Meet the Maker - Maria Benjamin
How long have you been making soap?
I started making soap with our excess Jersey milk in 2016. At first, I just researched how to make it online but when I decided to start a soap business, I did a week long course to learn all the legal as well as practical aspects of starting a soap business.
How did you come up with the idea of making soap from cow’s milk?
It was really just because I didn’t know what to do with all the milk. I tried making cheese, but it wasn’t that nice. I had used goat milk soap and thought I’d give Jersey milk soap a try.
Where do you get your milk from?
The Jersey milk for our soap comes from our Jersey cows Honeysuckle and Blossom. It’s ok to use raw milk in soap because the process of soap making would kill any lingering bacteria so it’s perfectly safe. In our shampoo bars, because the ingredients are just pressed together, I need to use pasteurised milk. We don’t have a pasteuriser at the farm, so I buy this milk in. It sometimes comes from a local farm shop at Old Hall Farm, or I use Graham’s Jersey milk. I also now make a goat and sheep milk soap. This milk is from my friend Martin Gott’s farm where he milks sheep and goats to make his wonderful St. James and Holbrook cheese made from the same milk.
Why is milk soap better than other types of soap?
Milk is very nourishing and gentle on the skin. Many soap companies just use water because that’s very cheap, but milk adds a lovely silky moisturising protective layer on your skin.
How do you decide what to put in each type of soap?
Making soap is like baking. You experiment till you get a product you like. I like to use fragrances that relate to the fragrances of the Lake District.
How many soap bars do you make in each batch?
I make batches of around 200 bars at a time.
What’s your favourite part of soap making?
I like listening to audiobooks while I make soap. I find the whole process very relaxing.
What’s your least favourite?
What’s the best feedback you’ve had from a customer?
That the soap has improved skin conditions where nothing else worked and that our shampoo bars have improved the quality of their life because the no longer have permanently itchy scalp.
Which is your bestselling product?
Dawn, our fragrance-free soap. It’s a very simple, gentle soap but seems to help people with skin conditions.
Favourite thing about living in the Lake District
Living so close to lakes, woodland, beach and mountains.
What do you do when you’re not making soap?
I am always busy as I have other business to run and help John on the farm, but for down time, I hang out with my Llama called Banana and take my whippet and lurcher, Dolly and Kenny for beach walks.
What’s your next planned project?
I am developing a very exciting new range of soaps and making more tweeds for one of my other businesses, Lake District Tweed.
Meet the Maker – Maria Benjamin How long have you been making soap? I started making soap with our excess Jersey milk in 2016. At
Why use milk for soap? The benefits of milk-based soaps. The health benefits of drinking milk are well known and well documented. Cow’s milk contains