Meiera Stern

Plant-based soaps

Artist Statement:

Before the pandemic, I stayed home with our three kids and worked part-time as a freelance writer and graphic  designer. However, when schools shut down indefinitely in my part of Massachusetts, my husband became the  sole breadwinner, and I struggled to maintain order in our lives with little external support. No wonder that I  had neither the energy nor the time to fit my freelance work around my other responsibilities; it dried up.  

Months passed in triage mode. I went for long walks to get a break sometimes and clear my head. On one of  these walks I came across a series of beautiful jars and ceramic bowls that someone had left by the curb. As I carried them home it occurred to me that I might be able to sell them or similar objects and bring in some money.  But I longed to make things again too. Then it occurred to me that I could make candles out of them. 

The fall and winter holidays were coming in a few months and with them the sadness of not seeing loved ones  in about a year. But it felt good to create objects that literally lit up the darkness, and they’d make great gifts for  family and friends…all the people I missed so much. 

So I researched how to make candles and started experimenting with different types of wicks and wax, colorants,  the found containers and others. It was something I could do in my kitchen when the kids were occupied with  Zoom school. And our house smelled of cinnamon rolls, chai tea, pine needles and rose petals. No one complained. The first few batches lit up our home. It was so much fun, I made hundreds and sent some to loved ones,  posting the rest on Etsy, which sold out within a couple of weeks. I felt maybe I was onto something—a creative  outlet that I could prioritize amid my family responsibilities. 

After the kids were in bed, I learned as much as I could about container and pillar candles by watching YouTube  videos and pouring hundreds of variations of wax, scent, and color. YouTube’s search algorithm thought I’d like  soap videos too, which popped up in my feed, and though I was nervous about the lye, I felt excited to try those  

too. I loved the idea of making things that lit up people’s homes and kept them clean in this dark scary time. Thus  And Soaps, my artisanal soap and candle business was born.  

I fell head over heels in love with the alchemy of soap making. When life seemed like Groundhog Day, there  was always a new combination of color, oil, and scent to mix, a new soap or candle technique to try. I started  dreaming of color soap swirl combinations. This year, I bring light and cleanliness in sweet smelling designs that  I hope will delight everyone who brings them home.


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