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Lockdown soap-making hobby turns to business

Two women who took up soap-making as a hobby during the Covid-19 pandemic have turned it into a business and have been commissioned to produce bespoke items for shops along the Severn Valley Railway.

From left, Xime Carrillo, Nicky Freeman and Karen Blanchfield launch Severn Soaps new charcoal range at The Engine House
From left, Xime Carrillo, Nicky Freeman and Karen Blanchfield launch Severn Soaps new charcoal range at The Engine House

Mother-of three Karen Blanchfield, who lives near Stourport, and her friend, mother-of-two Xime Carillo, 47, officially launched their latest products at the Engine House at Highley.

Karen said: "We attended a soap-making workshop in 2019 and then the pandemic arrived and what started as a hobby has turned into a business.

"Initially we sold to neighbours and friends but in April last year decided to make it into a business.

"We only use natural ingredients and for the soaps placed at shops for the Severn Valley Railway we have used cosmetic charcoal as a not to the coal used in the fire-boxes of the locomotives on the line and red clay representing the red rock around Highley.

"One bar contains rosemary and the other lavender.

"The soaps are also made using Droitwich Salt as an added ingredient pairing perfectly with the charcoal.

"We are delighted that the Severn Valley has chosen us to produce these special soaps and it was wonderful to officially launch them at Highley.

"Severn Valley approached us to manufacture the two bespoke soaps using charcoal to help with their souvenir selection in their three shops."

Michael Dunn, head of Visitor Experience at the railway, said: "We are thrilled to be working with Severn Soaps on these new products and on our soap-making workshop in July.

"It is important for us to work with and support local businesses, especially after the effects of the pandemic.

"We are keen to use sustainable local products in all our shops and retail outlets and we expect more of these partnerships to appear across the Severn Valley Railway."

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