Beautiful soaps make for nice bathroom displays, but to find ones crafted from local ingredients and without harmful chemicals is the true rub.
Pickens County native Javela Singleton has a passion for making bodies sing through her business, Gifted Hands Artisan Soap, which produces exquisitely designed bars, creams, and balms.
“Soap-making came to me during a time in my life when everything seemed dim, lifeless, and a bit hopeless,” Javela explains.
Soon after marrying her husband, Steven, Javela was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a leading cause of infertility. Desiring to have children, and raised in a strong faith community, Javela prayed for healing, but also sought ways she could help alleviate the problem. Through extensive research, she discovered that certain chemicals in personal care and cleaning products can disrupt hormones in our bodies, which can affect fertility.
Javela started small, crafting her own soaps to keep costs down. She logged hundreds of hours scrolling blogs and learning from soap-making pioneers on YouTube. Soon, Gifted Hands Artisan Soap was in the works. Through the Business Entrepreneur Academy at area organization Village Launch (then Nasha Lending), the clean-soap queen fine-tuned her business model and, through her classmates, gained a supportive tribe of strong, empowered women.
Photography by Paul Mehaffey.
When Javela describes the soap-making process, it sounds like a complicated chemistry experiment, which, essentially, it is. To meet increasing demand for her soaps, Javela cuts production time by using her “handy sidekick” immersion blender to bring batter to emulsification “lightning fast,” as well as the heat transfer method, an approach that utilizes heat from chemical reactions to melt solid oils and butter. Her ingredients come from across the state—like grits from Geechie Boy Mill on Edisto Island, goat milk from Split Creek Farm in Anderson, and lard from Gypsy Wind Farms in Blair, which sustainably and humanely raises mangalitsa pigs.
From her grits and honey exfoliation bars to her sandalwood and rose soaps with their signature swirls, Javela finds healing in the art of making. She and Steven, self-described homebodies at heart, are still waiting for children, but as Javela says, hope is her inspiration.
“Gifted Hands Artisan Soap is my story of beauty for ashes, and my heart is for the woman who is still holding on to her ashes, whatever it may be. My ashes were infertility, and God is helping me shed my ashes so that I may see the beauty of the journey he is bringing me through.”
Gifted Hands Artisan Soap can be purchased at Swamp Rabbit Café, Garner’s Natural Life (both locations), The Farmacy in Easley, or online at giftedhandsbathandbody.com.