Interview by TJ Forman
Photography Alessandro Casagrande
In our pursuit to offer products to compliment our lifestyle, we have collaborated with Ourika Soap to produce a 100% organic, handmade soap with the finest ingredients from Morocco called Gran Sasso. We visited founder Sophie Wizmann at her Los Angeles based soap Atelier to discuss and document the process.
Sophie Wizmann is someone is someone you don’t easily forget. She is warm, welcoming and routinely effervescent. “Come in…relax” she says on arrival at her bohemian compound in the hills around Los Angeles, “let’s have some Rosé!” Beyond her good taste and etiquette, she is also a serious businesswoman who is passionate about her products. In this new venture, she traded her fashion executive hat to launch an organic soap company influenced by her Moroccan roots. Born in Morocco, raised in France and Canada, Sophie’s multi cultural experiences were obviously instrumental to who she is. After learning all about organic soap making, Sophie met with the Berbers of the Atlas Mountains. The experience taught her intricate details about local ingredients like: timijja mint, cedar wood and rhassoul clay, and how to use them. The result is a line of soap that is unprecedented in both fragrance and utility. A mix of organic olive oil, argan oil, coconut oil and shea butter ensures that skin is moisturized naturally without any harmful chemicals. The soaps smell absolutely wonderful and are vibrant in their complexity. Sophie expertly blends the likes of bergamot with bavender, rose with neroli, and eucalyptus with chamomile for marvelous results. A post-shower routine that normally requires a slathering of lotion to normalize skin moisture is not required when using this soap as your skin feels clean, exfoliated and soft. Yes, this soap really is that good.
TJ Forman (TF) – What was it like spending time with the Berbers in the Atlas Mountains and how has it influenced your soap?
Sophie Wizmann (SW) – Spending time in the Atlas Mountains with the Berber women was a long time dream and a natural progression for me since I am moroccan born and raised. These women have been the root to all the bathing rituals I have practiced naturally for decades. During my stay there, I realized that when cold process soap was done in a traditional and natural way, the body, the soul and the planet could only benefit from this natural mixture. These women have practically no access to chemicals, so everything they use in their everyday life is based on what they can produce locally or get from other villages not too far from them. The oils, the herbs , the plants, the flowers, the grains, the clays all had such incredible texture and aromas, all the ingredients just looked so naturally healthy for your skin and your body. They taught me that the more natural your products are, the better the result. They also educated me on the various plants beneficial properties and how natural loofah was also an essential important component to beautiful skin and how it promoted blood circulation. I left these incredible women full of knowledge, dreams and determined to share their secrets to healthy beautiful skin with the world through my secret moroccan mixtures. Ourika Soap was born.
TJ – In soap making, what is the most enjoyable part of the process?
SW – The most enjoyable part of making soaps for me is creating the mixtures of essential oils. It is very important to know how to mix scents together. It is actually pretty specific if you want to achieve a scent that leaves your senses in constant harmony. In a perfume mix there are 3 different levels of scent, the first scent you distinguish instantly because it’s properties are fast acting, then there’s the second level which give body to the blend. These essential oils usually take a couple of minutes to be distinguished and are soft fragrances. The final touch is the base note, the scent that is normally rich and relaxing in nature. Once I have mastered my selection adding spices, clays,natural colors and loofah just creates the perfect “storm”, I mean the perfect soap!
TJ – Why is using only organic ingredients so important in your products?
SW – As I mentioned earlier, natural products are the key to natural soaps. Our bodies deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. I have been an advocate for organic food for over 3 decades so it is the natural progression to only nourish my skin with Organic Products. It’s good for the body and good for the environment.
TJ – You also sell organic olive oil in your farmers market booths, how did that come about?
SW – Selling olive oil during our Farmers Market launch was to truly educate our clients on the purity of our oils and spices, if you can eat it you can certainly wash yourself with it. It was a Marketing strategy.
TJ – Are there any other products you’d like to develop in the future under the Ourika name?
SW – I want to develop so many products, the possibilities are endless. For now my focus is to increase my soap selection, make shampoo bars, bath bombs, bath salts, washing liquids and candles. The Ourika Soap bathing and living experience.