Things made by hand have special meaning for me. I like to think of myself as a crafter. I’m almost always crocheting scarves, shawls, ponchos, bracelets, and hats. I make my own jam, bread, pickles, and even marshmallows. So, it’s no surprise that I love things that other people make by hand.
Today, I’m adding a new category to the blog: Artisan Spotlight. While we all have access to great makeup, skincare and personal care brands at Sephora, department stores, mass merchandisers, and drugstores, those brands often have deep pockets for spending on advertising and promotion. It’s more difficult for many of the thousands of artisans across the U.S. to get the word out about their wonderful products.
The first artisan I’d like to introduce you to is Nordea Soaperie. Nordea lives in New York City, but I met her at the Halloween Craft Fair on Harrison Avenue in Boston in 2009. Her booth caught my eye, and I thought I’d buy a gift for my friend Mary Kay’s daughter Madison who was turning 12. Well, that was the beginning of a committed relationship for me with Nordea’s heavenly soaps, perfume oil and body lotion.
Nordea started making handmade soap in 2005, and she’s self-taught. She learned the art of soap-making because she has very dry skin and wasn’t able to find any soaps that she liked in stores. Nordea truly started from scratch, googling and trying out lots of soap recipes, finally developing and perfecting recipes of her own.
Her Body Bars are made in small batches. Unlike some “soapers” who use a pre-made soap base and just add fragrance, she crafts her soaps from scratch by hand with skin-loving ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe juice, olive oil, and botanicals.
The Body Bars have cute names in addition to quality ingredients: Summertime Love, Honey Pie, Oh What a Man, Lavender Fields, to name a few, and she has seasonal specials like Cranberry Compote in autumn and one of my summer favorites: Going Bananas.
One of her best-sellers that could be a fun Valentine’s Day treat for anyone who loves beer
is Cerveza Con Lima, crafted with beer instead of water and with an enticing scent of lime and bay essential oil. Each Body Bar is about 5 ounces for $7, and I find that they last a long time.
In addition to soap, Nordea handcrafts lip balm in yummy scents, body lotion and perfume oil, using many of the same emollient ingredients as the soap. I am addicted to her fragrance, Hippie Chick. I originally bought it for 12 year old Madison, but I loved the scent and got one for myself as well. I’ve been hooked ever since! The perfume oil comes in a .125 ounce bottle with a rollerball which makes it perfect to keep in my makeup bag and to take with me when I travel. In addition to my fave, she has 6 other scents, some of which are feminine and others gender-neutral: Lavender Splash, Sensual Musk, Flowers & Shea, Flower Child (patchouli, for you former flower children or for those of you who missed the Sixties), Sweet Amber, and Sandalwood, each $12. I buy ’em 3 at a time: one for home, one for my purse, one for travel. Also, I like to layer my scent so that it lasts even longer, so I buy the rich and soothing Hippie Chick Hand & Body Lotion, $16 for 8 ounces. It also comes in several other scents as well as unscented.
For other gift ideas or for yourself, Nordea makes the most adorable hand-embroidered sachets. I love mine! She also makes room spray and a unique kitchen soap made from coffee beans to get the smell of garlic, fish or other strong kitchen odors out of your hands.
Nordea participates in lots and lots of craft fairs in the New York metro area throughout the year but especially at holiday time. Sometimes I get lucky, and she comes up to do one of the Boston fairs on Harrison Ave. But thankfully, she sells her products year round through her website.
I am a true Nordea fan girl! Please visit Nordea’s website to check out her products for yourself.