Purple Urchin started as a small home-based business operating out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Started in February 2006, we have been selling our soap online, at craft shows and farmer's markets and as of November 2011, Purple Urchin has been run out of our production space and storefront at 884 Somerset Street West, in Ottawa's Chinatown. You can also find our products in many retail locations around Ottawa and environs.
Our goal in making this soap was to make a wide variety of soap that contained only vegetable oils and delicious fragrances, while avoiding the use of unnecessary chemicals. See How Our Soap Is Made. We wanted to make soap that felt luxurious and would not strip the skin of moisture, and that was as natural as possible while still offering a wide range of scents. That’s how Purple Urchin came about. We are pleased to offer varieties of soap that are all mild enough to be used by even those with the most sensitive skin. People with eczema and psoriasis have used our soap with no negative effects, and in some cases their skin conditions have improved. We have soaps made with essential oils, soaps made with un-cut, high-quality fragrance oils (cutting means adding harsh solvents to thin out the fragrance and make it go further) and soaps made with both, or neither. We feel that while essential oils are closer to nature than fragrance oils, there are negative environmental and health effects from both and it is up to the customer to choose which one is best for them. See our Essential Oils Vs. Fragrance Oils page for more details!
Our soap is completely safe: we test all of our soap batches on ourselves first before selling them. Purple Urchin soap is not tested on animals, nor do we use lard or tallow in our soap. Most of our products are 100% vegan-friendly, and all are 100% vegetarian-friendly, and biodegradable. (We do, however, produce soap for Algonquin College using leftover animal fat from their culinary program, which is then sold by Alonquin College in order to help fund student bursaries. We are careful to thoroughly clean and sanitize all equipment used in the production of this soap before using it to make Purple Urchin soap.This animal fat soap is not Purple Urchin soap, and we do not sell it ourselves, nor do we ever include animal fats in any of Purple Urchin's products). We refrain from using palm oil in our soaps since the demand is extremely high (in cosmetics and food production), resulting in the clear-cutting of forests in Indonesia and Malaysia in order to produce more palm oil. This practice is threatening wildlife, and it is a major cause of human rights abuse. Also associated with palm oil is the widespread use of illegal chemicals, which damage health and pollute land and water.
Being environmentally-friendly is also extremely important to us in our everyday business operations, and we try to reduce waste and to use as many recyclable and/or recycled products as possible. We also use local, Ontarian, and Canadian suppliers whenever possible. Our soap and some of our other products are packaged in compostable and biodegradable cellophane derived from wood, and all of our plastic bottles and jars can be reused or recycled, as they are made of PET (#1) or HDPE (#2) plastics.
We are always working on new types of body care products, and we hope to offer even more varieties in the future, so check back often! Stop by the store and say hi for the first look at new products we put out.
We'd like to thank all our loyal customers for their enthusiasm and support of our products and also a general thank you to Ottawa for welcoming us and being such a great city that supports local, natural, handmade products.