the ultimate vegan soap concoction from brooklyn-based mixologists

photos by liz riccardi

lather up.

There are two kinds of beauty-product lovers in the world. First, you have your die-hard fans of the same perfumes and soaps, who swear by their go-tos for life. Then, you have the people who start browsing for a totally new product as soon as their bottles, tubes, and cans get semi-close to being empty.

I'm definitely the latter, but after trying out so many different types of washes and scrubs, you'd think I would have a mainstay by now. Nope--because even though some brands say that their formula will clear your skin, smells great, or is all-natural, none have ever been the end-all be-all in my hunt for new things to fill my vanity with.

However, the vegan soaps made with ingredients like coconut oil, sage, and grapefruit from one apothecary in Brooklyn actually do sound like they might cure my problem of walking down drugstore aisles in the hope of finding something life-changing. Plus, with a name like Meow Meow Tweet and packaging that looks like it's straight out of a bathroom in a Wes Anderson film, you can bet that this NYC small batch soapmaking brand provides goods unlike any other. The good news? You can find out for yourself by shopping their soaps, bug sprays, and candles online right here.

But first, read my interview with founders Tara Pelletier and Jeff Kurosaki below to see how the brand got its name, what inspires its art, and why it uses beer as an ingredient. Oh, and if you're interested, (and you so should be), the duo behind Meow Meow Tweet not only specializes in mixology, but they've also got a band called The Tammys (listen here).

Was there one defining moment that made you want to create a specifically handmade, vegan apothecary?
When we first got turned onto handmade soap it felt like a whole new sensory experience. We were so excited about what a simple pleasure it was to use every day and how moisturizing it is compared to other soaps. Our first bar was actually goat’s milk soap. As vegans, we set out to make a plant-based alternative, so Meow Meow Tweet sprung quite naturally from our lifestyle.

How did you first start testing out your concoctions to figure out which ingredients worked best?
From the beginning, we wanted to use kitchen ingredients. We are pretty conscious of what we eat, so this made us question what we were using on our skin. Tara had managed restaurants in Southern California and was really inspired by the local food movement. We felt like there was a way to take those ideals and apply them to natural skincare. Her approach to recipe development is a blend of research, technique, and improvisation. There’s a lot of testing and trial and error. She has pages of notes about each oil and botanical that she uses and she is very cautious about using ingredients that we wouldn’t consider eating, and those that are as close to its plant source as possible.

Your packaging makes your products feel like they would be around a home in a Wes Anderson movie. Where do you get most of your inspiration for the illustrations?
Jeff makes all of the drawings. Sometimes they're random, but most of the time they're depicting something specific that we have a joke about, like: silly things our cats do, pigeons stealing clean laundry from rooftop clotheslines, and interspecies love affairs.

What kind of beer is in you beer shampoo bar and why did you want to add beer as an ingredient?
We use Peak Organic Ale from Portland, Maine. We like it because it’s organic and delicious. The beer shampoo bar was prompted by Tara's grandmother. When Tara was a kid, she taught her a lot of natural remedies and “kitchen" body care recipes; hair masks with mayonnaise and hair rinses with beer. Remembering this, when we set out to make our shampoo bar, we decided to substitute the water in the recipe with beer. The malt and hops in beer has proteins and nutrients that strengthen hair and make it shiny.

What's the story behind your brand name?
Our two cats, Chester and Mochi, and Jeff's bird, Beans, back in Hawaii. We also wanted something fun that didn't sound like a typical skincare company name.

If someone were able to bring three of your products in their bag to a weekend-long music festival, which three should they bring?
We like products that can each be used in more than one way, so definitely our insect repellent. Aside from being a bug spray, you can use it as a deodorant, a body mist, a hand sanitizer, and a foot spray. You could probably get through a wild weekend of non-stop dancing, while still smelling and feeling pretty fresh with just this. You could also bring one of our bar soaps. We actually always carry around a sliver of the bar soap in our bags so that when we're in a pinch, we can break off a small bit to wash our hands. This works well for Porta-Potty and public restroom situations. Third, it’s a toss up between one of our lip balms and our deodorant cream. If there’s a lot of dancing, you may need the extra bit of help from our deodorant, and we always have one of our lip balms inside every pocket and bag.

Black Walnut Sage Bar - $10
Made with olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, walnut oil, shea butter, black walnut hull.

Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

It marks her third duet with Nas

Here are some words that I never expected to read or hear again: There is a new song with Amy Winehouse. But here we are in 2019, and Salaam Remi has granted me a wish. On Valentine's Day, the Grammy-nominated producer and frequent Winehouse collaborator (also responsible for hits like Miguel's "Come Through & Chill") released "Find My Love" which features rapper Nas and that powerful and haunting voice that I have come to love and cherish so dearly.

Representatives for Remi said that the Winehouse vocals were from an old jam session the two had. Remi was a producer on both of Winehouse's albums, Frank and Back to Black. "Find My Love" marks the third time Winehouse and Nas have done duets under the direction of Remi. They were previously heard together on "Like Smoke," a single from her 2011 posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, and "Cherry Wine" from Nas' 2012 album Life Is Good. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, before they could complete production on her third album. My heart is still broken about it as she is by far my favorite artist.

"Find My Love" is set to appear on Remi's Do It for the Culture 2, a collection of songs curated by him. Check it out, below.



Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

"In the midst of chaos there's opportunity"

Following the travesty that was Fyre Festival, Ja Rule wants to take another stab at creating a music festival. Good luck getting that off the ground.

On Thursday, the rapper spoke to TMZ, where he revealed that he was planning to relaunch Icon, an app used to book entertainers, which is similar to Billy McFarland's Fyre app. He told the outlet that he wanted to create a festival similar to Fyre to support it.

"[Fyre Festival] is heartbreaking to me. It was something that I really, really wanted to be special and amazing, and it just didn't turn out that way, but in the midst of chaos there's opportunity, so I'm working on a lot of new things," he says. He then gets into the fact that he wants to form a music festival. "[Fyre] is the most iconic festival that never was... I have plans to create the iconic music festival, but you didn't hear it from me."

Ja Rule actually doesn't seem to think he is at all responsible for what came from Fyre Fest, claiming in a Twitter post that he was "hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, led astray." Even if that's his feeling, he should realize that anyone involved with Fyre shouldn't ever try their hand at music festivals again.