How I Got Here

Hi! I’m Molly and I create the soap here at Yawning Lion Soap. Let me tell you how this all began. In 2014 me and my partner were planning to move to the Big Island of Hawaii. She asked me how I intended on  making money. I thought about it briefly and then said, “I’ll make soap.” Which was an interesting response considering I’d never made soap before. Having made that statement though, I ordered a soap making book, got the necessary ingredients, and started my journey. Within a few months, I had my own recipe for soap that provided the exact characteristics I valued: cleansing without harshness, bubbly and lathering, moisturizing, and smells good without being overpowering… and people liked it!

In 2015, within 2 weeks of arriving in the rainforest on the east side of Hawaii island, I discovered the soap I’d brought with me was absorbing moisture from the air and becoming soft, damp, and unappealing. In addition to the moisture issue, we lived off grid so I had to completely rethink my soap making process and recipe. It took awhile but I came up with a new formula and process that allowed me to use minimal electricity and make hard bars of soap able to withstand the humidity in our yurts in the middle of the rain forest. I know... yurts... in the rain forest?!?!. 

I still had two other obstacles derailing my soap making. The first was that because I couldn’t find suppliers on the island the cost of shipping to Hawaii basically doubled the cost of my ingredients. The second was that there was already a well known local soap company here. So whenever people found out I made soap, they’d ask if I’d heard of the other company - which everyone seemed to know about. At this point, I figured there was no way I could compete with that company. I kept making soap but only small batches for myself and as gifts. And since I’d basically given up on making soap for a living, I became a baker. 

 However, things were starting to come together slowly. Shipping cost came down. I came up with a company name that made sense to me: Yawning Lion Soap. Why Yawning Lion? Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m a leo and a little on the lazy side. Once I had a company name, I commissioned Gwenn Seemel to draw an amazing, colorful yawning lion. With a company name and artwork, I was able to get a new logo.

Aside from the logistical issues and my own self doubt,  there was one major thing really holding me back: The concept of making soap just to make money was never a strong enough motivator for me to make soap consistently. Along with missing a strong motivation, was me trying to figure out how to scent soaps. True, I had a lack of understanding of which scents mixed together. But I also had no burning desire to order a bunch of essential oils with which to experiment. I was at an impasse.

Then a friend, who had a variety of essential oils she was no longer using, sent them to me. She gifted them to me with the request that I make some soap for her. When I received that box of essential oils and fragrances, I fell in love. I opened up each bottle and smelled what treasure was awaiting. My mind exploded with possibilities. I fantasized about what scents would go together, how they would blend, and the feeling I wanted to come across from particular combinations. I honed in on a desire to make a sensual smelling soap with a reddish/mauve color. The first batch I made was good, but not quite right. So I did it again, and the scent was perfect! I had captured a feeling, a mood, in a bar of soap. I couldn’t wait to send it to her. She loved it! 

I make three soaps standard which are always in stock: lemongrass, lavender, and mint. But every other soap I make, I make because someone ordered something special from me which I created just for them. What I’ve discovered over the past couple of years is that I excel at making soap which embodies particular feelings people convey to me. When someone describes to me an emotion they’re trying to relay through soap, and I’m able to translate that into a tangible bar which encompasses that feeling… there’s magic! The people who order these soaps have stories. And the articles to come will focus on the stories behind each soap. Because where I truly find my passion and motivation is when I’m making soap for someone, with them and their story, in mind.