What kind of crafter are you?
I have had fun and my share of challenges in perfecting, at least to my satisfaction, the perfect sugar/salt scrub. It took me three years to get the product I thought was the best I could make it. Not three years of constant experimenting, lest I make you think I was churning out batch after batch on a daily basis, but a batch here and there that I would change each time, looking for what was just right. It was a matter of asking around or pondering what I might have in my workshop that could contribute to the final product I had in mind, putting it to the test and then manipulating the percentages until I was satisfied.
How do you develop products? Are you a Mad Scientist who can often be seen in your lab (such as it may be) creating mysterious potions? Or, conversely, are you a Reliable Recipe Follower who must be given a recipe that you follow to a T, and only a calamity will get you to change course?
Most likely, you’re somewhere in the middle. Perhaps you’re more adventurous than our Reliable Recipe Follower, but you can’t imagine doing anything more innovative than substituting one oil for another in soapmaking or trying new recipes others provide, with only slight changes. You might call yourself a Timid Tinkerer.
On the other hand, You may be much more willing to experiment and make substitutions than either our Reliable Recipe Follower or even a Timid Tinkerer, but you would never think to call yourself a Mad Scientist. You might be an Enthusiastic Experimenter. You’re unlikely to change the world with a new product that only you have thought of , but you do take inspiration from other products and other producers to take your current products up a notch or two.
None of these descriptions is negative, by the way, just an observation of whom you are as an individual and how it affects your tasks.
A Reliable Recipe Rollower is likely to be efficient and saves money by keeping expenses down. A Timid Tinkerer is open-minded enough to substitute ingredients and try new products within a certain scope. This person will likely learn more than her less adventurous sister and adapt better to changing times, but will never be a mover and shaker.
An Enthusiastic Experimenter is usually up on the various methods, ingredients, and trends. She may have more in her workshop than her less enthusiastic counterparts, but she knows her stuff and she isn’t afraid to try new things or to tweak her current ideas in her quest to make the perfect product.
A Mad Scientist is the person others count on for new ideas. He is constantly thinking of how to create something brand new or how to twist and tweak a product to make something novel. This is the person others follow, eager to try out his new ideas. The downside of a Mad Scientist is that he may have trouble with consistency, clutter, and spending.
Which one are you and how do you feel about it? Let’s hear your comments!
Until next time, happy bubbles & wax.
If you’re like me, spring brings with its arrival a new excitement.
As the days lengthen and the sunshine warms, I too, come back to life. That carries through to my soapmaking and body products. I want to try new colors, scents, and techniques. Admittedly, some work out better than others, but the not-so-good results do not discourage me too much because I keep at it.
On the other hand, how many times do we realize our mistakes could be better termed, serendipity? That’s what I love about my craft. I don’t always get in reality, what my optimistic mind imagines, but it’s almost always good, even if only for family use. Sometimes, it’s even better than I imagined. It’s at these times I’m most pleased.
It used to be that when a soapmaker made her first batch, or even when a more experienced soapmaker made an exceptionally good/beautiful batch, that we said we were doing a “Happy Soap Dance.” I don’t see that often anymore, but it still exists! I do the HSD after a good batch, if only in my head. I’m quite sure I also wear a great big grin.
What about you? Do you still get excitement and immense satisfaction from each (or nearly each) batch? Chandlers, do you look forward to trying new things? Or has soapmaking and candlemaking become routine, a chore that needs to be finished? Tell us how you feel.
Until next time, Happy bubbles and wax!
Dealing with the public, any of us selling soap, body products, or candles do it.
We all get comments about our products that are inaccurate or even rude.
“That lye soap will take your hide off!”
“I’m not going to pay for that when I can get the same thing at the store for a dollar.”
“That (insert ingredient) is junk/disgusting/unhealthy.”
“I can make that for half the price.”
Other times, you may be asked, “How do you make that? Where do you get your supplies?”
I can see you shaking your heads now. You’ve heard it all.
On a more positive note, you may be asked, “What makes your product better than what I can buy at the store?
Admittedly, it can be a challenge. Situations arise that we are unprepared for, leaving us groping for replies. If you’re like me, you don’t always feel that you’ve dealt with their comments or questions well.
What can we do? Lashing out at the customer or running into a corner to cry is not a positive response, no matter how tempting. However, thinking about the questions ahead of time and preparing yourself with answers is key to diffusing tense situations as is adequately explaining your product so that your customer understands how special your goods are and how fortunate the public is to have access to them.
I welcome shoppers asking what makes my products worth the money I charge because it’s a perfect opportunity to explain the ingredients and the process I use, and also the care I take in creating my goods, often convincing a skeptic that she wants to purchase what I have to offer.
The rest is a little more difficult, but if we’re in the trenches with the public, we must learn how to deal with comments and questions with grace and tact, perhaps even a bit of humor.
What do you say to rude comments that degrade your product? I’ll get us started. To, those who claim “lye soap” is harsh, I counter that it often was true in the past, but today, you’ll find soap to be a very gentle cleaner in comparison. I then hand them a sample to prove my point. I haven’t actually found that to sell soap to this group, but if I can get a few people here and there to understand the difference between old-fashioned soap and modern soap, we’ve all gained.
Your turn. Choose any of the above questions and comments and tell us how you reply. Let’s help each other!
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,
Silly Season is nearly upon us. You’re either shaking your head up and down in the affirmative, or saying, “Huh?”
Let me explain. Silly Season refers to the flurry of activity involved in selling your products to holiday buyers. Most of them are shopping for Christmas, but also for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa–did I miss any holidays?
If this applies to you, I am guessing that you’ve already taken stock of what you want to produce and what you’ll need to purchase to produce it. If you’re really on the ball, you’ve purchased your supplies already and are working hard to shore up your stock to make it through that crazy time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Ideally, I like to make my soap in the summer and then everything else–lotions, body butter, etc., in October. I make m&p soap in seasonal molds and scents.
What about you? Do you plan well ahead or do you find yourself perennially rushing to keep up? How do you decide what to make and how much? Share your secrets with us! We can learn much from each other. And if you don’t sell, the same principles probably apply to your hobby and holiday giving, so don’t think you’re off the hook. Tell us how you plan ahead and prepare for a more controlled holiday season.
Have you ever attended a gathering or conference of soap and/or candlemakers?
I have. In fact, I recently returned from a state gathering, where my fellow soapers, chandlers and I had a marvelous time. We talked soap, learned new techniques, shared a delicious lunch, bought from each other’s garage sales, and generally made it a great day for soapers. It’s an event I look forward to each year.
Why do I value this event so much? I can think of many reasons. I get to see the friends I’ve made at previous gatherings so we can we catch up on our respective lives. I get to meet new people and get their perspectives. We get to talk soap! It’s not every day for me that I find someone who appreciates and understands this craft as I do, and I’m sure the same is true for the other attendees.
In addition to these advantages, I have the opportunity to sell off my extras or my “I-bought-this-and-can’t-remember-what-to-do-with-it” items, along with buying others’ items in the same categories. I have the opportunity to dream big with the raffle prizes, and even to see the wonderful products that our vendor sponsors have sent for our doorprizes and goody bags. I learn new techniques in the demos that other members kindly provide.
What about you? Have you ever attended any kind of soap/candle gathering? From lunch with a few other devotees to the annual HSMG Conference, tell us where you’ve been and what you find so compelling or enjoyable about the experience. If you haven’t had the opportunity or haven’t made the effort, think about changing that at first opportunity, even if you have to initiate the project. You’ll be glad you did.
How many of you sell at outdoor summer festivals and shows?
This season has recently begun for most parts of the USA. Sellers have checked out their tents, packed their boxes and coolers, and are getting ready to sell or are in the swing of things. As a vendor at such a sale, you’ll see all manner of handcrafted product and yummy, albeit unhealthy food treats. If you’re fortunate, you’ll be treated with performances of live music. Festival goers are enjoying the sunshine and their surroundings, purchasing goods from crafters. You’re getting into the spirit of the day/weekend, and all is well.
Of course, the not-so-rosy picture of outdoor shows also emerges. It’s cold and rainy when you set up, the crowds are sparse and the band is loud and annoying. Things go from bad to worse. The wind picks up, it rains harder, and your tent is threatening to take to the sky. I read an account of a scenario even worse than that in Columbus, OH recently. The storm cell apparently developed at the show, and everyone was caught with virtually no warning. Tents flew and untold dollars worth of product were ruined, not to mention the hours spent and the original handwork of many artists, lost.
If you do outdoor summer sales, what have you learned that you can share with others? Do you have special tips for keeping product from melting in the hot summer sun? Ways of keeping product dry in the event of rain? How do you keep your tent anchored? What is in your show box?
My suggestion is to bring food and plenty of cold water. You’ll feel better if you can eat food from home when you’re hungry, rather than filling up on “fair food,” whenever you can sneak a few minutes, or go hungry because you don’t have time to leave your booth and stand in line.
What’s your tip to share?
Are you thinking about the next issue of the Saponifier?
I can tell you that we’ve all been working very hard on this one, to make it compelling to read, and full of information you can use!
For instance, what do you know about Purple Salsify? Uh huh, that’s what I thought–but you’ll learn all about it in our Herbal Monograph.
Something that’s likely to be more familiar, Eucalyptus essential oil, will also be discussed. Get ready with your favorite Koala Bear. Even though you probably know something about eucalyptus already, we’re betting you’ll learn some new tidbits that you can use.
Got kids? We’ve got a great article on products for children in the Herbal Wisdom column.
Don’t forget! Subscriptions are BOGO now, but for a limited time. Buy one subscription at normal price, get the second one free. What a fabulous gift for a soapmaking friend!
Flying relief missions to Haiti, how the industry can help
As many of you know, a massive, 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti near the capital of Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, January 12th. Unfortunately, the country is not equipped to deal with an emergency of this proportion.
With so many individuals in need, Saponifier Magazine has been in contact with Missionary Flights International (http://www.missionaryflights.org), an organization based out of Fort Pierce, Florida. This group is currently flying relief missions to Haiti.
They are asking for donations of:
- Hygiene products: Soap, Toothpaste, Shampoo, Deodorant, etc. Handmade items are accepted.
- Snack-type food – Granola bars, etc.
- Peanut butter
- Towels and washcloths
- First Aid kits
- Flashlights & Batteries
Soaps and other products donated should be individually packaged before packing. Donations should be clearly marked with contents and sent to:
MISSIONARY FLIGHTS INTERNATIONAL
3170 Airmans Drive
Fort Pierce, FL 34946
In addition to Missionary Flights International, Clean The World (http://www.cleantheworld.org) is accepting donations of handmade bar soaps. These soaps will be run through a re-batching and sterilization process, so they do not need to be full bars- hospitality size and larger are acceptable. Clean The World has asked that you send your soap in bulk with as little packaging material as possible.
Bar soaps should be mailed to:
Clean the World
4625 Old Winter Garden Road, #B 7,
Orlando, FL 32811
For more information on shipping your soap to Clean The World, please visit their Volunteer page at: http://www.cleantheworld.org/volunteer.asp
Thank you for taking the time to read this message. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims of this tragedy.
Tamara Dourney, Managing Editor
. . . every happiness this holiday season and prosperity for the coming year.
2009 was a great year for Saponifier and we want to thank you all for the support. We’re already getting excited for 2010, with major new launches coming first quarter.
We wish you all the best for the Holidays Season and look forward to sharing more with you in 2010.
With many kind regards,
– The Saponifier Team