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TEN MINUTES WITH / TANAKA Soaps

Century General Store

Over on our Instagram page this week, we spoke about blind spots: those things about which we happily remain in blissful ignorance, because they don't directly affect our everyday lives. For many of us, the climate crisis was a blind spot until the events and campaigners of recent years dragged it into focus. Now, for us, knowing what we know about how our individual choices can massively impact the environment at a global level, sustainability is at the heart of every product we stock. It's been a week, too, for learning about intersectionality across all aspects of society, and we've been learning more about how racism and its legacy are intertwined with the climate crisis, and how we can play our part as shopkeepers, parents and citizens, the actions we can take.

As any of you who've spent time over on our instagram page lately will know, it's been a heavy couple of weeks, but it's brought home the importance of genuine, open-hearted conversation and a willingness to change. Through the businesses we choose to support, the messages we choose to spread, the way we choose to use our platform and our voice, the products we choose to use every day... through all these seemingly small decisions, we tell the world what we are willing to tolerate, and what we refuse to support.

One of the best parts of running an independent store is that we get to meet makers from all walks of life who are doing their thing, honing their craft and putting passion & energy into everything they make. We get to fill our shelves with unique, handmade products, and to welcome people into the store to learn more through workshops and collaborations. This relationship with makers brings Century to life! While our bricks and mortar store is closed, we're sharing sneak peeks into the lives of those who make the products we stock, because we're all craving connection and community at the moment (this week more than ever). So put the kettle on, sit back and find inspiration in our 'Ten Minutes With...' series, which we began a few weeks into lockdown. Today, meet natural soap maker extraordinaire Leonara of TANAKA Soaps, as she talks about how her childhood inspires her creations, and how her products promote kindness.

 

Who are you and what do you make?

My name is Leonara Manyangadze and I'm the founder of TANAKA Soaps, a small company making handmade natural soaps using all natural plant-based ingredients.

Where do you find your inspiration online? And your inspiration in real life?
I find a lot of my inspiration on social media where I come across other like-minded people and companies working within holistic well-being and sustainability spaces. It's always enriching to see others who have similar motivations to my own and social media has been invaluable for the connections I've made with other businesses across the country (like Century General, Our Lovely Goods, Bowe Skincare + more). 
In real life I get my inspiration from nature. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe and moved to the UK when I was 11 which is pretty young but still, my most vivid and exciting childhood memories are of time spent outside playfully making what I truly believed in my mind to be healing tinctures from the herbs and flowers from my garden. It's from these early days that I can now see how my obsession with the magic of plants and natural minerals to heal has led me to create a soap company which allows me to keep exploring the ways in which plant-based, natural ingredients rich in all their  vitamins and antioxidants have the ability to benefit and improve not just skin health, but also support our overall well-being. 

What are you most looking forward to?
So many things! I'm looking forward to expanding the range of products I make, hosting soap-making workshops and encouraging people to take a less harmful approach to their skincare whilst also having a positive impact on the environment. But I'm mostly excited to continue sharing ways through which people can be kind and gentle to themselves and in turn, the people around and the environment. 
// Thank you so much for sharing your words and images Leonara. Can't wait to have you in the store for a workshop one day! Meanwhile, you can find TANAKA soaps in our online store. Earl Grey tea fans, check out the Aromatic Bar... currently making our shelves smell absolutely delicious!