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Interview: Soapsmith founder Samantha Jameson

We bring you a form of escapism – in the hope that you can fully immerse yourself in a bit of creativity and learn some more about the people who make East London such a special place...

BY KELLY BESWICK

Samantha jameson Soapsmith founder

I first encounter Samantha Jameson at the rather lovely Hart Shoreditch on Great Eastern Street where she is hosting a soap-making workshop, and it immediately strikes me that, just like the surroundings, she is rather lovely too. Warm and welcoming with a beaming smile, she is the epitome of effortless charm, and she soon has the assembled thong captivated as she tells us a bit about her background and the company, before launching into the soap-making workshop itself.

Afterwards, I approach Samantha, eager to find out more about this passionate entrepreneur, who over the space of 14 years has established one of the country’s leading artisanal soap brands, but one that remains firmly rooted in her home borough of Hackney, a place where she was born and bred.

East London Sopasmith

Indeed, as Samantha reveals: ‘from the outset Hackney and London itself creatively inspired me, and that has always been the driving inspiration of Soapsmith. Our most popular scent is called Hackney, for which I drew on my childhood memories of long summer days and balmy afternoons spent wandering along the River Lea and playing football on Hackney Marsh with my brothers.’

As business has boomed, Samantha has gone on to honour many other areas of London. ‘The collection now includes the wonderfully eclectic culture and energy of Brick Lane and Camden, the beauty and elegance of Bloomsbury and Marble Arch and the rich history of Lavender Hill,’ she confirms.

As a result, Soapsmith’s USP has become its ability to capture places through scent and it’s something that Samantha is clearly very proud of. ‘Scents and their stories are integral to the Soapsmith identity and it is what has lead to partnerships I never would have dreamed of when I started out,’ she enthuses. ‘Take the partnership with Hart Shoreditch, where we’ve created a bespoke Brick Lane collection of shampoo, conditioner and body wash, with its very own personalised scent. The combination of amber, sandalwood and peppery undertones in the scent embodies the vibrant streets and lively atmosphere of the area. It’s hugely exciting and a huge privilege to work together with Hart in this capacity.’

Soapsmith london

Soapsmith was first conceived in 2010, founded on the money Samantha received from selling her first business, an events company that rented chocolate fountains for weddings and parties. ‘I sold that business to Thorntons and the cash generated from the sale bought me the time to think about my next move,’ she recalls fondly. ‘I knew I wanted to work with my hands, creating ideas and products. Combining this with my love of scent and natural curiosity of the world around me, the idea for Soapsmith was born. I felt this was a craft and a business I would love and could pour my heart and soul into.’

And she has certainly done just that in the intervening years. However, before setting up shop, so to speak, Samantha spent two years perfecting the art of making those first products and scents. It was only when she was sure that they met her exacting standards that she was ready to release them onto the world. She chose to call her fledgling company Soapsmith as the ‘smith’ element clearly highlighted the skill and craft that went in to the soap making process.

In 2012 the company took up space in the Old Clockworks in Walthamstow, a site that it still occupies 12 years later and which Samantha describes as: ‘integral to our brand DNA’. She is currently increasing the size of the unit to allow for further growth and to also accommodate the seven core team members she now employs across production, operations, marketing, content and design.

Indeed, design is another element of the Soapsmith brand that makes it really stand out from the competition, with the packaging of its products nothing short of stunning. ‘That’s thanks to Gush and Johnny, founders of Bulletproof, a leading global brand and design agency,’ admits Samantha, before revealing that six years ago, they became her business partners and have been instrumental in helping to take the brand to the next level.

And she has no intention of stopping there. ‘We have big growth plans for Soapsmith that do involve expansion into new territories,’ she states. ‘Ultimately, we want to be a household brand globally, so if we can achieve that in a few key markets in the next five years, I’d be a very happy entrepreneur…’

With Samantha’s ambition, charm and charisma, how could she possibly fail!

soapsmith.com

 

 

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