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Meet Megan Bre Camp of Summer Solace Tallow in Oakland

Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Bre Camp.

Megan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Summer Solace Tallow is an artisan line of ethical and inclusive organic tallow balms, soaps, and candles handcrafted in Oakland, California with local ingredients from Northern California. We are actively reviving the nourishing traditions of using local grass-fed and pasture raised animal fat to moisturize effectively and soothe skin irritations. Our tallow-based products contain unique and harmonious blends of organic, wildcrafted Absolutes and essential oils, local extra-virgin olive oil and local tallow from family farms, which we render and combine in small batches. Summer Solace Tallow is a product line of ethical, sustainable, deeply nourishing, and organic tallow-based skincare and home goods, established in May 2014 by Megan Bre Camp.

As a Bay Area cook and organic gardener born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, I am passionate about sustainable living. My family comes from an indigenous background; they are native to the Central Highlands of Vietnam and the countryside in the Philippines. They instilled in me a deep closeness with nature, respect for animals and the environment and the love of cooking. Whether preparing seasonally and locally grown foods, or sourcing ingredients from local farmers and fellow artisans, I am dedicated to reviving traditional techniques in all facets of my work. I call my work a Slow Body Care Movement. I practice, zero-waste and sustainable living by using all parts of the pasture-raised animal, using locally sourced and organic ingredients at all times, celebrate my region’s Seasons, and choose natural over expediency.

I obtain grass-fed beef suet from local family farms which I render into buttery tallow that is combined with the award-winning California olive oil grown by the Yoche Dehe Wintun Nation. This combination becomes the nourishing and soothing base for my products. Not content to just produce an effective moisturizer from local ingredients for children and adults, I spent time blending essential oils from Grass Valley, California and wildcrafted Absolutes, to produce evocative and unique scent profiles for each of my balms, soaps, and candles which are both pleasing and aromatherapeutic.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I first founded Summer Solace, almost five years ago, not many people have heard of using grass-fed beef tallow on their skin and still today the beauty industry trend is predominately plant-oil based products. It was revelatory to me to create a line of profound tallow balms with gorgeous scent profiles because this is an ingredient that people and cultures have used on their skin as a moisturizer, as fat for soap, and as heat and light in candles for thousands of years.

Using grass-fed fat and natural, pure essences are as close to nature you can get. Working with this hyper-local, exquisite fat makes me feel like I am reviving a lost art, a language that is slowly being forgotten. The fat is seasonal, changing in texture, color, and scent and I embrace and honor its metamorphosis. I am transported back to a time where people lived close to the land, they were connected with and respected nature and animals. There was a ritual, value, purpose, and no waste in daily life.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Summer Solace Tallow – what should we know?
I am a former chef turned-passionate skincare maker and I work with an old-world ingredient which is grass-fed beef tallow to create my modern line of moisturizing balms, cold-process soaps, and tallow and beeswax candles. My family and I are avid organic gardeners and urban beekeepers. The techniques that I practice are very traditional, sustainable and spiritual. I render suet fat from local, pasture-raised cows from Northern California, using clay pots from local potters in Berkeley. This method is low and slow, taking about 3 hours to yield a gorgeous, pleasantly scented tallow. I take this golden tallow and infuse it with organic calendula grown in Sonoma County by a group of herbalists, herb growers, and medicine makers. This is my healing base for all of my products.

I then add a high- quality extra-virgin olive oil grown by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation a few hours North of my home. This adds spreadability to the tallow balm. My husband and I harvest beeswax and also live next to a Master Beekeeper, originally from Yemen, to add to the holistic tallow and beeswax candles. When I produce my work, I am conscientious of the details. Workspaces must be clean and organized. Tools are simple yet very effective. I use Clay Pots, metal strainers, ceramic bowls, glass pitchers and a measuring scale.

Sustainable and ethical practices are the embodiment of my lifestyle and the driving force of Summer Solace Tallow and the Slow Body Care Movement. My mission is to revive the art of using a highly nutrient-dense ingredient from healthy cows that are in modern times would be otherwise thrown away. This is my practice of recycling, upcycling, and zero-waste. I source locally, from farms less than 150 miles away, in Sonoma and Marin County.

Tallow sourced from organic, pasture-raised cows is deeply nourishing for the body and the environment. Biologically, it is very much like our skin, allowing it to be readily absorbed without a greasy or sticky feel. Grass-fed beef tallow is nutrient-dense, rich in vitamins and minerals A, D, K, E and B12 that most plant oils do not possess. It helps to heal skin irritations like dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, sunburns and bug bites by creating a moisture seal over the skin, penetrating and healing it. It is shelf-stable indefinitely, meaning that it does not require any preservatives and our tallow balms are non-toxic and chemical-free. It is inclusive, healing skincare for the entire family. It feels amazing, you see and feel the difference, it is essentially edible and most importantly it’s sustainable.

The impact that Summer Solace, I hope will make on my community is for people to be open to learning about sustainable, seasonal, and traditional foods to take them further into acceptance and understanding that the Earth’s systems function necessarily with animals and that we can incorporate well cared for, pasture-raised animal foods and fats in our diets and lifestyle in a holistic way.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Local Farmers’ Markets Farmers will forever be instrumental in the development of my work. Working with local farmers for their organic and seasonal ingredients are the soul of my business; keeping traditional ways alive is the Heart. I find inspiration from the seasons, landscape and the hard-working hands of people who work on the land of my local area. I source from organic farmers and purveyors, I create my products from their materials, and in turn, I provide high-quality skincare and home goods products to give back to the local community. I am an Artisan vendor and member at three Farmers Markets in the San Francisco Bay Area and Marin County, where I am also on the Board with the Agricultural Institute of Marin, a non-profit Farmers Market Institute.

People come to be together and celebrate the abundance of Seasonal produce, flowers, and goods and I enjoy sharing my tallow-based, “food for the skin” products with them. Well-curated art, design, and maker events are another community that I love working with because I get to engage with another audience and demographic that maybe I won’t see at the Farmers Markets. These venues inspire me to have integrity and stay relevant in my work as an Art form.

Pricing:

  • Organic Tallow Balms: $20-26
  • Perfumed Tallow Balms: $32-36
  • Cold-processed Tallow Soaps: $12
  • Tallow Lip Care: $6-11
  • Holistic Tallow and Beeswax Candles: $14-23

Contact Info:

  • Address: 5507 SHATTUCK AVENUE
    OAKLAND, CA 94609
  • Website: http://www.summersolacetallow.com
  • Phone: 5107721496
  • Email: megan@summersolacetallow.com
  • Instagram: Summersolacetallow
  • Facebook: summersolacetallow
  • Twitter: summersolaceco

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