“Do you really make the soaps yourself?” people ask, when they come across Joachim Pourqué in Sóller’s traditional open air market. They’re drawn to the attractive card packaging that hints at a wholesome way of life. They lift the soaps to their noses and breathe in the smell of citrus groves and the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. “You can come to my workshop if you like,” he replies.
We accept his invitation and receive a warm welcome from his playful dog, Tifu, in the garden of Finca C’as Curial. The house has been in his wife’s family for generations and was the setting for her childhood holidays. A vision of pink bougainvillea, lush lemon trees and a dramatic mountain backdrop makes our tense muscles relax.
Joachim’s life looks very different to the one he had prior to landing on the island. He studied Marketing and Management for the Hospitality Industry and was a Hotel Director for over twenty years. The demanding job took him from the Caribbean to the Alps and then Marrakesh. “It was a lot of work and a lot of stress,” he says. During a spring break in Mallorca, his wife came across the Head Teacher of the French Lycée of Palma, and being a French teacher herself, inquired if there were any posts going. There was. “Within fifteen days we had decided to move,” he said, “we knew it was a risk, but we weren’t moving for the money, we were moving for the quality of life.”
He bends down to adjust a glass bottle to the copper distillation unit responsible for the fragrance of orange wafting in the air. Citrus, almond, lavender, rosemary and pine are some of the natural ingredients from the island which he uses to create essential oils. As for olive oil, he uses 1000 litres every year. His collection includes perfumes, body oils, soaps and shampoos.
Soap for dishes and washing machines will be next. There is surprisingly little equipment in his workshop because his products are completely free of chemicals. A whiteboard announces three ingredients: Caustic Soda, water and oil. The traditional process of cold saponification allows for a truly natural and creamy product.
Jabón de Mallorca can be bought online and in selected shops across the island. The pandemic has certainly made things challenging. But if there’s one thing we need more than ever, it’s soap. And if it’s great for our skin and for the planet, so much the better.
Photos by Sara Savage