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Our Story

Soap packaging, and marketing materials from Gwenhwyfar's Garden business.

My name is Jen O'Farrell and I am the owner of the Flowersong Soap Studio. Thanks for stopping by!

Flowersong is the second generation of soap making business for me. From 2002 - 2005, Gwenhwyfar's Garden offered soap and bath and body products at markets and fairs around Phoenix, AZ. Since 2005, life has taken some fascinating turns, but my love of the craft and business of soap making has once again resulted in the dedication of part of my house to creating great smelling, natural bath and body products! I have preserved the recipe and am happy to recreate a set of old and new favorite fragrances under the Flowersong banner.

In 2002, I was in my mid-thirties, and was running a successful software consulting company with my husband and business partner at the time.

Like many other Americans, and especially native NYer's, the events of 9/11 were life changing for me. The reality of the tons of concrete and steel that fell on that day became quite real while visiting my grandmother who lived lower Manhattan that Thanksgiving, on the 13th floor of the co-op building just 2.5 miles from ground zero. The apartment she had lived in all my life was coated with a fine concrete dust. She told us of the smell from the area as a result of the many bodies that could not be saved from the rubble. On that day, my physical world, my family, and my childhood memories became linked to the destruction of that event.

The building on Avenue A in Manhattan NY where Jen's grandmother lived for many years.

On returning home to Phoenix and my high tech job and lifestyle, I found myself wondering what would happen if the crisp, efficient, modern life I knew was suddenly disrupted by a more successful campaign of violence against the United States. After all, there are many of our brothers and sisters all over the world live with this kind of fear daily and in much more threatening situations.

What if life as I know it suddenly changed, and all my "high tech" became useless. How would I get the things I need for myself and my family?

Picture of the Phoenix Public Market location with shoppers.

This lead to a fresh look at all our modern conveniences. I considered all the basic common items we all rely on daily without even thinking about it. What if they all did not arrive at the grocery store as they had in the past? The most likely situation would be that the people in my community would need to become more self-reliant - not in a doomsday prepper kind of way - but the basic concept of being a productive member of society would get much more hands on. What a huge selection things we get "from the store" (or these days, from Amazon) that would eventually run out and need to be replaced with locally made items. Could we actually make them all?

One thing that I had no idea how to make was soap. Here was a product I used every single day, multiple times in different forms. I had no idea what it really was, what went into it, how it worked, or how to make it.

So, being the type A that I am, I started researching soapmaking. It was truly eye opening to understand the concepts behind all the "health and beauty aids" found in the grocery store. This research also lead to my discovery of aromatherapy and natural skin care, the mystery of soap chemistry, and the simple beauty of soap in its natural state.

In the process of learning this craft, one gains a deep appreciation of the fascinating construction of our skin. The combination of chemicals, physical barriers, and the complex support system that keeps us all, literally, held together, is an elegant machine. And it is more easily disrupted than anyone thinks about.

Soap being made with a stick blender at the trace phase of processing

From the day I made my first batch of soap, I was captivated by the complex process that seemed like alchemy. There were endless experiments with combinations of ingredients to see how each behaved and impacted the finished product. I spent a LOT of time in the shower doing "stress testing" to see which formulations were longest lasting. The soap recipe I use today is the result of that work.

When my first batch of Flowersong soap was ready in April 2015, I couldn't wait for it to cure and started using a shard of Rose as hand soap after just a week. I am very excited to share this simple goodness with you.

Soap in the molds continuing the saponification process for the first 24 hours. The workbench in the soap studio where soap is made at Flowersong.