Cast your mind back to a time before the internet. Carolyn Imlach had recently been made redundant from a job in textiles, so borrowed a soap-making book from the local library and began hand-rolling these fragrant balls that are now at the heart of her range of all-natural body products, Est Australia.
That was almost 20 years ago and, from an early start at local markets Carolyn now rolls over 40,000 balls of soap a year and still makes soap every day.
Now back in Tasmania where she was born, Carolyn calls historic Longford House, an 1835 Georgian estate, home and in the village of Longford just outside of Launceston, Carolyn is close to family and happy to live a slower, more organic life. "Soap is only part of my world," she says as she also has a passion for fermenting vegetables, raw ingredients and all things natural and holistic.
"There is a lot of history in the home," she says and enjoys exploring neighbouring historic estates of Woolmers and Brickendon.
Carolyn and her farmer husband resettled in Van Diemans Land on Australia Day in 2016 after the Black Saturday bushfires devastated their berry farm and they lost everything. Carolyn now has a big commercial kitchen at Longford House with lots of stainless steel bench tops to produce the Est range of soaps, creams and salves in.
"It's a small range," she says, "but we have 150 retailers around Australia and still sell at the Redhill Market and through our online store", including to plastic surgeons who buy her products for their patients. “I can’t make enough for whole world!" she laughs.
Est soaps contain Victorian olive oil, "From a grove in Seymour," she enthuses. Tasmanian beeswax and honey can be found in other products in her range, which is complimented by her careful selection of homewares, including beeswax candles, brushes and beautiful quality linens, all available online.
"This is a life-affirming business, it gives back to me.”
Carolyn makes all of her products at home in Longford House and sends to her flagship shop in Hawthorn, Victoria where they are shipped to like-minded stockists all over Australia and direct to her online customers.
Beyond the myriad scented hand rolled soap balls and blocks, the range includes a carefully thought out selection of creams and salves, like her Lavender and Tea-Tree balm, an old-fashioned, natural healing balm containing all organic &/or pure ingredients to heal, sooth and restore skin from life's every day bites and bruises.
Carolyn's daughter, Stephanie used to sit in the car with her colouring books when Carolyn would first take her products to market. Stephanie now makes all of the soap blocks by hand and drives to market herself. "All of our ingredients are raw and unprocessed," says Carolyn, who loves the old traditions and to live and breathe the world of handmade.
Now working on developing a Tasmanian range of products to hero local produce, Carolyn feels she has started a new chapter in her life.
"It's lovely to be back here," she says, "And my husband never tires of the view. Incorporating into your life what you do means you make your work around what’s possible."