Design Mania, Cosmetics Issue and a Job Offer

I’ve been hinting for awhile now, and it’s time to announce our Design Mania contest!

 

I trust that many of you have been trying your hand at the designs presented in the May/June 2014 issue, and I’ll bet that you have one or two to show off. Now is the time. Here’s what you do: try the designs if you haven’t already and submit photos of your best one or two. Your photos will be uploaded and voted on by the public. The person who gets the most votes overall will win the grand prize, and it is grand, indeed! The winners after that in each technique category will win a package of prizes that you will be thrilled to receive. Complete details and the entry form may be found here:  http://saponifier.com/enter-design-mania-contest-2014/

 

I am so excited to see what you have to offer, I can hardly wait! Once the entry deadline is reached, I’ll be back with voting information. Take a look at the prizes; they are awesome. Many, many thanks to our generous vendor partners who are participating with us.

 

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Speaking of soap, I could look at soap designs all day long. The artistry of some of my soapmaking colleagues is nothing short of jaw-dropping–far more intricate and creative than I could ever hope to attain. Even so, I am just as pleased to use a rather Plain Jane or primitive looking bar as long as it performs well. I guess it’s true that if you love soap, you love all of it. Well, almost all of it, anyway. It never ceases to delight me that we can combine various oils and lye to get a bar of soap. I hope it never does.

 

What about you? Will a plain bar of well-made soap be as pleasing to you as a fancy, artistic one?

 

Also, it’s just a short time until July 1st, when our next issue comes out. I can’t describe to you how I anticipate actually seeing the magazine! I’m like a kid at Christmas. This issue concentrates on cosmetics, an important subject to many of us, so I hope you’ll enjoy it if you’re a subscriber. If not, we’d love to have you aboard.  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

Finally, we have an opening for a writer at the Saponifier. This person’s regular column would center on the “That’s Life” and “Wit & Whimsy” side of soap, bath and body and candlemaking. You see the humor in everyday life with your craft and don’t mind sharing. This might include your mistakes or crazy things that happen when you’re selling or other events that we can all relate to. Interested? Contact beth@saponifier.com

 

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

 

Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier

Bath or Shower?

Bath or shower? Which do you prefer? What about your customer base or friends and family?

 

Personally, I love a relaxing bath with herbs, milk, fizzy and other goodies, but the truth is that I rarely take one. I suspect that these days where most of us are rushing here and there or spending our days just trying to keep up with one task after another, bathing just seems like a time-consuming indulgence that we cannot afford.  That being said, my suppositions may not be true for your audience, and finding out is your job.

 

If you’re already considering scent and color, but forgetting about your customers’ preferences when it comes to showers vs. baths, you may be creating products that they don’t really use rather than creating the goodies they’re clamoring for.  Of course, it’s less crucial to concern yourself if you’re a hobbyist; yet the knowledge comes in handy at gift-giving time, when you give a gift they’ll really use!

 

So, how do you find out what your customers want? Ask!  Most will be very forthcoming about their preferences. Ask casually when conversing, form a focus group, conduct a survey or find your own unique way of getting information.

 

Of course, taking a little extra time for yourself is a good idea as is encouraging your customers and friends to do the same, but it’s easier to sell something they already know they want than to convince them they want what you’re selling.

 

 

PS: The upcoming issue of the Saponifier features cosmetics, all sorts of them! Not a subscriber? You can fix that: http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

 Also, are you working on replicating the designs found in our Design Mania issue?  Take photos because our contest is coming! Details in the July 1st issue.

 

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

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

We Just Love Soap!

In just hours, the Design Mania issue will be released. We are so excited to bring you these new designs to see and try! 

 

We love this issue because. . . well, what’s not to love? We get to look at beautiful soaps and we get the inside information on how to replicate them. I hope you pour over each and every soap and try your hand at them.  When you do, take good photos for our upcoming contest. Complete details will come later on; but in short, soapmakers will submit photos and the public will vote on their favorites, resulting in some very happy winners of fabulous prizes!

 

As much as we may like to see photos and try designs, it is but just a part of the soapmaking process and certainly not the most crucial aspect of a great bar of soap! If you’re a new soapmaker, intricate design should be the last of your concerns (although certainly fine to do if you are able). Concentrating on producing a bar that is satisfactory–hard, lathering, moisturizing, and so on is top priority. Even if you’re experienced, but have never attempted to make complicated designs on a regular basis, you’re still making high-quality soap.

 

I have seen some who are able to create gorgeous soaps from the beginning and I am duly impressed; but given the choice between a gorgeous soap and a well-made one, I’ll take the latter every time. A well made soap from a knowledgeable soapmaker has great worth. So, if you’re  not ready yet or don’t feel capable of turning out batch after batch of incredible designs, don’t feel inferior. Continue to make those wonderful soaps, whatever they look like.

 

Still, I think that we can well appreciate the beautiful designs we are about to discover (I can’t wait), and yet appreciate even the everyday soap for the amazing creation that it is. Don’t you?

 

Oh, and if you’re not a subscriber, you can take care of that here:  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

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

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

An Open Letter to New Soapmakers

So, you’re a brand new soapmaker. Welcome to the wonderful world of soapmaking!

 

As you’ve already realized, soapmaking is an attainable art, but one where a certain amount of knowledge is required. Chances are, you’ve asked for help from experienced soapmakers. Some of you, however, report a reticence to share from other, more experienced soapmakers. Fair enough.

 

It’s true that some soapmakers will not share information, instead expecting you to do your research and conduct your experiments to learn “the hard way.” Other soapmakers will share everything they know, perhaps to a fault. Most, however, fall somewhere in between. They want to help, but don’t want to feed everything to you on a silver platter.

 

Why? It’s because they know that the best knowledge is gained from experience and that shortcuts are seldom good teachers. Does that mean you have to tough it out on your own until you figure things out? No! As with everything, it’s not what you ask, it’s how you ask it that appeals to or rubs a veteran soapmaker the wrong way.

 

For instance, nothing turns off a veteran soaper more than hearing the following:

 

“I have never made cold process soap before, but want to sell soap at a craft sale in two months, so please give me a perfect recipe.” (Uh, no. No veteran wants to be part of a plan this foolhardy)

 

“I don’t want to waste ingredients and I’ve never used  ________, so please give me a foolproof recipe.” (Nobody likes to waste ingredients, but it doesn’t mean everything has to be handed to you)

 

“Hi, I want to learn how to make soap and where to get ingredients. Please tell me anything you know.” (Your question is too broad. We hardly know where to start.)

 

All of the above say, “I don’t want to work at it, but I will gladly take all you have worked for.” And yes, my colleagues and I have heard them all.

 

If you want to be a member in good standing of the the Happy Soapmaker Club, you’ll phrase your questions more like this:

 

“Hi, I’m a brand new soapmaker and eager to learn the craft. Please point me to a few reliable sources of information, so I can learn how to make soap the right way.”

 

“I’d like to add ____________ to my soap, but I’m unsure how to incorporate a new oil. Can someone help me or point me where to look for the information?

 

Do you see how the first set of questions come across as selfish and thoughtless of other soapmakers’ time and experience; whereas, the second set shows that you recognize the time and effort necessary to learn your new craft? Most of my colleagues are quite happy to help with specific questions and those that indicate you’re taking the initiative and time necessary to learn. Moreover, it’s simply true that experience is the best teacher, so resign yourself to the fact that not every batch will be “soap contest” worthy. We’ve all been there and continue to learn each day, so we expect nothing more or less from you.

 

Yes, welcome to the world of soapmaking, but be prepared to put some time and effort into learning your new craft!

 

If you want valuable information at your fingertips, subscribe to the Saponifier: http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

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

 

Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier

Sub-a-Dub-Dub, Soapmakers Learn About Oils for the Tub

Sub-a-Dub-Dub, Soapmakers Learn About Oils for the Tub. . . yes, it’s a little cheesy, but it leads to the question, “How do I know which oil would be a good substitute for the usual oils in my soap?”

 

If you’ve been making soap, no doubt you’ve asked this question. Perhaps you’ve run out of an oil and need to substitute, or you’re unable to find the oil called for in the formula or you choose not to use the oil specified, you’ll need to know how to substitute oils.

 

If you look at the fatty acid profile for the oil you’d like to substitute and then look for an oil with a similar profile, you can probably make a direct substitution. I know, I know, you’re probably asking if there’s an easier way than possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of any given oil. Fortunately, the answer is yes.

 

Consider, for instance, that you usually want to use coconut oil, but have run out or have a customer who is allergic to it. You want to make a bar that is identical or nearly identical to your usual formula. You may look up the fatty acid profile (and it’s a good idea), but it’s also enough to know what coconut does for soap. It makes a hard bar and a great deal of lather. By looking up oils high in lauric and myristic acid, you’ll know that the other lathering oils include babassu and palm kernel oil. Therefore, you know that you can substitute coconut oil with these two oils and also that they are the only oils that provide the abundance of lather that coconut does.

 

As stated in our last blog, this is the breakdown of the fatty acids:

 

Lauric, myristic – hard, lathering

Palmitic, stearic – hard, some conditioning

oleic, linoleic, linolenic, ricinoleic – conditioning

 

You’ll have to do a bit of work to find out what the properties  are of the oils in your formula and the oil options you have for substituting, but with just a bit of sleuthing, you’ll be on your way.

 

Want to learn more about soapmaking? Subscribe to the Saponifier!

 

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

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

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

Hope That Works

Hope.  What do you think of?  Generally, we think of it as fulfilling a desire of some kind.  For instance, I hope you had a great holiday season, that you made the amount of money you projected, that you enjoyed the season and that you remained sane.  I hope you didn’t gain weight.

 

I was reminded, however, of a more archaic definition:  trust and confidence.  I find that I like that definition even better.  We have a trust and confidence in something coming to pass, whether it be in our businesses, our relationships, our bodies, spirituality or any number of facets of our lives.  Rather than a pleasant, but ineffective kind of “best wishes” hope, we have trust in the future.  I call it, “hope that works.”

 

I then ponder what it takes to produce confidence in the future.  Is it merely an idea of what we’d like see come to pass?  “I’d like to sell more product in 2014.”  How far will that get us?  Like most of our New Year’s Resolutions, they’re nice ideas, but not enough to move us, especially not for the long haul that 2014 will prove to be.

 

Therefore, rather than uttering general hopes, let us make them concrete and attainable.  Instead of, “I’d like to sell more product in 2014,” set a goal and a plan for getting there.  How much soap would you like to sell?  How will you accomplish it? What do you need to do to get ready?  Don’t forget to set realistic dates for each activity to keep yourself moving!

 

It’s more work than a wish, but it’s hope that works.

 

Don’t forget to put a Saponifier subscription on your to-do list for 2014.  You have just a few hours left to subscribe for a 25% discount:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Saponifier

 

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

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Holiday Hopes

You’ve survived the holidays.  If you’re in the US, you stuffed yourself for Thanksgiving, and then partied and celebrated your way through Christmas or Hanukkah, etc.  Hopefully, in this time period you also sold soap, bath and body products and candles or gave your best efforts to friends and family.  What were your results? I hope that your experiences were all positive!

 

I’m always interested in finding what people like.  The best part to me of doing shows is to observe customers’ reactions upon seeing and smelling products.  I also like finding out what my loved ones like, whether they love lavender or are more partial to citrus.  If you’re a smart business person, you’ll watch and keep notes of what people like so that you make better product decisions in the future.  If you’re a smart gift-giver, you’ll want to keep notes of what your giftees like and what you gave them so that you can continue to give gifts that make them feel special.

 

In spite of the fact that the holiday season is when most retailers make the bulk of their money for the year, I do hope that you got more out of the season than money.  I hope that you were blessed by the love of family and friends.  I hope that you gave back to them and to your community.  I hope that you gave hope this year.

 

More on hope tomorrow.

 

Don’t forget.  Tomorrow is the last day to claim a subscription to the Saponifier for 25% off!  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Saponifier

 

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

And the Winners Are. . .

Just in case you hadn’t heard who won in the five categories of our Design Mania Contest, you’ll want to read on.

 

To recap, our July/August issue was entitled, Design Mania, with tutorials on beautiful soap designs, written by some of the best in the business.  Following that, we asked readers to do their best at replicating those designs and then we let you vote on them.  The results were astounding.  Not only were all of the entries spectacular and artfully done, but we were delighted with the world-wide representation among those who entered.  Of our five winners, two were from the UK, one from Ireland, one from Italy and one from the US!  The winners are listen below, in no certain order:

 

 Giustiniano Francioso, Italy, Drop Swirl (tutorial by Celine Blacow).  Guitiniano is rather new at soapmaking, but his talent is remarkable.  He stated, “It’s my first time to take part in a soap challenge and it was really fun! I never expected to be a winner in a section, so I’m surprised and very happy!I’ve been making soap for one year and this kind of swirl is one of my favorites and  easy to create according to my capacities.

I thank the Saponifier that gave me the opportunity to participate and I thank all those who voted for me.  I hope in the future there may be other occasions like this.  Thank you all.”
Tanya Bainbridge, UK, Paint Chip (tutorial by Cathy McGinnis).  Tanya hit this one out of the park and explained, ”A huge thanks to everyone who voted for my soap – such a lovely surprise!  I really enjoyed the idea of the Paint Chip Challenge.  I’d not thought about getting inspiration from a paint swatch before Cathy originally demonstrated it using Design Seeds’ colours, but what a fabulous idea – it’s one I shall continue to go back to.   I love the magic revealed at the cutting, and how the colours swirl and work together.  I found that one of the most challenging things was being able to match the soap colours as closely as possible to the original swatch – lots of tweaking required; oh, and hoping that the soap didn’t set up too quickly while working on the layers (it was somewhat temperamental in this instance!)”
Carma Wood, USA, Squeeze Bottle (tutorial by Michelle Rhoades).  Carma enjoyed replicated Michelle’s design.  She related, “I loved trying this design!  It was a lot of fun and exciting to cut my soap, because I didn’t know exactly what it expect with this design.  Each slice turned out differently, but unique and beautiful :)  Thank you so much for the contest!  I’m so surprised and happy that I won!  Thank you again!”
Rebekkah Hay, UK, Peacock Swirl (tutorial by Amanda Griffin).  Rebekkah won our voting public over with her fabulous rendition of the Peacock.  She exclaimed, “Thank you very much to everyone who voted for me. I feel very blessed and encouraged. I had so much fun trying this technique and am looking forward to learn more.  Thanks again, I will now continue my happy dance.”
Celine Blacow, Ireland, Tiger Stripe (tutorial by Kendra Cote).  If you’ve seen Celine’s handiwork through the photos she posts or her You Tube videos (iamhandmade), you wouldn’t be surprised that she has won a prize in this contest.  Celine happily stated, ” Oh wow!!!  Thank you SO much, I’m really delighted!!”
Be sure to check out these artists’ work here:  http://saponifier.com/vote-design-mania-contest/.  To see the tutorials, you’ll have to purchase the July/August 2013 edition of the magazine:  http://www.etsy.com/listing/157577754/saponifier-back-issue-julyaug-2013?utm_source=connectionwithetsysh&utm_medium=api&utm_campaign=api.  For soap colorants, check out these companies:  www.celestialcolors.com and http://www.elementsbathandbody.com/Colorants-c-274.html.  See Michelle Rhoades site at:  www.mossycreeksoap.com.
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

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