GEORGE TOWN, Feb 21 — A strawberry cake. A Yule log cake. Lollipops. Cupcakes and slices of colourful cakes on a wooden counter, filling the whole space with the delicious fragrance of berries, vanilla and something unmistakably sweet.
Unfortunately, these sweet-smelling “desserts” are not edible because they are actually handmade soaps crafted by Penang couple Daniel Khoo and Candy Chan.
Khoo and Chan started dabbling in soap-making as a past-time several years ago when they used to give the soaps out to friends and relatives as gifts. Due to the popularity of their soaps, they decided to make more and sell.
They set up a small shop in Tanjung Bungah here, filling only a few small shelves with handmade soaps as a start and before long, The Soap Cellar, has become an exclusive handmade soap and skincare product supplier to hotels, companies and customers from all over the world through their website and shop.
Today, the couple has two soap-making companies; one is The Soap Cellar which is their retail shop and another, Global Organics Personal Care, which is the supplier for hotels and corporations.
“We also custom-make skincare products such as soaps, creams and lotions as door gifts for corporate events, weddings and parties,” Chan said.
The Soap Cellar today not only sells specialty soaps but also a full range of skincare from facial wash to lotions, creams, clay masks and bath salts, all personally mixed and made by both Chan and Khoo.
Khoo, who grew up in England, imported most of the certified natural ingredients for all his products from England. Though they have the usual scented glycerin soaps, The Soap Cellar is particularly known for their shea butter-based soaps and products.
The shea butter soaps are available in a dizzying array of natural scents from decadent mulled wine to delicious rich chocolate mint to the refreshing bright scent of olives or eucalyptus.
Shea butter is a rich moisturising ingredient used in body lotions to moisturise and soften the skin so soaps made using it as one of the main ingredients means luxuriously smooth soaps that are moisturising, aromatic and gentle on the skin. The shop has over 50 different types of these shea butter handmade soaps.
“One of our specialty soaps that is hard to find in Malaysia is the organic African black soap made with organic Shea butter with organic virgin coconut oil,” Khoo said. The soap may look like a mottled brown lump but due to its ingredients, it is very rich and moisturising which Khoo claims is beneficial for those with sensitive skin issues such as eczema.
As for their skincare range, they are particularly known for their varied choices of facial clays, particularly their French Green Clay and the Ghassoul Clay, both also hard to find in Malaysia.
Now, the shop also caters to fellow hobbyists who want to make their own soaps, creams and lotions by providing the basic ingredients needed.
“We will also teach them how to mix the ingredients to make their own lotions and creams according to their needs,” they said.
They also sell glycerin and goats’ milk soap bases so those who want to make their own soaps can also purchase the bases along with the fragrances from them. In fact, the shop even has a small corner for a teenage soap maker to sell her handmade soaps.
Even though most of the ingredients used in their products are imported from England, one of the main draws of The Soap Cellar is their competitive pricing.
“We don’t believe in charging sky high prices for quality skincare products,” Khoo said.
The range of products that the shop carries includes essential oils, hair care, baby care and even pet shampoo.