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

 

 

Soap and Candle Spring Fling

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!

Beth Byrne

Artist or Artisan, Which are You?

What kind of soapmaker or chandler do you consider yourself?

 

Are you an artist, creating and offering soaps and/or candles that are intricate and beautiful pieces of art that customers are more likely to admire on a shelf than to use?  Or, are you a pragmatic artisan, offering to-be-used, but plainer soaps or votives and tealights?

 

At first, I made melt and pour soap and loved coming up with new ideas for making beautiful soaps.  People purchased them as gifts or to display in their bathrooms, for the most part.  Later, I learned CP soapmaking but still wanted to make artistic soaps.  In talking with a fellow soapmaker, however, she offered her observation that plainer soaps sold better.  The purchaser was more likely to use them and come back for more, not to mention the fact that they took less time to make so there was more profit to be made.  Since I was having trouble mastering the swirl, I quickly decided the plainer but more profitable, artisan route was for me.  I did miss the fancy m&p soaps and decided to make them in a few seasonal soaps if I got around to it, and I’m still working on my swirls and other techniques that challenge my creative side, but that is no longer my focus.  Part of me wants to do more, but the business side tells me to concentrate on my main product.

 

I am not a chandler, but have seen others’ work, and the artistic vs. artisan influence is certainly at work there.  I admire the candles that look like sumptuous desserts, for instance, but are unlikely to be burned, and I also admire a nicely made candle in a tin or a votive that burns well and makes the room smell pleasant.

 

One is not intrinsically superior to the other; it’s more of a preference, a market, and what one finds fulfilling, but just in case it’s not clear, here is how I separate artistic from artisan:

 

Artistic:  not the basic bar or candle; features colors, swirls, shapes, and other visual appeal designed to delight the eyes.

 Artisan:  more of the basic geometric bar or candle.  Although visually appealing, not designed for artistic market.  Designed for everyday use, instead.  Focus is on the performance of the product.

 

Of course, both are artisans.  Neither one is intrinsically superior to the other; it’s a preference, a market, or what one finds personally  fulfilling.

 

So, here’s my question:  what do you do?  Do you strongly prefer artistic soap and/or candle making or are you an artisan?  Perhaps you’ve combined the two?

 

  Until next time, happy suds and wax!

 

Beth Byrne

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.

 

Beth

 

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,

Beth

Three Reasons to Read the Saponifier

What’s New?  Well, almost new.  More accurately, the question is, what’s coming up in the Nov./Dec. edition of the Saponifier?

You voted, you waited, and it’s almost here–the Raves for Faves, 2012 results!  Find out your colleagues’ favorite suppliers, form of communication, scents, products, and more!  Will you be surprised by the results or will they be what you expected?  No hints today.  You’ll have to read the article by Beth Byrne to find out!

As if that’s not enough, you’ll also find. . .

Sustainability in the Aromatic Market

As a soapmaker or chandler, the scent aspect of a product is essential to developing not only a cohesive retail line but also in the development of a loyal customer base. In layman’s terms, scent is extremely important to everyone involved in the toiletries and cosmetic industries. Yet the production of scent, the very building blocks of the aromas relied on by so many, is affected by numerous outside influences. As researchers across the globe turn their
attention to the aromatic market, they all echo the same sentiment: Will our current actions lead to a day when it is impossible to create
a scented product?

 

Scenting Naturally

Just as you can use essential oils to scent your soap and bath products, you can also use essential oils to create all natural perfumes. First you need an understanding of some of the basic elements of perfume. In this month’s Herbal Wisdom column, Erica Pence walks us through the building blocks of a natural perfume, giving us the tools to begin producing our own custom essential oil blends.

Just a few more days and you’ll be reading your very own copy!

Recycling and Social Media: What About You?

All those bits and ends of candles, you’d like to find a way to use them, but how?  Erica Pence comes to the rescue in Recycled Candles, explaining just how easy it is to remake those stubs into tea lights, votives and even decorative candles.  She even gives simple directions for making candles in pumpkins and other seasonal produce for a lovely holiday theme! Naturally, I purged my leftovers not long ago, but will save them again so I can give Erica’s advice a go.

Have you tried this yet?  Let us know how it went.

In this day and age, you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of Social Media.  Clearly, the buzz phrase of the decade, Social Media brings to mind probably at least a couple of types.  The question is, how well do you make use of it as a tool for marketing your business?  Is the entire topic an unknown that you’re afraid to explore?  Or is it a lake that you’ve dipped your toe in, but you’ve been afraid to jump?  Perhaps you feel as if you have jumped in, but belly-flopped.  Read, Five Steps to Social Media Success:  An Interview with Donna Maria Coles Johnson, written by Beth Byrne.  In it, dM as she likes to be called, outlines the major Social Media types, as well as a few not so major, and helps us to both understand them, their purpose, and how to use them effectively in our businesses.  Ever amazed by dM’s knowledge of the latest and greatest in marketing and technology, I just know you’ll find her thoughts helpful in your own efforts.

Have you implemented any of the strategies mentioned in the article?  Share with us how it’s working for you!

Until next time, happy bubbles!

Oils, Oils, and More Oils!

Do you feel comfortable using essential oils?

If the answer is no, but you would like to learn, Marge Clark on The Essentials of  Essential Oils is for you.  Beth Byrne interviewed Marge to get the scoop on essential oils, from what they are to how they are obtained.  She explains the production processes, how to choose oils of acceptable quality, and questions to ask suppliers to ensure pure, good quality oils.  She also talks to readers about proper and safe use of essential oils.  Read the article and arm yourself with the knowledge to make appropriate buying decisions!

What are your favorite essential oils for your products, and why?

No doubt you know of a soapmaker who has sought an alternative to palm oil–maybe one of these soapmakers is you.  The reason?  The rampant burning of the rainforests in order to create farmland for palm trees to satisfy the needs and desires of the world.  The effects of this uncontrolled practice are widespread and alarming, and who could look at Orangutans losing their habitat and not feel a pang of guilt?  Erica Pence, in The Search for Sustainability, aptly explains the situation, not simply for palm oil and Orangutans, but also for other products and causes, and urges us to search for sustainable products, instead.  She makes a compelling case and even provides us with two formulas to try out.

Have environmental or social global concerns affected the way you do business?

Carrier oils, how much thought do you give them?  Except for getting the right balance for soap, do you pay attention to them?  I admit to being an oil afficionado, so Sherri Reehil-Welser’s article, The Beauty of Carrier Oils, was on my must-read list.  She reviews a long list of oils, ranging from the most common such as olive oil, to a few that are more obscure, namely Tamanu and KuKui Nut.  She informs us as to the vitamins and other properties of the oils, as well as their effects and what products or conditions to use them for.

How many of your favorites were mentioned?

Until next time, may bubbles be part of your day.

Butter and Oil: What You Need to Know!

Are you eagerly awaiting September first?  You should be!

Among the many fine articles in the next issue is Erica Pence’s, In The Search for Sustainability.  In it, she provides us with cold, hard facts on environmental and social concerns as they relate to oils and butters that we use in our products.  Beware:  you may not like what you read!

Thankfully,  Erica does offer alternatives, showing us how we can be part of the solution by explaining where to go for more information, and key words that you need to know.  To emphasize sustainability, she includes two formulas that will enhance your product line while protecting our future.

Finally, what do you know about essential oils?  Perhaps you’re a rank beginner at using them.  If so, you’ll want to read Beth Byrne’s  interview of Marge Clark from Nature’s Gift, The Essentials of Essential Oils.  Marge starts at the beginning, from how essential oils are obtained to safe use, finding a vendor, and spotting a fraud.  Even if you use essential oils frequently, you’ll enjoy the information Marge offers.  Enjoy the benefits of essential oil use without the dangers!

Coming: Calendula, Social Marketing, and Recycling!

Coming September 1st!  Calendula, what do you know about it?  

This lovely, prolific herb is just waiting for you to try it.  Easy to grow, Lindalu Forseth shares why Calendula (aka Pot Marigold)  is the perfect herb to grow and use in soapmaking, whether you’re an experienced gardener/soapmaker or a novice.  Look for her Monograph and be amazed at what Calendula can do for your products.

Do you make use of Social Media in marketing your products?  Be sure to catch Beth Byrne’s, Five Steps to Social Media Success, where she welcomes back contributor Donna Maria Coles Johnson.  Founder of the beauty organization, Indie Beauty Network, dM focuses on helping her members navigate the complexities of building their businesses.  Embracing technology and using it as a marketing tool by communicating with customers is an ideal tool for the small business owner.  Learn about the various forms of social media and how to use them successfully in your business.

Picture yourself surrounded by the glow of candlelight.  Doesn’t it sound romantic and cozy?  Picture yourself with the bits and stubs of wax left over from your candle burning.  Ugh.  Is there anything to be done with them besides the trash bin?  Erica Pence has the answer in, Recycled Candles.  She explains the process of sorting the candles into similar batches and magically creating new and amazing candles!  As if that’s not enough, Erica also explains how to make a lovely autumn tabletop candle from your scraps.

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