#FeatureFriday: Jodi Westcarr – ‘Purely Scentimental’ About Soapmaking

Jodi Westcarr is a woman of many talents, in diverse fields. A registered dietitian, she specialises in the nutritional management of diseases affecting the respiratory and pulmonary systems, as well as nutrition care in oncology. She currently works in the Liguanea Region of Medical Institutions, which incorporates the Sir John Golding Rehab Centre, Hope Institute Hospital and National Chest Hospital, and also does private consultations in weight and chronic disease management and nutrition in pregnancy. She also recently became interested in soapmaking, and has turned that hobby into a fledgling business, Purely Scentimental. On top of that, she has a beautiful voice, and can occasionally be found singing about love at weddings.

Jodi doing her thing at a wedding in 2013.

Jodi entered the field of dietetics because of her love for food, and the firm belief that ones medicine should be ones food, as stated by Hippocrates. “Also, I really believe that this field chose me.  I have attempted to leave it to pursue other passions, but it has claimed me as its own and the arm of providence has led me to believe that this is where I belong,” she said.

The arm of providence must have also been at work nine months ago when Jodi attended the Stepping High Festival in Negril in March and found a bar of soap made from cannabis and other ingredients. “I purchased the rather expensive bar and gave it a try. I was hooked!” she shared. “I absolutely loved this handcrafted bar and greatly appreciated how it made my skin feel in comparison to commercially available ones. I saved the wrapper with contact information of the suppliers and mentally prepared to make the trip to receive the stash of goodies. When I found the wrapper, it was badly mangled and though I was able to make out the contact number and call several times, no one answered.”

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It was curiosity and an interest in potential business ideas connected with the lucrative marijuana industry that led her to the festival, and that same spirit sparked the idea to try to make her own soap for personal use. “After attempting the first batch, I became addicted to the process. I invested much of my pay cheque into what became a hobby. By the time I caught myself, I had several blocks of soap on hand,” she said. A quick post on Instagram generated a buzz amongst her friends, which intensified after the picture landed on her Facebook page. Their encouragement and interest in purchasing what she had made led to the development of the Purely Scentimental brand of all-natural, hand-crafted skin care products.

There are twenty soaps in the Purely Scentimental catalogue, with catchy names such as Black Rasta and Lemon-Ginger Surprise, all made from locally sourced ingredients you can easily recognise and pronounce, such as ginger, turmeric, spirulina, vanilla extract, beetroot; essential oils of lavender, orange, sandalwood and peppermint; neem and coconut oils, as well as activated charcoal, honey, ground coffee, cocoa, cinnamon, and even beer and Dragon Stout. There’s one laundry bar, made with only coconut oil that has been saponified. The line also includes beard cream for men, beeswax candles and DEET-free insect repellent.

“The feedback has been tremendous! I had grossly underestimated the response I’d have gotten to the products. Customers are very supportive. I am especially happy when I hear how well the product works for them. My aim is to help them achieve their skin care goals,” she said.

So, which is her personal favourite? “It’s funny that you would ask that question.  I’m still trying to determine my favourite. I’m constantly experimenting and every time I think I’ve found THE ONE, another one trumps it,” she said. “The thing about the soaps is that they all have different characteristics because of the varying essential oils used. For example, a soap scented with lavender oil may induce relaxation and rest and may be my favourite for night-time use, and a soap scented with sweet orange oil may be invigorating and therefore be my favourite for day time use. I love them all! If I had to choose one though, it would be the Dragon Stout Coffee soap. It is extremely creamy, aromatic and decadent.”

Dragon Stout Coffee Cupcake Soap

Soapmaking is both a scientific and artistic endeavour, and Jodi is gifted in both areas. While she is certainly enjoying the appeal of “minding my own business, since minding other’s business is not quite as enticing,” the balancing act is difficult with such a demanding day job. She admits she is yet to conquer that hurdle, but appreciates the lessons this endeavour has been teaching her. “Soapmaking has taught me so much about myself and about life in general. The journey has included moments of joy and some of disappointment. I have learnt to respect the process, learnt to be patient and learnt to accept failure and loss. Since much of what I do to refine a recipe is exploratory and experimental, there are times when an experiment goes bad – too much this, too much that – and it is difficult to salvage a batch of soap. I have had to learn to absorb that loss.”

Next year is gearing up to be a big year for Purely Scentimental, and Jodi is looking to wrap up 2016 with a bang by exhibiting at Market at the Lawn this Sunday at Devon House, so go on out and get your Christmas shopping on!

Quick Questions

Q: What is your philosophy in life?

My philosophy in life is to be the greatest version of myself that I can possibly attain.

Q: My website is called Written by Tracey, so of course I have to ask, what was the last thing you wrote?

A: The last thing I wrote most definitely has to be a status update on Facebook. The last significant thing I’ve written is my Purely Scentimental Skin Care Catalogue.

Q: And since I firmly believe reading puts the FUN in fundamental, what is the last thing you read?

A: I love that play on words! The last thing I read was The Dip by Seth Godin. Heaven knows that self-help books deliver the inspiration that a budding entrepreneur needs.

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