Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Moo Crew Feature

This week's featured shop is Mirasol Farm! Click the image above to peruse their awesome array of natural bath & body products & tasty collection of jams & mamalades all made simply & without harmful ingredients!

1) Tell us about your work & what drew you to it!

We like to say that handmade soaps are better than chocolate. It's completely magical, the chemistry of turning oils into something that smells amazing & is useful! But I admit that I made my first batch of soap 8 years ago in a kitty litter box (you know how it is when inspirations strikes - you have to use what's handy). The soap actually "took", & I was hooked...

I learned how to make lotions & balms a little later, & just last year moved to a farm so we could start growing some of our own organic ingredients. We took the name Mirasol Farm because we emphasize the use of sunflower oil - it's the oil naturally highest in Vitamin E, & it's grown right here in the upper Midwest. Mirasol is Spanish for sunflower, so the name also reflects the Latino roots of half of our family. We started keeping bees, are growing our own herbs, figured out how to make liquid soap, & we keep experimenting with new ideas. But making cold process bar soap is my first love, hands down.

Cutting bars of soap for curing

2) What is most enjoyable about your work?

Essential oils. They're the heart & soul of our work, kept in a special cabinet. Being derived from plants, they're almost alive - it's amazing how Bulgarian lavender essential oil smells different than Washington State lavender, for example. And in combination, essential oils mix together into an end product different than the sum of its parts. They're magical, & they have complex aromatherapeutic properties that will take a lifetime to fully understand.

The magic essential oil cabinet

3) What is your biggest challenge?

Like my fellow WIST-featured craftspeople, finding balance is difficult. For me, taking up farming was quite the stretch! I am also obsessed with growing heirloom tomatoes, canning, making pies, & 16 baby chickens will move into our calf barn in July. Since we both still have city jobs until we can afford to work full-time on the farm, this "overlap" time is challenging.

4) How are you inspired?

I make things for people; it's almost a mission. We all have a way of measuring ourselves & who we are in the world, & I think this is how I do it. I'm usually thinking of a specific person when developing a recipe or essential oil combination. An 11-year-old friend of ours gets anxiety headaches at school, & was recommended lavender essential oil to smell during stressful times. He was carrying around a little vial, & we were afraid that other kids might tease him. So we made a lavender essential oil lip balm that he could use & no one would be the wiser. My brother asked for a pumice soap that turned into Renaissance Man, & we're now developing a super-mild shampoo/liquid soap made with olive & castor oils for a woman who has terrible allergies to coconut oil. (Try to find a soap without coconut oil, & you'll appreciate the depths of her problem!) Creating things that someone else benefits from is a way of spreading good juju around the world.

Cornmeal, calendula petals & essential oils waiting to be incorporated into our Gardener's Soap

5) Apart from creating, what do you enjoy?

I garden impulsively & erratically. I adore my partner & our three dogs. I am passionate about equality issues in general - race equity in particular - & love figuring out how to connect compassionately with people around this issue.

6) What is your most cherished handmade item?

My favorite soap right now is our Lemon Chamomile. It's so deliciously smooth. We infused organic sunflower oil with chamomile & calendula so the bars are extra mild, the essential oil combination came out JUST right, & the thought of it makes me positively giddy.

7) Is there a rule you can't help but break?

i don't make products that I don't use, even though they might sell. Take, for example, facial mud masks. I'm not opposed to them, but simply lack the inspiration. Maybe it's because I wouldn't be able to tell a good one if it fell on me. That could be a bad business decision, but there it is.

8) Name one thing you could never live without!

National Public Radio connects shy types like me with reality.

9) Tell us your top five books, movies, songs/bands, &/or websites (besides Etsy!)

Any books by Louise Erdrich (especially The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse) or Toni Morrison. The both open my heart a little wider.
Music: The Be Good Tanyas, Patty Griffin, Greg Brown, Emmylou Harris, Ani Difranco
Movies: Talk to Her, The Princess Bride, The Five Senses, & recently, Seven Pounds

10) Where can we find your work?

I'm the last to embrace new technology, so we'll reluctantly get a Facebook page in a couple of years when it's passe. But folks local to us can find our products at these fine stores:

-> Whole Earth Grocery, 126 S. Main St., River Falls, WI 54022
-> River Market, 221 . Main St., Stillwater, MN www.rivermarket.coop
-> ECO (Environmentally Concious Options), 400 W.Superior St., Duluth, MN
-> Stone Soup Gallery, 1025 Davis St., Hammond WI
-> Prescott Greenhouse, 110 Hampshire Street, Prescott, WI

To celebrate their feature, Mirasol Farm is giving a
$20 gift certificate one lucky reader!
To enter, just visit Mirasol Farm's shop,
& post a comment about what you would love to try.
The winner will be chosen at random next Wednesday.


Lisa said...

Wonderful shop! I'd love to try either of the lavender soaps!

Maren said...

I love Mirasol Farm products! And I am really excited to try the Chamomile soap that Casey described above!

Susan said...

I buy their soap all the time! It comes in the cutest packaging and makes a perfect gift for anyone. It smells and feels fabulous.

Stormy & Jamie said...

Of course we love all of your products. Your Wild Grape Cardamom Jam is a must at our house! Our girls will eat nothing else! It made school lunches a treat. I wish everything I bought for my family had as much thought and care put in to it.

Jane said...

Wonderful products from Mirasol Farms and the persons behind these fabulous creations are just as great. Follow your nose is what it's all about once you open the door here at Stone Soup Gallery. The scents are absolutely captivating.

Shauna said...

This looks amazing. I couldn't decide on what to pick. I would try either the Sweet Eucalyptus Complexion Soap or the Jasmine Calendula Cream sounds amazing.

Anonymous said...

omg I do love this shop!!! Double Mint Soap sounds great, would love to try:)

Jeanne Selep said...

This was nice in-depth feature blog posting.

Julia said...

The Sweet Orange Calendula Cream really is special. I love it! What I want to try next is the Grape Cardamom jam. How wonderful to find delicious edible things alongside wonderful body creams and soaps!

Amy said...

I'd love to try any of her products, they look so fantastic, but the lime/coconut soap looks really fantastic! Great shop!

Andrea said...

Your double mint soap sounds absolutely fabulous! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=26322776


Patricia said...

I am such a fan of these products!
I would love to try the new chamomile soap and the jam sampler pack.