It’s not often that one finds soap that loves your skin and has a sense of humor. Of course, the Zombie Zoaps are hilarious, but have you looked at the fine print?
Undead Zcent Ingredients: Triglycerides of Caprylic/Capric Acid (Coconut oil fractions) and fragrance. Nothin’ elze. ‘Cept maybe chunky bitz of friendz.
Or how about this one:
Soap Ingredients: Soybean Oil (hydrogenated), Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Milk, Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Oil, Elaeis
Guineensis (Palm) Kernel Oil, Persea gratissima (avocado) Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) seed oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter. Coconut milk. Red iron oxides, ultramarine, titanium dioxide, iridescent glitter . 4th of July flag waving frenzy no extra charge.
Browsing the website is both a visual delight and a laugh out loud. And if you click the order button, your skin will thank you. That’s why, when I was pondering how best to reward visitors who take the time to comment on my blog, I didn’t have to ponder long. I wanted to give them something I love, so each month I have a drawing for a $10 AnaBanana gift card. But then I got to wondering if my blog visitors might like to meet the creative mind behind the Zoap, er, soap. So I asked AnaBanana if she’d stop by for a chat and she agreed! Without further ado (though feel free to imagine a drum roll here), here’s AnaBanana:
What made you go into soap making? - Mad scientists. Er… Love of things that go boom? No… Um, well, I have a true love of creating useful things. Part of this stems from my desire to create art but tack on use, part of it was desperation. I wanted to have skin-care products that I could actually stand to use. The crummy fragrances and products offered by commercial manufacturers really lacked appeal to me. They either made my nose itch or my eyes water, and they left my skin feeling itchy and looking like it should be on an alligator or snake rather than a person. I knew there had to be something better, so I set out to make it. That I love chemical reactions and am fascinated by the soaping process has been a huge source of my drive. That I don’t know I’m not supposed to be able to do these kinds of things works well for me. <g>
LOL! It works well for those of us who get to benefit from your yummy brewing.
How does one learn how to make soap? - There’s lots of info “out there” on making soap. I started with a soaping forum on the internet, then bought a couple of books, and then just sort of dove in (after donning goggles, gloves and apron). I’ve never taken a class on soap making, but there are those who teach it, just not anyone close to where I live or can easily get to – I do live out in boorah! <wg> Without a mentor or a real class, I just took it slowly, if diving in is slow.
Well, you dive quite well! My skin loves you!
What goes into making such great soap? Don’t have to share secrets (though I promise not tell anyone!) but your bars are especially yummy. You’ve even got the hubs hooked on your soaps. - Great soaps? Thank you! Well, hm… Ingredients. Technique. Passion. Willingness to fail… (yeah, I’ve had my share of soaping catastrophes!). It’s like making a really good batch of cookies or a great cake – start with quality ingredients, a good recipe, and put your own touch to it. It’s sad, but many, many people have never tried a handmade soap. Ever. It’s like never having homemade cookies – a tragedy! LOL!
It is a terrible tragedy! I had left soap behind and was using gels until I tried your soaps. Now I’m so over gels! And don’t get me started on your lip balms…oh wait, yeah, let’s talk lip balms!
Top three qualities of a good lip balm? - I love lip balms! It’s necessary for survival here in Wyoming to have a really good lip
balm. Deserts are tough places to try to skimp on something like that. <g> A really good lip balm, for me, has to have a nice “glide” to it. That means it’s not waxy on my lips or oily. There really is a place in between that is just “ah!” So perfect. Then, it has to have some staying power. Nothing like being compulsive in applying and reapplying “the lips.” And for me, finally, it has to taste good. It’s not like I’m licking my lips, but with something that’s applied right there on my mouth, it’s going to taste like something, so it ought to taste good. <g>
Oh yeah! I haven’t found one of your flavors I don’t like, but will confess my all time favorite is your coconut lime. For some reason it feels cooler or something. LOL! And then you expanded my view of coconut to the oils…
..and now I think I’m addicted to coconut oil in my soaps and lotions. Can you tell us why it is so wonderful? - I love coconut oil too! It’s amazing stuff, really. Did you know there are books written about coconut oil? And web sites dedicated to coconut oil? That’s were I started. Books, web sites, then experimenting with it. I’ve made the mistake before of being “sold” on something before trying it – we all have, but I didn’t want to just take someone else’s word for the goodness of something that is touted as basically being miraculous. I had to take it for a test drive. Many test drives, really. What I found out is that I love how it feels in my lip balms, I love how it tastes in my cooking, and in soap it adds a lovely bubbly lather. I love coconut oil in lotions, too. (I’ve made lots of lotion for my family and friends using coconut oil, and they love it, are amazed at how much better it feels and works, but for now, I’m not selling yet). I could go into detail about how it’s a medium-chain fatty acid, and why that’s so important to our bodies, how useful and healthy it is to skin, blood, organs, and the whole economy of coconut oil, but it’s already been written about a million times over, and the only thing I have to add is that I truly love it and wouldn’t do without it.
I’m totally going to start using it to cook with and I love the lotion you made for me using it. My heart bleeds for those who can’t that lotion, so fingers crossed that you can add it to your line soon. Which reminds me of a fun thing you do for businesses…
Can you tell us a little about your special orders for businesses and, of course, authors? - I’ve made a few thousand lip balms for my brother-in-law. He’s a dentist, and a seriously kind dentist!!! Not only the kids get a prize after their visit, but the adults do to! How nice to get a lip balm after a dental visit?! So, we got together and took my signature lip balm recipe and changed the label to advertise his dental office. It turned out really cool, too, I will add. <wg> I’ve also made some signature soaps for a few different authors – something for their swag to show their readers how much they’re appreciated. It’s been pretty fun to work on those! We pick out fragrances dedicated to a character or theme, create labels, decide on color and technique, and crank out the soap. These are usually sample sized. I’ve actually got a few different soaps in the works for a couple of your characters – Shan and Ashe from Kicking Ashe – they’ll be available on my web site soon. Very soon. <wg> I mean, if that’s okay with you? <vbg> (Of course its okay with me!! I had such fun with the signature stuff you made for Olivia and Brae from Tangled in Time!)
When I was at the dentist this month, I felt fortunate I had your balm in my purse, because he didn’t hand out lip balms in the “goodie bag” that ended my session. Such a great idea!
I know it’s a bit like asking you if you have a favorite kid, but what’s your favorite soap? Scent? Kid? (just kidding!) - My favorites change sometimes. When I was a kid, I could never answer the question, “What is your favorite color?” I felt like I was standing at the bridge, trembling before “Tim” (as in, “You can call me Tim” from Monty Python’s Holy Grail), fearing the catapult into the abyss! LOL!! Red. No, green! I do find myself coming back to lavender a lot. Lavender by itself is really appealing to me. Lavender blended with other essential oils is also on my “love” list. I then tend toward the fruity. Most (but not all) of my fragrance choices tend to be either essential oils or fun and fruity fragrance oils. So, I guess (since I don’t really have a definite answer) is my favorite soap is lavender & peppermint. No, wait… LOL!
LOL! I have the same problem…
… picking my favorite, but I have to say, for sheer fun, your Zombie Zoap line is hilarious AND darkly yummy. Can you tell us a bit more about the line? What deep, dark place do you tap into to create your twisted Zoaps? - Zombies used to scare the snot out of me when I was a kid – “Night of the Living Dead” and all that. What better way of dealing with fear than to mock it? Nothing like having fun at zombies’ expense. Plus, my twisted sense of humor has gotten me into more trouble than I could ever explain… It may be a product of birth order and growing up in a big family – I’m number nine of eleven! It could be the time I spent in the Army (that’ll do terrible things to a person! Ha!). It might just have something to do with watching too much “Creature Feature” on Saturday nights or maybe my choice in marrying a cop (who not only contributes to my delinquency but has his own brand of twisted cop humor)… So many things go into this deep dark place called my mind! Mwahahahaha! Sometimes, it’s just a simple matter of not knowing when to leave well enough alone. Ah, well… So the Zombie line came about without any planning. It just sort of “happened.” It was kind of a dare (which I have trouble walking away from). I thought to myself, “Self, what would happen if I just threw this out there? Would anyone like it? Would I offend? Would it drive people away?” And my self said to me, “What the heck?” and I just did it. I figure that my soaps and lotions and other goods aren’t just about the product but something about who makes them too. And that’d be me. <wg> I fully take advantage of the license I’ve given myself to free that inner weirdness.
Well, your inner weirdness is hilarious! Even the product descriptions are funny. I’d call it a win, but we know I’m dark, too. LOL!
And in our “when good soap goes wrong” segment, do you have any funny/tragic soap tales to share?- I’d deny I’d ever had trouble with a soap, ‘cept I already confessed earlier. Ahem. There was once a batch of Naked Man that gave me fits. Actually, I think he would have behaved, ‘cept for my attention problem. And hungry kids. Then there was the timing thing. One day I’d decided to make some soap. I had plans for a lovely soap, one of my favorites, the afore-mentioned Naked Man. (The name of this soap, btw, was
the moment of cracking that door wide open on letting out my real, weird self.) I thought I’d just throw this thing together and then move on to get some dinner ready for the fam. Yeah. Well, something went wrong. I can’t remember the exact sequence, but it was something like, I tried a new technique or was talking to someone while soaping, or maybe it was the three hungry kids demanding to be fed NOW! But anyway, I got a little scattered. Naked Man is a tough fragrance to work with. It’s got a lot of lime in it (oh, yum!), and that makes things move really fast once you add the fragrance to the raw soap. But I needed to add some scrubbies to the soap too, which for want of a peanut butter sammich (for my tummy, not the soap), I forgot to add earlier in the process. And color. It needed color, a little green to be exact. So, I had my fragrance added to my raw soap before I remembered those other details, and suddenly, my well-behaved soap had seized on me. That means it turned from a cake-batter-like consistency into a solid play-dough chunk. Not good when you still have to include color and scrubbies. By the time I managed to beat the thing into a semblance of submission, it looked more like a cadaver or maybe Dead Naked Man. It was aesthetically challenged on every level. It looked lumpy, the color was blotchy, there were clumps of scrubbies. So I shared that batch in a swap appropriately named “Toiletry Tragedies.” It was a hit! It was ugly as sin, and still it was loved. Amazing. I guess if you just shower with your eyes closed, it’d work. <wg>
Tell us a bit about Ana when she’s not making soap. How did you become AnaBanana? – I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t AnaBanana. It’s a name that just was always there. If you chant it, I might have a snit, but that was the kid me then, not now. I’m much more grown up now. <wg> Yeah… So, I live in Wyoming, which is a very large desert and offers a very wide personal space. My town boasts 500 souls (plus change). I have custody of several critters – one mare plus new filly, one three-legged cat, four birds (technically they’re my daughter’s), fish (I haven’t counted, actually)… I think I got them all. I read like a mad woman, and I’ve read ALL of your books and I think all of your short stories too (which I love, love, love btw). I worked on a dude ranch once upon a time, was a medic in the Army, waited tables forever, transcribed medical records until my ears fell off, made eyeglasses and was once upon a time a cook, and not necessarily in that order… Wow, this is a tougher question to answer than I thought! Can I get back to you with the rest of the story? <wg>
If you could flee, er, go anywhere for meditation and inspiration, where would it be? (You’d come back, wouldn’t you? Because I’m totally addicted to your stuff!) – Scotland. I’d go to Scotland. I am fascinated with the history and beauty of it. Maybe that’s why I married a Scot? Plus he keeps promising me he’ll get a kilt (in the family plaid, naturally). Yowza! And I’d probably come back. Maybe. I’m sure there’s a way to send you more stuff, just in case I didn’t. Come back, ya know?
As long as you don’t cut me off, we’re good. LOL! Okay, readers, you have “met” AnaBanana and now you know how awesome and cool she is.
Many thanks, AnaBanana! I hope my visitors have enjoyed getting to know you as much as I have! Okay, did I miss a question that I should have asked? Is there a product you’d like to know more about? Please ask, because I reward those who leave a comment. You are automatically entered into my monthly drawing for a $10 gift card of wonderfulness from AnaBanana’s. The winner is announced in the first blog post of the new month, but it also helps if you leave an email address.