First, let me introduce myself. My name is Rebecca Gutib-Sy. I am the founder and owner of Pearl Reflections Handmade Soap, Candles, and Jewelries, native from Negros Oriental, Philippines who migrated here in California, United States to join my husband. Before migrating here in US last 2011, I was already a soap and candle maker since 2009, inspired by my Grandmother who are a soap maker in their generation.
My Grandmother was using the ingredients from our natural resources like Plant-based Oil (coconut), Wood Ashes, and Rain Water. Although I already have knowledge in soap making while watching my Grandmother when I was a little kid, I was still taking some classes of soap and candle making in our local area in Luzon and found out that the procedure of my Grandmother is different from the procedures they were teaching there, that the wood ashes is replaced by Sodium/potassium hydroxide and rain water replaced by commercial distilled water. I was confused where does this sodium and potassium hydroxide come from, but I got this information while browsing on the internet, I landed on one page explaining the composition of these chemicals, click here. The natural way of making Lye is the solution of rain water + wood ashes, but still corrosive. The hardest part of making my own Lye is that, I don’t use wood timbers for fireplace, we used gas heater because there is added restrictions in our community if we use the fireplace. So, instead of preserving the old fashioned way of my granny, I turned to use the modern way in using sodium and potassium hydroxide for soap bars and liquid soaps. Some people got scared whenever they hear the word “Lye” in soap. All the soap that we purchased in the store has Lye compositions. This is the favorite words of soap makers like me, “there is no such soap on this planet that don’t have Lye, period!” Some others are using “Melt and pour” as they said there is no Lye on it. It’s wrong! Those Melt and Pour are basically from Oil + Water + Lye and reprocessed into another formulation with the ingredients including Denatured alcohols, sugar, etc. Lye is already compounded with the water and oil as a soap base to make the “melt and pour”.
So, anyway, soap making of today’s, only few is using the old fashioned way, majorities are using Sodium Hydroxide for bars of soaps while Potassium Hydroxide is being used in liquid soap. I prefer to use and make handcrafted soaps because I know these types of soaps are free from harsh chemicals that causes skin allergies. Speaking of skin allergies, I have sensitive skin that’s prone to allergies. This motivates me to make my own soap also to make sure that all my soaps are free from harsh ingredients like engineered oils (synthetic) or other artificial surfactants like SLS. I am using all plant-based oils to make my soaps and I don’t even use animal fats. This makes my bars of soap so challenging when it comes to soap hardening. That’s another secret also as a manufacturer, we have our own methods and procedures to make a good quality product that we can’t share. There are no hard-to-pronounce chemicals that you can find in our soap’s ingredients. Since there’s a lot of handmade soaps for sale on the internet, I want my soaps somewhat different. I am using fruit and vegetable purees, juice, either to substitute the entire amount of water or 50% with purees added with distilled water.
I don’t just mix the plant oils, I tend to use specific oils for that specific usage. For example, I need a skin lightener, I choose the right effective oils with the right effective fruits or vegetable to combine to make a natural skin lightener soap. I don’t really declare on the labels of my soap what is it for because I want to preserve the NATURAL HANDMADE SOAP and not falls into cosmetics. Natural handmade soap and cosmetic soaps have different categories of licenses. I don’t want any headache about that.
Soaps required molds, oils, and waxes, and so candles too, so I added my product with unique Candles that requires molds, waxes, and fragrance/essential oils. It is not commonly made by other candle manufacturers out there. Most of my Candles are Hand Molded and Carved especially the flowers like roses. I am designing candles mostly for centerpiece home decorations with special blends of scents either essential or fragrance oils. The aroma of the scents makes the living room’s natural air freshener. I would say that our candle designs are unique and that no other candle manufacturers do this time-taking hand molding and carving to create one of a kind designs that you can see in my Shop Page. You cannot find these candles in any stores and supermarkets’ shelves commercially. Our candles are all made-to-order.
About my handmade Jewelries, I am specializing in making with most of natural stones and gems, but 75% mostly freshwater pearls with it. I used Yellow Gold Filled, Rhodium, and Silver wires to make these jewelries. Sometimes I am making silver/gold plated jewelries too for additional of the selections. Some Carved Jade jewelries like bangles are made from other contacts outsource from Asian countries. At first, it was just a hobby but it turns into business. When I started to make these jewelries for my own use, my friends were asking where did I bought it. I am giving away my handmade jewelries like birthday gifts and some other occasions like Christmas and so on. The designs was being recognized by friends’ friends and I appreciate these friends of mine wearing those jewelries. Until one day, a friend of my friend approached me if I could make her sets of jewelries for her 2 girls. That was the start that I was accepting orders. It’s not really reliable for a living, but it helped when I was started doing business of handmade soap, candle, and jewelry products.
As an entrepreneur, a lot of frustrations, a lot of wasted batches that were made when I was starting the soaps and candles even the jewelries, but it’s worth it because I’ve learned from it. It’s a continues learning process, record, do some revisions to improve the product quality.
Note: I found out that by hand molding the warm wax, it is therapeutic to those who have hand and fingers sore, pain from repetitive motion at work. About this article, I will share it in different blog page very soon.
Pearl Reflections Founder/Owner