Handcrafting natural, Seychelles-inspired soaps for a good cause |12 May 2022
We meet and learn about Nora von Xylander, founder of SeySoaps where natural Seychelles-inspired soaps are handmade with a focus on minimal impact to our environment.
Donations raised from SeySoaps will go towards environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Seychelles, especially those that are devoted to protecting the environment.
Nora is originally an Italian/German and her passion for soap making started while she was living in Seychelles.
Seychelles NATION: Tell us about yourself and your connection to Seychelles.
Nora von Xylander: I have lived in many different countries throughout my life, Seychelles being one of them, where I fell in love with both its nature and people. I first moved to Seychelles to work on a research project on coral conservation and ended up taking the position as Project Leader for coral restoration projects on Mahé run under the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS).
After a few years of living on Mahé, I made the decision to start a PhD research project on understanding coral growth and the effects of future climate change. This decision forced me to relocate to Scotland for the following two years, which is where SeySoaps is currently based, but I am hoping to eventually bring SeySoaps to Seychelles in the near future. For now all soaps and shampoos are only made in small batches, using only natural ingredients that are loving to your skin, hair and scalp.
Seychelles NATION: You mentioned that your passion for soap making started in Seychelles. Tell us about this.
Nora von Xylander: After a few years of living and working in Seychelles, the pandemic hit, lockdown happened, and I found myself having lots of time on my hands. This is when I first came across the art of soap making, went on a quest to learn as much as I could about it, and finally attempted to make my own products.
My time working with MCSS on coral conservation and volunteering for the Ocean Project (TOP) marine litter surveys made me more and more conscious about the need to take better care of nature, and inspired me to try and minimize my personal (plastic) waste.
During my journey to minimize waste I found there to be a huge lack of options in buying unpackaged products, and so I found myself wanting to develop my own products. I then found myself developing a passion for soap making and started gifting soaps and shampoos to friends and family.
Seychelles NATION: We understand that your soaps are inspired by Seychelles. What attributes of our islands played a role in this inspiration?
Nora von Xylander: SeySoaps was inspired by my time in Seychelles and started as a desire to minimize plastic waste and the use of ingredients that are harmful to our environment. I guess having a biochemistry background really helped me to immerse myself in the world of soap making and understanding all the processes that are involved in making different products. The pandemic allowed me to reflect deeper into my curiosity and finally take the time to work on developing this craft of soap making.
I started experiments with ingredients that were predominant in the Seychelles, which is why most SeySoaps are made of a coconut oil base, which is ‘Kind to your Skin, and Kind to your Planet’. All soaps and shampoos also come in smaller shell shapes and sizes (perfect for travel), which were inspired by my love for all the beautiful shells you can find on the beautiful shores of Seychelles.
Seychelles NATION: You’re raising donations for environmental NGOs in Seychelles; why did you decide to do this and to which NGOs will you be donating?
Nora von Xylander: SeySoaps mission is to reduce plastic waste, promote ocean conservation, and donate to NGOs based in Seychelles that are devoted to protecting our oceans. Having first started for personal use during my journey to minimize waste and do better to appreciate/respect the wonderful nature that surround us, I find myself having the desire to use my passion and share it with the world in the hope of raising awareness and making donations towards environmental NGOs based Seychelles.
It is just a start! My favourite part of my journey into soap making was developing solid shampoo bars which I use regularly, that are good for my hair as well as the environment. For every pink coral shampoo bar sold, I will be raising donations that will go towards coral conservation. While I have decided that the ocean mist shampoo bar will go into raising money for turtle conservation, and the funds collected with every purchase of the minimalist shampoo bar will be going towards projects dedicated to combat plastic pollution.
For more information:
- Follow Instagram account: @Seysoaps
Photo credits: Nora von Xylander