The force behind luxury handmade soap brand Soapsmith comes clean about her greatest loves.

Samantha Jameson conceived of the idea for Soapsmith in 2010, driven to turn her kitchen table hobby of creating artisanal soaps into a business that would not only allow her to do what she loved best, but to be part of a renaissance of craftsmanship within British manufacturing. The brand, which started and, true to its roots, remains in Walthamstow, launched two years later – but only after she had pawned her wedding and engagement rings to be able to buy the equipment she needed. But then, Samantha has always been driven; when a chocolate fountain she designed was bought by chocolatier, Thorntons, she took the proceeds and poured them all into her new soap-making business.



It was a punt worth taking; within a year, Soapsmith was stocked in Harrods. And it’s not hard to understand why. The products – each of its six signature scents is named after the area of London that inspired it – are exceptional. Made using the old artisanal technique of cold processing, Samantha honed her craft with the support of the Fragrance House, which manufactures high-end scents for fashion houses. They are a luxury worth indulging in; everything about Soapsmith’s products makes you feel better, from the heavenly scent to reassuring absence of chemicals. To underline the point, the hard-to-please beauty industry took note of these natural, recycle-ably (and beautifully) packaged soaps instantly; richly-deserved column inches in the glossy likes of Stylish, Vogue and GQ soon stacked up.



Here, Samantha tells us about taking risks, why a job you hate is never worth it, and which book never leaves her side.

Follow Soapsmith on Instagram here.

Favourite place in all the world?




You mean aside from London?! It would have to be Maui, Hawaii. It is a magical place and really showed me the beauty in the world – lots of untainted scenes and the most-friendly people. I remember just how beautiful and serene the beaches are there. I adore the Haleakala National Park; it’s around 30,000 acres and is a habitat for a large number of endangered species, which is pretty special. The tropical, fresh smells of the place – as you can imagine – tantalise my senses too!


Dream holiday?




I have always loved and been fascinated by Japanese culture. The juxtaposition of technologically advanced, urban cities with beautiful cherry blossom and bamboo. I was given the chance to go on a fully paid trip to Tokyo a few years back, but I sadly declined as it was at a critical time for Soapsmith and I couldn’t leave the business. I would not have enjoyed the experience as much as I would have been worrying about work. At some point I would love to actually go and experience Japan in all its glory.


Most coveted item right now?


A Timothy Oulten Nirvana Sofa set in destroyed black leather! My whole family would enjoy it rather than just me, which is bonus. The low-down seating really has been designed for lounging. I have sat in the display one many times (I think they know my name now). I’d like to think I’ll treat us to it one day… maybe when my daughter is a little older and less likely to get pen marks on it!



Proudest professional moment to date?


When you run a business, you have to take risks. Some will succeed, some will fail. Taking my business back to the bones, rebranding it and relaunching it in 2019 was a scary thing. So, when we landed our first big iconic account after the rebrand, I was more than just being able to sleep easy again; I was so proud. Liberty London suddenly saw the passion in me and the creativity that we pour into the business – just like they have done for more than 100 years.


Your dream future project?


There are quite a few dream future projects. I don’t want to reveal too much, but I always wanted to collaborate with a famous gin company. I have so many ideas around a bespoke gin-inspired hand lotion and wash.


Who has been your most inspiring mentor, professionally or personally?


Pat McGrath hands down. She inspires me every day. She is at the top of her craft and has just kept working so hard to produce gorgeous make-up looks. Her make up collection is simply divine (like her Divine range). The way she approaches her craft inspires me greatly.


Where would you live if you could live anywhere?




Honestly, I am so happy with where I live right now: London. London is my home, its where I was inspired to start the Soapsmith London collection from. It is truly a melting pot with a vibrant feel and it is brimming with creativity.


What book is on your nightstand/ kindle right now?


The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit published by Bloomsbury. It’s always by my side. It’s a handy book of pairings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook. It gives me little titbits of scent combos – completely random ones such as cinnamon and thyme. Or a simple apple and rose pairing can also be an interesting combo when blended the right way and with added scent notes to entwine them.


Best film you’ve seen recently?





I recently watched Nobody starring the actor from Bob Odenkirk of Better Call Saul fame and it was riveting from start to finish for me. It’s an unassuming guy who turns out to be an amazing contract killer. His son was disappointed that his dad didn’t stand up to an armed intruder. Little did the son know what skills his father possessed. Nobody 2 coming up in three, two, one….



Best binge-watched TV show?


I adore Better Call Saul. I liked Breaking Bad, however I enjoyed watching the saga of Saul much more. The final series is out now, so it’s nice to put a close to how he will end the chapter of his life and move on. There are so many great shows to be honest, you could really lose yourself in a world of Netflix if you are not careful.


What did you want to be when you grew up?


I always just knew that whatever I did, I must enjoy it. You spend a lot of your time in the workplace, it might as well be work you enjoy doing. I also knew that it would be unlikely to be desk bound, and that it would be in a creative field. I’ve always been a hands-on sort of person, keeping busy. I enjoy creating and developing things and watching them grow and blossom, be it a scent creation that takes me on a journey or a way of making a product, such as our bath soaks.


Worst job you’ve ever done?


I honestly don’t have any worse jobs – it’s not worth working in a place you hate. I have had a few fun jobs; I even loved my Woolworth’s job as a teenager. I’m also not precious about the types of jobs I do day-to-day. I’m often getting told off for interfering with the production of our products, but I can’t help it. I just love being on the ground, getting my hands dirty!


Favourite dish to cook?




I make a mean pasta bake. It’s fast to produce, it tastes great and it keeps for seconds (the most ‘mum’ sentence I ever said!). It’s super-easy: cooked pasta, spices, mincemeat and three different kinds of cheese. I use mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan.


Favourite café/ restaurant?


Dishoom would be up there. It’s where I met my other half, plus the food is lovely and the atmosphere is really enjoyable. Indian food with a British touch, fun dishes – and the cocktails are delicious. I really enjoy the Chicken Berry Britannia. Just thinking about it now makes my mouth water!


What tune always makes you want to dance?





You know those tunes that you absolutely love, that make you wish to your god that you could sing like an angel? Those songs that make your tummy tingle? Well, my song that makes me want to sing and dance is Don’t You Worry About A Thing by Stevie Wonder and then expertly sung by Tori Kelly in the movie ‘Sing’ which my daughter adores. Gosh songs are my second favourite thing after my passion for scent and soap. Also, Eve – Satisfaction. It’s a special one for me and it’s such an old school tune. The beat just has you shaking your head in a slow motion, and I find my body just uncontrollably moving along with the beat; simply bizarre. I like the lyrics because along my Soapsmith journey, especially in the early days, I was told countless no’s. A few people didn’t think I could make it, but here we are and we keep on working hard and moving forward.


Favourite website or app?


It has to be Google, no one can escape the google search, it’s the world at your fingertips. Second is YouTube, you can learn to cook, apply makeup, fix all manner of things in your home, what is not like about that?


Favourite Instagrammer and why?


I can’ t reply to this question with a single one as there are so many wonderful Instagrammers out there. We have wonderful relationships with Lisa Potter Dixon, Sali Hughes, Madeleine Spencer, Bryony Blake to name just a few. They’ve been so supportive of us over the past few years, and they’re real, genuine people. Instagram is such a wonderful place to share and discover, and these people stay true to that.


Most useful thing on your desk?


Phone stand for when I’m doing interviews or recording reels. Otherwise everyone ends up just looking up my nose which I’m told is not as nice as the full face!


Which five people, dead or alive, would you find most interesting to be stuck in a lift with?


Nelson Mandela. He would be filled with wisdom, life lessons and stories that I think we could all listen to more and take forward.

Neil Armstrong – only have one question for him: ‘Did you really?’

The Queen – to give her a break and for her to just chill out, especially since Prince Phillip died. When my dad passed away, I remember how sad my mum was, and she didn’t have the weight of the nation on her shoulders like the Queen. Having family around her helped, and taking a moment to just sit and chat is a luxury not everyone has. I think she’d enjoy an hour in a lift to just be quiet (if I were there, I would try not to chew her ear off…)

Eddie Roschi. He is the founder of one of my most admired companies in the world, Le Labo. I met him a few years ago and he was just so cool and freely giving advice, sharing his experiences. With Soapsmith, we do our best to also stay true to our roots and ethos, and we really admire how they do it.

Stephen Fry – one of the smartest guys around – he’s so knowledgeable and would no doubt work out why the lift is stuck and for how long we would be there.

Stephen Fry June 2016
US Embassy London, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Favourite building?




Battersea Power Station is one that sticks out in my mind. It’s a stunning development and its iconic structure always makes me smile.


Your screensaver?


It is a simple screen shot of all the soap bars I made. I would normally love my daughter on there, but I am a protective mum and would be thinking about her all the time.


What would your biography be called?


Busy Making Soap. It was on my website for about three years before I opened an online shop. People would contact us on our website and be greeted with just a blank page with the words: busy making soap, which now I think back might have infuriated some people. Oops.


What would be your epitaph?


‘She loved scents. Oh and her husband and kid too.’

By Nancy Alsop
May 2022

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