on to get to know Liz and the foundations of Wild Lather.
above: Wild Lather founder Liz Wible in her studio space.
Tell us about yourself - your background, et.
I grew up in New Hampshire as the oldest of six children, always muddy from playing in the woods ~ funnily enough I hated taking showers! I was first introduced to cold process soap by my childhood best friend’s mom who made soap among other crafts. She would cure the bars on racks in her home and it always smelled so so delicious. I began collecting bar soap as a hobby, but rarely used them as I found them to be too precious! I simply loved them for their form and scent and would tuck them away into spaces like my closet so my clothes would smell nice. At 16 I met my partner, Conrad, and we both attended the University of New Hampshire together before moving to Boston for several years. We married in 2019 and are currently living in Pasadena, California with our rescue dog, Henry. Conrad helps so much with Wild Lather and we wouldn’t be where we are today without him.
And following, what is the story behind Wild Lather?
I made my first loaf of soap in 2014 following a step-by-step guide from Lena Corwin’s book Made by Hand. The guide in the book was actually a feature of my aforementioned friend’s mom, Liane Tyrrel! I often recommend her lesson for beginner makers. From there, I began tweaking my recipe and making soap as a hobby while in grad school. One thing about soap making is you will quickly have far too many bars on your hands! I started selling to friends and coworkers around 2016 under the name Wild Lather, but with a very different look. I remember cutting, stamping, and gluing pieces of cardstock I was tearing from a sketchbook as the labels for my first orders.
In the fall of 2017, I was working as a communications manager at a food startup when Conrad and I decided to leave our corporate jobs to travel before really settling down. We became absolutely enamored with the small shop owners and makers we met during this adventure. From knife makers, to ceramicists, to herbalists making skincare products for a living, I couldn’t shake the thought that maybe, just maybe, I could turn my dream into a reality as well. After eight months, we returned to the states and I hit the ground running with the Wild Lather you see today. My first scents, like Osaka and Byron Bay, are inspired by scent nostalgia from the places we explored during that trip. We officially launched in December 2018.
above: soaps from the Wild Lather collection.
Can you describe your workspace? Where is it and what is in it?
How has your workspace evolved alongside your business?
I have a tiny, single-room studio in Pasadena where I make, pack, and ship everything. I have an eye out to expand to a larger space as things can get quite packed in there. I’ve tried to keep the space as functional and simplistic as possible, allowing the colors of my soaps to reflect the changing seasons and help inspire new designs. Lining the walls are my wooden curing racks which I’ve also fashioned a desk from. The center of the room has a large, metal table where all the making and packing happens and my oils / supplies behind that. My workspace has most definitely evolved as I started this in my 1-bed Boston apartment! The dining table quickly became Wild Lather’s and we knew something had to change when we started storing supplies in the bedroom. Couldn’t be more grateful.
above: scenes from the Wild Lather studio - aromatic bars curing during the production process, a minimal desk with supplies (and our favorite Lauren's All Purpose salve - a popular, continued and aligned collaboration between the two natural wellness good brands).
What does a typical working day look like?
We adopted our dog, Henry, exactly one year ago and he has been huge for my physical and mental health. The day starts with walking him followed by light yoga, a warm shower (aka product testing session!), and the making of one too many drinks ~ a pour over, smoothie, genmaicha tea, and lemon water. I might be insane! From there it’s off to work where I typically have three types of days: An office day where I might be catching up on emails, creating / editing content, or working on an InDesign project ~ an order fulfillment day ~ or production day where I’m making / cutting soap (though these can often blend into one another). I run Wild Lather on my own with Conrad’s help, so I’m often working up until dinner and in my free time. Something I’d like to be better at!
above: Liz, partner Conrad and their dog Henry.
Could you share with us any specific works of art, literature, music, etc that have been inspiring to you recently? (Or/Also - any memories, travels, movements, playlists)
I have been slowly reading and savoring Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The most beautiful! I go through podcasts like crazy while making and some I have been enjoying as of late include Soundfood by Nista Citrine, Sounds Like A Cult (inspired by Amanda Montell’s fantastic book Cultish), Our Nature by Alyssa Benjamin, and for ceramic lovers - The Slip Cast by Aimee of Objet Aimée and Clare of A Ways Away, just to name a few. I have a deep appreciation for ceramic making after joining a local studio during the pandemic. It’s taught me so much about the art of non-attachment and creating for the process, not just the outcome as there’s an opportunity for a piece to break every step of the way. After monetizing my soap hobby, I’ve found a lot of value in not attaching this one to how I make a living. It’s been a really special exploration of a new medium, while sharing so many similarities to cold process soap.
above: scenes from the ceramic studio.
What does an ideal day of rest and recharging for you include?
What are your favorite rituals for self-care?
I will be honest that I have a hard time turning off my work brain when home. It’s hard to resist picking up my laptop or taking care of the house, but it’s something I’m working on! I find taking a warm bath or shower and inverting myself helps me to transition into relaxation mode. I recently got a FeetUp Trainer which I’m obsessed with. It’s a supportive tool for inversions (and so fun). Physically leaving the home helps me to step into rest and recharge mode as well. A simple walk around the block, a good coffee, or drive to the beach changes everything. I’ve also been into oil cleansing and lymphatic massage as of late and have found it to help my light rosacea tremendously. That followed by gua sha is so relaxing. I’ll light my favorite incense by Bodha and use our new Sun Milk oil for some aromatherapy as well.
What are some of your favorite objects in your home?
Ooh just looking around, definitely our plants - artwork by friends - handmade ceramic espresso cups by Conrad - some milky-concrete colored ceramics we scooped up from a market in Japan - my first wooden soap mold - a needle felt of our dog, Henry - and a Sylvan Esso tour poster from a concert we attended to celebrate our ten year anniversary a few years back. Love ‘em all!
above: favorite bowls from Liz's collection, and another adorable photo of Liz and Conrad's dog, Henry.
What is something that you’re proud of, personally and/or professionally?
Probably just being true to myself in terms of how I want to live day-to-day and create a living. For a long time, I felt there was a certain path I should follow for security / societal expectations followed by a slight sense of guilt for not working on something I went to school for. I’m feeling much more confident in myself and business and it’s taught me SO much more than I ever could have imagined.
What are you looking forward to?
After years of self-study and experimentation, I’ll be starting my first official herbalism class [next month]. I couldn’t be more thrilled! I feel called toward these teachings and owe it to the plants for providing the most healing ingredients for the products I create.
above: an herbal infusion created by Liz.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
No matter the situation you’re in, or how stuck you feel, you always have a choice.