Source: Hello Joburg
MEET VANESSA RALSTON AND KARA-LEIGH BAKER
Vanessa Ralston and Kara-Leigh Baker are the mother-daughter team behind The French Lemon, a luxury bath, body and home brand based in Morningside offering vegan, natural, cruelty-free and eco-friendly products ranging from soaps and shampoo bars to candles and diffusers. We sat down with this girl-boss duo to find out where the name came from, their new sweet pea and men’s ranges and everything in between.
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Tell us about The French Lemon’s inception.
Before we officially opened The French Lemon in March 2017, we intended to make and sell preserved lemons. While we enjoyed doing this, the universe had something else planned for us. We adopted a six-month-old French bulldog called Ian who we were fostering through The Sushi & Panda Foundation. His background and story inspired us to do something that helped him leave a legacy behind – one about helping animals in some way. This led us to bath and body products that are free of palm oil and sodium lauryl sulphate and tested on humans rather than animals.
Where did the name come from?
When we were thinking of names for our company, we felt drawn to the word ‘lemon’ as we associated it with how the idea was born as well as the fresh, clean and crisp characteristics of the fruit. We also wanted to bring Ian into the name without it sounding like a guy named Ian was selling lemons or our products were made for bulldogs. The word ‘French’ sounded appealing and luxurious, and … ta-da! The French Lemon it was. Ian also became the face of our company to let consumers know that are products aren’t tested on animals. We’re also opposed to any ingredients that cause harm to animals.
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How will one know if your products will work for their skin type?
This is a question we get a lot. The answer is that we test our products on willing friends and family members with the most sensitive skin. Our products are made with all-natural ingredients that have probably been around longer than humans, meaning that they don’t need to be further tested. All our soaps are made with luxe ingredients like kaolin clay, coconut oil and shea butter, while our lotions contain hemp oil and vitamin E. We’ve found that going back to basics has transformed our own skin into the best version of itself. Our products are suitable for women, men, toddlers and babies.
What are some of your most popular products?
Our Pumice Soap – a half soap, half ground pumice – is our best seller and highly effective at getting rid of tough skin. Our secret recipe body scrubs, which come in the form of either sugar or Himalayan salt, are Kara’s favourite product. Other popular buys are our bath bombs made with essential oils, coconut oil and mica colours and our ‘Do Not Eat’ range of soaps that are made to look like sweet treats like doughnuts, waffles, chocolate bars, cinnamon buns, lollipops, ice creams, lemons and oranges. This range was created thanks to a client’s partner who thought he was eating an actual doughnut, but it was one of our soaps. We’ve even added ‘do not eat’ stickers onto our edible looking products.
What inspired the new sweet pea range?
Spring beauty and the freshness of all the flowers blooming around us. We’re so lucky to have so much colour and inspiration all around us!
What are the must-haves in the men’s range?
The activated charcoal soap with scents of peppermint and cucumber, ‘Butt Naked’ sugar and salt scrubs, Epsom salt bar, shampoo bar, shaving soap with shaving brush and shower steamer.
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Where are we likely to bump into you in Joburg?
Some of our fave restaurants are Gemelli, Zio La Famiglia, Bellagio and Banchan. We also love a good pampering at Grace Skin & Wellness, Just Browzing and Stylash.