Wordsmith, mama, and all-round awesome lady who radiates effortless style: this pretty much sums up Nadia Howland. I’ve been lucky enough to share an office with this incredible woman for the past five years as she guided me both professionally in the world of publishing (the lady can write!), and personally – normally when I realise this whole parenthood thing doesn’t come with a user manual.
Recently Nadia added yet another string to her bow when she launched her own business, Castile Co, which produces beautifully lush handmade soaps, balms, candles and bath bombs. I have been known to *ahem* “hold on to – read hoard – a bag of goodies just so the scent permeated my house for a week.
So without further ado, meet Nadia.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m a journalist by trade and have spent the past 16 years working in print publishing, which I really enjoy. I live with my husband and our two children in Brisbane. As of this year both kids will be in primary school. It’s a bittersweet milestone – bitter because my youngest is no longer a baby but sweet because I’ll only have to do one drop-off in the morning before I dash to work!
What inspired you to create Castile Co?
It all started with YouTube, really. I love making things from scratch and figuring out things for myself. One day I stumbled upon a YouTube video of someone making handmade soap and became hooked. I spent about 10 months watching tutorials, doing research and attending workshops before I made my first soap. Then I spent another six months practising and testing products before I finally started selling my products to cover my costs. Castile Co is still mostly just a hobby but I love the creative outlet and it’s satisfying to watch your hard work build something you can be proud of.
Where did this interest in homemade beauty products come from?
Well, I’ve always been a sucker for beauty and bath products in general. Now that I have the ability to make my own, I enjoy researching ingredients and seeing what benefits they can provide to people with different types or issues. It’s also really fun to experiment with colours, botanicals and clays to make pretty-looking things!
What was the first product you made? Do you have a standout favourite?
My first soap was a pink clay bar made using the cold process method. It was lovely, but fairly basic. Since then I’ve made so many soaps, bath bombs, balms and candles, however, my all-time favourite soap is a salt bar called Salty Mermaid. I’ve just made another batch for the new year – it’s stunning!
When it comes to natural skincare/ DIY products what’s a common misconception you’ve come up against?
It drives me crazy when I see soapmakers and companies marketing their soap as being ‘good for eczema’. Soap, by its very nature, is designed to cleanse, and this involves the removal of oils from the surface of the skin. The worst thing you can do for eczema is remove this natural barrier of oils. The single best thing you can do for dry skin is to avoid soap and instead cleanse using a water-based moisturiser or cream.
It’s also important to remember that once you strip moisture from your skin, the only way to can replace it is by drinking water. Moisturisers can soften and condition your skin to an extent, but rehydrating the dermis requires you to drink water, and plenty of it!
What’s one item everyone should have on the bathroom shelf? And what do you think they should avoid?
Just one?! Agghh! I have really annoying, combination skin that’s prone to breakouts, so one product is never going to cut it for me. My staples are:
- Alpha-H Triple Action Cleanser – this stuff is kinda pricy but it comes in a large pump pack that’s fairly economical. A super gentle cleanser that removes your makeup and cleanses your skin in one go, without leaving your skin feeling tight or dry. (I honestly can’t be bothered with makeup wipes, and they’re bad for the environment anyway.)
- Witch Hazel – cheap as chips and is probably the best astringent I’ve ever used. My skin feels so much fresher and brighter after I use it, and I feel like it helps my moisturiser absorb into the skin better.
- A decent, non-fragranced moisturiser with SPF.
Have you found there’s an increased popularity in small business lately?
Definitely. I think people see the value in things that are handmade rather than mass produced.
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you balance everything (if there’s such a thing as balance)?
I consider myself pretty lucky to work for a company that’s family friendly, so I’m able to work school hours. Being able to drop them off at school and pick them up has meant a lot less rushing and less stress. So, a typical day is usually wake up, get everyone ready for school and work, do school drop-off, head to the office, work until pick-up time, then head home. Usually, we play outside, do the gardening or take the dog for a walk. Once we’ve done the whole dinner/bath/bed whirlwind thing, my husband and I watch a show together. Sometimes, if I’m not dog-tired, I’ll make soap, but often I’ll go to bed and read or watch YouTube.
Can you give us one random fact about yourself?
I love warships and military aircraft. I don’t really know why, I just find them amazing and love watching docos about them. My favourite aircraft of all time is the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Google it and be impressed.
Where can we find your products?
What a gem!
Nadia’s also been generous enough to offer up some goodies for a giveaway. Up for grabs is a pack containing three handmade soaps, one 100ml candle and an 80g Bee and Butter Balm. To enter simply follow myself and Castile Co on Instagram, and then comment below with your favourite homemade beauty tip. Winner will be announced on January 15 (Australia only).
And, if you think someone you know would like this post, please share the love!