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



Oils, Summer, Candles and Capital

This educational issue of the Saponifier is so exciting.  If you didn’t learn anything, then you must know everything!


We’ve all heard facts about soapmaking oils–coconut oil is drying, castor oil produces a hard soap, canola oil causes DOS.  But, is it really true?  Soapmaking Oils; Surprises Afoot, by Beth Byrne is an attempt to answer those questions.  Most people, myself included, learned, believed and repeated what we believed we knew about oils without really testing things out.  After hearing contradictory information,  a single oil soap experiment was born.  Thanks to over twenty soapmakers, we have access to the results of making many kinds soap with one oil and now know the truth.  Is coconut oil drying?  Read the article for yourself!  You’ll also have access here:

If you don’t see an oil listed and want to make a batch to test and add to our work, please contact me,  I am seeking to add more oils.

Armed with your new information, try the formulas listed in Erica Pence’s, Natural Summer Formulary.  You’ll find much more than soap ideas! Likewise, Cindy Noble’s, Summer Product Shape Up will be just the kickstart you need to think about warmth and sunshine. While you’re at it this summer, don’t forget to use Erica’s directions for making sand candles!  Oh, and speaking of soap, what about scum?  Tamara Dourney sheds the light on the “scum” claims of advertisers in, Soap Scum:  A Real Problem or Bad PR.?  Weren’t you glad you read that one?

Last but not least, our money guru, Alexander Sherman offers expert advice in his article, Raising Capital.  What small business doesn’t need that kind of help?  Tell us where you got your capital to start your business and/or to expand it.


Until next time,

Happy bubbles and wax!

Beth Byrne


How do You Prefer Your Education?

Education.  Do you think of stuffy classrooms where you struggled to stay awake, or was your experience a positive one of engaging discussion and good test results?  Do you prefer a formal or an informal mode of education?  And why am I talking about education at all on the Saponifier blog?


If you hadn’t noticed, the new issue is all about education, in particular, educating ourselves about soapmaking, candlemaking, and related topics–herbs, chemistry, art and design, and so on.  If we sell product, we can throw in accounting and marketing.  Fortunately, we can continue educating ourselves, whether we physically go back to school, we learn online, or we learn  informally through books and other research.


Tamara Dourney filled us in on some exciting methods of formal education, by way of online learning in her article, Open Source Scientist.  If your opinion of this modern way of being educated is negative, think again.  Many opportunities for study at recognized institutions are available, and they continue to evolve and develop, making it easier for artisans to increase their knowledge of subjects important to their crafts.  Tamara also wrote about various potential career paths that are related to our crafts in,  Career Day:  Five Options for Continuing Education.


If you prefer doing your own research on a specific topic, Erica Pence’s, Natural Resources and her second article, Candle Resources, both filled with good books for learning soap and candle making, essential oils, herbs, botanicals and other body care products.  Your knowledge base is sure to greatly increase by studying them.


If you find yourself wishing to take a class, be sure to read Marla Bosworth’s, 10 Tips for Selecting the Right Soap and Skincare Classes to Match Your Needs.  Heeding her comments may mean the difference between a wonderful class you’ll think was worth every penny and one that was a waste of time and money.


In this issue, you’ll even find an educational herb monograph on the lovely Glacier Lily, more commonly called, Dog-Toothed Violet or Trout Lily in my neck of the woods.  I had no idea of the food and medicinal uses for this early spring treasure!


Whether you are a staunch believer in conventional education and desire to pursue a degree or you are looking for something less formal, but no less educational, you’ll find ideas in the above articles.  Tell us how YOU like to learn.


Until next time,

Happy bubbles & wax adventures.

Beth Byrne

Candles, Herbs, and Economics — Three Ideas for 2012

How is January coming along for you?  Are you reaching for your 2012 goals?  Taking steps to keep your resolutions?


If one of  your resolutions was to add candles to your bath business, you no doubt found Erica Pence’s article of the same title very helpful.  Just gather together the ingredients she lists and create away!  Tell us if you’ve used Erica’s directions to be just the ticket to your first candle.  Once you add candles to your line, tell us if they have boosted sales for you.


Were you as encouraged as I was to read, Planning for the Best When Experiencing the Worst, by Alexander Sherman?  I found his advice regarding positioning our businesses to be front and center as the economy rebounds (however slowly) and his enthusiasm for the future to be quite contagious.  I hope the same was true for you.  What are you doing to be ready for the surge in sales?


For all of us budding herbalists, the herbal monographs are always informative.  Even with more familiar herbs, I learn something new.  Elizabeth Sockol’s, Spanish Dagger, better known to many of us as Yucca, is no exception.  I never tire at learning more about the various uses for any herb, whether cosmetic, culinary, or medicinal.  Yucca provides no shortage of uses, even though none of them are food-related.  It is likely that some of our readers have used the root to extract the saponins.  Have you?


Perhaps Ginger oil is your preference.  Did you get any new ideas from Cindy Noble’s monograph?  I confess to using it only for culinary and medicinal purposes, except for a drop in the bath of a sick person.  We’d love to hear how you use Ginger.


Finally, be sure to check out the photos supplied by Jonathan Savoie and Madeline Novak of  Old Factory Soap Company.  They are truly inspirational!


Yours in the joys of bubbles and wax,







What’s New? See What 2012 can Offer You

Have your customers asked you about Bath Salts?


 They may mistakenly believe that your product is either illegal or should be illegal, a dangerous drug of choice for young people.  If you’re fortunate, they may only ask you what the truth of the situation is.  If you’ve been unclear yourself on the specifics of this situation is, be sure to read, The Dangers of Bath Salts, by Stacy Reckard.  She explains what the drug, Bath Salts, is, why it’s dangerous, and how to deal with the situation as a business owner.


 What do your goals regarding soap, candles, or body products entail?  Whether you’re looking to start a business, expand it, or simply try new products, you’ll want to read Beth Byrne’s, What’s New for 2012?  You’ll even find help for making your operation more efficient so you can sell more!  Find out what’s new so you can jump on the newest thing.


Have you noticed that the soap and cosmetics market for teenaged boys is less than saturated?  Have you been tempted to fill a portion of it?   You’ll be happy to know that the marketing research has already been done for you by Tamara Dourney.  She explains in, Joining the Teen Boy Bandwagon, how she was able to capture and keep the attention of a group of young teen boys to find out what kinds of products, scents, packaging and fonts work for them.  Read the article and you’ll have a head start!


What are you waiting for?  Take that next step.


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




What are Your Goals, Decisions and Challenges for 2012?

Whew!  The holidays have passed and we’ve survived to tell the tales.  Welcome 2012!


If you’re like most of us, you’ve made resolutions or set goals for the year, and we hope the Jan./Feb. issue of the Saponifier is helping, at least where soap or candlemaking is concerned!  We probably can’t help you  lose twenty pounds, but we can give you some guidance in your hobby or business ventures.


I found Brandy Kayzakian-Rowe’s article, Looking Good in the New Year–Spotlight on Product Photography, to be fascinating and very informative.  Her advice as to where to take photos, what kind of lighting to use and other hints, even her advice about hiring a photographer, will be taken to heart by any of us.


In addition, many of us are scrutinizing our products and the ingredients we use in 2012.  We want the best for our businesses and our customers.  We may also be concerned the economy and with sustainability.  Whatever our goals are, we continually hone in on our target markets and the customer base we serve.  All of these factors cause us to make decisions, some of them very hard to make.  Marla Bosworth’s, Resolving to go Palm-Free in 2012:  Will You Join Me?  was at the same time, thought-provoking and compelling.  Reading it side-by-side with Erika Pence’s, Going Natural, which was also well-written and compelling, will certainly challenge us all in deciding whether to use palm and its derivatives or not.  As with most issues, good points are being made for either side and further thought and research are in order.


What about you?  What kinds of decisions have you wrestled with for the coming year?


Yours in bubbles & wax,




Natural Scent Music, Hydrosols, and Projects for Chandlers

The Thanksgiving weekend is wrapping up as I write and I reflect on all that took place.  I had such a wonderful time with my family and our friend who spent the day with us.  I hope yours was equally as blessed.


On Saturday, I met up with a couple of soapmakers who hadn’t heard of the Saponifier before, so of course, I directed them to the site.  It made me think about how the past articles have helped me to become a better soapmaker and how much I have enjoyed being on staff.  Aren’t you glad you have the Saponifier?  If you know of a soapmaker or chandler who doesn’t read the Saponifier, show her or him the light!


Interested in natural scents and blends?  If you’ve read Erica Pence’s, Scenting Naturally, you’ve not only expanded on your knowledge base, but are likely composing beautiful scent symphonies to use in your products.  If you don’t know why I am using musical metaphors, you haven’t read the article yet!


Hydrosols, also known as hydrolats and distillates, are lesser known aromatherapy products, but certainly no less useful.  Sherri Reehil-Welser introduces them to us in The Healing Art of Hydrosols.  If you’ve been wondering about them and how to use them, I’m sure you are or will find the information you read invaluable as you seek to use them more.


What are you doing?  Go outside, gather a pile of pine cones and get busy making dipped cones!  What a lovely gift they’ll be to your fireplace-owning friends and family, and so easy to do.  If that’s not enough, Erica Pence also explains how to make Whipped Snow Cones and Snowballs in Winter Snow and Pine Cones – Making Whipped and Dipped Candles.  Have you made any of them yet?  Let us know how it was for  you.


Talk to us and let us know what you think about this issue.  We love to hear from our readers!


Best wishes for a happy holiday season,


Beth Byrne

Three S’s – Sustainability, Sleeping and a Scottish Soapmaker

Now that you’ve had ample opportunity to read the Nov/Dec. issue of the Saponifier, we can talk.


Sustainability–we’ve all heard the term, but what does it really mean, especially in light of the aromatic trade?  The simple definition involves how current practices in using various natural resources affect the future, whether in our lifetime or in later generations.  Tamara Dourney focuses on the aromatic trade in,  An Exploration of Trade in the Aromatic Market, which encompasses raw materials and products from perfume to medicine.  But what does it mean to you?  Are current global efforts at sustainability adequate or woefully inadequate?  How does your opinion on the topic affect your purchasing and product decisions?  Let us know!


Changing gears a bit, Denise Marks of the Mold Market illustrates a short lesson in sleeping with the enemy.  What does she mean by that?  By relating the tale of her climbing into bed one night, only to find herself in bed with her grandson’s army set, Denise compels us to think about how our businesses might actually be enhanced and strengthened by collaborating with our competition rather than quashing it, especially in this global economy.


How do you feel about this?  Will “sleeping with the enemy” kill your business or make it better?


Changing gears once again, Lindalu Forseth introduces us to Corrie Smith, a Scotland soapmaker who owns Lomond Soaps. Corrie describes how she fell in love with making soap and finally began selling it in desperation–to get a bigger house to house her soaps!   She goes on to tell us how she planned and grew her business, all with the love of the Orangutan in mind.


Were you as inspired by Corrie’s story as I was?  Tell us.


Until next time, many happy bubbles!

Beth Byrne


Perfumery, Distillation, and Faves–it’s all Here

Have you been pouring over your new issue of the Saponifier?  I have.  

Thanks to those who participated in the Raves for Faves survey (by Beth Byrne) by taking the time to vote honestly and carefully.  How did your favorites match up to those that placed?  Were you surprised at the outcome?  Of course, we all know that many amazing companies serve our industry; still, it was fun choosing the top three in each category.

It was interesting, also, to see how much or how little popular scents and products change over the years.  How does your product line compare?  Do you find your customers enjoying new products and scents or do they stick with the tried-and-true?

Reading,  A Day in the Life of a Natural Perfumer (Marla Bosworth) gave me a new respect for perfumers, as well.  Although I do enjoy blending scents fairly frequently, Sharna Ethier’s knowledge and how she puts it to work was fascinating to me.  I also found it remarkable how young she discovered that she had a keen nose for scent.  Including the recipes was icing on the cake!  Do you see yourself as a budding perfumer?

The Art of Distillation: From History Directly to Your Backyard, by Cindy Noble, was one that I was looking forward to reading.  I don’t think my life will be complete until I have my own distillation unit!  What about you?  Knowing more about the ancients and their love of distilled herbs and other materials was compelling, as was the information gleaned from Copper-Alembic, which manufactures these beautiful devices.

I hope I haven’t given anything away that would spoil your reading, but I did want to whet your appetite if you haven’t had a chance to sit down with it yet.  You’ll be glad  you did!

Until next time, Bubblingly Yours,


Jekyll & Hyde in the Herb Garden

Do you grow Barberry?

Some would call the European Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) a weed shrub, but thanks to Elizabeth Sockol, we know that although it is weedy, Barberry is also a useful shrub.  Along with its close relatives named in her article, we now know that its berries are edible and loaded with vitamin C.  Additionally, it had been used in the past for a long list of ailments.  Nevertheless, this attractive shrub has a dark side due to the fatal fungus that resides within–a fungus that very nearly wiped out wheat and barley growing in the US.

Intrigued?  Make sure you read this most fascinating article and tell us if you don’t agree that Barberry might be called the Jekyll & Hyde of the herb world.

Fortunately, we can turn to one of my favorite herbs, indeed an favorite of many, Calendula (Calendula officinalis).  This lovely, cheerful annual is not only delightful in our flower gardens, but an extremely useful herb, as well, Lindalu Forseth explains.  She talks of Calendula infused in oil, teaching how to grow, harvest, and infuse it for use in a variety of ways.   It’s a known anti-inflammatory, helps heal wounds, and may even be useful as an anti-cancer and anti-viral.

Many soap and b&b makers love Calendula for its skin-loving qualities.  After reading this article, you’ll want to give it a try!

Do you have questions regarding what you’ve read in this issue of the Saponifier?  Did you like particular articles, finding them helpful in your soap, bath product, or candle making?  Let us know.  We love to hear from our readers.

Lastly, be sure to drool over the photos sent in by our readers, and to read the bio of Maria Sarafi from Greece.  You’ll be inspired!

What did you learn from reading this issue?

« Previous PageNext Page »