Our Story

Pure Essense Handmade Soap is a story of dreaming, passion and perseverance. It is a story of succeeding, losing our way and finally finding the path that is ours.

We hope the following story will inspire you to dream big, be passionate, to never give up and above all, be authentic to your values.

Did you know that the old fashion way of making soap (known as the cold pour process) produces one of life’s simple luxuries? Luxurious and gentle on the skin, these decadent soaps were all but forgotten by mainstream consumers.

My very first experience with such soaps was with Beal’s Baby Soap. It was produced in Melbourne in the 1800s to the early 1980s. Growing up in the 70s, I had oily skin and acne and only Beal’s did not dry up my face, even after I had washed it six times a day! You can imagine my devastation when it was no longer available. I resorted to using facial cleansers but was never truly satisfied as it left a residue on my face. Clinique facial bar was closest alternative I could find.

It wasn’t until many years later that I became reacquainted with handmade soaps and fell in love with them all over again.

I enrolled in a soap making course and watched the master soap maker spin her magic and alchemy – part science, part artistry and 100% passion. I was mesmerised!

There was a burgeoning cottage industry of master soap makers in Australia, as beautiful as they were, they were often only sold at Sunday markets and craft stores. They were cut into pieces with a wooden soap cutter and weighed and packed in craft paper. They had little retail presence. Traditional packaging was a hindrance; it kept the soap hygienic but denied the customer access to its natural beauty and perfume. Futhermore, the soaps were often left exposed to contamination by dust and people picking them up all day long.

Our challenge was to produce a packaging that allowed the consumer to indulge his or her senses without damaging the soap. This proved harder than we first thought.

After twelve months of trial and error we had our design and the Australian patent to go with it.

Two clear open-ended boxes that fit into each other supported by a spring like mechanism. The boxes pass each other like sliding doors. When the boxes were squeezed, the scent was pumped out of holes from the box allowing the consumer to experience the natural fragrances. Once the box reverted to its original shape, the holes in the box closed, thus protecting the soap.

The packaging was playful and it encouraged users to pick it up and play and at the same time enjoy the fragrance of the various essential oils permeating from each soap.

With the collaboration of soap makers, locally and abroad, we launched Pure Essense Handmade Soaps in 2008. They became an instant hit with retailers in Australia and overseas. We showcased them at the Australian Gift Fairs, Organic products shows in Hong Kong and Cosmoprof in Asia.

At one stage, we had over 150 retailers in Australia and stockists in the USA, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Russia. With our Taiwanese partners, we launched Pure Essense Pop Up stores in Taiwan’s most prestigious department stores. The event was covered by major media and much fanfare.

We were humbled by our success and the fact that we had made our dreams come true. Yet our joy was short lived! We expected the benefits and pleasure experienced when using our soaps would be enough to sell them. We realised two things: firstly, that our overseas partners were focused solely on making profits, achieving KPI‘s and meeting sales targets rather than customers engagement. Secondly, although we had trained key personnel about the benefits of our product and the features of our packaging, this knowledge was not filtering down to the actual retail staff. I would often walk into a gift stores as a shopper only to be disappointed to find that floor staff had no knowledge of the soaps’ story, benefits or even a simple demonstration of how the box worked! The soaps were sitting on a shelf competing with all the other gift products, or worse in the discount bin at the end of season sales.

My heart just broke. I had set out to share my knowledge with the world, to entice others to experience of the benefits of handmade soaps and how wonderful they were for your face and body. Yet somewhere along the journey, this message got lost in translation. People just thought we created pretty soaps! We did, but that was only a small part of our story.

That was a turning point for us. We made the decision that we would stop wholesaling to retailers and focus on our loyal fans through our online store.

I have curated a collection of my favourite facial and body bars and trust you will find joy and serenity when using them.

My personal favourites, that are part of my daily ritual include Antidote and Black Diamond facial bars. While Sleepy Amber and Raw Honeycomb body bars, make my skin feel soft and smell delicious.

Well, that’s what my wife tells me, but of course she is biased!

Success means different things to people.

For us, it has never been about financial excess. We measure our success in terms of the pleasure we bring to our customers and the results they experience on their faces or skin.

A sensory adventure awaits you!

With love and best wishes,
Robert Leung