Sandro Petrillo’s previous career was in design and multimedia art. Professionally trained, he made a living doing spacial design and activations for a bunch of different clients and brands. He was good at it. Maybe too good, because the work was busy and the hours were long—to the point of pushing Sandro to burnout in late 2019 when he decided to take a sabbatical. Forcing himself to put things on pause, he wanted to learn a new craft and exercise a different type of creativity. So he started making soap.
“I was successful, but I was exhausted,” he says. “So I gave myself two months to turn inwards.” Sandro bought some supplies, set up a studio, sourced some recipes, and through trial and error he figured out how to make some decent soap. Next, he started experimenting with some new approaches and explorations with different ingredients. His early products were mostly terrible, but he started to improve. “Some batches just didn’t work at all,” he admits. “Like, some bars ended up so fucking hard you could not cut them.”
“I was successful, but I was exhausted. So I gave myself two months to turn inwards.”
— Sandro Petrillo
Sandro’s soap-making sabbatical extended into an unexpected global pandemic. With more time away from his real work, he started to get super into the micro levels of essential oils and how small discrepancies in production temperatures and the process order would yield drastically different results. When he started to hit consistency in creating quality small-batch products, Sandro’s hobby evolved into becoming his brand and business: SSSOAPS.
As a long-time cannabis user, Sandro sought the same type of ritual experience in the way he was creating and using soap. “Both products are sensory based,” he says. “They’re both dynamic experiences, and learning about soap ingredients is similar to looking into terpenes that exist in marijuana. Those connections are really fascinating to me.”
“Learning about soap ingredients is similar to looking into terpenes.”
— Sandro Petrillo
The ritualistic approach to soap is actually an extension of many people’s relationship to cannabis. Consider a cheap bar of chalky white hotel soap wrapped in plastic paper and smelling of Tide. There was probably a time when it was all you knew, similar to the first time consuming weed—likely some dry shake burned through a crumpled pop can behind the school gym (Sandro has the same story). Like the wall-to-wall menus of cannabis options you can access almost anywhere today, soap products and variety can be personalized to anyone’s preferences and desires.
Sandro learned about terpenes like the rest of us, through years of trying this and learning about that and understanding what he enjoyed or didn’t enjoy. He started to navigate towards different combinations, scents, and flavours of cannabis. When legalization happened, he realized the ability to make very specific selections. “You used to just get weed from your homie,” he says. “There was never that choice—maybe he had the purple stuff sometimes [laughs]”.
He started visiting a local Toronto dispensary as part of his daily routine—his ritual. “I’d get my morning coffee, then go buy two grams of different types of weed on my way to the studio. That’s when I really started to understand how extreme or subtle THC can differ between strains and create radically different experiences.”
If you ask Sandro about soap, he explains it as an act of self-care that provides a sensory experience, similar to how you use weed. “I love how cannabis is an intimate thing to do, where you make choices specific to your ritual and experience.” he says. “You can use soap in the same way. You can be active in it, make new choices, and control the ability to enhance your experience.”
“I love how cannabis is an intimate thing to do, where you make choices specific to your ritual and experience. You can use soap in the same way.”
— Sandro Petrillo
Now, consider putting your hands together and experiencing soap and cannabis as a combination. There are levels and pathways and options for how you consume both product varieties. “If you’re using cannabis with a terpene balance, and you mix it with another product or consumable with a terpene balance, I think that’s a beautiful marriage,” says Sandro.
His vision for the brand is to continue developing products that are thoughtful, earth-friendly, unique, and all natural—for people to enjoy through calming sensory experiences they choose themselves. Like weed, you use soap every day, so it makes perfect sense to explore it further, right?
Check out the three new products by SSSOAPS and Superette here: