Learning the Hard Way

Have you been enjoying your January/February 2014 issue of the Saponifier? Safety and GMP aren’t always the most popular of topics, but I do believe that they are vitally important to the growth and survival of our industry. Many of us only think of safety in regards to soapmaking, and to be sure, sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide are dangerous caustics that we need to respect. Nevertheless, it behooves us to be aware of safety precautions in regards to bath and body manufacturing and candle making, as well. I applaud our writers for writing articles that we love to read, but are filled with important information.

 

I know that GMP, standing for, “good manufacturing practice” is another area of concern for those with businesses making soap and bath and body products, so we appreciate Marie Gale’s article, “An Introduction to Good Manufacturing Processes,” introducing us to the topic if we aren’t already familiar.

 

I hope this issue has caused you to review your safety and GMP processes! Share with us what you have learned.

 

If you are as yet not a subscriber of the Saponifier, you can rectify that!  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

This next story is related to GMP, and my failure to properly institute a process. I recently made a five color, swirled soap. I printed out my formula, prepared my surfaces and molds, measured out my ingredients and mixed my colorants. I proceeded to make my soap and was so pleased with the colors and design. I placed my soap in my properly pre-heated oven for a CPOP (cold process/oven process) batch and congratulated myself on a spectacular session. A short time later, I noticed my carefully measured essential oil still sitting on the counter. My elation turned to despair. It was too late to add the essential oil and even if it weren’t, mixing in the oil would mix all five colors together, producing a soap only a mother of said soap could love. As a result, I have a very pretty batch of soap with no scent.

 

Who hasn’t forgotten their scent at least once? Nevertheless, I learned an important lesson. Had I had my GMP properly in place, I would have a procedure posted that included the exact step of adding my essential or fragrance oil at the right time and thus, would not have missed it. I confess to being too complacent since I print out my formula each time, thinking it’s almost as good. I now know that almost isn’t good enough.

 

Have you begun instituting GMP in your business? Share with us your experiences thus far.

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

November/December in Review

As I perused Facebook this evening, Marla Bosworth’s article from our current issue (Nov./Dec. 13)  rang in my ears.  Yes, I was spending too much time there and I hadn’t accomplished all of my day’s goals.  What about you?  Did you find her piece to be eye-opening and a good reminder?  Granted, Facebook is a wonderful medium and a great business tool for many of us, but too much of anything loses its wonderfulness (is that a word?) and simply becomes a distraction and a time-gobbler.  Of course, Facebook isn’t alone, but it is the most widely used form of social media.  So, how do you apportion your time?  Share with us your tips for making best use of Facebook without getting lost in it.

 

Off the Facebook soapbox and on to the holidays.  Did you not love Suzanne Finley’s poem,  ”A Poem of Holiday Favorites?”  I was amused and delighted.  Any of us making product for sale or for gifts this time of year are sure to relate.

 

I hope you enjoyed the Castile soap article written by our newest columnist, Marina Tadiello.  Castile’s place in history is as fascinating as is this one-oil soap, itself!  I loved gazing at the photos supplied by Castile soapmakers.  Do you like Castile soap?  Do you make it?

 

Where would we be without the clever and knowledgeable Kevin Dunn, who educated us in a most fascinating way in his article, “Phun With Ph?”  I’m wishing that my junior and senior high school teachers had been as fun (or phun) as Kevin is.

 

Deb Sturdevant’s sharing her life and memories of her favorite herbs was a respite from my day and a reminder to count my favorite herbal memories and where they have taken me over the years.  Karen Mallinger’s monographs on bayberry and cloves were a fascinating read for anyone who enjoys herbs and would like to learn more.  I really wanted to find bayberries and extract the wax.  Perhaps someday, I will.  For now though, I have lots of cloves to experiment with.  What are your favorite herbs and why?

 

Of course, everyone’s favorite November/December issue article, “Raves for Faves” was eagerly anticipated.  I love finding out what everyone else is doing, and apparently, so do you.  How do you stack up among your fellow artisans?

 

I must mention that I always enjoy the writings of Melinda Coss, esoteric ramblings or not.  Although she knows more than I ever will about soapmaking and the business thereof, she is so down-to-earth and easy to read that I look forward to seeing her name.

 

Looking for some new ideas for the holidays?  Diane Pither-Patterson is your girl.  Her article on creating candles by upcycling pieces you find was timely in that upcycling is a trend we shouldn’t ignore and during the holidays is a great time to introduce something like this.

 

What?  You don’t subscribe, but you’re dying to read this issue?  No problem.  http://saponifier.com/current-issue/ will provide you with the information that you need.  Join the family!

 

Please note the ads of our fantastic business partners and consider purchasing from them.  They provide us with the best of everything.

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax,

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

July/August Review–What About You?

When you read articles in the Saponifier about your craft or your business, do you put what you’ve learned into practice or does it go into your “Maybe Someday” file?

 

I confess that some of that great information goes into that file until I’m ready to use it, but I try to make good use of each issue.  For instance, some possess a fair amount of knowledge of herbs, while others are rank beginners. Calendula is the perfect herb for beginners, but still very useful for veterans, so Deb Sturdevant’s article was either an informative primer or a helpful reminder.  I still need to make the recipes she provided! Did you make them?

 

Whether you attended the HSCG conference or not, we hope you found, HSCG Conference in Review, to whet your appetite for future conferences if you’re a soap or cosmetics maker to take your skills and business to a new level.

 

Speaking of business, I love reading each column of Marla Bosworth, for instance, and her most recent, Beyond Daily Duty Mode, is no exception.  A business plan is key to starting a business, even if we know we’ll be amending it along the way. In addition, Melinda Coss’ warning in her article, Design to Profit, not to let our creativity run amuck in order that we might run our businesses profitably, was timely information, was it not?  The balance between creativity and efficiency and consistency can be a tenuous one, but mastering the business side is as important as mastering the skill.

 

In, Design Your Soap, Sue Finley’s advice on creating our soaps from product to packaging was a good reminder that simply making soap was not enough. In creating a product, we must create a brand, from conception to selling and everything in between. Indeed, the role of small business owner is not a simple one as it requires us to become expert and disciplined in each facet of our business.

 

Nevertheless, where would we be without exercising some creativity? That brings me to asking, how did you like those tutorials?  How many are you trying? I can’t wait to see your submissions!  Just as a reminder, here’s how the contest works:

Submit photos of your best soaps among the tutorials offered in the July/August issue.  You may enter a total of two photos, but they must each be from a different category:

  1. Drop Swirl
  2. Tiger Stripe Technique
  3. Paint Chip Technique
  4. Peacock Swirl
  5. Squeeze Bottle Swirl

You may submit your photos by filling out the form on the website between August 26th and September 9th, 2013.  We will then post your photos on the Saponifier website.  Beginning September 16 and ending September 30, the public will vote on their favorite soap in each category.  The winner from each technique will receive a prize!

 

 

Note that the form won’t be up on the website until August 26th; so, until then, get soaping and clicking!

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax,

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

March/April 2013 in Review

“Life is so much more complicated these days what with all the new technology to keep up with,” my mother recently stated.  And truth be known, she doesn’t keep up.  Still, she was voicing what many of us feel from time to time, that learning new technology seems complicated and we wonder if it really saves time, money or effort.

In reading Cindy Noble’s article, Digital Library Essentials, in the March-April 2013 edition of the Saponifier, it’s easy to see that going digital can save time, money and effort.  We have so many more resources at our fingertips now, and even digital books are also less expensive than traditional books, not to mention the fact that they won’t fill bookshelf after bookshelf in our homes!  I remember not all that long ago having to make a point of going to the library to look things up that I wanted to know about.  If I wanted to buy a book, I had to either make a trip to a bookstore or send for a catalog, pick out my books, and send the order form and check back in and then wait for a couple of weeks for the books to arrive.  Yes, we are saving time and money when we use our technology efficiently.  Incidentally, Cindy suggestions for books to help you along in your business are outstanding.  If you haven’t read her article yet, you’ll want to.

Are you contemplating selling out of the country?  Tamara Dourney’sUnderstanding ISO Compliance is a must-read to help you get your business ready for new horizons and markets.  Of course, in order to sell, we also need good product photos.  You could hire a professional, and that isn’t a bad idea, but may be out of your current budget.  Tamara’s, Product Photography Revisited will inspire you to improve your photography.

If you’re selling products, you need to know about POS.  You don’t think you have one?  You do!  Quite simply, POS stands for, “point of sale,” and refers to the way you take funds from a customer, whether a cash box at the farmer’s market or a credit card.  Of course, it’s credit cards that have us scratching our heads, wondering if we can afford  to accept them or afford not to accept them and then which one to choose.  It’s a difficult maze, for sure, but Beth Byrne will make it easier for you if you read, POS and the Chandler.  She attempts to take some of the mystery out of determining which credit card company to use.

Should I Quit My Day Job?  Not only the title of Melinda Coss’ article, but a common question for entrepreneurs, it is puzzling to many of us who seek to make our businesses a full-time venture.  We can never be reminded enough of the importance of good, realistic planning in making a successful business.  Be sure to read Melinda’s article and take her advice to heart.

We are living in a time where natural is the buzz word.  If you offer natural products, your customers will be determining–with varying degrees of discernment, just how truthful your statements about your goods are.  If you purchase natural products or ingredients yourself, you are asking the same thing.  Helping you to do that is Tammy Lane in, Sifting Through the Hype.

If you’re a business owner, then you are likely thinking often about how you can get your margins up and your costs down.  To give you some practical advice on increasing your margins without necessarily increasing your prices, Marla Bosworth gives us, Work Smarter, Not Harder–Are Your Margins High Enough?  

Lest you think this issue is only about business, take a look at the fine articles that  Katherine Forrest, Victoria Donaldson and Elizabeth Sockol provided for our reading pleasure.  Katherine shares tips for making beeswax candles, while Victoria teaches us how to make a basic soap mold in just fifteen minutes.  Elizabeth informs us about the common Safflower.  How much do you know about it?  If you’ve read the article, we think you know quite a bit.

Last but certainly not least, pour over the photos in our Readers Showcase Gallery.  Every issues offers a feast for the eyes and inspiration from our subscribers.  Thanks to Fisika, Nancy Reid of Nature’s Soap and Mountain Farm’s soap.  If you’re looking for soap events, be sure to check out our Events page.

What?  You’re not yet a subscriber?  You can fix that!  Just click on this link:  https://saponifier.wufoo.com/forms/subscribe-or-renew/

 

Finally, if you have comments or questions, please feel free to comment here or to ask questions on our Twitter or Facebook pages.  We’d love to hear from you.

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It’s Scentsational!

Have you been too busy with after-holiday chores to sit down with your newest edition of the Saponifier?  Well, do as I did.  Pour yourself a nice cup of tea and sit down for a bit to rest and rejuvenate for 2013.  

 

This issue (January/February 2013) is a particularly enjoyable one because it’s all about scent, and few topics interest soap and candle junkies as scent does.  From the lovely cover photograph that sets the tone to Aaron Polczynski’s advice on selling more of your wonderful, scented creations in, Tips for Soap Sales at any Venue, to a cupcake tutorial (and don’t we love the smell of cupcakes?) authored by Loyce Henderson, you’ll be treated with a great read.  Of course, since you’re this far in, you’d might as well also read, Tammy Lane’s, Holidays You’re Going to Love.  It will help you plan ideas for producing and uniquely marketing all of those wonderful items you can give or sell  this new year.

 

If you’re building a line of scents and are looking for advice, be sure to read, Creating a Scentsational Line by Beth Byrne.  She interviewed Jo Lasky, who is a treasure trove for all things scent and most generously shared some of her knowledge with us!

 

If you’re a soap history buff, you’ll devour Melinda Coss’, Savoir Faire, where she describes the history of soapmaking in France, as well as explaining the current situation that soapmakers face there.

 

What scent could be more wonderful than the scent of herbs?  If you’re hankering to begin an herb garden this year, let Wayne Gorman help in his article, Herb Gardening 101.  

 

Isn’t this the perfect time for trying new formulations in body butters?  Marla Bosworth treats us to formulas and instructions for, Winter Comfort:  Slip Into Rich Cocoa and Vanilla Body Butters.  Mmm. . . I can smell them already!  This is also the best time of year, at least in my hemisphere, for enjoying candles.  You’ll find Lyschel Bersch’s Testing for Wick Size in Candles to be informative and helpful.

 

When it comes to narrowing down a scent line, you’ll enjoy Victoria Donaldson’s survey of friends and  family in, Because it Smells Good!  Armed with the most popular scents of our 2012 Raves for Faves article, Victoria describes how various individuals decided upon their favorites and why.

 

Other than making all of the goodies, what could be a better way to spend a little time than reading about them?

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

New Issue in Review!

Have  you devoured your November/December issue yet?

We at the Saponifier have done our best to bring you all of your favorites.  From your favorite suppliers, scents and products, to recipes revisited and those for winter, you’ve likely enjoyed reading about them and perhaps have even tried some of the recipes.  Were your favorites mentioned in Beth Byrne’s, Raves for Faves article?  Have you sampled tried and true recipes from, Favorites Revisited:  Saponifier’s Best-Loved Recipes, by Tamara Dourney, ornew recipes in,  All-Time Winter Skin Favorites:  Scrubs, Creams and Lotions, by Marla Bosworth?

 

We’re certain you enjoyed other helpful articles that will allow you to manufacture more efficiently and profitably, such as Victoria Donaldson’s, Personalizing for Small Orders.  Or perhaps, you’re working up new formulas for scrubs of any kind, so you loved, Natural Exfoliants, by Erica Pence.  What are your favorite exfoliants?

Are you looking for something new and exciting for candlemaking?  If so, you’ve likely made plans to try Fire and Ice candles, by Erica Pence.

We’re sure you found exceptional business advice by Melinda Coss, in her new column, Savior Faire and Consistency–the Mother of Success, by Alexander Sherman. What did you find most helpful?

I found myself already thinking spring with Elizabeth Sockol’s, Wake Robin!  Were you as fascinated as I was by the many uses for this lovely herb, as well as its history?

Let us know how you’ve enjoyed this issue and used the knowledge you’ve gained.

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

The Saponifier: September/October, 2012–Fun Projects for Everyone!

By now, you’ve probably read your entire issue of the Saponifier.  So much useful information in just one issue!

 

Lara Fiorelli’s advice in, Captivating Holiday Party Decor, was welcome to many of us planning either home sales parties or even our own personal holiday decorating.  I’m sure that many of us will be saving this article to use as a guide.

 

I found Aaron Polczynski’s article, Memory From the Suds, from the standpoint of an interested observer of the soap maker to be an interesting read, as well.  We don’t usually get such a good description of  how others view our work, so reading how Aaron feels about his father’s soapmaking was indeed a treat to read.  How many of us could identify with Aaron’s father as he grew in skill and confidence!

 

If using natural colorants in soapmaking has been a desire of yours, I’m sure you devoured,  Natural Colorants:   Herbs, Botanicals and Clays, as Erica Pence details the various process of extracting color from herbs.  You’ll find the accompanying chart very handy for future reference, as well.

 

Erica also gives us a candle lesson in, Yummy Candle Treats:  Fun Food-Inspired Candles, which, I’m sure, is inspiring many for the upcoming gift giving season.

 

Do you like marshmallows?  Make them with soap!  Tamara Dourney tells us how in, Marshmallow Melt and Pour Soaps. What a fun project for the holiday season!

 

Last, but not least, Elizabeth Sokol tempts our imagination and desires with her herbal monograph, Cabbae Rose.  You’ll be fascinated with its history and intrigued by its many uses.  The ages old rose has captivated us from the beginning.

 

Go forth and make soap and candles!

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne

Four Ideas for Super Sales!

You’ve sold your lovely soaps (and/or candles and bath and body wares) to friends and family.  Perhaps you’ve branched out to farmers markets and craft shows.  You may, however, have found them incompatible with your schedule and personality, or you may simply want to expand your business.  Undoubtedly, you’ve heard about wholesale, and many in our industry have created a thriving business doing just that.   But, what else is there?

 

Thanks to the new, Sept/Oct. 2012, issue of the Saponifier, you have more sales avenues to consider, some of which you may have never given thought to before!  Erica Pence explains the concept of direct sales, and further expounds upon the two types.  If you’ve read her article, Configuring a Direct Sales Company, you now have a good idea and may even be in the preliminary stages of planning your own strategy.  If not, well, get cracking!

 

Remember Tupperware?  Pampered Chef?  Start your own home party plan for your business after reading Beth Byrne’s interview with Becky Gentile and Lucia Felty, who share their structures for home parties.  In the article, Tips for Super Sales With Home Parties, you’ll learn their secrets for creating a successful home party plan that will  make your hostess feel like a queen, your guests ravenous for your products, and you, a happy seller.  Have you been contemplating your own party plan?  We’d love to hear about it.

 

Cindy Noble, in Safety in Numbers:  Planning a Multi-Vendor Trunk Show, instructs us on sponsoring your own show, where you choose the vendors, the date and the location.  With this concise, yet informative guide, you’ll be off and planning your holiday show!   What is the date of your show?

 

If what you’ve been doing has become rather stale, or if expansion is on your mind, answers are right at your fingertips–and just in time for the holidays!

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne

Spinning Your Way to Prosperity

It’s gardening time in North America.

 

Spring trees and flowers are blooming and even in the coldest areas, perennials are popping up out of the ground.  Have you ever thought about planting a soap garden?

 

Read, How Does Your Garden Grow?  A Soapmaker’s Garden, by Beth Byrne, and then tell us what you’re growing or planning to grow in your soap garden.

 

In a completely unrelated topic, what do wars have to do with soap and candlemakers?  Quite a bit, actually, if you sell them.  Tamara Dourney explains in, Remembering the Post-War Era why and how the various war efforts affected the economy in the past, and speculates on the possibilities that may take place once the current war that the US is involved in is over.  Prosperity or doom?  While the outcome is yet to be determined, you can prepare and position yourself for either scenario.

 

On the formulator’s front. . . a natural preservative, how many of us wouldn’t want something all natural for our lotions and creams?  Does one exist?  Erica Pence gives us the low-down in her article, The Great Debate:  Is There a Natural Preservative?  Not surprisingly, the jury is largely still out regarding the new, natural preservatives, but we do get to read about some of them.

 

Denise Marks gets our wheels turning in, Spin for Success.  In an entertaining way, she teaches us about business and life, helping us to overcome failures and obstacles while taking advantage of our good ideas.  Be sure to read this one if you haven’t already.

 

Until next time, happy bubbles and wax as you spin your way through life!

 

Beth Byrne


 

 

Forecasting, Futurecasting and Measuring–it’s Your Business

Woot!  It’s here.  Did you check your email?  The May/June edition of the Saponifier is ready for download.

 

With its emphasis on futurecasting, you’ll find this issue very informative as you learn to negotiate business.  Tamara Dourney jumps right in with her article,  An Introduction to Predictive Analytics:  What is Futurecasting?  She describes Predictive Analysis and all of the concepts and terminology involved.  Embrace it and you’ll find yourself able to see where you are now, identify what your customer base wants, and how to provide it at lowest cost and in the least amount of time possible.

 

Marla Bosworth and Jennifer Kirkwood expand on the theme with their article,  How to use Forecasting to Spot Trends and to Develop Products.  Being small means being nimble, or the ability to watch for trends and to jump on products that meet those needs and wants.  This is something that is extremely difficult for large companies to do, but not small ones.  Stay ahead of the pack!

 

How do we find out just how well we’re doing?  Well, besides the obvious measure of money in the bank account, each business should follow the advice that Alexander Sherman doles out in,  Measuring Returns.  Teaching us how to calculate ROE (Return One Equity) and ROA (Return on Investments), Alexander shows us that we can judge how efficiently our businesses are using the capital that we pour into them.

 

If one of the trends you spot is candlemaking, check out Beth Byrne’s, Book review:  Candlemaking for Profit.  This no-nonsense treatise written by famed candlemaker, Robert Aley, is a gem when it comes to starting a candlemaking business.  You’ll want to find out why and how to get your copy.  Actually, if you’re planning to start any handcrafted business,  you’ll find value in this book.

 

Are you a technology maven?  You’ll be sure to enjoy, Web 3.0, by Cindy Noble.  Even if you aren’t among the tech savvy, you’ll enjoy learning about the new version of the internet–yes, there are versions!

 

Until next time, happy reading.

 

Beth Byrne

 

 

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