Chapter 1 / Sharing Stories
Somewhere Sunnier with Sandro Petrillo of SSSoaps
Words: Talya Wong + Courtney Chew
Interview: Sandro Petrillo
Images: Antony Creary and Luis Mora
SSSOAPS is a Canadian brand based out of Toronto that creates natural, handmade everyday products. Headed by creative and multimedia artist Sandro Petrillo, these products are thoughtfully designed and crafted in small batches using the cold process method. Outside of beeswax, all raw materials are free of animal products. SSSOAPS centers their practice around three main principles: impermanent, daily, ritual.
We are so excited to partner with SSSoaps for our second installation of Somewhere Sunnier: an initiative we started last year in response to the pandemic, as a way to highlight fellow small brands, to encourage supporting and shopping local, and to bring community together in an effort to inspire the feeling and the comforts of warmth and sunshine at home.
Over the course of the next three weeks, we'll be sharing the stories of three brands we admire. We're also including a special something from the featured brand of the week in orders placed online OCIN.CO as a gift with purchase*, so that you can see and experience first-hand why we love them so.
Join us on our first trip Somewhere Sunnier with the incredible human and friend behind SSSoaps: Sandro Petrillo.
To receive your free gift with purchase for orders over $50, click here to add a full-size bar of SSSoaps to your cart.
*Somewhere Sunnier gifts are available in limited quantities, and subject to order amount. One per customer per order. The gift will automatically discount to $0 at checkout once added.*
OCIN: Why did you start SSSoaps?
Sandro Petrillo: SSSOAPS is a project that’s been a long time coming. I’ve had a bit of a bar soap obsession for a bit over a decade now – i’m totally fascinated with the simple household product that is a soap bar and it’s ability to truly take us into a very beautiful and enriching self care experience.
For many years the idea of starting a soap company was on the back burner, a bit of a dream; a vision of something to come in my near (or distant) future. I’ve worked extensively in hands-on projects in the event space for years and at the end of 2019 I hit a wall. I WAS SO BURNT OUT! I took a couple weeks off and decided that for the first two months of 2020 I would turn off my work e-mail and treat myself to a soap sabbatical. Over the two months I made batch after batch, learning the in’s and out’s of the process; what works and what doesn’t and just generally gaining a deeper understanding of the craft. The majority of the batches worked out and of course some of them did not, furthering my fascination and cementing my love for the beautiful objects that they are.
Anyway, fast forward to March 2020… I typically go to Vancouver to connect with some friends and music collaborators around that time of year, and this time I did so with plenty of bars in hand! Gifting any and everyone interested with my little selection of handmade delights. About four days into the trip is when COVID hit… I was still able to enjoy the trip, albeit stepping in a bit of weird unknown energy, I had a great time connecting with friends and nature. Upon my return I was sort of blessed with cancellation after cancellation for upcoming spatial design projects… leaning into the universe I essentially looked at the stock of oils I had on hand and kept soaping. With no real plan in place I kept energies high with a continued and evolving relationship with the craft and after a couple months decided I was going to take it to the next step, start a brand and build a website. I truly believe, in part, it’s what I’m meant to do.
OCIN: What impact do you hope your products have on people and the planet?
SS: I truly hope my bars bring people a sense of calm, peace, awareness and self reflection. The products we use are a reflection of our day to day choices and being more and more mindful of what we consume and how it affects the environment around us is so important for the continual replenishment of energy our world needs. Using a self care product that is made entirely out of natural ingredients has many benefits. Being mindful that our skin, being our largest and most exposed organ, requires a great deal of care is a key step to building a solid foundational in person care.
The core themes behind what I do with soap and the brand are; Impermanent, Daily, Ritual. Those three pillars contain deep meaning to me and my practice and truly reflect a state of being and energy I try to apply to many things in life. I love that not only the bars themselves but the energy and feeling they possess add to people’s lives in an intimate way. Beings of earth have an immeasurable impact on the planet and I wholeheartedly believe that the more we can all be a bit more mindful of our steps and following energy, the better this place will be.
OCIN: Tell us a little about your soaps and how they're unique.
SS: My soaps are made of all natural ingredients. Specially formulated with a number of factors in mind, without getting too scientific about it I look at the ingredients in three main categories; Saponified Materials, Additives and finally Essential Oils.
The Saponified materials are what make up the majority of the ingredients, a fairly limited but also dynamic list of oils and butters that are meant to truly nourish our skin. They contain a mixture of liquid carrier oils and hard butters a good portion of them sourced from a distributor that pulls directly from Ghana and I must add, it truly makes a HUGE difference in the product.
Additives are what give the bars not only their aesthetic but also their heightened attributes in helping the skin detox, replenish and exfoliate. Utilizing natural ingredients and the pigmentation that occurs in the materials is a great way to keep things fun and interesting while also producing balanced bars to truly combat some of the major issues and elements our bodies endure through everyday experience. I try to offer a fairly balanced array of bars in my line while truly keeping things dynamic and creating the individual batches with the caveat that they may never be made again… this side of the business has its ups and downs of course and for that reason I’m in the midst of developing a line of *essentials* that will be go-to’s for those that want a bit more consistency in their wellness regime.
Lastly we have the essential oils; often the first thing people are drawn to when selecting or purchasing soap for their own use. As there are a vast array of oils available worldwide I’ve chosen to narrow my palette and work within a particular boundary of select top, middle and base notes. I also mix my essential oils in a unique way in which I tie back to my many years of mixing audio and the experiences, tools and tricks I learned within that practice. I tend to pick one key oil and then build upon it with other notes to complement and offer relief in a particular area of health & awareness. Once I have the oils selected I turn to my knowledge of mixing audio and relate the scents to frequency and how they smell in terms of time and relation to it. For instance, we smell top notes immediately and they tend to fade the fastest, very similar to how we hear high pitch sounds very quickly and their resonant frequencies are often very tight and cycle over a very short amount of time.
Anyway it’s a bit of a funny way of going about things but it’s what works for me and definitely makes things fun!
OCIN: What is something you’ve learned to appreciate from the challenges of this past year and a bit?
SS: Oh wow, so many things! Having the time to really focus inward and to find more and more meaning in the things I get to do in my life has been a HUGE blessing. Before the pandemic I was extremely busy, doing things that I loved no doubt, but often without the time to reflect and really take in the experiences I was having. It often took me to a place that felt like success but was moving me further and further away from who I am at my core.
Taking the time to reflect and challenge myself to build better practices and truly be the best version of myself and to continue moving along with that intention has been such a wonderful gift that has brought an enormous sense of calm and grounding energy into my life. Even within a global pandemic, abundance is very real. I don’t mean abundance in just the good things because life is truly what we make it and oftentimes we can think we’re asking for the best when truly we’re almost moving in the opposite direction.
All that being said I think just truly having the time to find practices and build foundations for a healthy and very authentic ME has been a big step in the direction I am wanting to be moving in.
"Beings of earth have an immeasurable impact on the planet and I wholeheartedly believe that the more we can all be a bit more mindful of our steps and following energy, the better this place will be."
OCIN: Somewhere Sunnier is an initiative to highlight community: to bring together brands and humans we admire and to push the support of local and small businesses. What is something about the global small business community and customers, that inspires you?
SS: Truly seeing what others come up with on an everyday basis is just so dang inspiring! I love hearing about how people are flipping things and making moves that are not only successful, but steeped in intention, community growth and positive change.
The ability to continually connect with other business owners and communicate openly about not only what works but quite importantly what doesn’t is a huge tool in our current age that I truly everyone take’s advantage of. I repeat, abundance is very real and I very much believe there is enough for everyone… that being said I think many systems are completely broken and being around a community that wants to see relief and rewriting of those systems is pretty rewarding and full of hope. Oftentimes I look at a broken thing as a potential for greatness, like that saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” - I think many of us are “fixers”, and dang what a HUGE sandbox we have to play in! Love watching those around me truly play and make changes that live in the present but also has long lasting effects.
OCIN: What can we keep our eye out for from SSSoaps this year?
SS: I’ve always wanted to offer more than bars of soap. Truly at the end of the day I could feel pretty satisfied making soaps for the remainder of my days but also I have so many other interests and ideas to bring to life under the umbrella of the brand. A big thing I was and continue to be so excited about is the potential for real collaboration with those that I admire, am inspired by and those that I could potentially help to get to another level in their practice by bringing them in and sharing that abundance.
As much as I have a somewhat defined intention with the brand, I also have a desire to keep things abstract - I want people to say “why did they do that?” to some of the things we release. There is a part of me that sees a connection in many things across the board but that being said I’m just so keen on seeing what’s possible. In the immediate future I’m working on the *essentials line* of bars, a shampoo bar, a bit of dabbling in the body oil & room spray territory and lastly a selection of consumer goods to be released in various capsule collections throughout the year. I have a bag that’s being produced in my hometown of Calgary which I’m very excited about. A bit of a carry all, roll top piece made by a *now friend* that I met and connected deeply with over instagram, should be ready soonish : )
Also, I’m currently working with a friend here in Toronto on a very mindfully sourced piece of outerwear that I’m VERY excited about. Her attention to detail and overall experience has been such a blessing to work with. She really really cares and I hope for that to be the case for every collaboration I take on. I really really care about what I work on and put out there and it’s become a baseline for what I measure upon when considering just about anything that comes across the table. Feeling is one thing and intention is everything! I always had this idea of the viewer of the brand looking down a long hallway, getting a general idea of what they think it is and then once they get to the end; they have to look left, around the corner, to get the full picture.