Soap-maker looks to clean up as business blossoms
Seaweed, goat's milk, buttermilk and carrot aren't exactly what you expect to find in a bar of soap – yet, these are some of the more unusual ingredients that Hungarian woman Hajni Kele uses when making her handmade soaps.
Kele, who set up Mianra Artisan Soaps two years ago, has been living in Ireland since 2006. A trip to Kilcullen's Seaweed Baths in Enniscrone, Co Sligo, inspired her to introduce seaweed into her soaps.
"My other half – who is from Sligo – introduced me to Kilcullen's Seaweed Baths a few years ago," said Kele.
"Seaweed is rich in minerals and seaweed baths are hugely relaxing. I had been making soap as a hobby since 2003 and it wasn't unusual for me to add ingredients such as avocado to soap. So I decided to try seaweed."
As Kele was a therapist at the time, her soap-making was still a hobby – until she was made redundant in 2011.
Kele then decided to set up her own soap company.
"I got a big breakthrough earlier this year when I took part in the Showcase Ireland exhibition in the RDS," said Kele. "I got an outstanding response. About 25 independent gift shops signed up to get my soap supplied to them."
Kele's range, which includes green tea and cherry blossom soaps, sell for about €6 a bar.
"People are willing to pay €6 for a bar of soap they know will last long – and be good for the skin," said Kele.