March/April 2013 in Review

“Life is so much more complicated these days what with all the new technology to keep up with,” my mother recently stated.  And truth be known, she doesn’t keep up.  Still, she was voicing what many of us feel from time to time, that learning new technology seems complicated and we wonder if it really saves time, money or effort.

In reading Cindy Noble’s article, Digital Library Essentials, in the March-April 2013 edition of the Saponifier, it’s easy to see that going digital can save time, money and effort.  We have so many more resources at our fingertips now, and even digital books are also less expensive than traditional books, not to mention the fact that they won’t fill bookshelf after bookshelf in our homes!  I remember not all that long ago having to make a point of going to the library to look things up that I wanted to know about.  If I wanted to buy a book, I had to either make a trip to a bookstore or send for a catalog, pick out my books, and send the order form and check back in and then wait for a couple of weeks for the books to arrive.  Yes, we are saving time and money when we use our technology efficiently.  Incidentally, Cindy suggestions for books to help you along in your business are outstanding.  If you haven’t read her article yet, you’ll want to.

Are you contemplating selling out of the country?  Tamara Dourney’sUnderstanding ISO Compliance is a must-read to help you get your business ready for new horizons and markets.  Of course, in order to sell, we also need good product photos.  You could hire a professional, and that isn’t a bad idea, but may be out of your current budget.  Tamara’s, Product Photography Revisited will inspire you to improve your photography.

If you’re selling products, you need to know about POS.  You don’t think you have one?  You do!  Quite simply, POS stands for, “point of sale,” and refers to the way you take funds from a customer, whether a cash box at the farmer’s market or a credit card.  Of course, it’s credit cards that have us scratching our heads, wondering if we can afford  to accept them or afford not to accept them and then which one to choose.  It’s a difficult maze, for sure, but Beth Byrne will make it easier for you if you read, POS and the Chandler.  She attempts to take some of the mystery out of determining which credit card company to use.

Should I Quit My Day Job?  Not only the title of Melinda Coss’ article, but a common question for entrepreneurs, it is puzzling to many of us who seek to make our businesses a full-time venture.  We can never be reminded enough of the importance of good, realistic planning in making a successful business.  Be sure to read Melinda’s article and take her advice to heart.

We are living in a time where natural is the buzz word.  If you offer natural products, your customers will be determining–with varying degrees of discernment, just how truthful your statements about your goods are.  If you purchase natural products or ingredients yourself, you are asking the same thing.  Helping you to do that is Tammy Lane in, Sifting Through the Hype.

If you’re a business owner, then you are likely thinking often about how you can get your margins up and your costs down.  To give you some practical advice on increasing your margins without necessarily increasing your prices, Marla Bosworth gives us, Work Smarter, Not Harder–Are Your Margins High Enough?  

Lest you think this issue is only about business, take a look at the fine articles that  Katherine Forrest, Victoria Donaldson and Elizabeth Sockol provided for our reading pleasure.  Katherine shares tips for making beeswax candles, while Victoria teaches us how to make a basic soap mold in just fifteen minutes.  Elizabeth informs us about the common Safflower.  How much do you know about it?  If you’ve read the article, we think you know quite a bit.

Last but certainly not least, pour over the photos in our Readers Showcase Gallery.  Every issues offers a feast for the eyes and inspiration from our subscribers.  Thanks to Fisika, Nancy Reid of Nature’s Soap and Mountain Farm’s soap.  If you’re looking for soap events, be sure to check out our Events page.

What?  You’re not yet a subscriber?  You can fix that!  Just click on this link:  https://saponifier.wufoo.com/forms/subscribe-or-renew/

 

Finally, if you have comments or questions, please feel free to comment here or to ask questions on our Twitter or Facebook pages.  We’d love to hear from you.

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New Issue in Review!

Have  you devoured your November/December issue yet?

We at the Saponifier have done our best to bring you all of your favorites.  From your favorite suppliers, scents and products, to recipes revisited and those for winter, you’ve likely enjoyed reading about them and perhaps have even tried some of the recipes.  Were your favorites mentioned in Beth Byrne’s, Raves for Faves article?  Have you sampled tried and true recipes from, Favorites Revisited:  Saponifier’s Best-Loved Recipes, by Tamara Dourney, ornew recipes in,  All-Time Winter Skin Favorites:  Scrubs, Creams and Lotions, by Marla Bosworth?

 

We’re certain you enjoyed other helpful articles that will allow you to manufacture more efficiently and profitably, such as Victoria Donaldson’s, Personalizing for Small Orders.  Or perhaps, you’re working up new formulas for scrubs of any kind, so you loved, Natural Exfoliants, by Erica Pence.  What are your favorite exfoliants?

Are you looking for something new and exciting for candlemaking?  If so, you’ve likely made plans to try Fire and Ice candles, by Erica Pence.

We’re sure you found exceptional business advice by Melinda Coss, in her new column, Savior Faire and Consistency–the Mother of Success, by Alexander Sherman. What did you find most helpful?

I found myself already thinking spring with Elizabeth Sockol’s, Wake Robin!  Were you as fascinated as I was by the many uses for this lovely herb, as well as its history?

Let us know how you’ve enjoyed this issue and used the knowledge you’ve gained.

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

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Spinning Your Way to Prosperity

It’s gardening time in North America.

 

Spring trees and flowers are blooming and even in the coldest areas, perennials are popping up out of the ground.  Have you ever thought about planting a soap garden?

 

Read, How Does Your Garden Grow?  A Soapmaker’s Garden, by Beth Byrne, and then tell us what you’re growing or planning to grow in your soap garden.

 

In a completely unrelated topic, what do wars have to do with soap and candlemakers?  Quite a bit, actually, if you sell them.  Tamara Dourney explains in, Remembering the Post-War Era why and how the various war efforts affected the economy in the past, and speculates on the possibilities that may take place once the current war that the US is involved in is over.  Prosperity or doom?  While the outcome is yet to be determined, you can prepare and position yourself for either scenario.

 

On the formulator’s front. . . a natural preservative, how many of us wouldn’t want something all natural for our lotions and creams?  Does one exist?  Erica Pence gives us the low-down in her article, The Great Debate:  Is There a Natural Preservative?  Not surprisingly, the jury is largely still out regarding the new, natural preservatives, but we do get to read about some of them.

 

Denise Marks gets our wheels turning in, Spin for Success.  In an entertaining way, she teaches us about business and life, helping us to overcome failures and obstacles while taking advantage of our good ideas.  Be sure to read this one if you haven’t already.

 

Until next time, happy bubbles and wax as you spin your way through life!

 

Beth Byrne


 

 

Forecasting, Futurecasting and Measuring–it’s Your Business

Woot!  It’s here.  Did you check your email?  The May/June edition of the Saponifier is ready for download.

 

With its emphasis on futurecasting, you’ll find this issue very informative as you learn to negotiate business.  Tamara Dourney jumps right in with her article,  An Introduction to Predictive Analytics:  What is Futurecasting?  She describes Predictive Analysis and all of the concepts and terminology involved.  Embrace it and you’ll find yourself able to see where you are now, identify what your customer base wants, and how to provide it at lowest cost and in the least amount of time possible.

 

Marla Bosworth and Jennifer Kirkwood expand on the theme with their article,  How to use Forecasting to Spot Trends and to Develop Products.  Being small means being nimble, or the ability to watch for trends and to jump on products that meet those needs and wants.  This is something that is extremely difficult for large companies to do, but not small ones.  Stay ahead of the pack!

 

How do we find out just how well we’re doing?  Well, besides the obvious measure of money in the bank account, each business should follow the advice that Alexander Sherman doles out in,  Measuring Returns.  Teaching us how to calculate ROE (Return One Equity) and ROA (Return on Investments), Alexander shows us that we can judge how efficiently our businesses are using the capital that we pour into them.

 

If one of the trends you spot is candlemaking, check out Beth Byrne’s, Book review:  Candlemaking for Profit.  This no-nonsense treatise written by famed candlemaker, Robert Aley, is a gem when it comes to starting a candlemaking business.  You’ll want to find out why and how to get your copy.  Actually, if you’re planning to start any handcrafted business,  you’ll find value in this book.

 

Are you a technology maven?  You’ll be sure to enjoy, Web 3.0, by Cindy Noble.  Even if you aren’t among the tech savvy, you’ll enjoy learning about the new version of the internet–yes, there are versions!

 

Until next time, happy reading.

 

Beth Byrne

 

 

What’s New? See What 2012 can Offer You

Have your customers asked you about Bath Salts?

 

 They may mistakenly believe that your product is either illegal or should be illegal, a dangerous drug of choice for young people.  If you’re fortunate, they may only ask you what the truth of the situation is.  If you’ve been unclear yourself on the specifics of this situation is, be sure to read, The Dangers of Bath Salts, by Stacy Reckard.  She explains what the drug, Bath Salts, is, why it’s dangerous, and how to deal with the situation as a business owner.

 

 What do your goals regarding soap, candles, or body products entail?  Whether you’re looking to start a business, expand it, or simply try new products, you’ll want to read Beth Byrne’s, What’s New for 2012?  You’ll even find help for making your operation more efficient so you can sell more!  Find out what’s new so you can jump on the newest thing.

 

Have you noticed that the soap and cosmetics market for teenaged boys is less than saturated?  Have you been tempted to fill a portion of it?   You’ll be happy to know that the marketing research has already been done for you by Tamara Dourney.  She explains in, Joining the Teen Boy Bandwagon, how she was able to capture and keep the attention of a group of young teen boys to find out what kinds of products, scents, packaging and fonts work for them.  Read the article and you’ll have a head start!

 

What are you waiting for?  Take that next step.

 

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

 

Beth

 

Four Good Summer Reads. . .

By now, I’m sure most of you have read your July/August 2011 issue cover-to-cover and packed with helpful articles and ideas to implement in your business.

Are you a maker of natural products?  The term, “natural” is extremely popular right now, embodying products full of synthetic ingredients to those made with entirely earth-based ingredients.  With the marketplace saturated with natural, how can you promote yours?  Erica Pence details the difficulty of defining natural in her article, Promoting Your Natural Products,”  as well as properly labeling your product so that it will stand out. You will gain confidence in marketing once you understand the ins and outs.

Interested in perfumery?  Read, Perfume Oil Blending 101 – The Fragrant Body, by Sherri Reehil-Welser, to learn fragrance notes, blending mediums, and even a blend recipe for a “Daily Devotional” blend.  Go ahead, try it.

If you have thus far resisted the temptation to make candles, beware that reading Erica Pence’s, Marbling:  Torching, Hammering, and Painting Your Candles, may just change your mind!  She explains the various techniques in detail, so if you’ve been thinking that your candles are a bit on the boring side, you can remedy things.

Are your marketing strategies less effective than you would like them to be?  Perhaps you’re struggling with determining the best way to turn interest into dollars.  Tamara Dourney explains the kind of demand that customers display will decide the type of marketing you choose in order to convert more “maybe” into “yes.”

Have you thought about or implemented any of the business actions outlined in this issue?  Have you made the booth bunting?  What do you think?

If you’re participating in or gearing up for fall craft shows, and want to set your booth apart from the competition, you’ll need something unique.  To the rescue comes Rachel Wolf  with Creating Your Own Booth Bunting.  With just a little time, a bit of fabric, and a dose of creativity, you too, will create a bunting worthy of your product line.

What’s New in the Saponifier?

Summer is here, or nearly here!

We all know that as much as we love the sun and summer activities, it can be hard on our skin.  Want to know all about keeping your skin soft and sexy for summer fun?  Check out Sherri Reehil-Welser’s article where she talks about hydrosols and butters that will help keep your skin in great shape.  Recipes included!

Are you a melt & pour soaper, or do want to learn?  How about candles?  Erica Pence has written a how-to article on beautiful fancy soaps and candles that you’ll enjoy making.  You’ll amaze yourself at your talent!

Do you know what Business Valuation is?  Alexander Sherman sheds some light on the subject of determining the value of your business, and other pertinent points such as adding value to your business.  If you’re a business owner, you can’t afford not to read this one!

If you’re looking to add something that will give your products a special touch, consider making gift bags and pouches.  Rachel Wolf shows us how to make lovely lined bags and pouches that will set your products apart.

The Saponifier will be at the HSMG Conference!  Tamara Dourney and Beth Byrne are attending the conference, so be sure to find them and provide feedback on the magazine.  We’re offering prizes for some lucky attendees, too.

Babies & Bases and Codes and Spaces

Have you tried anything formulas or ideas from the new issue yet?    Did you learn anything new?

Beth Byrne’s, DIY Bases, will get you started on making your own soap and cosmetic bases if you’re set on your own formulas, but need to save time.  Have you tried any yet, or are you planning to try making your own?  I think making your own bases is among the best ideas for smaller businesses who are working to be as efficient as possible.

Tamara Dourney’s article about QR Codes was very informative and on the cutting edge of technology.  It’s exciting to think about the possibilities that using these codes hold for our future.  Don’t wait.  Jump in now!

I read with interest Erica Pence’s article, Natural Bath for Babies and Children, about using essential oils in baby care, and will take heed of her recommendations as I make products for the babies in my life.  It’s so important to learn all we can about essential oils before we use them, and doubly so when we intend them for use with infants.

With the craft show season upon us, Tamara Dourney’s, Redesigning the Market Stall is a timely piece challenging and encouraging those of us who do shows to give our set-ups some thought and thinking of new solutions to the problem of merchandising in small, temporary spaces.  Anyone who has tried it will understand how important it is to design booths to maximize exposure and attract customers, all in a 10 x 10 square!  Study the photos and see if you can glean some tips for your booth.

I’m sure that by now, you’ve read at the least, a few articles.  Let us know what you think!

Bases, Bases, Who’s Got the Bases?

What a terrific issue!  I am thoroughly enjoying the time I get to spend reading this issue of the Saponifier.

I was looking forward to reading Marla Bosworth’s review of melt and pour soap bases.  She certainly delivered in this article, as she took on the major sellers and solicited reviews from soapmakers.  Did reading her article help you to decide which one you’d like to try?  I liked that she established criteria for testing the bases.

Tamara Dourney’s article, Redesigning the Market Stall, was excellent, as well, giving us tips to increase sales, from business plan to focus groups.  Anyone selling at shows will benefit from reading this one.

A Canadian soapmaker, Louise Vargas, was the spotlight of Lindalu Forseth’s article.  Find out how she went from the bookstore to establishing her own business.  She’ll share her success with you!

Are you thinking about using bases for all or part of your product line?  Don’t order anything until you read, The Basics on Bases:  A Review, by Beth Byrne.  She solicited the opinions of other soap and cosmetic makers in order to bring you a good deal of information that will surely help you to decide which bases you want to work with.  This may help you to choose the best one for your needs.

What do you think so far?