Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday Artisan: Ginger's Garden

Meet our Saturday Artisan:  Irena, the artist and owner behind Ginger's Garden. Her online shop is here, but she can also be found on Artfire.

As a coffee lover, I adore this coffee beans handmade soap!

Irena has been in the business for over 25 years. With years of experience and family background, she certainly is an expert in making soaps. Get to know her a little bit more, shall we?

Tell us a bit about yourself and what arts/ crafts that you make?

I was born in Prague, Czech Republic. I am a third generation Aromatherapist, herbalist, soapmaker & bath and body formulator. My mother and grandmother made lotions, potions and creams. My mother's kitchen was full of herbs drying upside down or dark glass bottles filled with wonderful herbal infusions. I am following in their footsteps. I work with different types of oils, natural butters or fragrant oils that are used in my artisan soaps, lotions, lip balms and creams. 

What is the story behind your shop name?  

My middle name is Ginger and I love flowers and gardens. So it was easy for me to pick a name. Ginger's Garden is now a registered trademark.

Who is your target market?

My target market is everyone that needs a bar of quality handmade artisan soap. I educate the general public about the wonderful ingredients that go into each soap batch and how much better they are for their skin unlike commercial synthetic cleansing bars. 


Which part of creation process that you enjoy the most?

I enjoy working with colors, fragrances and essential oils. I like to make my own blends, which in turn get put into my soaps, lotions, perfumes and body balms.


For us who love to travel, could you share a bit about your beautiful town/ city? 

I live in the desert of Palm Springs, California. Most days have sunny, warm weather. In the summer it gets hot with triple digit heat. I don't mind the heat too much. I would rather have warmth then the cold or snow in other parts of the country.

Could you share on how your organize your products, we all can use a little tips here and there in this department?

I have about 600 bars of in my inventory at any given time. To me, organization is a must. I use baker's racks to store totes full of soap. Each tote has a label with the name and the date made. That way I make sure that all my handmade soaps are well cured and not sold early. All my ingredients are also labeled. I keep a master list so I can tell at a glance if I need to make more soap or buy an oil or butter. I have a fridge dedicated to storing some of the more fragile oils, butters, hydrosols and aloe vera.


What is your best seller?

The top five best sellers for right now are:
1. Goat's Milk Natural Unscented Soap
2. Shaving Cream
3. Lavender Essential Oil Soap
4. Lotion made with Mango Butter
5. Anise Licorice Natural Lip Balm


How does your day go in general?

I prefer to work in the late hours. My day starts around 9 AM. I try to have everything ready the night before, so my soapmaking oils and butters are ready to be melted. I check my email for orders and fill them. Then I make soap. I might make another gallon of lotion, a bunch of lotion bars, lip balms or anything else that needs to be made. Sometimes I get too busy to eat, so my lunch might be around 2 PM. After all that is done, I check online with other soapmakers, where we exchange any news, tips or sales. My day ends around midnight.

How do you balance your personal and work life?

My children are grown. Since I work out of my home, I get to choose my own hours. Those hours are sometimes long as I also work on weekends. Since I do this full time, if I don't work, I don't get to pay myself. I do take some time off on occasion. I also babysit my grandson as needed. Most days I am at home working on my business.

What inspires you?

I get my inspiration from many places. I look at a painting and wonder how those colors would work in soap. I look at nature and try to replicate the scents that I smell and the colors that I see.

What is your goal for 2014?  

My goal for 2014 is to get more wholesale accounts and to work smarter, not harder. It takes the same amount of time to make a 10 lb. batch as it takes to make a 20 lb. batch.

Any advice for others running their on-line shop?

Running an online shop isn't easy. You need to entice customers with well written descriptions and good photos. When I started to sell on the internet around 1991, small businesses were easier to find. Now you need good SEO and links, so your business can be found. I am happy to know that my business page was on page 2 of Google at the end of December 2013. I am doing something right.

Saving money is important; tell us one thing that you do to save money?

I use recycled boxes, peanuts and paper for most of my customer's orders. It saves me money and it's good for the environment.

Ginger's Garden can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Google+, and Flickr.


  1. One thing I learned from Irena is that she likes to come up with her own blends! Im very envious, I would love to work with eseential oils to create my own fabulous scents!

  2. The organization is amazing! Wish my work space was so organized.

  3. Great blog on a very interesting and dedicated artisan. Irene was one of my earliest connections with Artfire. I have admired her work for a few years now. Congratulations on such an informative blog.

  4. Have always admired Irena and her gorgeous soaps. Love getting to know her and her soap business a little better. Thank you, Nat, for sharing!

  5. I enjoyed the sneak peek into Irena's soap room! Wow, that's a lot of soap! I'm a soap maker, too, although on a much smaller scale. Irena is a helpful artisan and I appreciate her willingness to give advice and tips to those who are less experienced than she. Thanks for sharing this interview!

  6. Wow! Love seeing crafts handed down from generation to generation. Love seeing all the handmade artisans here!

  7. Enjoyed reading about Irena and "Ginger's Garden". I have always liked the name of her business. It sounds as beautiful as the fragrances of her products. - The Singing Beader

  8. I learned that Irena's grandmother and mother made products too.

  9. she's been doing this for 25 years and is from Czech

  10. I enjoyed reading more about this Czech artisan.

  11. Nice snapshot of Ginger's garden. Love how organized she is!

  12. I learned that she keeps about 600 bars of soap in her inventory at a time - that sounds like a lot, but I guess it's necessary when you offer so many varieties.

  13. I love that it is a craft handed down the family.

  14. I love that soapmakers arent so competitive that they dont offer each other a helping hand!

  15. How neat that her mother and grandmother also made beauty items. I love that she organizes her soaps and labels each container with the date the soap was made.

  16. Wow, these pictures are wonderful. What a great set up! I wish I were half as organized!! It's inspiring to see how other artists work. As a photographer and writer, I am so often alone as I work. I love getting to know more people in posts like this, and seeing how other people create. Thanks for the peak inside Irena's studio.

  17. I learned that she has about 600 bars of soap in her inventory.

  18. I learned that she likes to come up with her own blends of soaps! So creative!

  19. I learned she was born in Prague, Czech Republic

  20. I love that she does the blends herself!

  21. I love that she chose her middle name as her store name.

  22. Those soaps look good enough to eat! Thanks for sharing Ginger's Garden with us!

  23. How interesting. It is really nice to get to know Irena from Ginger's Garden. I have seen her posts in the forums but had know Idea she was following her family tradition of handmade Bath and Beauty products. I also am happy to hear that she is from Palm Springs, one of my favorite places in california. Thanks for sharing Irena's story with us.