I have to admit that I have a little bit of a crafty crush on Tracy Perkins of Strawberry Hedgehog. I’ve even written about her here before. She makes absolutely amazing vegan bath and beauty products, and she’s a vegan activist to boot! This summer, she pulled together a series of vegan bake sales, raising thousands of dollars for a local no kill shelter near her hometown in Arizona.
But enough gushing from me. Let’s hear from Tracy!
1. Tell me about how you got started crafting.
I played with crafting all through childhood; puffy paint, tie dye, sequins, beads. I was never very good but always had so much fun making things. I left crafting behind in adolescence but hung onto the love of making things. Once I hit high school and college this took the form of a passion for vegan cooking and baking. During a winter intersession I took a job at a bath and body shop in a mall. After constant inexplicable headaches and severe breathing problems I realized I was reacting to the synthetic ingredients in the “natural” line of products. I became obsessed with what goes into everything and the truly natural lines were outside of my limited price range. I learned the active ingredients and figured out how to make my own products while omitting the unnecessary chemicals. A new crafting passion was born!
2. What draws you to eco-friendly materials?
Mother Nature is all we have, and what a gift she is. Nothing we can create is more perfect than what she has already been working on developing for millions of years. Plant materials lend us their healing properties, not found in their synthetic counterparts. We can manufacture “identical to nature” oils but they are still unable to provide the true aromatherapy of naturally derived essential oils. I am in awe of how beautiful Nature is, why would you want to work with anything less? Apart from that I do have a lot of sensitivities myself. As a result I am admittedly obsessed with avoiding anything harmful to my body, namely synthetic fragrance which contain pthalates and petrochemicals, parabens, sulfates, etc. which in quantity can harm the Earth as well. I choose organic as often as possible to avoid the run off of pesticides and fertilizers into our waterways and groundwater. I teach Physical Geology and Environmental Disasters at the Community College when I’m not making products so I am well aware of the negative consequences of industrial farming and share that information with my students as well.
3. What inspires you?
If it isn’t obvious in the previous question I am quite inspired by nature! A walk through our little AZ garden (when the temps are below 100!) is all it takes to have my mind swimming with ideas on new scent and color combinations. Even my business name, Strawberry Hedgehog, is a type of cactus! Desert plants, herbs and flowers constantly inspire me, their scent, their taste, their feel, their colors. Apart from that I am also always inspired by good food. Serve me a delicious dessert or interesting cup of tea and the wheels instantly start turning on how to convert those scents into a bar of soap. :c)
4. Who are your crafty heroes?
My Mom, my sister, and my Mom’s grandmother are my crafty heroes. I never met my Granny Annie but all my life have heard stories and seen what she was able to do. In all of my Mom’s childhood photos she looks like a little model though they were quite poor, she says she never knew it. Granny Annie would make them beautiful dresses out of sacks! Nearly everything in my parent’s wedding photos has a touch of Granny Annie. She made the dress, the cake, the food, a huge memorial at the Church. Everything she did, she seemed to do with absolute love and sincerity. She was resourceful and clever, not to mention creative and skilled. She passed this on to my Mom, also an amazing seamstress and the lady who taught me I could do anything I wanted to do. She showed my sister and I how to play with making things and instilled that love of creativity.
5. Where can folks find your work?
Folks can find my soaps all around the Phoenix Valley in the bulk section at Whole Foods Markets and at some pretty amazing boutiques including Loveland, Blueberry Deluxe, Ecocentricity!, Inside the Bungalow, and Fuchsia Spa. You can see a map and list of locations at strawberryhedgehog.com/locate. They are also at a couple of AJ’s Fine Foods Tucson locations, and in Hollywood at Primrose Organics Salon (hehe that is fun to say). I offer my full line of products online to anyone in the US, 24-7 through strawberryhedgehog.com.
Are you an eco-friendly crafter? If you’d like to be interviewed as part of the 5 Questions series, just contact me!