Our Tofino Neighbours: Sea Wench Naturals
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What exactly is in a bar of soap? There are the oils, herbs, and botanicals that give it its scent and feel, and the properties that make it nourishing. There is the land, soil, and climate from which those ingredients come, and in the case of Sea Wench Naturals, there is the story of the soapmakers and the turns that brought them into the craft of soapmaking.
Each jade bar of soap in every one of the Wickaninnish Inn’s guest rooms is hand-made and hand-stamped by Sharon Whalen and Chris Taylor, the makers of Sea Wench Naturals. The soap, along with their wide selection of skin care products, is made in the storied heart of Clayoquot Sound just a few nautical miles from Tofino.
“Sharon was always exceedingly good at making soap,” says Chris, “from her youngest days helping her grandmother hand-make hard soaps for cleaning to honing the skills over 30 years for making the luxurious moisturizing bars for which Sea Wench is renowned.” For her part, Sharon always loved that soap was something you could make and then give away to others as a gift. She still deeply enjoys the process of harvesting ingredients and hand-infusing them in the highest quality oils using the methods she learned when she was young. Bringing together the healing and renewing properties of the botanicals themselves is the magic that Sharon loves the most. “That’s my heart and soul right there - the foraging and the wildcrafting,” she says as she gestures toward a fragrant piece of devil’s club root whose bark smells like the rainforest. Sharon and Chris have restored old gardens and created new ones in Clayoquot Sound and many of the components for their products are grown there.
It’s no wonder that when Sharon and Chris first met Charles McDiarmid one late-May afternoon, he was immediately taken by their approach and products. Chris introduced Charles to their soap and their soapmaking philosophy, and Charles immediately loved the local, organic, and natural ethos that came together in Sea Wench’s offerings, and the way they reflected the precious biosphere of the area. Working to make something truly special for the Inn, Sharon formulated a custom blend of rare and beautiful essential oils: “I chose them for their therapeutic benefits and balancing and strengthening properties, to help those who come here connect with this environment, and to reinvigorate them during their stay.”
In celebration of those late-spring days when they first met, please take a walk with us among their lush gardens and soap-making spaces. Breathe in the red coastal cedar, clary sage, ylang-ylang, mandarin, and lavender and let the aroma elevate and transport you to our beautiful beaches and through our magnificent coastal rainforest. Take in the calendula, comfrey, nettle, and chamomile, as well as the seaweed essence infusing together into another batch of little jade bars. This is what is in our bars of soap.