What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

                                                   William Shakespeare,
Romeo and Juliet

What’s in a name?  If we take the fictional Juliet at her word, we might think, “not much.”  The reality, however, is much different.  Yes, your rose scented candle or soap smells the same no matter which moniker you attach to it;  but, in marketing the scent, you might want to take it a step further and create a name for your rose scent that evokes the imagination in a way that plain, old “rose” cannot.  For example, Dewy Rose, Ramblin’ Rose or Rose Cascade, say something more, something that triggers the imagination to become fully engaged with the scent.  By mere mention, the customer pictures roses at dawn before the dew dries off, or a strong-scented wild rose happily tumbling through the field with its wide open, simple flowers, or even a heavily blooming climbing rose bush, delighting both the eyes and the nose as it appears to flow down its peak.

If your scent lacks a strong single, natural note, you have even more room to play.  Close your eyes and  take a little sniff.  Let your mind wander and explore as it searches for a description of what you are smelling.  Does it remind you of a certain time of day or place?  Do you recall the scent somewhere in your past?  Do you see colors?  Are you transported to another season?  What kind of person do you feel would be attracted to this scent?  Any of these will provide you with material for choosing a name.

Conversely, perhaps this scent is indicative of a time period or a particular culture.  Do a little research and be open to names that pop out as you read.  Medieval Castle or Savannah Breeze may be your newest scent name.

Of course, clever naming isn’t relegated to scent, but to product, as well.  You’ll want to be clear in your name what your product is, but you do have some poetic leeway for making the name unique and appealing.  Why sell lip balm in a pot when you can sell lip butter?  Lotion is great, but body cream may be more attractive to certain customers.

You might even go totally off convention and choose a name that you have made up.  As long as it’s simple enough and pronounceable, it may be just the thing to get customers talking.  It worked for George Eastman and Kodak; it may work for you!

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

Beth, for the Saponifier

Five Ways to Survive the Silly Season

The Silly Season is upon us.  

 

Silly Season, in case you don’t know, is roughly that period of time between November and Christmas when many businesses do the bulk of their sales.  Add that to the busyness that most of us find ourselves immersed in with friends and family obligations and other activities, and you have a Silly Season, indeed.  Even hobbyists find themselves in a similar situation with their desire to create lovely gifts for all of those fortunate people on their lists.

 

We all need to cope with this season and create ways to make our way through and come out the other side, victorious, having neither damaged theirs or their families’ health and sanity, so ideas to get the discussion going follow:

 

1.     Plan ahead.  Take a bit of time to sit down with your calendar and plan what you can do between now and the date you want to cease production by.  Take into consideration your other obligations and your health and sanity.  Even those among us who find planning to be sheer agony can benefit.  You might not write, “Nov. 4, make Peppermint Soap,” but you might make a list of what you want to make and think about how much time it will take you to accomplish it and then decide how much fits into your timeframe.   If  you need supplies, order now.  Don’t put yourself in the position of stressing over whether your order will arrive in time for you to make the products your customer wants.  Allowing two weeks for shipping to you is a good idea at this time of year.

 

2.     Bring in holiday help.  Every retail store that is busy during the holidays does it.  It may be worth the cost in order to have the product your customer wants.  If you’re lucky enough to have good friends and family who will help, don’t be a hero.  Let them!  Reward them, of course, but take any good help you can get.

 

3.     Encourage your customers to order early.  Don’t expect that they will automatically take into account your busy schedule or the fact that you have limited supplies.  Instead, head those last-minute shoppers off by making it attractive to order early.  Offer a coupon for a November purchase, feature weekly sales in November, or promise a freebie with their order, anything that will compel them to order now rather than later.

 

4.     Limit your offerings.  I know, I know, you want to offer every holiday scent candle or soap shape that you and your customers like, but resist the temptation.  Instead, offer just a few holiday products.  It’s less confusing for your customers and for you, and keep in mind how much easier it is to make three large batches of scents/colors than it is to make thirteen.  Even for regular stock, you might consider cutting back to your most popular products and scents for the season.  If you find that you don’t have time to keep up with your regular line, don’t bother to offer holiday products. It’s better to end up with twenty lavender candles after December 25th than to end up with twenty Balsam Fir candles that are in low demand the rest of the year.

 

5.     Set a “last date to order” date and a “last day to purchase” date, along with any other rules that will make the season tolerable.  Set specific times of the day for phone orders, a cut-off date for special orders and gift baskets, or an “in stock products only” date that will work for you.  Don’t find yourself stressing and losing sleep for a bar of soap!

 

If we think about it, we can brainstorm a multitude of ideas to keep us on track and sane through the holiday season.  I’m not suggesting that we can make the next two months stress-free, but I am suggesting that we exercise some control over the season and not let it defeat us by looking realistically at our individual situations and planning how we will deal with them to only do what we can reasonably do and by finding ways, big and small, to make our goals attainable.

 

What do you do?  How do you manage Silly Season?  We’d love to hear your ideas.  Let’s help each other get through 2012!

 

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

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Dealing with the Public: How do You do it?

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!

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

Calling all Chandlers!

I confess that I don’t make candles.

 

It’s not that I dislike them or that I have no interest.  In fact, I’m more and more tempted all of the time to give it a try, but it seems overwhelming to learn everything.  I would need to know which wax to use, how to choose the proper wicks and wick size, and then I would have to test each type and scent.

If you were my teacher, how would you guide me?  Is there a certain book you’d point me to?  A website?  Would you suggest one type of candle that is “newbie friendly?”

How did you start out?  Did you dive right in, learning by trial-and-error, or did you have a mentor guiding you along?

Share with us!

 

 

 

Soap & Candles, or Candles & Soap?

With our recent candle discussion, I’ve been wondering about a few things.

How many of our readers create both soap/bath & body and candles?  Which came first, the soap or the candles?   What led you from one to the other?  Which sells better?

Other than the historical precedence of a local candle/soap maker supplying the town with their goods, what ties the two crafts together?  Is it the fragrance, or something else?

Since soapmaking and candlemaking are two very distinct processes, we certainly cannot assume that one leads to the other on a knowledge-based level.  Knowing how to make soap, for example, does not uniquely qualify an individual to make make candles.  Nevertheless, something certainly entices many to expand their skill sets from one to the other.  Is it that mastering another craft that uses fragrances already owned  makes sense?   Is the motivation for learning a new skill the realization that  offering more  products in a certain scent to give prospective customers more to choose from?

Curious minds want to know!  Please share your story.

What About Candles?

Let’s turn our attention to candles this week.  How many of you make candles?  Do you make soap and bath and body, as well, or just candles?

At one time essential to daily living, candles now provide us a serene or romantic ambience when lighting a dark room.  Their endless colors and designs decorate our homes and other spaces.  Their scents bring us pleasure, evoking memories of the past, or just making us feel good.

No longer limited to tallow, we now make candles with paraffin, soy, or palm oil, beeswax, or gel.  Are there any I missed?  Even the types are unlimited–jar, pillar, votive, and so on, and the colors and designs that can be made, endless.  So much to try, so much to know!

What kinds of candles did you start with?  How would you suggest that a “newbie” begins?