Artisan Spotlight

VPS spoke to Justine from Kitten Komforts about their small business and what they’re up to for the holidays.

VPS: I understand this is a joint venture. How did you two meet and what made you choose to start making soaps?

KK:  I’m working on my Physics PhD, and Irene is in her Engineering undergraduate, both at SFU. We originally met through a mutual friend and quickly became close. With Irene’s passion for chemistry and my passion for physics, we’ve had many fascinating conversations, including about how we’d love to learn how to make soap and bath bombs. She was interested in the saponification process, and I love bath bombs way more than my humble student budget allows, so we decided to learn how to make them ourselves! Soon we had too much for either of us to ever use, so we decided to take a shot at selling them. We’re really proud of our recipes, and how we’ve applied the scientific method to our development process. 

VPS: You’re also donating products, as well as some proceeds from your sales. Can you tell us more about that?

KK: In the past we’ve given a large number of soaps to Hogan’s Alley Society so that each occupant in an SRO downtown could have their own soap bar. We’re on the Facebook group COVID-19 Coming Together Vancouver. It’s a group that sprang up organically and is one of the most heartwarming things I’ve seen in this pandemic. We asked folks to contribute to the ingredients costs and then the soaps get donated to those in need. We’re currently coordinating a donation for a women’s shelter.

The other initiative we have is that $1 from each bar sold from the LGBTQ+ range goes to a grassroots organization or community that supports the group from which that bar of soap is inspired. 

For example, any bar with the Aromantic flag colours that is sold gives one dollar to AUREA, an online forum for aro folks and, similarly, proceeds from the asexual flag soaps get split between Asexual Visability and Education Network, Ace Week, and the local Vancouver Aces and Aros. We hope to expand this section in the near future

VPS: What is your favourite holiday or celebration?

KK: I love Christmas personally. I spend all year collecting gifts for the people I’m closest to, then when Christmas rolls around I get to go wrap them all, it’s like the holiday that I get a thrill from all year round! This year I’m extra excited. I have received requests for about 15 unique gift baskets. Each person that orders one gives us specific instructions or parameters, and then I get to make something special that is inspired by that. It’s like normal Christmas, except I get to make up parcels for so many more people!

You can find Kitten Komforts and many other local LGBTQAI2S+ artisans in Vancouver Pride Society’s Holiday Gift Directory.