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Behind the Scenes # 6 with Mulberry Skincare

We're already in week 6 of Behind the Scenes! That's wild! This week I got to talk to Michelle from Mulberry Skincare. Mulberry Skincare is based out of British Columbia and they make ultra effective, natural deodorant as well as shampoo bars (which will be available in the shop soon).

Michelle is VERY well researched and has dedicated an incredible about of time to creating Mulberry Skincare's products. The deodorants come in a range of scents and are Leaping Bunny and Peta certified and are registered with Health Canada.

Each tube of deodorant should last you months too! I started one back in November and just finished it mid-August. There is no 'detox' period required for switching over to this natural deodorant and I might be a little biased, but I assure you that it works SO well.

Now, let's get into the questions!

Q: What is your business all about and how did you get started? What is the inspiration behind your business?

My business as it is now – producing plastic-free bath and beauty products began many years ago making soap with my daughter, which we sold at local Farmers’ Markets. My daughter was the one who initially wanted to make soap to avoid some of the more objectionable things in commercial soap such as sulphates, phthalates, artificial fragrances and colourants. We took many soap making classes together and soon had too much soap for our use, so sold the excess at a local Farmers’ Market and spent all our proceeds on the food trucks and produce from the farmers! It was a lot of fun – in fact, our business name at the time was Just For Fun Soaps.

We developed many friendships with fellow vendors and returning customers. Without fail, every week at least one person would ask if we made a natural deodorant. Keep in mind that this was six or so years ago and the options for natural deodorants were much more limited than they are now. Thus began my deep dive into researching natural deodorant and trying pretty much every option available. Now, after many years of trails, I can say that this deodorant formulation is the best that I can make. It comes in a stick format which appeals to most consumers; it is vegan, cruelty-free, has plastic-free packaging and requires no 'detox' phase.

mulberry skincare deodorant on a stainless steel table being packaged up by Michelle

 

Q: What is the story behind the name?

When I got into soap making, I experimented with all kinds of exotic oils, additives and colourants. One of the additives I loved was strands of silk from the cocoons of silkworms (after the moths had emerged of course!). It is unbelievable what just a cotton-ball sized amount of silk (dissolved in the lye solution) can do to elevate the skin feel of a whole batch of cold process soap. Silkworms lay their eggs on mulberry bushes, the caterpillars that hatch then enjoy eating the leaves before making their cocoons. Of course, now, all my products are vegan, so I do not use silk, but the name - Mulberry - stuck!

Q: Where are your products made and who makes them?

The deodorants and soon to be released 2-in-1 shampoo bar are all made by me in a dedicated Health Canada Good Manufacturing Process compliant workshop. My workshop has a beautiful view of Patricia Bay in North Saanich. My 15-year-old son often comes out to the workshop with me to help fill orders, or do his on-line school work and whenever we are at the workshop, we skip across the road to do a quick beach clean. We fill a couple of buckets – mostly with chunks of Styrofoam – each time we visit that beach.

 

the mulberry skincare workroom featuring shelving units full of deodorant making supplies and a large work table in the centre that has metal bowls full of ingredients

 

Q: How much waste is made in the production of products? Where are your ingredients sourced?

All but three of the ingredients in the deodorants are sourced in Canada. All but two of the ingredients in the 2-in-1 shampoo bars are sourced in Canada. There is a minimal amount of waste produced in the manufacture of the deodorants – I have put out only three bags of garbage in the last two years at my workshop! All of the raw ingredients come in recyclable cardboard boxes or buckets, but some of the dry ingredients come packaged in soft plastic. Up until recently, my city was collecting soft plastic for recycling. I am sure that someone out there will come up with a great idea to recycle soft plastic, so, for now, I am just stockpiling it in my workshop!

Mulberry Skincare Deodorant being poured into cardboard dispenser tubes

 

Q: Is there any advice you'd give to people starting out with their own businesses?

I do not feel qualified in any way to advise anyone as I am still figuring things out as I go along. One thing I might mention is, I think that having a business partner would be better than trying to do everything by yourself. I believe that it would be much more fun too!

Q: Is there anything you wish you had known when you were starting out?

I’m sure that most people know this, but I wish I had realized that just because you make a great product, that does not mean that everyone will automatically find out about it! I have never been one for social media, but even I must admit the role that social media plays in getting the word out there about your products. I am grateful that on-line and retail stores agree to carry my products because otherwise, I wouldn’t be selling anything! I really should up my Instagram game, but I have to admit that I often let myself get pulled down by comparing myself or my business to others.

Q: Is there any advice you've received that has been helpful to you?

I have collected many inspirational quotes from Instagram and one of them is “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”. I need to remind myself of this often!

Q: And is there anything else you would like to include?

At the moment, Mulberry Skincare is my side business. I work part-time at an Elementary School; therefore, I have many willing co-workers to try my products as I develop new ones. My latest product, a 2-in-1 shampoo bar, has been thoroughly tested by people with curly hair, long hair, short hair, dry hair, oily hair, you name it. It has been excellent for all hair types. Over the years, I have also developed many skincare products such as cleansers, toners, moisturizer, eye gel and so on. I give these products to my co-workers as gifts in mason jars, but as soon as I can figure out proper sustainable packaging, I hope to introduce them to a broader audience.

All of my products are certified cruelty-free with both PETA and The Leaping Bunny Program.

rows upon rows of cardboard tubes of deodorant on top of a stainless steel work table

 

Thank you so much for continuing to follow along! These Behind the Scenes are super fun and I love being able to take a look at all of these small businesses with you! Also, a heads up that Mulberry deodorant will be restocked at the end of this week! 

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