Made With Love in the Heart of the Yukon

Making soap is magical; how do all the liquid ingredients turn into a solid bar of soap? Joella Hogan has the answer.

She is the owner of the Essential Soap Bar Co. in Mayo. Hogan bought the business two years ago and learned how to make soap from the former owner.

Upon entering her house, one can smell the sweet and earthy scent of her product, which Hogan makes in the basement. 

“To make the soap I mix the soft and hard oils together, melt them and blend it in a lye solution,” she explains.

“The finished soap has to sit for four to six weeks to cure; a chemical process called saponification. Saponification is a chemical reaction that occurs when fat and oil come in contact with lye.”

Hogan says she gathering flowers, like wild rose petals and fireweed. She dries them to add to the soap.

Her biggest challenge is running out of ingredients that she can’t buy in Mayo. She has to buy them online, or in Whitehorse.

“Soap-making is my second business, I do it after work or on the weekends,” Hogan says.

Hogan is the manager for Heritage and Culture of the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation. 

“After a busy day, I turn on music and enjoy making soap. I like that I can be creative and play around with different colors and forms.”

She enjoys creating soaps for different occasions.

“For the Mayo Arts in the Park at Aboriginal Day, I created soap-cupcakes and soap in the shape of pieces of pie. But I also had a booth with my usual soap, for example the Yukon wild rose soap,” Joella says.

“I am still learning and doing research about soap making on the Internet. And I always look at the work of other soap makers and the newest trends to get inspiration.” 

Hogan’s also inspired by her surroundings: “I have soap with silver dust on it, and I like that my business is related to Mayo and its history.

“Scent can bring back memories and a lot of visitors are buying the soap as a Yukon memory.

“Back home they can have a piece of summer in the Yukon through the smell of wildflowers or the colours of the Northern Lights on a soap.”

Customers all over the world order her soap online.

In the summer, Hogan is busy selling her soap in Whitehorse at the Fireweed Community Market, and in Atlin and Dawson City during their music festivals.

It’s a lot of work, but she has help.

“My mom helps me a lot with selling the soap, and I have volunteers and family members who are helping me. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Visitors are always welcome to call her, or to buy the soap directly from her basement.

“I like to show people around, to tell them about the soap, so they can see where it’s coming from.” 

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