People ask us if we consider soap a work of art.
We are more interested in whether a business model can function as a work of art.
This project began with sustainability in mind, and it also grew out of a prolonged DIY kick, in other words, an exploration of the objects around us, including their production. So right at the beginning we sought to be intimate with as many details of the production process as we could, and we've made and stuck with (often stubborn) decisions of both practicality and purpose.
The Ethic of Desire
Back to sustainability. People approach environmental justice because it's the right thing to do or because they are terrified of what the world will look like in 30, 20, or even 10 years. At the same time, I keep thinking about what the poet Jorie Graham said, that the imagination may lead us to change where reason alone has failed. I wonder if we can't let sustainability be an aesthetic issue as well. Confucius said he never met a man who loved virtue more than beauty. Isn't a sustainable future also a more beautiful future, as well as something to be desired heart-first at full speed? We at Metaphor created these small objects of desire with the hope they will gesture toward as-yet-unimagined possibilities. We wanted a better world, so we made soap. Go figure.
So how do all these ideas actually manifest into product?
1. The soap is completely handmade in wooden molds that we also made ourselves. We walked to the hardware store and physically carried the wood back to our workshop. If that weren't enough, we also hand-stamp our boxes with a rubber ink stamp. If you want to read more about rustic productions methods, I highly recommend reading The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites.
2. We focus on organic, local, and natural ingredients. We use certified organic coconut and palm &nbsp;for the base oils (which constitute 85% of the soap) and olive oil that comes from a local family farm too small to wrangle with the organic certification process (but who still follow organic farming practices). We were lucky to find an essential oil supplier a few &nbsp;blocks away from where we started in the SF Mission, and the alkalai catalyst comes from a hardware store down the street.
3. Local distribution. We have a few stockists scattered as far as Maine and South Korea, but most of our accounts are within easy reach by bicycle and/or public transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area.