Meet the Team
Kathy Tarbox; Founder / Publisher
Satisfying one’s curiosity begets opportunity; acting upon opportunity opens doors of enlightenment and motivation, which results in creating something truly novel and useful, ultimately uniting a community. This is what Kathy Tarbox has done. It all started with encountering “essential oils” in an article she was reading to pass the time. So intrigued was she, the soon-to-be entrepreneur took to the information superhighway, where, essentially, Tarbox read a bit about essential oils in soapmaking, and was inspired by the first internet soaplist created by Melody Upham. Tarbox created Petal Pusher Botanical Soap Company in 1996, starting with CP soap and also began selling soapmaking supplies.
Tarbox wanted more information and sought it, but there was nothing out there that guided independent soapmakers such as herself. Thus, The Saponifier was born in 1998 to fulfill a niche in the market. By July 2008 it had 28 issues packed with more than 275 articles from 55+ writers. The Saponifier is all about sharing the knowledge and experiences of soap makers, toiletry makers, candle makers, chemists and suppliers; topics range from marketing to formulating, organizing to designing, business sense to wholesaling and everything else in-between.
Tamara Dourney, Managing Editor
Tamara Dourney, owner of Natural Magic Soaps, lives in South Florida with her husband and three children. Her love of nature began as a small child, when she helped her father tend their working garden.
Over the years, Tamara has continued to expand her herbal knowledge through an extensive collection of reference books, online research and through field exploration. She now enjoys passing that knowledge- along with her knowledge of hot process soapmaking- on to others.
Tamara is also a founding editor and co-owner of the popular website, Craft Revolution, an online magazine dedicated to promoting handmade goods.
Marla Bosworth, Feature Writer
Marla is the founder of Back Porch Soap Company, She teaches group and private classes on how to make natural skincare products. She also provides product, brand and marketing strategies for handmade beauty companies.
Pam Keller, Feature Writer
Pam Keller earned her BS in Microbiology and Chemistry in 1998 and chose to stay home to homeschool her three daughters. Through a homeschool project, she taught herself to make goat milk soap and lotion. With her superior formulations, she soon gained a faithful following and opened a retail store, expanding her product offerings as customers requested new products. Always researching and eager to learn, Pam earned her Soapmaker certification from HSMG and more recently, became a licensed esthetician. She makes her own line of skincare products including serums, treatments, mineral makeup, haircare and much more. She is expanding by opening a natural based spa this fall and co-owns an archery pro shop with her husband. www.almavi.net
Erica Pence, ‘Herbal Wisdom’ & ‘Candles’ Editor
Erica Pence is the owner of The Bonnie Bath Co., a small bath and body and candle business with an emphasis on natural ingredients. Raised by an herbalist, she has a strong interest in becoming one herself as she continually researches herbs and aromatherapy and their place in bath and body products. Erica lives in Southeast Florida with her husband and daughter and is a former school teacher and librarian. Her career as a librarian has imparted a strong background in research as her background in teaching promoted the sharing of the information she finds with anyone who will listen. In her free time, she enjoys scrapbooking, photography, and reading. In addition to hosting a blog for her customers – www.BonnieBath.com/blog, she also has a blog for fellow soap makers (and chandlers) to share information she finds and to network with fellow professionals – www.BonnieBath.com/blogspot.
Beth Byrne, ‘Interviews’ & ‘Reviews’ Editor
Beth has always liked reading, writing, the arts, and crafting, and was a school teacher until she had her first child. She home-schooled her six children for 17 years, and has kept busy with various volunteer activities in writing, editing, and teaching, as well. However, now that some of her children have graduated and left the nest, and others are attending elsewhere, she finds that she can pursue her other interests even further. Although Beth figures she’s dabbled in enough subjects to appear on Jeopardy, she has no plans to actually do so.
Her hobbies of gardening and floral design led to an interest in herbs and in making her own cosmetic preparations. Melt and pour soap came soon after, which she enjoyed immensely, even winning a contest for artistic ability. She said, however, that she would never make cold process soap. Three years later, she saw a soap-making demonstration at the New York State Fair, and life would never be the same. Now, with untold batches of soap under her belt, and experiences with various processes and methods, she is crazy about soapmaking and in sharing her skills with others. She has begun a small business called, Soap and Garden, and is working on her website. Most of the credit for putting together this site is due to her son, Ethan, and her husband, Ken.
An avid researcher and learner in soapmaking, Beth looks forward to learning more, teaching more, and doing what she loves, imparting information to others. She is eager to do it in written form here at The Saponifier. It is an honor to be on staff, helping to make this magazine again the best soaper’s magazine available.
Alexander Sherman, ‘Working Smarter’ Editor
Alexander Sherman lives in Los Angeles, California with his fiancé and their parrot.
He has a strong interest in Finance, and believes that an entrepreneurial mindset is essential to finding happiness in life (“it’s not just about business; it’s about taking initiative to make things better than they are”).
His professional background includes work in Accounting, Finance, and Investments. He has a rounded knowledge of financial reporting, forecasting, budgeting, financial analysis, business valuation, and project management.
He feels that long-term thinking is the most important aspect in decision making because it helps a business take into account the needs of its customers, employees, the community, and the environment. “This in turn leads to stability, consistency, and mutual trust and respect between everyone involved. And trust and respect are two
things that you can’t buy; they have to be earned through fair and equitable actions. ”
He has a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, and has a small distributing company for handmade soap and related products.
Melinda Coss, ‘Savoir Faire’ Editor
Melinda Coss is widely credited with pioneering the cold process soap making movement in Europe and in the 90s she created what became the largest soap making company in the UK before selling it in 2004 and moving to France. Melinda continues to work as a soap making consultant and she runs soap making courses in London and in France (www.makesoap.biz). She also works with social enterprises in Africa.
Melinda Coss is the bestselling author of 27, internationally published books on crafts including three dedicated to soap making . ‘The Handmade Soap Book’, ‘Gourmet Soaps Made Easy’ and ‘Natural Soap’.
Elizabeth Sockol, ‘Herb Monographs’ Editor
An avid herbalist, Elizabeth is a dedicated writer who is currently finishing her education with plans on becoming a journalist.
Robert McDaniel, ‘In The Lab’ Editor
Dr. Robert McDaniel (aka Dr. Bob) who previously wrote for Saponifier joins us once again!
Dr. McDaniel earned his BS in Chemistry from the University of Notre Dame and his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Missouri-Rolla. After a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Chicago he started his industrial career with Armak Co., a maker of various surfactants that was originally part of Armour-Dial. He later worked for Henkel Corporation, one of the largest producers of detergents in Europe. He has been awarded 14 U.S. Patents relating to the soap and detergent industry, and is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in Science and Technology. His book on home soapmaking, ‘Essentially Soap‘ was published by Krause Publications in the year 2000 and is still in print and one of the major resources for “soapers.” ES introduced INS calculations to the general public and included in-depth discussions of how and why saponification occurs as well as many recipes for CP and M&P soap. The copious photo illustrations reflect how soap actually looks at different stages of preparation rather than a photo studio’s idealized illustrations.
A second book, ‘Essentially Candles,’ co-written with his wife Katie, was published by Krause in 2001. Essentially Candles aims to provide basic candle-making techniques to the beginner as well as providing a working knowledge of candle additives, their function, and alternate methods to produce special effects. The facts presented in EC reflect in-depth discussions with domestic wax manufacturers and representatives of German Chandler training schools. Dr. Bob hopes to update EC to include details on vegetable waxes and self standing gel candles—technology that was not perfected when EC was first published.
At present, Dr. McDaniel teaches diverse subjects at the high school and college level in Orange County, California where he and his wife Katie make their home. Over the past several years Dr. Bob has taught Biology, Honors Biology, Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, Advance Placement Chemistry, Conceptual Physics, Astronomy, World Religions, Music Appreciation as well as collegiate courses in Physical Science and General Chemistry. He has also served as Department Chair and Campus Minister. Dr. Bob and Katie recently participated in a documentary on long-time marriages, which film should go into release in 2007. Stay tuned for details.
Dr. Bob is extremely pleased to once again take an active roll in The Saponifier. He is available on a limited bases as a consultant to our readers
Lindalu Forseth, ‘Showcase’ Editor
Lindalu Forseth has been a professional business to business salesperson for over 15 years. She now owns and operates Malaspina Soap Factory in Powell River, BC which came about from her own skin sensitivities to detergents as well as other harsh chemical. Lindalu loves being able to create products that are not only feel good but are actually healthy for people too. Lindalu makes soaps, lotions, pet products and other B&B products. You can visit her site at
Tony Burfield, ‘Aromatic Materials’ Editor
Tony Burfield has now spent 30 years in the aroma trade, mainly working hands-on with essential oils (their production, analysis and applications). After initially qualifying as a food scientist, he returned to academia mid-career to do a further degree in biochemistry, eventually becoming a Chartered Biologist. This was followed by a period of post-doctoral research in the microbiological biotransformation of essential oil components at Cranfield University. Now deeply involved in perfumery, natural perfumery, and with natural aromatic products generally, Tony is an aroma industry consultant, looking after the interests of various essential oil, cosmetic and fragrance clients, from the small to corporate (especially those with “green portfolio” credentials).
Natural Aromatic Materials – Odours and Origins (2000) the privately published second edition of which (updated and completely revised) is to be released shortly. Tony is also a co-founder of Cropwatch, the unfinanced Independent Watchdog to the Aromatic Natural Materials trade.