Meet Schmoap, Silvertown’s cleanest soap company
Schmoap started as a zero-waste lockdown hobby, but Nadia Vizzacaja quickly found she has a knack for making beautiful and ethical soaps.
“It looks quite easy in the tutorials, but when you get into it, it becomes more and more complicated,” says Nadia Vizzacaja, founder of Silvertown-based business Schmoap. “You have to calculate and measure everything – it’s a science.”
While Nadia might have had a learning curve, she got there fast – Schmoap is now a year old, selling beautiful bars of soap made with natural ingredients, no waste and no plastic.
Nadia didn’t quite plan to start a business; she has a full-time job as a graphic designer. Schmoap owes its start to YouTube and the boredom of lockdown: “I was really interested in soapmaking, but I didn’t have a business plan or anything like that. I was just looking for new hobbies during lockdown!“ She laughs. “I posted about the soaps on Instagram and my friends were eager to try them, and suddenly I had demand. So I thought, ‘Okay, I need to make it official.’”
Schmoap officially launched last autumn, as Nadia needed to have her soap recipes approved for safety before she could sell them; she’s now a member of the Guild of Craft Soap and Toiletry Makers. “Our bestseller is the lavender soap, because it’s so nice and simple, as well as the charcoal and tea tree soap,” she says. Asked for her personal favourite, she says her newest soap is always her favourite. “But I think it would have to be the first one I made, the orange zest soap. I’m using it in my shower right now.”
Nadia has kept her day job but the soap business is taking up every spare hour. In addition to making the soaps there’s also wrapping, processing orders, and other paperwork. She shares a home with her partner and her father, who help out whenever they can: “My partner is a web developer and together we built the website and online shop. My dad assists me with soapmaking - he is skillful at crafts and made my customised wooden soap moulds.”
Nadia’s dad also inspired Schmoap’s frankincense soap, after picking up the ingredient in Oman: “I wasn’t even sure how to mix it in the soap because it comes in big chunks. But we didn’t scent the soap with anything except the natural frankincense, and it turned out gorgeous. I then found a way to source frankincense closer to home.”
We use plastic-free packaging for the wrapping and delivery. Even though it’s a bit more expensive, I think it’s worth it.
Sustainability and ethical practices are a big part of the Schmoap brand. Part of Nadia’s inspiration for starting soapmaking was her interest in a zero-waste lifestyle. She figured that making her own soap could be a way to cut down on some of that, not to mention how a beautiful bar of soap makes a much better present than a big plastic bottle of shower gel. Schmoap is a waste-free business as far as possible: “We need to use some new materials, like liners for the moulds. But we use plastic-free packaging for the wrapping and delivery. Even though it’s a bit more expensive, I think it’s worth it. I’m also trying to source the ingredients locally, so the production has a low carbon footprint,” says Nadia, who finds a lot of bulk ingredients in Beckton.
Nadia has lived in Silvertown for three years now. “We are settled in the area. We love how the community has been growing through the years. Now there’s several new cafes and other small businesses,” says Nadia, who lives in the same building as cakemaker Sofia Atamanchuk. A goal for the summer is to participate in farmers’ markets, and Nadia already donates imperfect (but still perfectly good) soaps to the food and essentials bank at the Royal Docks Learning and Activity Centre.
Right now, Schmoap is threatening to take over her kitchen: “Most of the drawers are taken up by soaps or ingredients!” Although Nadia is quick to add that all the soap equipment is kept separate from food. “All the ingredients are very natural though, made with things like olive oil, coconut oil, oat and honey.” The fact that these soaps are “natural” means they’re a little less hardy – the shelf life is six months – but they’re also kinder to the skin.
Things seem to be going well for Silvertown’s littlest soap business, although there was one thing that Nadia found really difficult: what to name it. “I used a business name generator! I found Soap Schmoap, but that name was already taken. But I really liked it, so I cut it to just Schmoap. It’s shorter and it’s easier to remember as well.” She laughs. “Schmoap Soap!”
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