The business as I think about it started as a dream wish about 21 years ago when I listened to a talk on how to create a sustainable house and life. It wasn’t the right time back then, so it stayed a dream until 2014 when I purchased my property in Black Springs. The plan was always to build a sustainable house and support that with a sustainable lifestyle.
I started looking at what I could make myself to become self-sufficient and sustainable. There are many things one can do including making soap so I did a weekend of soap making courses which included learning how to make cold process shaving soap. A friend suggested that there was a lack of shaving soap makers in Australia so I started looking into the different ways you can make shaving soap. I found a recipe for hot process shaving soap and started experimenting with ingredients. I chose hot process shaving soap because when I looked at other artisan shaving soap makers I found that this was predominantly the main method people used. Also the cold process shaving soap I made did not lather very well largely due to the fact that it contained olive oil.
My testers were my work colleagues who gave me feedback on their shaving experience using my soap right down to the size tins I should use. It took quite a few batches and around a year to come up with the right recipe that they all loved. As my colleagues were testing the soap I started designing the logo. I wanted to incorporate my property as this was where I was going to make the soap. On my property as I look outside there is the most beautiful tree which reflected the joy and peace I had found so it became my logo. The Whispers part summed up the way people saw me (so they said) mystical, spiritual and environmentally conscious. The Woods came from my name and the fact that I made the shaving soap ‘out in the woods’.
As I learned more about traditional shaving or wet shaving as it is called I thought about how many plastic disposable razors must be discarded every day into land fill. One of those insidious throw away items people don’t think about on an environmental level. I realized that most guys (and girls) do not know that there are alternatives to buying and using expensive plastic razors and toxic goo in a can so I decided that I would educate people as I sold my soap.
I started selling just my shaving soap at work and friends suggested I do markets as well so I looked into my local farmer’s market at Oberon and started selling there. One table and only my shaving soap humble beginnings. I knew that you needed a brush to get the most out of my shaving soap to make a lather so I started to source shaving brushes. Not easy to find, however, I eventually found a supplier and started selling the brushes as well. It was around this time I also looked into alternatives to plastic razors and I discovered that you could still buy the ‘old fashioned’ safety razors, in fact there was a growing wet shaving community out there and so my wet shaving passion started.
Shaving is something that a lot of guy’s dislike. This is due to a few different reasons I believe. The first is that they have reactions to the tinned goo and the lubricating strips in the plastic razors. The second is that they use a plastic razor with 3-5 blades which cuts the hair very short causing ingrown hairs, redness, bumps and folliculitis none of which is very pleasant. The answer then for most is to grow a beard or keep a ‘three-day growth’. At least this is what a lot of guys have said when I have asked them at the markets.
Prior to plastic razors guy’s used to treat their shave as a ritual. They would strop their straight (cut throat) razor or prepare their safety razor after whipping up a lather and lathering their face prior to shaving. A good lather is important as it should provide slickness and glide for the razor essential for getting a close shave. Lathering up your face is equally important as this prepares the hair for shaving. The brush exfoliates the skin and as you brush the lather on your face you are lifting the hair to help give a closer shave.
Sadly, we have become time obsessed in that people feel they have no time, so the ritual of shaving has been replaced with electric shavers that hack the hair not cut it and plastic razors which are readily available albeit very expensive. Fathers no longer seem to pass down the art of shaving to their sons so guys no longer understand how enjoyable and pleasurable shaving can be. These days everything you need is found in the supermarket, so people do not know that they have a choice. If only they knew that by choosing wet-shaving they would have a more enjoyable experience, a better shave, a cheaper shave and they will reduce their carbon footprint.