Creative Genius: Tanya Anderson
When she's not giving soapmaking lessons, this beauty and garden vlogger is tending her garden and caring for honeybees from her home on the idyllic Isle of Man.
Meet vlogger, writer, home gardener and natural beauty guru, Tanya Anderson. On her blog and YouTube channel, Lovely Greens, Tanya teaches how to grow organic vegetables, herbs and flowers, and how to use them to make delicious meals and handmade beauty products from her home and garden on the lovely Isle of Man.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Eight years ago, I made the jump from working a relatively normal tech job to becoming a garden blogger, YouTuber and beauty producer. It all started with a big move from London, England to a tiny island in the Irish Sea. The first time I saw the Isle of Man I was on a ferry carrying me and my possessions through the fog and into Douglas harbor. It’s a risky move picking up and moving to someplace you’ve barely even heard of, let alone seen. That gamble paid off because I landed in a place that fits my personality perfectly — a small and friendly community, beautiful natural landscapes and the peace and quiet that my heart needs.
How did you get into making natural beauty products?
I’ve always been interested in making beauty products and especially natural soapmaking. I taught myself how to make handmade soap in my kitchen using books and whatever resources I could find online. It was difficult but after my first successful batch, I was hooked. Before long there were stacks of soap all over the house — far more than I’d ever need. That’s when I decided to try selling it at the farmers market.
That first market I had perhaps thirty bars of soap spaced out perfectly on my new folding table. I sold most of them and felt so encouraged that I took on a regular spot at the market. The next step was selling my wares to local shops and online, and then I began offering in-person soap-making lessons. I also started sharing my tips on how to easily make natural soap on my blog, Lovely Greens. I remember how difficult it was to get good information when I first started so it makes me happy that I’m helping others.
What is it about your garden that helps you create?
My garden has grown hand in hand with making natural beauty products. I try to grow as many herbs and skin-loving plants as I can — calendula flowers, peppermint, chamomile, lavender and more. I’m also a beekeeper and grow plants and flowers that are attractive to pollinators. It’s thanks to their efforts that the vegetable garden is so bountiful! My bees’ honey and beeswax are also very important ingredients in lip balm, body balm and handmade soap, so they help complete the cycle. Gardening, beekeeping, creating beauty products, repeat. As a gardener, I sit at the center of a beautiful, creative ecosystem.
How has living on an amazingly beautiful island inspired you creatively?
If you climb to the top of the island’s only mountain on a clear day you can see six kingdoms: England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Man and Heaven. There at the top what strikes me most is how clean the air is and the beauty of the blue sea and green hills. The entire Island is a UNESCO world biosphere region and everyone here takes great pride in that fact.
I’m lucky to live in such a special place — not everyone has such natural beauty on their doorstep. You’ll find that a piece of the island’s spirit is threaded through my creative garden and beauty ideas. I’ve also been known to share unique island features, including some of the quirkier sites on the Isle of Man, and to collect sea glass to make jewel-like garden stepping stones.
What are some of your favorite things to grow?
Plants and flowers with multiple uses. For example, Calendula. I love how cheerful they look in the garden but their petals are also a gentle skin herb and have a light, peppery flavor. You can use them to make everything from handmade calendula soap to crispy calendula funnel cakes. I also love growing sweet peas, my favorite cottage garden flower. When they’re in bloom, I keep a small bouquet on my bedside table. I love waking up to their sweet perfume.
What should someone grow in the garden so they can create beauty products from natural materials?
It’s entirely up to what types of beauty products they want to make and personal skin type. I have a great resource on Lovely Greens on types of plants and flowers to grow for different skin, skin issues and skin therapies. It includes moisturizing plants like marshmallow, healing plants like calendula and aloe vera, and herbs for acne such as lavender and thyme.
This summer I’m going to start featuring more beauty herbs and how to grow them on my YouTube channel. I’d be delighted to answer any individual questions left as a comment over there.
What are some tips you can offer for someone who wants to get into making their own beauty products?
Begin with simple products like lip balm or skin serums then move into more complicated ones like lotions and creams. As you can imagine, I’d recommend making handmade soap to everyone though! If you’re curious, pay Lovely Greens a visit and you’ll soon find out how fun and creative making natural soap can be.