There’s a little workshop in my neighborhood of Sellwood called Camamu Soap.
It smells amazing-and it should! They named it after a little piece of paradise in Brazil-a small port town inside an amazing mangrove edged bay. When you first walk in, you are actually standing in their workspace. If you are lucky, they’ll be pouring or cutting the soap into bars. I visited when they were doing just that! They take the soap out of the wooden molds and cut them into pieces with wires.
Sarah is pushing the soap through the wires here in the above photo.
After they cut them into bars, they go into a cool closet for about a month to cure.
You might think that handmade soap is just for little old ladies, but I was surprised at all the products they had. The soaps had all different uses-some were gritty for gardeners, but I could see mechanics and cooks using it too. They had shaving soaps, soaps for skin conditions, and gentle soaps for babies. They even had dirty dog soap!
I wish you could smell these hand poured soaps. So many different combinations! All made with essential oils, hand foraged herbs, and quality oils! (I’m hoping that Lori will let me follow along on one of her herb picking walks.)
They make more than just bar soap too! They sell some gorgeous Turkish towels-they are a smooth cotton, much different than the type of towel one normally finds in a bathroom. I think I may splurge on one.
Lori is creating an oil here that she infused with herbs. If I recall, it’s a hair oil-like a leave-in conditioner or for bearding softening. Mmmmm! Smelled lovely!
They also make lotions, toners, creams, and salves.
I asked Lori a few questions about how the business came to be and the inspiration behind it:
”I started the company 13 years ago after apprenticing as a cheesemaker on a biodynamic farm in the UK. I’d always been interested in both cheese-making and soap-making…ended up back in Portland without farm or sheep/goat’s/cows and so started making soap instead. I had no particular intention of starting a business but loved the process and the alchemy of it, the creativity and artistry involved and couldn’t stop making more and more batches. I worked for years out of my home until 2006 when the business had grown to the point that it could support a storefront/fabrication area. I have always loved the idea of having what we do be visible and the process accessible.
I have created most of the recipes. Sarah created the chakra soap line.
We source our ingredients and packaging supplies as locally as we can. The bulk of our base ingredients (fixed and essential oils) come from three local businesses. Our organic culinary and botanical ingredients come from a company in California. Items in our retail section are also primarily from other local artisanal businesses (Wild Carrot Herbals, Portland Bee Balm, Big Dipper Wax Works, Cusp Natural Products, etc.)”