For Sophie Wizman, soapmaking was a circuitous route. She worked in the fashion industry for 25 years, then took a few years off to raise her kids.
“It was lovely for the first year or two. And then I was like, OK, my kids aren’t really little anymore and I need something for myself.”
Always interested in natural products, one day soap got on her radar. She had bought some soap and noted that it was really much more moisturizing than the other soaps at her house in the northeast Valley.
“And so I started doing some research and buying soap bars from all over the world—just to try different brands. At the time, my husband was building a wine cellar at our house. And when he finished doing the groundwork, he said, ‘Would you like this as a studio for you?’ And I said what a great idea!” And so, armed with her own studio, Sophie started making soap.
After a few classes on soapmaking, she started thinking about how bathing is a ritual in Morocco. “When I was studying in France, I used to go visit my parents in Morocco. As soon as I’d see my mom, the first thing she would do is get me into the bath and get me scrubbed up to rejuvenate my skin.”
She made a trip to the Ourika Valley and the Atlas Mountains and met with some Berber women who showed her some of the things they were doing with natural products and spices and oils. Sophie took what she learned and put her own unique spin on soap, putting natural shredded loofa in the bars, which serves an exfoliant “and really allows your skin to be moisturized by all the oils.”
Olive, coconut, argan oil and shea butter are in Ourika soaps as well as spices like turmeric and herbs like lavender. All the soaps—as well as new body oil and candle lines—are all made in Los Angeles.
“Ourika has evolved a lot this year. And a lot of it emanated from our loyal customers telling us what they love. A friend of mine, for example, fell in love with the scent of wild geranium. I thought, I should make a body oil with wild geranium. Just like fashion, when you get good feedback, you need to go in that direction.”
The food is only part of the charm.