From Scissors to Soap

2015-05-20 Colin 400Strange you may ask how a seasoned hair stylist makes the move to soap making? Well, Colin McConnell of Bar 13 Soap Works found it a very natural (no pun intended) step.

For years Colin had been researching non-chemical hair products to use in his High River Salon which was the first Organic Salon, partly because he is allergic to many chemicals. So to Colin the step to making his own soap products was a very logical one.

I asked Colin why he chose Bar 13 as his company name and the history came out. Not only was this the family brand for the cattle ranch he grew up on in Saskatchewan but his Dad was also born on the 13th and the Thistle logo is because of their Scottish heritage.

Colin is a big fan of pioneer ways so his method of making the soaps are as close to traditional as possible. He is returning to the turn of the century type of soap like Pears and Ivory.

“If I won’t put something IN my body I won’t put it ON my body,” says Colin, referring to the ingredients he uses. “Most of the scents in my soap are 98% essential oils not synthetic fragrances.”  All the ingredients are on his labels.

2015-05-20 Soap DisplayHaving already taken a couple of courses in soap making, Colin is now ready to extend his knowledge of aromatherapy before venturing into his own line of essential oils.

If he has knowledge that someone is allergic to a substance, for example one customer can’t tolerate Camomile, then he double sanitizes all his equipment before making a soap for that customer to ensure no residual remains to cause cross-contamination. A service he offers to all customers with allergies.

The base ingredients in Colin’s soaps are a combination of coconut, palm, cotton seed, castor and olive oils. He ensures his suppliers provide only ethically harvested products.

Colin has recently purchased a laser etcher which can turn his polished, pewter trays and soap dishes into personalized items for his customers.

2015-05-20 BD SouvenirAnother major use of the etcher is to provide Black Diamond with its own, locally made souvenirs. The first of which will be readily available for Parade Day and is a unique sculpting of a black diamond sitting on a rock – all made from black soap. The souvenir comes in three different shapes, which Colin designed, made the negative and the mold himself. The soap sits on a base with the words 2015 Black Diamond etched into it. Be sure and look for them on June 6th.