Our local soap supplier, Caurnie Soaps, has the title of oldest soaperie in the world to still use the cold pressing technique. It was started by Jim’s grandfather in 1922 and he still uses the very same machinery to hand press every single bar of soap they make today. We recently had the pleasure of spending some time with Jim at the Caurnie Soap Soaperie - what an evocative place, the atmosphere is perfect and the smells exceptional. We chatted to Jim to find out more about this unique local business.
1. When and how did your business start?
My grandfather started the company in 1922. He had returned from the First World War and the misery and mayhem inspired him to start the company. An attitude of kindness was important to him and he instilled that within our family business.
2. Which of your products is most popular and why?
Our Vegan Nettle range is by far the most popular and has been for some time. Our customers tell us that it relieves the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis in particular. Timetesting and not animal testing makes it popular too.
A photo from the Caurnie archives, showing the old company car
3. How has the global pandemic affected your business?
It has impacted negatively on the availability and cost of our raw materials. I’ve also missed being able to interact in person with customers. However there have been positives. There is a renewed appreciation of the benefits of shopping locally and we have been fortunate to have new customers. Our simple vegan zero waste soap has stood the test of time and is gentle on skin especially when we are all washing our hands more frequently.
4. What motivates you to continue using the old-fashioned production methods?
I feel that double saponified cold process soap has several underrated benefits. We make our soap by hand in small batches which is a sustainable, eco-friendly method of production. A sense of history in a living manufacturer is an element too. And being an anti-brand brand is fun!
Jim using the original machinery to press his natural soaps
5. Is there an individual or organisation, current or in the past, who inspires you?
Dale Carnagie - he wrote positivity books in the 1930s, pithy and full of great wise ideas for life and dealing with things like worry.
6. Apart from Greencity, which other three or more people, living or deceased, would you invite to make a dinner party entertaining?
My Dad Ian Little, Anita Roddick, and David Attenbourgh.