In the Pays de Gex, the village of Chézery-Forens is known for its cheese making. But the discovery of a very different traditional craft is also offered to you in the village thanks to the Ferrone soap factory .

L’Office de Tourisme a rencontré Emmanuelle, la savonnière, qui nous raconte la genèse de sa passion.

OT : Have you always lived in Chézery ?

EF : I am originally from Champfromier but I spent my childhood in Chézery, which is my favourite village. I am a child of the Valserine Valley and the Haut-Jura. I have a particular attachment to this territory that I love as much as the people who live there.

Savonnerie Ferrone
La Savonnerie Ferrone à Chézery-Forens

OT : Have you always been a soap maker ?

EF : No, the craft of soap making is a professional reconversion, maybe a mid-life crisis! More seriously, I had positions of responsibility mainly in the oil and automotive industries.

My career path no longer corresponded to my desires, nor to my vision of life. There comes a time when you have to take stock of your life… And even if making a 180 degree turn is sometimes complicated, I don’t regret having taken this decision. I am delighted to be able to align my ideas, my values and my professional life.

OT : How did you get this idea ?

EF : Like many mothers, we are much more concerned about the products used for our child than for ourselves. For me, the birth of my son was a trigger on my way of consuming and especially on the quality of the products I used.

For his sake, I used to buy “special baby” shower gel in the pharmacy. I believed that this was a guarantee of confidence in the quality and safety of the product. Until the day I took a close look at the ingredients and how to read the labels. It was a shock!

I then looked for healthier and more natural toiletries. I met an artisan soap maker at a market who made cold process soap (SAF). It was a real revelation to use natural soaps! My skin problems naturally disappeared! Just like my son, I no longer need to add moisturizer to my skin after the shower.

So I became interested in this manufacturing process. As I am very manual, I started to make my own soaps. I became “addicted” to it and sought professional training as a soap maker.

OT : How did you learn ?

EF : To embark on a new career path is good but you have to be sure of your choice. For me, I needed to be authentic if I changed my profession and therefore decided to obtain a diploma.

So in 2017, I passed my certificate of artisan soap maker at the European University of Flavours and Scents in Forcalquier, in the Alpes de Haute-Provence. This reinforced my choice. Moreover, I was also able to acquire knowledge on the manufacturing process, the interaction of ingredients, and on the European regulation of cosmetic products which is very strict. You don’t make the same soap in your kitchen as the one you sell on a market. It is much more complex!

OT : What techniques and products do you use ?

EF : The ingredients I use are mainly natural and from organic farming. Indeed, all the vegetable oils are organic (argan, olive, sunflower, sweet almond, hemp, shea, coconut…), as well as the essential oils, the Bastien fir honey that I take from Confort (10k m from the soap factory) is organic, the goat’s milk that I take from the noire-Combe goat farm in Chézery (village of the soap factory) is also organic, as well as the poppy seeds or the cocoa powder that comes from the Sept-Fons Abbey in France.

The clays used are all natural. It is important to know that to make solid soap, it is mandatory to use sodium hydroxide, more commonly called “caustic soda”.
It is a mineral chemical substance that is entirely transformed during the manufacturing process. That is to say that once in contact with vegetable oils, a chemical reaction takes place. It allows the total transformation of the hydroxide, on the one hand in soap and on the other hand in glycerin.

The manufacturing technique that I use is ancestral and traditional, it is the “cold saponification”. This means that I do not heat my ingredients in order to keep their properties intact for the benefit of the skin.

The vegetable oils, essential oils, clays and all the ingredients I use are known to have specific properties on the skin to moisturize, soothe, nourish, soften, firm, soften, calm, heal, relieve, repair, purify, tone, stimulate…

Savonnerie Ferrone
Les savons de la savonnerie Ferrone

OT : What are the qualities and advantages ?

EF : This manufacturing technique has several advantages and I will simplify their explanations. The rate of surgras, for my part is 6%. It makes it possible to protect the skin from drying out during the washing. The rate of glycerin created, which is important, that is to say of 8,5%, makes it possible to hydrate the skin. No more dry skin nor the need for a cream after the shower.

The fact of having a protected and hydrated skin makes it possible to avoid or limit any problem of skin such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, etc. Moreover, the ingredients I use are not chosen at random because they are known to help atopic skin. It is important to know that cold saponification takes time. Indeed, it takes 4 to 6 weeks of drying, called “cure”, so that the soap can reach an ideal PH for the skin and thus allow its marketing.

My soaps have the advantage of being able to be used several times a day without ever drying the skin. You can therefore multiply showers or hand washing while preserving your skin.

OT : Where can we purchase your magnificent soaps ? 

EF : There are several ways to get a soap of my production. It is possible to order on the website or to purchase them at local distributors: at the Comptoir de la Bio in Saint-Genis-Pouilly, at the pharmacy of la Michelle in Châtillon-en-Michaille, at the Epicerie du Gralet in Chézery, at the Vie Claire in Les Rousses, at the Epicerie au P’tit Confort in Confort and at the tobacconist’s shop in Lélex

You can also purchase my soaps directly at the Ferrone Soapery store in Chézery-Forens on Fridays from 2pm to 7pm and on Saturdays from 9am to 12pm, at my distributors and at local craft markets.