Super Soapers: Tell us a little about yourself.Dorenda Coger: I was born and raised in the beautiful New England state of Connecticut by my loving parents. I have an older brother and I am the youngest. I have been a resident of Chesterfield, VA a suburb of Richmond, Virginia for about the last three decades. I’ve been blessed to have the most wonderful, fabulous family on the planet and I love them so much. I’m married to Clifton, and he is the sweetest, most supportive husband and a super father. He is a CPA and owns a CPA firm here in Richmond. We have 3 amazing, beautiful, smart children, one son and two daughters; Keith – 25, Dorian – 23, Naomi – 6. Keith and Dorian are in graduate school and Naomi, the life of the party, is in the 1st grade.
SS: How did you get started in soapmaking?DC: Well, I guess I need to start with my Mother. She was a master tailor and a gourmet cook with the gift of extreme creativity and craftiness. I’ve definitely inherited her genes, so I think this path was inevitable. Although my mother never made soap, soap making was natural progression for me. My first handcrafted items were hair care products that I started formulating about 8 years ago. Six years ago, our youngest daughter, Naomi, was born with eczema. It was then that I started making everything that goes on her body and in her hair. I even made her diaper cream. Skin irritants, chemicals and unnecessary ingredients in soap, and bath & body items lead me to create a more natural, minimally processed option. Soap making had to occur because I was terribly unpleased with the choices for soap and skin care. Too many detergents. Too many irritants. Too many chemicals. I needed to find a better option. When I couldn’t find a better option, I created it.
DC: I am a Cold Process soap maker. The first soap I ever made was a Goat Milk Melt & Pour. I was so excited to be making soap! I bought my first and last 2 lb block from a popular online supplier and went at it. I liked it, but wanted more of a challenge and more control over the ingredients. I wanted to add my own oils, butters, botanicals, milks, additives, etc. I wanted to create my own recipe based on the properties of the ingredients. Hot Process was next. It satisfied me for a few months and I didn’t mind the cooking process, but the look I was trying to achieve wasn’t there. I still wasn’t totally satisfied. I thoroughly enjoyed the close to immediate gratification of having your soaps saponified after the cook, but wanted to achieve the sleek, smooth and often artistic look of cold process soap. The only reason I didn’t first start soap making with the cold process method was because of the cure time. I was impatient and wanted my soap ready as soon as possible. After I made my first batch using the cold process method, I was hooked...totally hooked. That was many years ago and I am thankful that I have tried various methods of soap making because I can appreciate the pros and cons of each.
SS: What inspires you most?DC: I am inspired by everything around me. I don’t limit myself because we live in a world where we are surrounded by beauty on all sides. Inspiration can be found in my 6 year old daughter’s coloring. Last year she made the most beautiful picture with amazing color combinations. I saved that combination for one of my designs. Inspiration can be found in the most amazing places and often when you’re not looking for it.
SS: Do you consider yourself an artist?DC: I do consider myself an artist and I am glad to see others recognize soap making as an art form, as well. I can only speak for myself, but a tremendous amount of thought, vision, time, creativity and preparation is involved in making artisan soap. It is a creation made by hand. Soap makers use the medium of soap to create masterpieces like none other. I have been part of quite a few Art Shows and that is because my finished hand-crafted product is viewed as art by the curator. Unique, one-of-a-kind, creative, elegant, beautiful, hand-crafted pieces of soap art. We are definitely artists in every sense of the word.
SS: How has soap making changed your life?DC: Gosh. How hasn’t it! As any soaper will tell you, it definitely has a way of taking over your mind and thought process, if you let it. Even when we try to suppress it, it still pops up right in front! Most times, everything is thought of as a soap/bath & body opportunity. This is my third entrepreneurial venture and I still get excited about all of it and the wonderful opportunities that Naokeidoe Creations has been afforded. I still operate the other two businesses, in addition to creating at Naokeidoe Creations. I am crafting products by my own hand and my own formulations and that can be very time consuming, but rewarding. The use of hand crafted soap and bath & body items is definitely on the rise. Consumers are more educated about and aware of what goes on their bodies and into their system. For that, I am thankful because it makes my job that much easier. I have been going semi-full time at this for about the last 2 years. We have online, wholesale, retail and private label customers. Our lives have changed and it’s such a wonderful ride. The entire family is involved in one way or another. Ours is a family business and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
SS: How would you describe your creative process?DC: My creative process certainly begins in my mind when I first see an ingredient I want to incorporate into a creation or smell an essential or fragrance oil that I just can’t wait to use. I begin formulation in my mind long before it’s ever put into action. I know how I want the end result to function and how I want it to look. I always begin at my desired end result and add components that bring me to the beginning where I can start the creative process. When creating new products it is always completed by trial and error...research and development...formulating and testing. I still have R & D soaps from years ago that are still hanging around. The feeling that you get when you know you’ve finally created “My Soap Recipe”? Priceless!
SS: What do you benefit the most from other artists in your craft?DC: I am truly inspired by all of the wonderful soap makers and formulators I encounter on a daily basis in forums, groups and online, in general. The artistry and level of mastery is totally amazing. It’s very nice to be able share your passion with others that feel the same way you do. Not everyone knows what I’m talking about when I say I want to just bask in soapy, lather goodness and feel the silkiness of the suds on my skin and feel the properties of each ingredient as they’re combined to create this wonder we call soap.
I know that soaping is addictive and once you start making soap it’s very difficult to stop. You want to learn more and be amongst those with the same mindset and soapy thoughts. The opportunity to grow and learn is unlimited. We are only limited by our own minds and thoughts. I just really love to read and learn and put what I learn into action. No matter how much you think you know, you can never know it all.
SS: Now for a little bit of fun.Most soap artists seem to be all about their FO's & EO's, which of course are an important part of soapmaking, & everyone knows that scent is the major trigger sensory known for people. If you could explain which, FO or EO, has triggered the biggest memory from childhood, or the most important time in your life, which would it be & why? (this is optional of course).
DC: I can answer this question when they create a FO that smells like my mother’s Thanksgiving Dinner. J
You can find more information about Dorenda Coger & her
soaps at www.naokeidoecreations.com
This interview was conducted & edited by Misty Raines Clapp, Super Soapers Creator & Admin. You can contact Misty @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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