I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing a series of interviews with some lovely creative types I want to share with you. Since I’m heading to Alberta this summer maybe I have gold rush on my mind, but truly, each of the women I’ll feature here is a golden nugget of excellence in the career she’s carved out for herself! Therefore, I am delighted to present the inaugural:
Pocket Alchemy Nugget of Awesome Interviews: eight interviews with eight inspiring, artistic, self-starting women over the eight weeks of summer. I am proud to call each of them friend and am delighted to share them and their work here. Please note that I am replacing my regular Rearview Fridays posts with these interviews over the summer.
SIOBHAN TOPPING is the woman who is most new to me in this series of interviews. When I started blogging and working towards being an independent crafter in January this year, a mutual friend told me I had to meet Siobhan and set up the introduction. And I’m so glad to have met her, Siobhan is truly a kindred spirit, the full-on Anne of Green Gables variety. She’s been making and selling her natural soaps and products for years now and has been so generous in sharing her experience and survival tips with me. We have spent many hours over lunch and little boys playing (her 1 son and my 2 little guys, so yes, it gets loud!) discussing pros and cons of craft fairs, etsy, online sales, relationships with stores, ideas about product development, scheduling and so on. And I’m in love, LOVE with her soap. I shamelessly stand on my blog-soap-box and declare that you gotta try it. And her room spray. And her cleaning scrubs. Dang. I’m so glad to include her here!
Siobhan Topping is the owner of Sacred Lotus, a natural product company. She is also the editor of naturalmommy.com, a free natural resource for moms and caregivers. Siobhan studied Aromatherapy and holds an honours-specialist degree in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Toronto. Her academic research focuses on midwifery, natural childbirth and women’s history.
Pocket Alchemy Question: Tell me about your artistic work.
Siobhan Topping: I create natural products through my company, Sacred Lotus, to help people live naturally and feel well. My work is centered on the environment. I express that through Sacred Lotus and with my other endeavors at naturalmommy.com. Naturalmommy.com was born from a personal realization that I had: Parenting is an environmental issue because the sustainability of our planet is connected to the sustainability of our children. I want to explore this and other natural parenting topics with other moms.
I have a passion for mom-and-baby care and for limiting toxins in environments where children live and play. Sacred Lotus has a full line of natural baby care products which are free from preservatives and synthetic fragrances.
I am also the smitten mother of a toddler and I often think of motherhood as an artistic work in and of itself.
PAQ:what is currently sparking your imagination?
ST: My son, who is magic to me, my family, friends, nature and other moms
who share their experiences. I have also been spending a lot of time organic gardening this year. I really love playing in the dirt! It is good for the imagination and the soul. Planting and watching things grow is like a meditation for me. I love that I am giving my son the opportunity to be in nature and to just have fun outside.
PAQ: How do you structure and manage your days/weeks/months to get it all in? Do you have micro/macro plans that you stick to?
ST: With a young child, I have come to understand that structure requires some flexibility. For the most part I have learned to pick my top 1 or 2 goals for the day in regards to my work and I try to only work on those things when I can. That way, I feel as if I have really accomplished something. I also work when my child sleeps, like right now for example!
PAQ: What is a current favourite resource or material?
ST: I love, love, love essential oils and always have. I believe they are one of the keys to our environmental sustainability. They have so many helpful properties, such as being anti-bacterial or anti-fungal. All you need to clean and rid your home of toxic cleaning products is essential oils, organic liquid (castile) soap, baking soda and some white vinegar. I am not kidding! Cleaning naturally with homemade toxic-free cleaning products can easily save your family hundreds of dollars per year. Natural cleaning products are especially important when one realizes that most store bought “cleaning” products are major contributors to indoor air pollution, which can, alarmingly, be anywhere from 2 to 100 times higher than outdoor air — not safe for children, not safe for anyone!
PAQ: Give me 4 great songs to work to!
ST: The joy in music is in its variety, so this is a hard question for me. I have to say, anything by Simon and Garfunkel. I am also a big Lhasa De Sela fan, a former Montreal resident who sang in English, Spanish and French. My favourite album of hers is The Living Road, which I like to put on and just let play. I also took a few classical music courses in University so I am drawn to having classic music on in the background while I focus on other things.
PAQ: What about your work keeps you up at night (for good or ill!)?
ST: It saddens me to think of babies and families living in extremely toxic conditions without even realizing it. I truly believe that so many health issues can be prevented from living a more natural life. People have been bombarded with toxic substances, unknowingly, and I am on a mission to help people to have healthier options. I also love making products, writing and coming up with new ideas, so it is not unlike me to be too excited over something to go to sleep.
PAQ: How has your aesthetic evolved over the years?
ST: Naturally, my aesthetic has evolved as I have grown as a person. I started making natural product more than 10 years ago. In some ways my focus was really narrow but ironically broad in the beginning: Make natural products which help to make people feel good and live naturally. Sounds easy? Not! I realized there were so many skills and things which went along with that. I had to create not just the products themselves but to also market them, package them, put them on-line, etc.
It has been an amazing growing experience. Along the way, I gained many skills I didn’t know I needed and I have learned how to apply the skills I already had to everything that I do. My husband once wrote on our fridge with fridge magnets “courage and hope indeed.” I try to enact that in my businesses and in my life. Running a business makes me push myself outside of my comfort zone.
THE WRAP UP
Siobhan Topping has 2 websites for her work; you can find her products at Sacred Lotus and her resources at Natural Mommy. I am obviously a big fan of the Sacred Lotus products, natural, gentle yet get-the-job-done and made here in Ontario, Canada. Order some if your cupboard is low!
Check out the other Nugget of Awesome Interviews: