Hi Helen, please tell everyone a bit about yourself and introduce your brand & products.
Hi, I’m Helen: mum of two kids, maker of lots of soap. I run a small company called ‘dook’ from my shed in Edinburgh.
Can you tell us the meaning behind the name Dook?
Dook is Scots for ‘ to dip, bathe or plunge.’ I’m lucky enough to live and work by the sea in Portobello – Edinburgh’s beach. So, the name references the place the soaps are made and also the salt in the soap which creates our very special lather.
How would you describe your style and where do you take inspiration from?
I would say that my style is pretty minimalist, with a natural muted colour palette – the colours in my soaps are all plant or earth based either from the essential oils or the cleansing clays.
The north sea on our doorstep is a definite inspiration – I enjoy a dook at any time of the year. There was something about the soft feeling of seawater on my skin that made me investigate adding salt into my soaps in the first place.
Can you tell us a bit about your process and how you come up with the gorgeous scents and combinations?
Soap is made using a combination of oils mixed with an extremely alkaline solution called ‘Lye.’ The oils you choose contribute creamy, bubbly or nourishing qualities to your soap. I also add Himalayan salt to my soap bars. This creates a hard, long-lasting bar with a thick creamy lather that cleanses and nourishes the skin. The scent combinations are simply scents that I enjoy myself – nothing too flowery or overpowering but clean, herbal and citrus scents with a few woody notes here and there.
Please tell us about the ingredients that you use and the benefits they bring.
The main ingredients in my soaps are two gorgeous organic oils: coconut oil and raw shea butter. The coconut oil is a brilliant cleanser and pairs beautifully with raw shea butter. The shea is full of skin loving vitamins such as A, E and K. A small percentage of the butter remains in its raw form in the soap and so creates a nourishing layer on your skin. This way dook soaps never dry your skin out like other bar soaps can.
What is your favourite part of the process?
The multi-step process of making a batch of soaps is very sensory and really enjoyable. You can put music or a podcast on, but it’s impossible to check your phone and unsafe to be disturbed. I love the process of converting the oils into a hot batter then pouring them individually into moulds. The conversion of a smooth hot liquid into a solid soap, cool to the touch, takes about 8 hours. It always seems totally alchemical and magical to me.
Can you tell us a bit about the area you live/work in?
I live in Portobello, Edinburgh. We’re lucky enough to live right by the sea and enjoy the constant shift of light as it plays on the sea and sky.
The huge public space of the beach is a wonderful resource, lit by bonfires at Hogmanay and the summer solstice and increasingly busy with wild-swimmers taking a dip in the (sometimes) blue water.
The community in Portobello is second to none, there are several events throughout the year often based on or around the beach and the prom. During the COVID lockdown in 2020 it’s been a great place to find some space and stretch your legs on an evening stroll – keeping your eyes peeled for seals popping their heads up, or even the occasional dolphin!
What would you recommend doing/seeing in your area to someone visiting?
Go for it and take a dook in the sea! The beach is gently shelving sand and it’s a really safe place to try a bit of wild swimming. There’s nothing that compares to immersing yourself in such a vast amount of water. It’s awe inspiring. And although blue still days with a clear sea are amazing, I recommend going in when it’s wavy – the waves distract from the cold and it’s brilliant fun to bob up and down in the waves. Even in the rain, it’s a wonderful experience. I’ve never regretted a swim!
Are you working on any new products at the moment?
I’ve got a few thoughts in the pipeline for Christmas, all plastic free skincare ideas. I’m also planning on launching a new scented soap – I’d love to hear what people would like…
Can you pick out 4 or 5 things in your working space that you can’t live without?
I couldn’t live without the windows in my workshop – they look out over our small backyard with our pear tree. Other less romantic things that I love in my workshop include – my dishwasher, the drying racks, my label printer and my whiteboard!
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOUR WORK?
I sell my soap online on my website
I’ve also got a number of wonderful stockists in Scotland across the UK and increasingly in Europe. Here are a few of my favourites: Hoos Glasgow , Wash House Store and Logan Malloch
There are many more – see dook’s website for details.