Oh, Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer!

Proms are taking place–graduation ceremonies, too.  The school year is near or at its end and those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are almost upon us in the Northern Hemisphere.  Soon, we’ll be sleeping in, taking picnics and lying in our hammocks with a cold beverage at our sides.


I can hear you now.  “Lazy?  I don’t think so!”  I know and I agree.  Still, you must admit that it sounded good for awhile, didn’t it?  Ever since I became an adult I wondered who was enjoying those lazy, hazy days, because it wasn’t me!  Crazy yes; lazy and hazy, not so much.  In fact, this time of year is probably second only to Christmas holiday season for many of us, especially if we are gearing up for or already selling at  summer festivals.  We’re more likely making product at a hectic pace than we are lying in a hammock. (Naturally, you will want to take some time to soak in the newest edition of the Saponifier, and read up on everything moisturizing!)


Even so, it’s exciting to get ready for the summer sales season (say that three times fast), whether you have a brick-and-mortar shop in a resort town, you sell at the many festivals taking place or you wholesale to stores.  You have the opportunity to critique yourself this season, as well.  Are you focusing on your business plan?  Is your product line popular and pared to the best products?  Is your display as attractive as it should be?  Are you charging appropriately for your costs?  If you find yourself perfectly on target, it’s time for a pat on the back and a nudge to keep on going.  If not, watch for what you need to change and get your plan in place.


I don’t think I can give you any tips that will promise you that lazy summer, but if it’s going to be crazy, it might as well be a good and profitable crazy!


Welcome to the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.


Until next time, may your days be full of bubbles and wax.


Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Surviving the Summer Show Season

It’s the summer craft show season.


Most of the shows, in the northern part of the US, anyway, are held outdoors.  Merchants set up tents and sell at festivals and other outdoor public events.  With any luck, the crowds are out and about enjoying themselves, and, we  hope, spending their dollars on soap, candles, and bath and body products.


Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  A day or a weekend spent in fun and games collecting said dollars.  Those who have done these shows, however, know the truth.  They spend hours in preparation manufacturing adequate quantity.  They set up their booths, sell for the long hours that the shows often demand, experience fickle crowds, and then take it all down and return home with what is left, all the while with a smile and perky attitude.  This description doesn’t even begin to mention the “good shows gone bad”–rain, wind, mud, extreme heat, even hurricanes and tornadoes, and so on, wreaking havoc on tents, customers, and vendors, alike.  Indeed, the life of a professional crafter who sells at outdoor shows is likely to include tales of surviving (or not) extreme conditions and other adventures of selling on the road.  Those who think it’s an easy way to make money will be quickly taught otherwise, even at their first show.


Not that it’s all bad.  Sometimes crafters hit the jackpot and find their goods selling like the proverbial hotcakes (although I have yet to see hotcakes being sold at all, quickly or otherwise, but I digress).  They meet wonderful people, be it other crafters, show staff or customers.  They glean valuable feedback about their products, and they might even get the opportunity to participate in some of the activity going on around them.  Not the worst way to spend the weekend, indeed.


Do you vend at summer, outdoor shows?  Do you find them to be enjoyable and lucrative, or do you not participate, seeing the shows as too much of a gamble, too much work, or tough on product?


 If you do like them, please leave your best tip for other readers to not only survive the shows, but to thrive at them.


Until next time, stay happy creating bubbles and wax fun.


Beth Byrne

Summer Musings

In my neck of the woods, summer weather is all but upon us.  No promises, but it’s possible we’ll have no more frosts until October.  The kids are getting antsy in anticipation of being out of school.  Neighbors start talking about their summer vacation plans. We roll out our favorite summer scents.


If you sell or make for yourself special scented items to celebrate summer, what are they?  Some like the fruits of summer–berries of many kinds, melons, tropical mangoes, papayas and pineapples.  Others like summer flowers such as roses, lilies, iris and sunflowers.  Still others think of grass, herbs and other “green” scents.  If that’s not enough, think of the rain and ocean types of fragrances that remind us of a soft summer rain or that camping trip we took  oceanside.  Oh, and don’t forgot other fanciful food scents such as toasted marshmallows, cotton candy and ice cream.


Makes me wonder how many people have bitten into a soap or candle, hoping it was something more tasty!


If not special summer scents, then perhaps you offer products for summer use, such as after-sun lotion or an extra light moisturizer.


Candlemakers, do you find that as temperatures soar, sales drop?  If so, do you notice that offering special summer scents or products appeals to your customers’ summer frame of mind so that you can keep those sales up?


I confess that for myself, lighting a candle seems less inviting on a hot, humid evening than it did on a cold one in January.  Still, for an outdoor evening soiree, I could be convinced to burn a tabletop full of them.


No matter how you look at it, the dog days of summer will soon be calling.  Will you be ready?


Until next time, may you be happily entrenched in bubbles and wax.


Beth Byrne



Coming Right Up!

Have you been wondering what the next issue of the Saponifier will bring?  Here’s a bit of what you have to look forward to:


Education is the theme, and we offer it in spades.  We’ll be offering summer recipes and ideas that you can incorporate into your fair weather sales and activities.  For some of you, this information is none too early.  For others of you, well, let’s just say that you’ll have time to decide what to make and get your supplies before summer plants itself in your town.


We’ll also provide an open source scientist for your learning pleasure, as well as the list of books that you must have.   Want to make a career of your craft?  We’ll have help for that, also.


If that’s not enough, do you know anything about the Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)?  If not, you soon will by reading the herb monograph!


And soap scum:  is it one of those things you simply have to put up with when it comes to handcrafted soap, or is it just a bit of bad PR?  Read and find out.


Finally, is everything you’ve been taught about soapmaking oils true?  Which oils produce a hard bar, soft bar, a lathering bar,or  a white bar?  A Single Soap Oil Swap was conducted to prove or disprove everything we’ve been taught about oils, and I can only say that I think you’ll be surprised at some of the findings; but, you’ll have to wait until March 1st to find out!


Is your appetite whetted?  Good.  Be sure to download and read your issue on Thursday and then tell us what you think.


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


Beth Byrne

Scents of Summer

Scents of summer. . . what are your most popular scents from June – August?

I have a two-pronged purpose here.  The first is to get an idea of what’s hot;  the second is to put scent selection into perspective.

Some soapmakers and chandlers like to offer special scents for seasonal sales.  Do you make product with special summer scents, for instance?  This tactic can be a great way of creating anticipation and consequently, demand.  It may offer you a chance to test out scents for a permanent place on  your scent list.  On the other hand, however, it could distract you from your core business and become an expensive proposition if you’re always chasing after new scents to offer.

I have seen fellow crafters of scented products own so many scents that they can barely count them all, and they strive to have product for each one in stock!  Their goal is usually to make sure they have whatever scent the customer might desire.  Of course, we all want more business and we want to make our customers happy, hating to turn away a sale.  While that’s understandable, it isn’t likely to be part of a smart business plan.  Even large companies limit their offerings.

That’s not to say that offering a  seasonal scents is a poor idea , just that taking a good look at your business plan and checkbook should be number one on your list!

So, tell us, what do you do?