I was thinking recently about all the types of soapmakers and candlemakers out there.
Some like to keep things as basic and natural as possible. In fact, if it were possible to make soap without lye, these individuals would do it. These candlemakers use natural waxes as opposed to using paraffin wax.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, we know soapmakers who are concerned only with the process or the art of soapmaking and are willing to use whatever resources are at their disposal to make the soap they love. The same is true for some chandlers whose main goal is either production or beauty. It’s not that this group of crafters don’t care if their products are safe, they just believe that the legal ingredients they use are safe for their customers so they are free to use them as they desire.
Most of us, however, fall somewhere between the two extremes. Some of us insist on organic carrier oils, but scent with fragrance oils. Others use only essential oils, but use synthetic or nature identical colorants. Still others use no soy or no animal products or no palm oil. Moreover, good share of cosmetic makers are searching for effective natural preservatives.
The choices are nearly limitless and may cause confusion for both newbies and the experienced alike. What’s really natural or acceptable? How much not-so-natural is acceptable? If I make products without regard to their naturalness or acceptability to various groups, are my products inferior? Add to that other concerns such as moral ones or sustainabililty and you have an entirely new set of questions.
With this vast array, we might believe that life would be much easier if we weren’t offered so many possibilities. What does it gain us? Quite a bit, actually. First of all, it causes us to do research, the result being more knowledgeable artisans. Secondly, it provides us with niche markets. We can sell to vegans or vegetarians, to those looking for a more natural way of life, customers who avoid certain groups of ingredients or those who are seeking products they like the looks, scent, and performance of. It really does take all kinds!
Where in this wide spectrum do you find yourself?
Until next time, may you happily wade in bubbles & wax.
Have you seen it? Some very good news for the United States soap and cosmetics industry has just been released!
First, some background:
As you may already know, the Safe Cosmetics Action of 2010, if passed as originally written, would have stifled the small business soap and cosmetic industry. Its labeling, registration, and other requirements were an undue burden that literally would have put many out of business. It was then that many of the leaders in our industry began meeting with lawmakers to let them know that small soap and cosmetic businesses existed. These businesses were adding to their local economies and providing income for many families while providing safe products to their customers.
It wasn’t long, however, before the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild (HSMG) realized that to negotiate the system in Washington, they would need to hire lobbyists to lead the effort. They were joined by business people in the field of soap and cosmetics, suppliers, as well as associations, and so on. Through the efforts of the lobbyists and others, they eventually paved the way for our industry to gain a seat at the table in writing legislation that would ensure that small cosmetics businesses were represented.
As a result, the House has a bill that is considered to be very fair to our industry, and leaders are behind it as it is currently written.
Does that mean we can all sit back and relax? Not quite! The bill is not law as yet, so it behooves each one of us to contact our federal legislators, letting them know our thoughts on the topic. They need to know that you care and what you think.
A synopsis of the House bill can be found here: http://blog.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/2011/06/legislative-update.html. You will also find updates and opinions on the blogs of other major suppliers, such as Essential Wholesale and Bramble Berry and others. HSMG’s blog contains factual information, as well. If you sell product, you owe it to yourself to research the bill and to do your part if you support it.
After many years of efforts, it seems quite possible that we will soon see legislation passed that will allow small businesses to continue operating and growing without undue government intrusion.
What do you think? Have you been following the issue? Is this a bill you can live with?