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Jerome & Sharon from Bruce & Peanut

Who is behind the brand Bruce & Peanut?

We are Jerome and Sharon. We have been married for 7 years and have two dogs, Bruce and Peanut (who is a rescue dog), and are currently fostering a rescue puppy named Bucky. (We are looking for a family for him so if you / any of your customers know anyone…distance is a minor barrier). We both work full time in Communications and have launched our brand, named after our two dogs, in January 2017.

Bruce and Peanut

Sharon and Jerome, the founders of Bruce & Peanut

Why did you choose to launch your own brand?

After adopting Bruce, our first dog, we gradually became increasingly aware of issues such as animal testing and environmental issues (such as the degradation of habitat for the unsustainable production of palm oil, the waste issue etc…). It is very difficult to find cosmetic/hygiene products here, that aren’t tested on animals, and that are affordable. Most products are imported and available brands are rather expensive.

In December 2016 we decided to make our own soap, as part of our journey towards better consumption. We also wanted to offer the soaps we had made as Christmas gifts, but our family and friend purchased all of them - so in the end, we had none left as gifts. We then decided that we could launch our own brand. “Bruce & Peanut” isn’t just about soap-making, it’s also a means for sensitization on issues that we care about, and showing that it is possible to create, manufacture, and consume in a way that isn’t harmful (to anyone and to the planet).

Where do you find inspiration?

Bruce & Peanut has a very unambitious aim of making the world a better place, one soap at a time.  We also really have fun along the way and to pass this on through the names we come up with for each soap, and the packaging. We are also inspired by our dogs and what we learn from them: start and end the day with a cuddle, anytime can be playtime, and love your family no matter how crappy your day has been.

What is the manufacturing process of the delightful soap we can find in this month’s box?

We use the cold process to manufacture all our soaps.

The base oils used and mainly olive and coconut oil as they are good for the skin and smell great. We make the soaps in our own kitchen which gets transformed on weekends and week nights into our atelier. We have had the support for lots of people. Jerome’s dad has made our wooden molds. Sharon’s and Jerome’s mums sow the furoshikis we use to pack special editions / gift soaps. Our friends Valerie, Anielle and Tatiana also come in, in exchange for a few soaps, when we have large or special orders (for example for wedding soaps) to prepare the soaps and work on the handmade packaging. Our family friend, Dominique, who is a designer, work on all our labels and paper boxes and understands, each time, exactly what we are looking for.

What does “Made in Mauritius” means to you? And how does Bruce & Peanut embody this definition of the “ Made in “?

Traditionally here, handcrafts and crafts in general have been limited or perceived to be limited to pickle, jams, chili pastes. Souvenirs sold to tourists are usually made in Chin or in Madagascar. As we have very few natural resources we import most of the goods we need and raw materials.

That being said, new creators are now emerging and proposing “Mauritian” products. What makes them Mauritian is mostly the ideas and concept they put forward which reflect things that are typically Mauritian: humour, generosity, quirkiness, wit and warmth.

“Bruce & Peanut” also reflect that very Mauritian mix between old and new, traditional and modern. For example, we use coconut oil which was used by our grandmothers to moisturise the skin and as hair masks. On the other hand our packaging is more modern.

Living in the Mauritius Island well known for honeymoons and luxurious holidays, how would you define the Authentic Mauritius?

The Mauritius we know and love is about buying vegetables at the market, having lunch in what we call “enn ti baz” – literally “a small base” – slightly cramped, with cheap cutlery and plates, and lots of yummy food, having dinner with the family (yes food is VERY important here), going to the beach to relax and escape the rush of everyday life and spending a lot of tie with old and new friends.

Your favourite Mauritius dish?

Jerome: bread, butter and chili cakes. Chili cakes are a snack made of yellow split peas, spring onions, chili, coriander and salt; and are deep fried. They are great as snacks but are very very yummy served hot with bread and butter for breakfast – especially after a night out.

Sharon: the inverted bowl (aka magic rice bowl) – it is made of rice, a stir fry with loads of sauce, a fried egg, and with tomato chutney on the side. The dish is placed in a bowl and then flipped over on a plate.

How would you like to see Bruce & Peanut  grow in 2018?

Our customer base has been organically growing, - slowly but surely. The next step for us is to always have stock available. This has proved to be a challenge as we both work full time, and as the soaps need to dry for about six weeks, we only make very smack quantities of soap. We have also had orders for soaps as wedding favours or giveaways. We had never thought that this would be a possible market for us but it’s also a great avenue to encourage people to have local and ethical gifts at their events – however big or small. Each action counts and we’re happy to be part of the movement.

Any places you would like to travel to? Why?

Jerome: Japan because it’s crazy and modern, and yet extremely traditional, with a preserved nature.

Sharon: Cape Town - it’s  a great African city with vibrant communities, great wine and great food (including vegetarian options for Jerome). And also for the wildlife! Hopefully we might be going this year. Fingers crossed.