It Takes all Kinds!

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.


Beth Byrne

Three S’s – Sustainability, Sleeping and a Scottish Soapmaker

Now that you’ve had ample opportunity to read the Nov/Dec. issue of the Saponifier, we can talk.


Sustainability–we’ve all heard the term, but what does it really mean, especially in light of the aromatic trade?  The simple definition involves how current practices in using various natural resources affect the future, whether in our lifetime or in later generations.  Tamara Dourney focuses on the aromatic trade in,  An Exploration of Trade in the Aromatic Market, which encompasses raw materials and products from perfume to medicine.  But what does it mean to you?  Are current global efforts at sustainability adequate or woefully inadequate?  How does your opinion on the topic affect your purchasing and product decisions?  Let us know!


Changing gears a bit, Denise Marks of the Mold Market illustrates a short lesson in sleeping with the enemy.  What does she mean by that?  By relating the tale of her climbing into bed one night, only to find herself in bed with her grandson’s army set, Denise compels us to think about how our businesses might actually be enhanced and strengthened by collaborating with our competition rather than quashing it, especially in this global economy.


How do you feel about this?  Will “sleeping with the enemy” kill your business or make it better?


Changing gears once again, Lindalu Forseth introduces us to Corrie Smith, a Scotland soapmaker who owns Lomond Soaps. Corrie describes how she fell in love with making soap and finally began selling it in desperation–to get a bigger house to house her soaps!   She goes on to tell us how she planned and grew her business, all with the love of the Orangutan in mind.


Were you as inspired by Corrie’s story as I was?  Tell us.


Until next time, many happy bubbles!

Beth Byrne