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

What Does 2013 Look Like to You?

 

Hanukkah is over and Christmas is almost here!  By now, if you celebrate, you’re probably checking your lists and making last-minute purchases or creations, decorating your home or attending the season’s festivities.  In all your doing, don’t forget something very important to your business.  You may be thinking, “I know.  I need to get my tax receipts ready,” or,  “I need to notify my customers that I am taking a vacation,” or even, “I just have a few orders to fill.”  They’re all important, for sure, but not what I’m talking about today.

 

The most important activity you will undertake for your business is a review of 2012 and planning for 2013.  Start with reviewing your business plan.  Does it need revision, or do you simply need to review it so as not to lose sight of your goals?  Next, take a look at  your activities for this past year.  What worked and what didn’t?  What propelled you toward your goals and what made you stray?  Did you find that you fulfilled your plans or did you fail to make them?

 

If, for instance, you find that the small craft shows you did were a financial loss, ask  yourself why.  It may be that this is not the venue for you or that your customers are not there–at least not at the ones you were at.  It may be that your booth needs an overhaul or that you need to work on your sales skills.

 

Perhaps you’ve been wanting to secure wholesale accounts, but have been afraid to take that step.  Now is the time to research the subject so that when you approach a business owner, you will do it with the knowledge and confidence of a seasoned professional, thus providing an attractive product that makes it hard to refuse.

 

You may want to get serious about business by developing a website, a Facebook presence and joining a professional organization.  You’ll need to research, plan and work, which will take time and resources, so good planning is critical.

 

Have you missed the boat once again on holiday products because you didn’t start them early enough?  This is where planning comes in!  Think about how much time you’ll need to get a product ready to roll out and write in on a calender.

 

Of course, planning is essential even to hobby soapers/chandlers.  Doing so will increase your productivity and decrease your last-minute stress, and who doesn’t value that?

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for opinions and advice, but be careful whom you ask.  The help of professionals such as accountants and lawyers will be invaluable, as will your customers’ and even others in your field or other small business owners.  Be careful of naysayers, however, who will dissuade you without having the basis to do so or those who haven’t the background to advise you in crucial matters.  Gather up your research, opinions and advice and make your informed decisions.

 

Seriously considering all of these factors will serve you well as you embark on the new year.  Granted, it’s actually a little late if  you haven’t begun already, but better a little late than not at all!

 

What does 2013 look like to you?

 

Wishing happy holidays to all,

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier