Soap by Eleni
Utilizing Andros’ blessed water and premium products, this small company makes superb handmade soaps while staying committed to supporting the maintenance of the island’s trails
These richly aromatic soaps were given to me by beloved friends through whom I met and loved Andros. ‘Soap by Eleni’ was established in 2014 by Eleni Petsa-Kourtesi in Stenies, Andros. The 4 letter Es in the logo stand for the founder Eleni, her two granddaughters, Elena and Eugenia, and the four chemical compounds known as esters that are formed during saponification. When soap making, Eleni doesn’t simply create. She encloses Andros’ premium products in her soaps. She uses bitter almond and castor oil and only organic palm oil.
Her wine soaps, containing wine from the family vineyards and seeds dried under the island sun, have high antioxidant properties and make a perfect scrub. The oil soaps are infused with water made from local bitter orange leaves and contain mint straight from Eleni’s garden. The soap flakes are made of olive, coconut and castor oil, red wine, honey, sodium hydroxide and orange water. The chevron soaps include a water-soluble paper and lemon essence. The glycerin soaps, made from Stephenson glycerin imported from the UK, can be used thirty minutes after production, while oil soaps take about twenty days to perfect.
Eleni spent her childhood summers in Stenies and her overriding memory is the smell of laurel oil soap on her bed sheets. Local women still wash their clothes in the local water fountain and let them dry on a surface made from the famous Karystos stones from Southern Euboea. When Eleni was younger, she used to wash her clothes with the women in order to get some tips on soap making. She still enjoys washing her clothes during the summer in the very same place but is now joined by her granddaughters.
Eleni’s first soap did not meet her expectations probably because she opted for an old soap making process using potassium hydroxide and then pouring the liquid into wooden trays covered with newspapers! She then decided to attend soap making seminars at the Institute of Agronomic Sciences, followed by private lessons with a British soap maker, which culminated in her creating her own products. While holding down a job in the insurance industry, Eleni started giving soaps to family and friends as presents. Her products are very popular in New York, Cyprus and Germany.
When Eleni was younger, she used to wash her clothes with the women in order to get some tips on soap making. She still enjoys washing her clothes during the summer in the very same place but is now joined by her granddaughters
Eleni and her husband live between Andros and Saronida in Attica. Her workshop is located in her family home in Stenies and the estate of around 122,000 square meters is in Ipsilou, where they cultivate vines, olive and almond trees. Stenies is a village close to the island’s capital, known for its very narrow streets and many stairs, while the village’s landmark is the impressive Bistis-Mouvelas Tower. Built in the 17th century it is the oldest surviving tower in Andros, an island renowned for these types of structures. Stenies is home to many seafaring captains reflecting the island’s nautical heritage.
Her workshop is located in her family home in Stenies and the estate of around 122,000 square meters is in Ipsilou, where they cultivate vines, olive and almond trees. Stenies is a village close to the island’s capital, known for its very narrow streets and many stairs, while the village’s landmark is the impressive Bistis-Mouvelas Tower
Five years ago, when she and her husband bought a farm in Andros, she discovered that a network of paths stretching for 160 kilometres was completely destroyed. She decided to use the profits from her soap making to restore these paths and make them accessible to everyone. Her efforts have resulted in island walking tours and the inauguration of the Andros hiking festival, held in October 2018.