Located on a saw mill in Oxfordshire, LA-EVA is the organic evolution of an artisan soap studio. Handmade, traditional cold process soap provided us with a unique platform for exploring palettes of scents, the potential of natural raw ingredients, and the care and attention it takes to create something truly beautiful. For a handful of years, in our fragrant studio space, we cooked, cut, and edged blocks and bars of soap. We worked on recipes and formulations for other products too and popped up at festivals, local independent shops and markets, including the iconic London Spitalfields. We established a small, faithful customer base and close working relationships with farms, suppliers and the Soil Association.
In 2017 LA-EVA began taking form, alongside a small, carefully curated range of products. We opened doors with a wash, a lotion, much passion and little expectation. Over time, we have added to our collection thoughtfully and slowly, with a commitment to the less-is-more model.
Nowadays our products are made on an organic farm in Staffordshire, which allows us to create them safely and scaleably. We work very closely with our manufacturers to ensure that the care and attention to detail which is fostered in our studio setting makes its way into each LA-EVA bottle that is produced.
The LA-EVA studio itself has evolved from a maker’s abode into a hub of inspiration and collaboration. In the day to day it is a beautiful, unusual office space where we gather as a team around our rustic table made from tree trunks and scaffolding planks. Here is where ideas are generated, where scent blends are created, where artwork is sketched out, where words are scribbled down. We still have a lot of hands-on work going on in the background; our gift boxes and bespoke labelling come together in-house, and packing or unpackaging pallets of goods remains a regular feature of studio life.
In addition to being a beehive of logistics, production and creative activity, we have long seen the LA-EVA studio as a beautiful blank canvas, a space where elements of our philosophy can be applied in practice. What began playfully two years ago when we installed a kingsize bed and flowing white linen all around whilst we were working on an oil blend capturing the idea of luxurious, slow starts, has now become an integral part of studio life. Borrowing paradigms from the arts world, we create seasonal installations alongside creative partners, curating our environment to themes that we are engaged in. Previous themes have included interpretations of our scent blends as well as broader concepts we have playfully enjoyed curating such as The Lost Gardens, Immersed and Celebration of Pomegranates.
With a belief in experiential beauty and a love of collaboration, we also regularly host get-togethers including pop-up dinners, art exhibitions, yoga practices, botanical installation workshops and talks. Visit our journal section Notes from the Studio to find out more about some of the guises that the studio has undergone to date and the activities that have taken place in this beautiful space.
Louisa Canham, Founder & Creative Director
Louisa Canham started her career as a clinical psychologist, gaining an Oxford Doctorate in her early twenties and specialising in the field of adolescent mental health. She worked for over a decade in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals and prisons before deciding to take an open ended break from psychology when her children were young.
Having discovered the art of making cold process soap several years earlier, Louisa came to open an artisan soap studio in 2014. LA-EVA has organically evolved from there into a unique brand that eclectically draws on threads of inspiration and knowledge acquired on this unconventional – left of centre – personal journey.
Christine Michaelis, Senior Product and Marketing Manager
Christine has worked for 15 years in the Beauty industry, first at L’Oréal in Paris in Marketing and International Product Development for Vichy and Lancôme and later as Brand Director for H2O+ in Chicago. She is a passionate advocate of ethical, respectful and mindful beauty. Christine now works on the development of the LA-EVA product range alongside Louisa.
Tara Donovan & Nina Carrington
Tara is a lawyer by training. A former partner of London law firm Denton Hall, she joined client Jamie Oliver in 2003, initially as Head of Business Affairs and ultimately as CEO of his Media Group of Companies. Tara is now a self confessed corporate butterfly, making connections, sharing experiences and nurturing the organic growth of LA-EVA.
Nina is a floral milliner specialising in bespoke bridal crowns and an independent stylist for select fashion and interiors photoshoots. She has a background in sales and adds a warm, creative and bohemian air to the creation and hosting style of LA-EVA events.
Jenny trained in shoe design and making at London’s College of Fashion and gained work experience with Jimmy Choo and Caroline Groves Couture before becoming Assistant Designer and Range Planner at Miss L-Fire. After having her son, she went on to become senior buyer and merchandiser at a local high end garden store. Jenny has the overview of customer service and communications at LA-EVA.
Virginia Villioti, Claire Henman, Ellie Hammond - Studio Work