Meet the Maker – Lisa Woods of Wild GrovePosted on 5th July 2023
Lisa Woods started making liquid hand-made soap as a hobby, but just a few years on Wild Grove has grown to a natural cosmetics business with a full and innovative range of products, including Merino Wool Felted Soap! Lisa tells us her story.
How did you get started?
Like so many other young mothers, I began my hobby of making soap as an enjoyable distraction and money saving venture. I really loved a brand of natural liquid soap called Dr. Bronners when I lived in Canada. It was in all the health food stores but was prohibitively expensive!
So I went far, far down the rabbit hole, taking years to perfect this and of course experimenting with other soap recipes and techniques along the way.
As my children grew older I spent more time making soap and less time at my job as a cycling instructor for SGC. It was very slow and steady growth, starting with one or two markets per month and the occasional website order.
My second year of trade (2016) involved stocking shops as I expanded my wholesale offerings. Gradually I began to do less cycle training and more soapmaking until it took up virtually all of my free time! Before I knew it I was out of the kitchen and into a workshop in the Bristol City Centre.
Now I am working out of a garden shed in Knowle (a rather large one, and I get to stare out the window at my veggie garden).
So now my product range has of course grown, because once you start making cosmetics and toiletries you develop a huge arsenal of ingredients that can be used for many different products.
What’s in your product range?
I now make my original liquid soap (of course!), shaving soap, bar soap, Merino wool felted soap, hand cream, lotions and a full range of shampoo and conditioner bars.
How do you strive to be eco-friendly in your business?
My absolute best sellers are my shampoo bars, which I only began making when 5 people in one day at the Tobacco Factory Sunday Market asked for them. This was early in 2019, soon after the release of the David Attenborough’s BBC message about plastic waste and the environment.
The public became very interested in this issue and keen to make more effort to reduce plastic waste. Zero waste shops were popping up all over the country, including Zero Green, Bristol’s first zero waste shop. I was very lucky (and assertive), managing to stock them at a critical time.
Soap and hair care bars are a great way to reduce plastic as well as space in our bathrooms. They are all cruelty free, biodegradable and wrapped in paper. Many shops also prefer to sell them with no wrapping at all.
I’m so grateful for the support and encouragement offered to me by the community: customers, stockists, market organisers and other traders. Bristol is a real hot bed of creativity and enthusiasm and meeting all of these movers and shakers really puts a spring in my step!
Where can we find you and your products?
There is no bricks and mortar location for Wild Grove sales at this point but I stock a couple of gift shops and a good range of zero waste and lifestyle shops.
See my stockist page for locations!