Black Girls Craft & Chat : Polish and Lather

Welcome to this weeks edition of Black Girls Craft & Chat with the super talented Angelina Stewart, owner of Polish & Lather.  Angelina makes  handcrafted artisan bath & body products.  We also had the pleasure of having her teach a Intro to Soap making class to our Black Girls Craft members! Thank you Angelina for sharing your knowledge and beautiful creations with us.

Tell us about yourself

Hi I’m Angelina and I’m an artisan soap maker that resides in Philadelphia. I’ve made my first batch of soap around 22 years ago as part of a science experiment. Fast forward and this little craft has created a new business for me, and has become my creative outlet of choice.

How long have you been crafting and what inspired you to get started?You’re stranded on a desert island. What three craft supplies couldn’t you live without?

I’ve been crafting since preschool I guess. I love making things, learning about new things and pushing my creativity. Anything from painting, pottery, crocheting and even painting I love. When I wasn’t creating with my hands I would through my body. For years I was a dancer and was even part of a dance company that served as my creative outlet and a another way to express myself.“Do you have a design in mind for your blog? Whether you prefer a trendy postcard look or you’re going for a more editorial style blog – there’s a stunning layout for everyone.”

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Love what you do, master something and be great at it. Know your craft inside and out, backwards and forward. Become the expert. It’s fun being the Jane of all trades, but be the master of at least one.

You’re stranded on a desert island. What three craft supplies couldn’t you live without?

Shea butter, crochet needle and yarn. Figure the shea butter has a small amount of spf so a little help there right? Lol and I can use it for my hair, lip balm and body butter. Also, I can burn some wood and use the filtered wood ash to make sodium hydroxide and mix with the shea butter to make shea butter soap.The needle and yarn is to make brackets and clothes.


Who currently inspires your creativity and why?

Travel is a major component of inspiration. A few times a year I take sourcing trips to different countries looking for fun, new and exciting ingredients that I can use. The inspiration comes from the people, the food, the music, the drinks, the land and the culture. Our sourcing trips have taken us to 10 counties spanning 5 continents.My favorites have been Thailand for it’s beautiful waters and $6 hour long massages.Morocco for its EPIC shopping experience and its little piece of heaven in the form of a Hammam.And Iceland for the most stunningly naturally beautiful landscape I have ever seen, and for their ethereal Blue Lagoon.

What “trendy” supply or craft are you loving right now and why?

Does soap making count?! Lol seems like right now Soaping is making a come up. But, aside from that I’m really digging the folks making and dying their own yarn. If i were to pick a new craft to dive head first in it would be that. I remember while in Marrakesh watching a woman weave this gorgeous blanket on a loom using all of these beautifully dyed yarns.Hmm on second though maybe I should be a potter…

What do you love most about Black Girls Craft?

I love the comradery and a space that’s for us. We understand our cultural sayings without needing to explain. We build, encourage and thrive on our terms without worrying about code switching and being unapologetically ourselves.

In one word, how would you describe your crafting style?

Dope

Do you have a crafty tip you would like to share?

Stay organized. It helps so much in the long run. Label everything and make sure you stuff all has a place. I also love those accordion style filing cases. I use one just for receipts with each pocket representing a month, and I have another with printed product labels divide for different items; they just make everything so easy to find and they don’t take up much space.

What would you say to anyone looking to start a new craft?

Research, read and learn as much as you can, and don’t stop. And don’t get upset if everyone doesn’t want to walk you through every little detail. Part of the fun and learning experience is discovering for your self and making mistakes. I value my knowledge in my field, because of the work that I put into it.

What’s your favorite show, movie or playlist to craft to?

Lol well I like watching 90 Day Fiancé, Married at First Sight, Judge Judy, Hells Kitchen, Outdaughtered and slew of other easy to follow shows that don’t require much attention when I craft.

Do you have and specific goals for the year?

Yes. I want a few more wholesale accounts, start consistently teaching soap making in person. Get my online soap making course launched. Get to a few more souring destination I have planned, up my video making editing game, finish my soap recipe book, launch my ingredient subscription box and launches my very first group sourcing trip.

How do you maintain work/ family balance?

I try to dedicated certain days for certain tasks. I don’t break my to do list into days but weeks. I find it easier for me to accomplish what I need this way.

How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

I pretty much married two things that I love. Soap making and travel. I am also #teamcarryon so I create a lot of carryon friendly items like solid shampoo and conditioner, lotion bars and travel lather. Which is actually on of my favs. Their little tiny soaps that you can keep in your purse and use when you find yourself in a foreign bathroom with no soap. The little soaps are made for one time use so no worries of carrying a soggy bar in your bag.

What is unique about your business?

That I bring a little piece of the world to your bathing experience. How many people can say when the get home they are going to bath with roses from Thailand?

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

I want my own tv show where I travel around the world chatting with locals and learn about their new and ancient bathing rituals and beauty routines.

What sets your business apart from others in the same industry.

My collections tell a story and I am more than a soap maker I am a soap artisan. I try to create beautiful little pieces that feel great on your skin with thoughtfully curated ingredients.

What has been the biggest challenge in your business and why?

Building a customer base is not easy. A lot goes into customer acquisition and it can get daunting. I keep pushing and keep getting better, but this isn’t for the faint of heart.

When you started your business, did you have a business plan?

I had an outline as a guide but I didn’t create a full fledge business plan. The outline did help me see the big picture and how to maneuver in my market.

How long were you in business before you started making a profit?

I just entered into my 4th year this January 1st. So, crossing my fingers this is the year. My business had to take a seat on the back burner for the first 6 months of last year as I planned my wedding in Italy. But now that’s all done and I’m going full throttle.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

They can follow me on Instagram at Instagram.com/polishandlather or on Facebook at Facebook.com/polishandlather

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