We are so obsessed with Aedel handmade milk soap - and we know you are too! In fact, Aedel soaps were impossible to keep in stock over the Christmas period. Harriet Turnnidge, founder and maker of Aedel, was sending me a new batch every week!
After a well-deserved rest, we sat down with Harriet to chat about her soaps. What is it that makes them so irresistible? Is it their scents? (Yes.) Is it their branding? (Of course.) Or is it that they're made by hand with 100% organic products, namely, the milk from Harriet's flock of East Friesian and Awassi dairy sheep? (Without a doubt). You'll adore this interview. Harriet is as beautiful as the soaps she makes, you'll fall in love with her too.
Tell us a little about your gorgeous business. Where did Aedel come from?
Aedel really evolved from a love of pure ingredients and curiosity to explore the processes of traditional craftsmanship. Based from a small studio in the Southern Highlands of NSW, Aedel soaps are all made by hand in small batches using natural botanical oils, enriched with milk from my flock of dairy sheep.
My path thus far has been rather organic. A culmination of mixed passions and opportunities. I grew up in the country and spent a lot of time outside. Animals have always been a part of my life and from an early age I can remember keenly observing the natural environment around me. Growing up, this led to an interest in organic principles and using natural products within my own home. Aedel is really an extension of this, manifested by a desire to share what I was already doing and led forward by those who've fallen in love with Aedel soap.
So how do you like to spend your downtime? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
I'm most definitely an introvert. Quiet, creative, tactile pursuits have been a common thread throughout my life. If I truly want to lose a few hours, I'll pick up my camera and head down the paddock to my ewes. Every day will be different. Every moment offering a slight change, a different observation, shifting seasonally. The behaviour of birds before a storm, how heavy the air is, the smell of the early morning. It makes you feel really present.
You're clearly so at home in the outdoors, but what's the favourite part of your house?
As I get older it seems the importance of creating a restful environment is becoming more dominant. I like to create places in the home that offer a place for the eyes to rest. It might be a wall with a favourite painting or a shelf... the space in between the objects is important too.
I have a lovely collection of bowls on display in the kitchen, varying from a large Shino glazed beauty thrown and fired at Hillside Pottery five minutes down the road by my friend Peter Schmid, to an elegant wooden bowl turned more than fifty years ago by my Grandmother's first husband at Sturt gallery. All of them get filled regularly with salads, fruit, rogue onions... that sort of thing.
I love surrounding myself with objects that have a story and meaning, it makes them more beautiful.
What are 3 things you do to leave the earth in a better state than when you arrived?
I choose natural skin care products for myself and my home. I have a large antique bread-proving basket in the bathroom that's filled with unwrapped rustic chunks of Aedel soap, the raw seconds. I never run out and it fills the room with the scent of essential oils. I buy minimally and with well-considered purpose, quality over
quantity - absolute.
I choose to eat organic food as often as I can, biodynamic if possible. And as a little aside, my partner Oliver is in the process of converting an old 1980 Mercedes to run on recycled vegetable oil. It's an exciting project that will take some time.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Start on your dreams. Start small, start now.
I was listening to a brilliant podcast called ‘Akimbo’ by Seth Godin recently, the episode was titled ‘It's your turn’. In it, he explores the idea that we create the narrative of our lives. He says, “We invent our expectations, our rules, our standards. We invent what we hope will happen, what needs to happen, what must happen. Most of all we invent the constraints that prevent us from seeking freedom. We invent them. If these inventions aren't working, if they're making us sick or unhappy or ineffective, the question on the table is, why not invent something else?”
In Germany they have a saying ‘Den inneren schweinehund überwinden’, meaning, ‘To overcome the inner pigdog’. We all have an inner pigdog.
What is your superpower?
Observation, so my partner tells me. I've always had a rather intuitive approach, at least to my creative decisions. And I'm rather good at catching insects too.
Images of Harriet by Danny Wootton.