A decade ago, while raising three young children on a remote cattle property in western Queensland, part of daily life was feeding livestock with her kids. Living in such a harsh environment meant that the children often had dry, wind blown skin, but when Melissa applied moisturisers their skin would sting. She’d often turn to olive oil to soothe them, and although it wasn't a perfect solution, it didn't cause pain and irritation. She began to realise she didn’t apply the same scrutiny when buying products to use on her and her family’s skin as she did to food labels. After continuous reactions to shampoo, she started reading her product labels and found that both expensive and supermarket brands contained similar irritating ingredients.
She threw herself into research and was soon experimenting with her first batches. Melissa began selling her soap bars at the local handmade market, interacting face to face with customers and learning their wants. With an expanding loyal customer base, Washpool eventually outgrew the farmhouse kitchen before taking a big step into the storefront and workshop in Ballandean. In November 2019, Washpool celebrated its tenth year in business and is making plans for an even better (and greener) future.
Melissa, her husband Warren and their daughters Emily, Hannah and Jessica along with their poodle Dickens and cattle herd now live off-grid about 8km from the tiny township of Ballandean. Washpool is a family business, with Melissa and Emily working full time and Warren dividing his time between the farm and the soaperie. Drawing on her background as an academic and educator, Melissa loves sharing her knowledge with visitors to the Ballandean area and regularly holds courses so students can appreciate the hands-on nature of soapmaking.