Soap Opera

Soap maker DeShawn Marie describes her craft as "art, science, and cooking class, all in one." A naturally creative type who loves both dabbling in the kitchen and traveling the world, she found her calling when she stumbled upon a DIY kit while Christmas shopping in 1996; two years later, soap making became her full-time gig. "It's like when someone is painting and they decide to put red and blue together," she explains. "That's how it goes for me with smell." Now based in Brighton, she peddles her gorgeous scented soaps online at DeShawnMarie.etsy.com and her own site, DeShawnMarie.com. We chatted with the artist/chemist/chef about the inspiration behind some of the favorites in her line.

Sugar Lime

"There are certain things like food or drinks or something like that that will trigger something," says Marie. "Like, the Sugar Lime - mojitos have been such a popular drink in the last several years, and ... that's how the Sugar Lime came up." But we love that it's not just a literal take on the cocktail; the soap takes more of a deconstructed view, which makes it that much more interesting. Marie sheds more light on her creative process: "A lot of times, it will just be playing around. It's like when you're a kid and you have the crayon box, and you start playing around with the crayons. Sometimes, things that people don't think are going to go together do, and I've just always had that natural thing inside me that knows what goes together."

Limoncello

Marie's travels inspired this zesty rolled soap. "Most people had probably heard of limoncello before they went to Italy; I had not. So when I sat down [in Positano] one evening outside, I had pizza - it was a really, really amazing pizza - and they served, for after-dinner drinks, these little things of limoncello. They bring it out in almost like a little shot glass," Marie recalls. "At first it was really tart, but then, after a couple of days of being around and them serving it, it grew on me. I just ended up loving it. So after that I was like, I've got to make a soap that reminds me of this."

Anise Clove

Sugar and lime intuitively seem like they're made for each other, but anise and clove? "[The two] sound really weird to some people," says Marie. "Not everybody likes black licorice, and I have always loved it. It was one of my favorite candies as a kid. So I've always wanted to do [a soap] - I loved the smell of it - that had that aroma." But how did she come up with such a combination? Did it involve making a million-and-one test batches until she finally had the perfect final product? "The scent I usually know in my head," Marie explains. "[With] the scent, I usually can go, ‘All right, I'm going to do three-quarters anise and one-quarter clove.' But the design, like the colors and all of that, comes from experimenting.... To me, it's like painting, but painting with Jell-O, if you want to look at it like that. Because sometimes the ingredients are a very awkward consistency, and you have to use the chemistry of knowing something's heavier than the other and how it's going to play in the soap when you go to put it together."

Coming Soon

And what's next on the horizon for this Jackie of all trades? There are  the still-in-development results of a recent research trip to Vietnam, due to feature basil, cilantro, and some exotic teas she picked up in her travels, as well as a non-irritating, all-organic line. The first organic release, Peppermint Tea Tree, launched in February, and more organic offerings are expected to hit Marie's sites in late May or early June. We think smelling good enough to eat (or drink!) just might be our newest diet strategy. From now on, we'll be wearing our calories by DeShawn Marie, thank you very much.