Tips for Overcoming Irritation

Life’s irritations. Without a doubt, we have a long list of them. From the shrill of the morning alarm to temper-tantrumed toddlers in the grocery store to rude customers, we deal with irritations every day, all day long. 

 

In thinking about it, I realized that life is full of irritations–inescapable by anyone in any circumstance. Rich people, poor people and those in between suffer them. Smart people and those who aren’t so smart encounter irritations. Although we do our best to plan our lives to avoid them, we cannot. We can only conclude then, that we are meant to deal with irritation and that an indicator of our character is how we deal with them.

 

How do I react when confronted with a demanding customer or relative?  What is my reaction when my creations don’t follow my imagination or schedule? How about the show that promised hoards of shoppers with loads of cash to spend, but produced a fraction thereof?

 

Yes, they’re all irritating and downright discouraging; and yet, we have the choice to let the irritations beat us down or to acknowledge them and make the best of the situation.

 

The saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” I submit to you that every soap has a lather; every candle has a flame; every show has some kind of potential and every customer serves a purpose. We can choose to find how to best handle that soap, that customer or that flopped creation. Make the soap or candle into something different than you imagined and let that customer motivate you to develop a strategy to use the next time you get a someone like her or to correct the situation if she’s right. Observe other vendors to find out what they are doing that you can learn from and be brave enough to try something different.

 

Take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and go on.

 

If you can do it all with a genuine smile on your face, all the better!

 

What do you do to deal with irritation in your craft? Share your strategies.

 

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

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

 

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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

We Can’t Wait!

We’re so excited about this upcoming issue of the Saponifier!  Due to be released on July 1st, it is our 15th anniversary edition.  To celebrate, we wanted this one to be beautiful, fun and full of design ideas for making cold process soap.  We affectionately call it, “DesignMania.”  Some of the best in the biz are showing off their design tutorials, along with plenty of photos so that you can learn these techniques to try on your own.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

 

What?  You’re not a subscriber?  You can fix that, you know!  Readers worldwide subscribe to the Saponifier since it’s a digital publication–no shipping to worry about.  You have your magazine right at your fingertips with just a download.  Couldn’t be easier.  If you haven’t subscribed yet, follow this link:  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

As always, we also feature helpful columnists who teach you, inform you and otherwise help you as a soapmaker, bath & body maker and candle maker.  Melinda Coss is teaching us about balancing design with business, and Marla Bosworth instructs us on writing a business plan.  Yours Truly regaled you with a review of the amazing HSCG conference in Raleigh, NC.  But we also have two new writers.  Sue Finley, our Potpourri column writer and Debbie Sturdevant, our resident herbal expert, who will be sharing with us through her column,  Herbal Wisdom.  Sue is writing about inspiration in soap design and Debbie is revisiting an old favorite, Calendula.  She’s even included a couple of her favorite recipes!

 

Share the fun with us on July 1st.  You know you want to!

 

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

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

 

PS – Soap designs just beg for a contest.  Stay tuned.  :-)

It’s Scentsational!

Have you been too busy with after-holiday chores to sit down with your newest edition of the Saponifier?  Well, do as I did.  Pour yourself a nice cup of tea and sit down for a bit to rest and rejuvenate for 2013.  

 

This issue (January/February 2013) is a particularly enjoyable one because it’s all about scent, and few topics interest soap and candle junkies as scent does.  From the lovely cover photograph that sets the tone to Aaron Polczynski’s advice on selling more of your wonderful, scented creations in, Tips for Soap Sales at any Venue, to a cupcake tutorial (and don’t we love the smell of cupcakes?) authored by Loyce Henderson, you’ll be treated with a great read.  Of course, since you’re this far in, you’d might as well also read, Tammy Lane’s, Holidays You’re Going to Love.  It will help you plan ideas for producing and uniquely marketing all of those wonderful items you can give or sell  this new year.

 

If you’re building a line of scents and are looking for advice, be sure to read, Creating a Scentsational Line by Beth Byrne.  She interviewed Jo Lasky, who is a treasure trove for all things scent and most generously shared some of her knowledge with us!

 

If you’re a soap history buff, you’ll devour Melinda Coss’, Savoir Faire, where she describes the history of soapmaking in France, as well as explaining the current situation that soapmakers face there.

 

What scent could be more wonderful than the scent of herbs?  If you’re hankering to begin an herb garden this year, let Wayne Gorman help in his article, Herb Gardening 101.  

 

Isn’t this the perfect time for trying new formulations in body butters?  Marla Bosworth treats us to formulas and instructions for, Winter Comfort:  Slip Into Rich Cocoa and Vanilla Body Butters.  Mmm. . . I can smell them already!  This is also the best time of year, at least in my hemisphere, for enjoying candles.  You’ll find Lyschel Bersch’s Testing for Wick Size in Candles to be informative and helpful.

 

When it comes to narrowing down a scent line, you’ll enjoy Victoria Donaldson’s survey of friends and  family in, Because it Smells Good!  Armed with the most popular scents of our 2012 Raves for Faves article, Victoria describes how various individuals decided upon their favorites and why.

 

Other than making all of the goodies, what could be a better way to spend a little time than reading about them?

 

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

Four Ideas for Super Sales!

You’ve sold your lovely soaps (and/or candles and bath and body wares) to friends and family.  Perhaps you’ve branched out to farmers markets and craft shows.  You may, however, have found them incompatible with your schedule and personality, or you may simply want to expand your business.  Undoubtedly, you’ve heard about wholesale, and many in our industry have created a thriving business doing just that.   But, what else is there?

 

Thanks to the new, Sept/Oct. 2012, issue of the Saponifier, you have more sales avenues to consider, some of which you may have never given thought to before!  Erica Pence explains the concept of direct sales, and further expounds upon the two types.  If you’ve read her article, Configuring a Direct Sales Company, you now have a good idea and may even be in the preliminary stages of planning your own strategy.  If not, well, get cracking!

 

Remember Tupperware?  Pampered Chef?  Start your own home party plan for your business after reading Beth Byrne’s interview with Becky Gentile and Lucia Felty, who share their structures for home parties.  In the article, Tips for Super Sales With Home Parties, you’ll learn their secrets for creating a successful home party plan that will  make your hostess feel like a queen, your guests ravenous for your products, and you, a happy seller.  Have you been contemplating your own party plan?  We’d love to hear about it.

 

Cindy Noble, in Safety in Numbers:  Planning a Multi-Vendor Trunk Show, instructs us on sponsoring your own show, where you choose the vendors, the date and the location.  With this concise, yet informative guide, you’ll be off and planning your holiday show!   What is the date of your show?

 

If what you’ve been doing has become rather stale, or if expansion is on your mind, answers are right at your fingertips–and just in time for the holidays!

 

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

 

Beth Byrne

Parties and Sales, Do They Go Together?

Soapmakers and chandlers fall into many different categories when it comes to finding homes for their products.  

 

Some are hobbyists who make soap for their own enjoyment and to give to friends and family.  Others sell at a moderate level, attending craft shows or selling via word-of-mouth advertising.  Still others have production space and sell wholesale.  Some even have brick and mortar locations where they produce and sell their goods.  Of course, a few sell using alternative methods, some more common than others.  Are you selling or do you want to sell your products?

 

Good research and preparation is essential to the success of any business.  You not only need to know your products inside and out, but you must become knowledgeable about business practices.  Simply loving to make soap or candles isn’t enough. You must decide how to structure your business and how to operate effectively to reliably produce your creations and make a profit, taking into account your talents, lifestyle, and resources.

 

In choosing a business model, it’s important to carefully and truthfully analyze your strengths and obstacles.  For instance, if you work weekends, but your local farmer’s market is on Saturday, it’s not an option for you unless you can find a way around your obstacle.   Although a brick-and-mortar store may appeal to you, if you are a caregiver, then it is not for you, at least not at the present.  If you can’t raise capital, then your plans are confined to what you can afford at the time.

 

What to do?  One concept that some soapers/chandlers employ is the home party plan.  It may ideal because you can produce out of your home or in a location less expensive than a retail location, you can plan parties around your schedule, and your initial overhead is lower than several other methods.  You tap your friends and family to get started, so no panic-inducing cold calls are necessary.

 

Interested?  Good, because the upcoming Saponifier issue is all about home parties.  Learn what they entail and how to get started. You may just find your business taking off!

 

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

 

Beth Byrne

Artisan Giving

Most of us are gearing up for the holiday season.  We’ve planned our production schedules and are working to get our holiday products ready for the throngs of buyers who demand our wares (in our dreams, anyway).   With all of our planning, sourcing supplies and making product, we might be forgetting something.  Of course, it may already be part of your plans. What is it?  It’s giving.  Giving back can be an enriching experience and something we should all be considering.

 

The idea of giving or giving back is more prevalent during the holiday season than at any other time for most of us, so it’s a timely subject of discussion, even though it isn’t limited to that small space of time between Thanksgiving and December 26th (for our Boxing Day observers).

 

Do you give regularly during the holiday season or at some other time?  Do you give of yourself?  Perhaps you make one big annual donation or several smaller donations throughout the year.  Maybe you teach your craft to others or volunteer in some other capacity.

 

I know that we small business owners are terribly busy and often running on a shoestring budget, so that giving is sometimes the last thing we worry about.  Other times, we are stopped because we don’t know the best way to give, desiring that our gifts be used to their best possible use.  I know I’ve struggled with both.  I donated to a national organization that collects soap and sends it to third world nations, but then I learned that it costs more to collect, prepare, and ship the soap than it would cost to pay someone in the country to make it.  I have not substantiated this, but it made sense.  I decided then, to make my donations more local because it would be the most efficient use of my product.

 

I’ve read about a few other soapmakers traveling to countries to teach women to make soap and sincerely applaud them for their efforts to bring our craft to people who need it.  Some reach out to people in their own communities, as well.  Others donate money to the favorite charities.

 

What about you?  Do you agree or disagree with sending donations to national organizations?  How do you make a difference in your community or your world with your craft, whether it be soap, bath and body products or candles?  We’d love to know what you do.

 

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

 

Beth Byrne

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