The Little Soap School is probably
the UK’s only private one-on-one,
international soap-making school.
Perhaps the only one in the world. It
offers the chance to meet the experts
and create your own shampoo, as well
as bespoke organic soap bars and eco-
friendly lotions and potions.
Birmingham University theology
graduate and former TV researcher for
Carol Vorderman, Emma Heathcote-
James’s unique saponification
establishment and institute of higher
hygiene learning is in Upper High
Street, Broadway in the Cotswolds,
Worcestershire. Her washing workshop
is a former port and sherry shop, dating
back to 1750.
It’s the place to be educated in the
manufacture of bar soap, creams and balms.
makes his own suds and discovers
how a nation of shopkeepers has become a nation
Little Soap is big business. Hand-cut,
hand-finished and hand-wrapped,
artisanal soaps are booming. There are
now over 300 independent soap makers
in the UK as hobbies have become jobs
and kitchen pastimes have become
Emma started the business 10 years
ago. Her products –
natural olive oil, rose
and avocado – are
She has just
launched a range
of hampers and
gift packs, to be joined soon by a new
grapefruit blend soap as well as organic
shower gel, conditioner and hand-and-
body lotion. She also produces a Little
Beast range of dog shampoos and a
spritz for fur and bedding.
“Soap was always in my blood,” says
Emma. “My grandmother used pure,
chemical-free French soap. When she
died we found stashes of bars in her
“Supermarket soap left my skin feeling
tight, unlike Granny’s soap. Buying some
hand-crafted bars at Bretforton fete in
Worcestershire where I used to live was
my Eureka light-bulb moment!
“I must be the only person to go from
TV into soap. Making soap was originally
a way to get me off my laptop. It’s so
Emma now employs a staff of four,
supplying all the top-end supermarkets
on a weekly basis.
“We have fun at the soap school. It’s
the educational arm of the business.
People arrive knowing exactly what
sort of soap they want to make. One
gentleman even produced a jam jar of
mink oil for his!
“An Icelander brought a sack of
volcanic ash, a Tanzanian farmer brought
avocados and a Portuguese student used
coffee granules to make an exfoliating
pet soap. Beekeepers bring their honey,
and we’ve used goat and buffalo milk.”
Emma was very strict. “Listen carefully
to what I have to say, please. No open-
toed shoes! No pets allowed in class. And
long sleeves at all times.”
Emma (who I now thought of as
‘Miss’) then distributed the
– safety goggles,
gloves and aprons.
in the lab that
be strong alkalis,
acids, essential hydrosols,