Natural Talent

Ryan Jacob Wood uses only natural elements in his delicate, decorative soapmaking

By Moe Godat

Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


Ryan Jacob Wood was born an artist, but he does admit to not being keen on making soap in the beginning. “A friend of ours gave us an unused soapmaking kit her roommate left behind when he moved out. My husband started making some simple recipes and got interested in the science of soapmaking,” Wood says. “I was initially off put by the whole process and wouldn’t touch his soap for a year, but as he got better, I saw that there was more to it than oil and lye. Creating something that could be useful as well as beautiful, tangible but temporary, somehow drew me in.”

Once he’d learned the benefits of using homemade soap, Wood was hooked. He noticed that his creations provided him with relief from skin problems and that choosing natural oils gave each batch its own flair. “I love knowing everything I’m putting on my skin is healthy, natural and nourishing. I’ve seen that our soap has made a difference in how my skin feels, and I know other people can benefit from it as well.” Once he’d grown to love the art, he and husband, Bary, started Woodberry Co., their own homemade soap company.

Wood’s delicate soaps are decorated with more than just talent; he’s also a grapheme-color synasthete, which means that he perceives numbers, letters, names and occassionally smells as colors. This plays into his soapmaking process, as the smell of the oils chosen for a batch dictate how the bar will be decorated. “I am inspired by trying to keep everything as natural as possible. I like using natural herbs, colors and scents that appeal to me.”

He begins the actual process of soapmaking by ensuring that his skin is completely covered to avoid the danger of chemical burns. Then, he moves on to measure out each step exactly so the soap will have the perfect blend of lye, distilled water, solid oils and liquid oils. Once all are combined, he thickens the product with a hand mixer and adds in all his colors and essential oils; then it’s time to pour the mixture into the mold and add some interest with swirls or sparkles. It takes from four to six weeks for the soap to set, but then, as Wood puts it, “They’re ready to hit the shower!”

“I do my best to live a healthy, active lifestyle, and at Woodberry Co., we believe healthy choices matter,” Wood says. “Our all-natural soap is handmade in small batches with sustainably sourced vegan ingredients, vegetable and mineral pigments and therapeutic-grade essential oils. The result is a healthy, moisture-rich bar we know you will love.”

Woodberry Co.’s products can be found at or on Instagram and Facebook.