Samantha Jameson is the founder of award-winning artisan soap brand Soapsmith which launched in 2012. Each of Jameson’s scents are inspired by, and named after, different locations around London, from Camden Town to Whitechapel. She and her team work from an old watch factory in Walthamstow crafting her products, which have since expanded to include bath soaks, hand wash and body lotion.

We caught up her to talk about memory, scent and how you might go about translating the London landscape into soap.

How did you come to make soaps in Walthamstow? Are you the Soapsmith?

I had been making soaps for over 6 years when it occurred to me that with UK manufacturing in decline and there was an opportunity to start a local, authentic company for luxury handmade soaps. So in 2010 Soapsmith was born. Two years of product development, obsessively refining my craft, the blood, sweat and tears paid off with a listing in the one-and-only Harrods. So yes, I guess I am a Soap Smith, as are the people who work with me.

London is an obvious inspiration in your work. What is it about the city that you love?

I was born in London -  Hackney to be exact -  and it is the place I will always call home. London is where I take a lot of inspiration from, the history and knowledge is vast and you can find little nuggets of information and inspiration in the most random of places. London is my first love, and I am so proud of it.

The first soap you made was Lavender Hill. And you have since made products which are informed by six other locales in London. How do you decide which parts of London should be turned into a soap?

Lavender Hill felt like a natural place to start. In the 18th Century, it was the heartland of distillation of essential oils (hence its name). This little bit of history is what sparked my idea to name my scents after locations. Scent is my strongest sense, and I’ve always found my connection to a place comes through its smells. The scent of a place is what evokes memory, so I thought “What if I could bottle and share my memories of all the wonderful places I connect with, through beautiful scents?”

How do you begin to capture the essence of a place as a scent?

It’s about what the memory evokes in my sense of smell. Although admittedly I leave out the less pleasant smells…. I might also do a little research into a place to get more of an understanding behind why a place is the way it is.

For instance, friends and I used to go clubbing on Brick Lane and then have the best curry. I’ve got hundreds of stories from being in Brick Lane’s vibrant, culturally rich and Indian-influenced scene, which evoke the scents - amber, black pepper and heaps of sandalwood.

And Bloomsbury has a special place in my heart. When I was younger I used to travel through Euston, past the Law Courts in Bloomsbury, on my way to school. The historic imposing buildings are surrounded by the most beautiful immaculate lawns and flower beds.  They always smelt so sweet but frustratingly I could never get my nose up close with the big iron fencing surrounding the private property. I love reminiscing of a time when Bloomsbury was the perfect antidote to my east London, urban lifestyle, so the scent had to reflect the calm, sophisticated smells of fresh cut roses, peony, primrose & honeysuckle.

If you could distill the scent from just one place in a bottle, where would it be?

I would go for a really fun and exciting time in my life which was the 2012 London Olympics. I was busy working on Soapsmith as we had just launched but was able to catch a day programme of the horsing event – thinking back to how magical that time was, the weather was perfect and the whole GB team did us proud I would choose the 2012 London Olympics! I would hark back to Greek times and build from there.

Do you have a favorite product from your range?

If I had to choose only one, it would be Hackney. It is in homage to Hackney Marshes where I used to watch my brothers playing football and to go for walks. It is very misty in the morning and a great place to think. When I first launched Hackney, I included a special soap with a green background (for the marshes) and white and purple swirls (for space). This was very deliberate. It was in reference to a little-known fact that Halley’s Comet was discovered by Hackney resident Edmond Halley while he worked at the Greenwich Observatory. It’s the little touches and facts about London that make is so special.

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