Saturday, December 29, 2012

Thank you and good night!

As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end". Even though I don't believe that is always the true some good things do after all warrant a long and healthy life this is no longer the case for Lather Unusual.

It's been an amazing experience starting and running this small and creative company. I learned more than I can ever put into one blog post. One of the more grand highlights was getting to meet so many new and wonderful people when the shop was open in Ravenna. Some of those customers are now wonderful friends. Friends that have invited me to their weddings, holiday celebrations and into their lives all via a bar of soap or a jar of scrub. What an amazing and unexpected benefit to the creation of Lather Unusual.

Although the business could continue on I have found that my creative passions have taken me down a different path. A path that has little room for the manufacturing, packaging and marketing of truly unique bath & beauty products. 2013 will be a phenomenal year for my revamped consulting company, Blue Nile Consulting, as well as for my professional voice over career. I am positively buzzing with energy and excitement around these two ventures!

I will make a point of continuing the "Local Love" blog posts on BNC's wordpress blog because I truly love being able to bring more attention to local businesses. They are the life's blood of American business culture and are run by very hardworking, dedicated and remarkable people. 

So thank you again to all of our wonderful customers, both in Seattle and elsewhere, that have helped to make Lather Unusual what it is; a unique company that has been copied in name but will never be outmatch in spirit or quality. 

It's been a grand adventure and I wish you all joy and prosperity as I close this chapter and pen new ones heading into 2013.

Still wishing you deliciously unusual bath experiences,

Logan Niles
Soap Siren at Lather Unusual

Last chance to shop for LU products is this weekend. Use Coupon Code 2013 and take 30% off your total order :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

From Kerala, with Love

When I first created the Kerala Massaging Soap Bar it was an ode to my friend Vishal and his many gifts from Kerala he would always share with us..namely his spices; many of which you can find in this lovely soap. This wonderful piece from BBC's travel section only goes to show I'm not the only one in love with this lovely and bountiful region of India.

Top 10 activities in Kerala, India’s deep south By Anirban Das Mahapatra

No trip to Kerala is complete without a boat ride on its idyllic backwaters. (Keren Su/LPI)
Kerala has been a favourite haunt of travellers for nearly 600 years; exhilarating, enchanting and enthralling with its top-notch beauty and culture. Here are our favourite 10 activities that get under the skin of this incredible state.
Know your spices
You will find a huge range of spices in this state, such as pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, mace, fennel, turmeric, cumin, coriander, aniseed, tamarind, allspice, saffron, poppy and mustard. Ambush your senses at the spice markets of Mattancherry in Kochi, and pack an extra bag for the inevitable shopping.

Cruise the backwaters
No trip to Kerala is complete without a languid boat ride on its idyllic backwaters. Lined by emerald coconut plantations and interspersed with turquoise lakes, these placid lagoons are the perfect place to shake off pent-up urban stress. For an extra-special experience, spend the night on board a houseboat, and witness a dreamy sunrise break over the serene bayous at dawn. Houseboats can be chartered through the District Tourism Promotion Councils in Kollam or Alleppey, or a multitude of private operators.

Live it up in Munnar
Green is the colour that swathes the lush mountain slopes of Munnar, Kerala’s answer to the fabled hill stations of north India. The crisp air and clement weather in this scenic hill town are perfectly engineered to give you the most restful experience possible. Order a steaming cup of tea from a nearby plantation to go with the breathtaking views.

Photograph Kochi’s fishing nets
Top among Kerala’s iconic photo opportunities are the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets – dating back to the 1400s – that line the harbour at Kochi. Crafted out of teakwood beams and resembling giant alien arachnids poised to sting, they form unreal silhouettes against the seascape and provide some dramatic camera fodder, especially at dusk.

Get beached in Varkala
You will wish you were an Alex Garland character the moment you set foot in picturesque Varkala. Perched on a precipitous cliff and overlooking the sapphire waters of the Arabian Sea, this beachy paradise boasts some dazzling and pristine sands to relax on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hotel Soap Bars Save Lives

Ever wonder what happens to all of those partially used mini soaps you leave behind at hotels when you travel? You probably don't. But if I told you they could be reborn into soaps that would save the lives of millions of children that would probably get you thinking.

CNN ran a great article yesterday featuring a wonderful non-profit called The Global Soap Project which has been able to re-purpose previously used hotel soaps into much needed bars of soap for families in impoverished areas like Haiti, Kenya, Swaziland and Uganda. Most of us are fortunate enough to have access to clean running water as well as the luxury of choosing our soaps based on their beauty or botanical benefits yet millions around the world cannot afford to buy basic soap for daily use or have access to water clean enough to bathe in. For them the soap they receive from The Global Soap Project is a life-saving gift.

Has GSP inspired you? If so you can visit this page on their site to find out how you can help. I'll be sure to do the same.

If you're a business owner reading this and you want to do a joint fundraiser for GSP let me know on LU's Facebook page and we can create something national together. There is strength in numbers ;)

Soap Siren

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Today's Local Love: Jebena Cafe

Last week the fam and I were jonesing for Ethiopian food, which we haven't had since we lived in Toronto near Little Ethiopia up on the Danforth. Thankfully a relatively new spot in Northgate opened a few months ago called Jebena Cafe. 

Jebena Cafe is run by Martha Seyoum and her husband and though the restaurant is small the food is both hearty and fresh. Steve's vegetarian platter was full of two savory lentil sides, buttery cabbage, salad, spinach and a spicy pureed jalapeno condiment. I had a similar platter but with beef and when I asked for no lentils I was given an extra portion of spinach instead. Lukas also enjoyed everything, especially the spongy and delicious injera, which there was a lot of. If you have a hard time with wheat and bread in general then you'll most likely do well with injera which is made from teff, a tiny grain grown in Ethiopia and the main staple of the country's cuisine. The one thing I'd like to see on the menu is a chicken option vs just beef or lamb, sometimes a lighter option is nice to have.

The portions are generous and I ended up needing to take half of my platter home though we all left stuffed and barely had anything for dinner that night. Unfortunately we were so hungry when our food arrived neither of us thought to take pictures. You can find some great ones on Jebena's Yelp page. As one reviewer pointed out the TV in the restaurant was on at lunch time and as she pointed out watching Al Jazeera TV is indeed eye opening and we were able to watch broadcasts that clearly never make it to US television.

On top of the great food you also get great service. Martha is a wonderful hostess and proprietress who enjoys the company of her customers. It's obvious that she loves what she does and though not a trained chef, her food is prepared with care, passion and joy. When you eat at Jebena it feels more like going over to a good friend's house to have a home cooked meal in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere and that's almost impossible to find these days.

If you're looking to try something new and would love to support a small, family run, local business then make sure you stop into Jebena soon for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Jebena Cafe

1510 NE 117th St
(between N 15th Ave & N Pinehurst Way)
Seattle, WA 98125
Neighborhood: Northgate
(206) 365-0757

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Today's Local Love: Bacon Forever!

Being a fan of Mangalitsa, aka "Wooly Pigs" has made me a lover of all things pig even more so than ever before. So when I had the pleasure of setting up my tent at the Fremont Market a month ago right next to Bacon Forever I was beyond happy.. more hungry actually lol

If you didn't think you could get bacon as a to-go snack to have on hand whenever you wanted to..well, then you clearly hadn't heard of these guys. "Bacon Now. Bacon Forever." is Tina & Chris', Owners of Bacon Forever & Certified Baconarians*, slogan and with good reason. What better way to describe locally-sourced, fully cooked, seasoned and dehydrated bacon strips preserved like jerky and shelf-stable. 

They've got three savory flavors and dog treats. But if you want bacon in every part of your meal? Then hang onto your sweet tooth 'cause things get sweeter with their Muddy Pig (yup, chocolate-dipped bacon slices) plus bacon baked goods! Btw, my kid was thrilled to be the only kid at camp with chocolate-dipped bacon in his lunch box. 

And when you're done with your bacon feats you can wash all of the salty, chocolaty, spicy evidence away with our Bacon n' Egg Mangalitsa Soap. Not edible but won't add to your waistline.

Bacon Forever's Chris & Tina
Are you a follower of Baconarianism? If so this awesome %15 off coupon code (baconfan) for use on their website when you check out is going to rock your Baconarian Universe. A special gift from Chris and Tina to Lather Unusual fans, family and friends. Thanks guys! 

*Baconarianism?: (noun) The principle and practice of consuming bacon in all forms.

Happy Munching!

Soap Siren

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What the Frack have I done?!? Is there such a thing as business "addiction"?

For as far back as I can remember I've wanted to create things; songs, products, businesses, inventions, delicious dishes, art, poetry, you name it. My poor mother has heard most of the ideas from wanting to be Annie, to a rock star like Rick Springfield to starting a birthday cake business at school, opening a restaurant in Puerto Rico and pushing MLM products (some of these things I've actually done). I've always had big, big dreams! Forget a small shop, I want to create a colossal brand, spawn franchises, rule the business world, create an empire! I want to be Sir Richard Branson with tits and heels. I have no idea where this comes from, perhaps some past life of greatness cut short or some deeply rooted genetic all I know is that I'm internally driven to do more, be more, succeed! Damn it!

2007 saw me walking away from my catering business, Blue Nile Catering, in Manhattan in order to move for a job offer Steve got in Canada. I had originally started BNC the day after a caterer I worked for took credit for my creative touches at an event. That slight, along with being tired of the NYC struggling actress scene, spurred me to action. For a business that started with such meager beginnings ($2000 in my checking account, a few credit cards and a lot of determination) Blue Nile did pretty well for almost 10 years. But it was non-stop, exhausting work that left me little quality time with my friends and family; especially Lukas, who was 2 by the time we moved to Toronto.

When it was all said and done I was both depressed and relieved to end my time at BNC. Dealing with postpartum depression while heading up a growing catering company isn't very fun and missing some of the most important years of your child's life isn't any better either. I have my regrets.

Yet here I am again. New business, new ideas, new drive, new fears, new weight on my shoulders. Yet, if it weren't Lather Unusual I can assure you it would be something else. How to describe it..that drive to create something monumental. Is it just ego? I don't think so, though that does play a part I'm sure in the whole cycle of production. For me it comes down to creativity because at the end of the day I don't feel as though I exist as a fully realized person unless I'm creating something tangible: a thing to share, experience, smell, see, feel, consume, covet. Working in an office was hell for me and I can't imagine what else I would do if I wasn't creating on my own terms... and ideally making a good living at it.

More days than not I'm in "What the Frack have I done?!?" mode, though being a New Yorker "Frack" isn't actually the word I and it's much like being pregnant with Lukas when Steve and I would look at each other and say "My god, what have we done??" because we knew there was no going back. Starting a business is a lot like making a baby, once you sign a lease and commit to the thousand and one things you need to do to start it, not to mention keeping it alive and thriving, you're in it to the hilt. You can't "sort of" have a kid any more than you can "sort of" run a business. Will I ever be cured of this "addiction"? Most likely not. In the mean time I'll keep plugging away because it's the only way I know how to live... at least for now.

Soap Siren

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lavender, Vintage Cars and Crafts at the Sequim Lavender Festival

Sunday July 17th saw our first visit to the Sequim Lavender Festival® put on by the Sequim Lavender Growers Association in Sequim, WA located on the Olympic Peninsula. This was actually my first time on the Peninsula which made the day trip even more fun. It proved to be a rather typical PNW day within what has been a non-typical Summer with more wet than bright sun unfortunately. That didn't keep people from coming out and enjoying themselves though as the weather shifted from chilly to humid with intermittent sun to cloudy and finally rainy. The fact that it didn't rain all day was a true blessing, both for us and the many vendors set up to show off and sell their wares.
Rabekah Cadorette from Three Strands Handwovens

We opted to make it a day trip but if you're coming from more than 3 hours away you might want to consider staying overnight to get two full days out of the festival or even make it a full weekend trip by arriving on Friday. There's a lot we didn't get to see and extra time would have been nice, especially if you don't want to worry about rushing back to beat the inevitable hour + line up for the ferry.

In town we had the chance to view beautifully restored vintage cars (scary when a Camero can now be entered into such shows! Alas, we're getting old..), crafts of all kinds and of course an abundance of lavender products from plushies stuffed with the fragrant herb to lavender ice cream and gallons of lavender-scented body products.

But by far the most fun was actually going to a farm and picking lavender for ourselves. We spent the majority of our time at Creekside Lavender Farm where owners Susan and Rick Olson showed us around and made recommendations on lavender varieties while we talked essential oils. Lukas had a blast, marveling at all of the various colors and different scents, their bee hives and the very cool owl perched high in their barn. The Olsons use old, copper distillation and we marveled at how it takes 250lbs of fresh lavender to produce 16 ounces of pure essential oil.
Soap Siren pickin' lavender

Lukas picking his own lavender
With over 20 varieties growing at any given time the Olsons have created some wonderful proprietary blends. If making it to their farm isn't an option you can order their amazing products online: including fresh bundles for August weddings! Their honey is also spectacular with their bees getting only the very best from their lavender fields. Lucky little bugs.

Raw cream and whole milk
Our last stop of the day before heading home was to the Dungeness Valley Creamery. They were closed but we were able to take good advantage of the fridge stocked with dairy they make available for just such occasions. Thanks for that guys! With my mom in town right now you have no idea how happy she is to have fresh, raw cream for her coffee. And nothing says yum quite like a glass of fresh milk with a touch of honey and muddled fresh lavender flowers. Divine! Next up, Lavender-Lemon Shortbread..

If you want more great info about Lavender  and it's uses check out the Lavender webinar by Tim Blakley of Aura Cacia on August 10th.

Soap Siren