|At our location in Nibley, we have quite the collection of critters. Muskrats, pheasants, Canada Geese, and even some cats. When we first moved into the building last year, there were several kittens that lived in the area. We began feeding the kittens in hopes that we would be able to socialize them enough to help keep the mice at bay. As we fed the cats over the winter the young cats would come around when we were out, but still not close enough to consider capturing. We placed an old carpeted box on the east side of the building with hay inside to help protect the cats from the harsh winter weather we can receive.
Fast forward to spring. On Thursday last week, we were planting the onions and peas in the company garden and Mitch went to check on the cat box. To his surprise he found not an empty box, but a box with three baby kittens inside! We promptly left the area to not bother the kittens, but we had an inkling that the mother was just too young for this litter as there were some kittens that had been left outside the box. We left the box until Saturday when we checked in on the kittens. Tina, Taylor and I had been to the offices to teach an Introductory Soapmaking Class that morning and after the class, we peeked in the box to check on the kittens. We were saddened to see that there was only one kitten left and the other two had been obviously eaten.
We picked up the remaining kitten and took her inside. At first she was quite scared and hissed at us but as soon as we wrapped her into a spare shirt to keep her warm, she settled down. We promptly went to the pet store and purchased some kitten milk replacement formula. We were also able to learn that she was approximately 2 weeks old. After leaving the pet store, we called our favorite veterinarian and asked for advice. After explaining what had happened, the veterinarian told us to keep the kitten warm and feed her.
Taylor and I have spent the last five days caring for this little squealing bundle and I’ll personally that say we have enjoyed this experience. We decided to name the kitten Sadiya the Fluff-ball or Sadie for short. Sadiya is Arabic and means happiness, luck, blissful, and/or fortunate. We chose this name because we felt that Sadie is going to be one lucky cat when she grows up!
Victor, one of the two schnauzers who can be found under a desk here at work, has adopted Sadie as his. When Sadie cries, Victor will jump up and stand looking at you until you take care of Sadie. I read the look on his face to be saying, “Well? She’s hungry and I’ll need you to feed her. I’ll lick the formula off her after!” Either way, Victor follows us around when we are carrying Sadie until she’s ready to go back to bed. What a silly dog!
I hope to be able to share more pictures of Sadie with you as she grows up and hopefully I’ll be able to capture some pictures that include her wonderful, new “papa” who has adopted her.
P.S. If you are wondering if Sadie will be the new MMS mascot, that position has already been filled. I’m hoping that Syd, the marmot, will make his debut as the MMS mascot within the next 2 months. Keep an eye out for this adorable critter!
|I love the scent of Strawberries and Champagne. It smells like happiness, giggles and freedom. I love how scents and flavors can take us places we never thought we could go or return to. I was so excited about the Champagne Flavor we added to the catalog, it reminded me of this delightful fragrance. Come join me in the kitchen for giggles, laughter and Strawberries and Champagne.
Collect Needed Materials:
Open the gallon of Body Butter Base. Soften the base by stirring gently. Add 1 oz of Strawberries and Champagne Fragrance Oil and a small amount premixed Purple Raspberry Color. Stir gently until everything has been mixed well from top to bottom. Scoop into container and label. Now you can enjoy this fabulous butter and the giggles and laughter that emit from the jar! How fun is that?
|I am sure many of you know that I absolutely adore vanilla. Mnnn. It isn’t hard to see why vanilla is the world’s most popular flavor. However, I can not resist changing things up a bit. I love to blend colors, flavors and textures. I like things with excitement. While this lip balm is right up my ally, Mitch enjoys this lip balm because how polite and soothing it is. Mitch is a very mellow guy, nothing ruffles his feathers. To make something that both Mitch and I like is no easy feat, let me tell you. Mitch even assisted me in making over 500 lip balms for the Shipping Department. Thanks Mitch! Let’s head to the kitchen to make this fabulous lip balm.
Collect Needed Items:
Fill Lip Balm Filling Tray completely with tubes. Heat jar of Soy Lip Solutions gently. Add flavor oils and stir. Pour the lip balm solution into filling tray. Allow the mixture to cool. Scrap off the top and remove tubes from filling tray. Cap and enjoy!
|Technical suport received a phone call from Fran asking for help to formulate a lotion for dry skin. She lives in Colorado so her climate is similar to ours, a high mountain area with less oxygen per cubic foot and very dry, dry air. (By the way, did I mention it is dry here?) What can one do? Moisturize baby, moisturize. Let’s head for the kitchen for a moisturizing lotion to combat the dry days of summer that are before us.
I used a variety of oils known to aid in fighting dry, itchy skin. (Particularly in dry arid climates. (Isn’t that that a little redundant?) 😉 ) First, I knew I wanted to use Tamanu Oil. Though it does contribute a nutty aroma, it continues to amaze people by the results, that includes myself. I know, in a pinch, Tamanu is there for me and always provides amazing results for dry skin. Hmn. I have a little tune in my head. “Shoo dry skin, don’t bother me. Shoo dry skin, don’t bother me. Shoo dry skin, don’t bother me, for I belong to somebody. I feel like a morning star!” Okay, I may not be a song writer but you have to admit that is pretty silly.
Camelina Oil is also beneficial not only because of how shelf stable it is, but because Camelina is said to help to repair cells and improve the elasticity of skin. Isn’t that what dry skin needs? Also known as the Gold of Pleasure, Camelina Oil in this formulation is sure to have you enjoying being in your own skin again. (Perhaps you might even get some help massaging this cream into your skin.) 😉
As a formulator of lotions and creams, you have to ask what type of skin you are formulating for. The problem with dry skin is that dry skin can happen to anyone, no matter if their skin is oily or not very oily. How does one work around that? We use Avocado Oil! Avocados, also known as Alligator Pears, produce a luxurious oil that pleases people on both sides of the skin type fence. (Could we call it a bipartisan oil?) What a great oil to have in your line of products. Don’t believe me? Request a sample of Fran’s Avocado Oil Lotion.
I also added Hydrovance to the formulation. Hydrovance is better at combating dry skin than even Glycerin. Soft, baby skin will be yours to claim all day! While I have been typing, I have been massaging a small sample into the back of my hand. My hand (which is rough from gardening and other work) is so soft and silky, it almost rivals my Grandmother’s skin. (I don’t know a woman who has softer or silkier skin than my Grandmother. She is always using lotion on her hands and you can tell.) I have never been so excited to get off of work so this sample and I can have a spa date. Ohh. A bubble bath with an excellent cream afterwards has never sounded so good. Is it time to go home yet? Sigh. Let’s head to the kitchen to make this dreamy cream before we get ahead of ourselves.
Collect Needed Items:
Weigh everything except the Optiphen into a microwave safe container. Heat gently until liquid. Using an imersion blender, mix the solution together. Stir occasionally while the lotion cools. When the lotion has cooled to below 120 F, the Optiphen can then be added. Stir well and pour into containers. Enjoy!
Note: I did not add a fragrance to this lotion. If you would like a fragrance, add it with the Optiphen in this recipe.
|I love glitter. Okay, let me rephrase that. I love everything sparkly: glitter, jewelry, costumes, Christmas lights… I love it all. I go just nuts over something with sparkles as does my ten year old cousin. (At least I have someone to play dress up with. 😉 ) I have more beads, baubles and shiny things than what I know what to do with. I just keeping adding more to my collection. (My sister akins me to a crow.) I wanted to make a transparent soap that brings out the little girl in me that giggles and twirls around the kitchen in delight. Let’s head to the kitchen for giggles and glitter that we dreamed of as children. We can even have a tea party afterwards! How does that sound?This soap was originally created by some goofing around in the kitchen. I was playing around with mixing different colors of the Oil Soluble Lip Balm Colors in melt and pour. I got overly excited and added one too many colors. The result was this rich plum/brown color that I just loved. I added some glitter to make it “shine” and Plumberry Spice Fragrance Oil. I love it when playing around in the kitchen results in more inspiration. Don’t be afraid to play. It has amazing results!
Collect Needed Materials:
Melt the soap gently until liquid. Stir in Lip Balm Color, Fragrance Oil and Glitter. (If the color came in seeds like apple seeds, I used 2 seeds of Coral, 1 seed of Yellow, 1.5 seeds of Blue and 3 seeds of Ruby.) Stir until soap is cooler in temperature. Pour into molds. Allow to cool until solid. Remove soap from molds. Cut and enjoy!
Last weekend, I found myself trying to explain EXACTLY what the difference between soap and detergent was. Wow! That was a lot harder to answer than I thought it was. My original thought was that while a soap and detergent may have a bar or liquid appearance, they are different due to the ingredients.
I went looking for answers and I began to feel as though I had just opened a can of worms that would have kept many fishermen happy!
To start at the beginning, what is the legal definition of soap? According to the FDA, soap is a product in which most of the nonvolatile matter consists of an alkali salt of fatty acids and whose detergent properties are due to these alkali-fatty acid compounds. This definition was written for the purposes of excluding soap from being regulated as a cosmetic.
To understand this definition a little more, what is an alkali salt of fatty acids? A good example of an alkali would be Potassium or Sodium Hydroxides. These are considered alkaline or basic. To be classified as such, these items must have a pH that is greater than 7. We need these alkalis to convert our oils to soap. In order to create a reaction between the two, the oils we use should be on the other side of the pH scale. This means these are called acidic ingredients. Now I hope the FDA definition of soap makes more sense.
So, what is a detergent? I couldn’t phrase it better than Harold Hopkins in an article published in February 1979 titled as “ALL THAT LATHERS IS NOT SOAP.”
If the bar you use for bathing does not claim to be a soap, it’s probably a synthetic detergent product. The FDA defines a cosmetic as an article intended to be used on the body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance; thus, a nonsoap product intended for any of these purposes is automatically classified as a cosmetic.
Soaps and synthetic detergent cleansing agents function in water in somewhat the same way; that is, they break down the resistance barrier between the water and the dirt, grime, oil, or other material, allowing it to be wetted and washed away. Soap works well in soft water, but in hard water, which contains a relatively high amount of calcium in solution, the calcium and soap react to form a gummy material called soap scum, which includes dirt and other matter. This gummy stuff is what forms the familiar ring in the bathtub.
The increasing number of synthetic detergent bars on the market is due largely to their more efficient functioning in water, regardless of hardness, and because they don’t form gummy deposits as does soap. There are many types of synthetic detergents, ranging from strong to mild; usually the milder types are used for personal cleansing. Some of the harsher detergents are capable of causing eye irritation or injury and manufacturers normally avoid using these in personal bathing bars. There are consumers who may experience irritation or allergic skin reactions from some synthetic detergents. Some consumers also may be allergic to fragrances, colors, or other substances added to either soaps or synthetic detergent bars.
Thank you Mr. Hopkins. You saved me from trying to rack my brains for a way to re-write this.
I also found another article published by the FDA in July of 2002 titled “Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? (Or Is It Soap?)“. This article is another great resource for information about soap.
Soap is a category that needs special explanation. That’s because the regulatory definition of “soap” is different from the way in which people commonly use the word. Products that meet the definition of “soap” are exempt from the provisions of the FD&C Act because — even though Section 201(i)(1) of the act includes “articles…for cleansing” in the definition of a cosmetic — Section 201(i)(2) excludes soap from the definition of a cosmetic.
How FDA defines “soap”
Not every product marketed as soap meets FDA’s definition of the term. FDA interprets the term “soap” to apply only when —
- The bulk of the nonvolatile matter in the product consists of an alkali salt of fatty acids and the product’s detergent properties are due to the alkali-fatty acid compounds, and
- The product is labeled, sold, and represented solely as soap [21 CFR 701.20].
If a cleanser does not meet all of these criteria…
If a product intended to cleanse the human body does not meet all the criteria for soap, as listed above, it is either a cosmetic or a drug. For example:
If a product —
- consists of detergents or
- primarily of alkali salts of fatty acids and
- is intended not only for cleansing but also for other cosmetic uses, such as beautifying or moisturizing,
it is regulated as a cosmetic.
If a product —
- consists of detergents or
- primarily of alkali salts of fatty acids and
- is intended not only for cleansing but also to cure, treat, or prevent disease or to affect the structure or any function of the human body,
it is regulated as a drug.
If a product —
- is intended solely for cleansing the human body and
- has the characteristics consumers generally associate with soap,
- does not consist primarily of alkali salts of fatty acids,
it may be identified in labeling as soap, but it is regulated as a cosmetic.
Now before you tell me that I “broke your brain”, let’s look at a product that can be found in the grocery store and is a combination of soap and detergent. Let’s take a look at the ingredients listing for a Dove White Moisturizing Beauty Bar.
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate, Water, Sodium Isethionate, Coconut Acid, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Titanium Dioxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Trisodium Etidronate.
|Ingredient with INCI Name:||About the Ingredient:||Purpose of Ingredient:|
|Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate||Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is an ingredient derived from coconut oil. It is usually found in the following forms; noodles, flakes, prills or even powder.||This product is used as a surfactant*.|
|Stearic Acid||Stearic Acid is an ingredient that is derived from either animal tallow or various vegetable fats||This product is used as a secondary emulsifier, emollient and lubricant.|
|Sodium Tallowate||Sodium Tallowate is the salts of the fatty acids of Tallow. It is a soap and is used in the formulation of bath soaps and detergents.||This product is used as a surfactant*.|
|Water||Water is primarily used as a solvent in cosmetics and personal care products in which it dissolves many of the ingredients that impart skin benefits, such as conditioning agents and cleansing agents.||Water is a solvent that is used to combine all the ingredients together.|
|Sodium Isethionate||Sodium Isethionate is a synthetic detergent. Technically it contains the following: Ethanesulfonic acid, 2-Hydroxy-, Monosodium Salt.||This product is used as a surfactant*.|
|Coconut Acid||This is simply a derivative of Coconut Oil.||This product is used as a surfactant*.|
|Sodium Stearate||Sodium Stearate is the salts of the fatty acids of Stearic Acid. It is a soap and is used in the formulation of bath soaps and detergents.||This product is used as a emulsion stabilizer and opacifying agent.|
|Cocamidopropyl Betaine||Cocamidopropyl Betaine is derived from coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine. It has some antiseptic properties which makes it popular for use in toiletries.||This product is used as a surfactant*.|
|Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Palm Kernelate||Sodium Cocoate is the salts of the fatty acids of Coconut Oil. Sodium Palm Kernelate is the salts of the fatty acids of Palm Kernel Oil. Both are soaps and are used in the formulation of bath soaps and detergents.||This product is used as a surfactant*.|
|Fragrance||Fragrances are used in a wide variety of products to impart odor or to mask the odor of another ingredient used in the formulation of a product.||This product is used as an additive.|
|Sodium Chloride||This is regular table salt.||This product is used to precipitate the soap.|
|Titanium Dioxide||Titanium Dioxide is the oxide of titanium||This product is used as an opacifying agent and a colorant.|
|Tetrasodium EDTA||Tetrasodium Ethylenediamine Tetraacetic Acid is a salt of ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (Edetic Acid). Tetrasodium EDTA has the ability to bind with and inactivate metallic ions to prevent their adverse effects on the stability or appearance of cosmetic products. It was originally developed to counteract the effects of hard water and heavy metal ions in the manufacture of textiles.||This product is used as a sequestering agent, has the ability to bind with and inactivate metallic ions to prevent their adverse effects on the stability or appearance of cosmetic products.|
|Trisodium Etidronate||Trisodium Etidronate is a double duty ingredient, it works as a water softener as well as a preservative||This product is used as a preservative and water softener.|
*What is a surfactant? A surfactant is a cleansing agent that are used for either cleaning the skin and/or hair as well as emulsifiers in products. So to put it basically, surfactants make water wetter, emulsify or solubulize body oils and suspend dirt and grime. Most surfactants also add foaming and lathering characteristics to products containing them.
Wow! I don’t know about you, but my brain is starting to hurt a little. 😉 I do understand more about the difference between soaps and detergents. Do you?
I know it has been a while since we have done Tea Tuesday, two weeks to be exact. I have finally gotten caught up with the requests and all notes are written with a few going out today. This fun promotion has caught the attention of a few blog relay sites and the requests went through the roof. So… while I am offering tea again today, I must tell you that I will only send it to existing MMS customers. You know who you are! If you have any doubt that I will look, please let me tell you that while I don’t process orders on a daily basis, I do know my way around a computer.
MMS Customers! Ladies and Gentlemen! Today’s tea offerings are:
- Blackberry Sage Black Tea
- Wild Blueberry Black Tea
- Good Hope Vanilla Rooibos Tea
- Pomegranate Vanilla Rooibos Tea Can I call this one: save the ta-tas tea, or would that be disrespectful?
So… you are probably wondering how you can send your address to me. It is simple. Please go to our Contact Us page and choose the Community Pursuits radio button.
Remember to choose your tea AND write your address.
Before I let you go, I want to share a wonderful comment I received from Robin:
Good Morning Tina,
Can I say wow?! I drink a lot of tea (mostly loose leaf) and this Cranberry Blood Orange tea is absolutely delicious! I was really hoping it would taste as good as it smells and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve had other cranberry teas before and I had troubles picking out the cranberries in it. The blood orange is extremely good, too. It reminds me of the trip my hubby and I took to Phoenix, AZ last year to visit friends. We picked up a bottle of blood orange olive oil from a local olive oil company. A recipe that came with it was to make brownies with the oil. The chocolate and blood orange was such a wonderful combination. But I digress.
Thank you, once again, for sending out fabulous tea samples. I know my next MMS order will be over $110 so I can get a tin of that tea!
P.S. I’m keeping the empty tea wrapper on my desk so I can sniff it throughout the day!
I thought Robin’s comments were especially thoughtful. All of the teas we have in our Gifts and Teas catalog section are able to be put on your order as a free gift. Just follow the directions and the tea will travel with your order as a free gift!
Have a great Tuesday and remember to take a few quiet moments today. Comments on this post are welcomed.
|I am so excited for spring, I can’t stand it. I am up early in the morning to watch the sun rise over the mountains, a cup of tea in hand hoping I will watch plants grow before my eyes. (I am up even before the chickens! That’s early.) It is getting there. I am starting to see the ground and little sprouts in the ground that are beginning to grow. Spring makes me think of Lilacs, Jasmine and Gardenia. These fresh scents make their way into my cosmetics and toiletries. Due to the fact that my vanity has no room to add one more jar of cream or bottle of perfume, I decided I would make Potpourri Salts. These easy gorgeous salts gently release their scent to make any room smell fabulous. Let’s head to this kitchen for this fast and wonderful project.
Collect Needed Materials:
Measure the Jumbo Crystal Salt into a bag. Add glitter and fragrance oil. Shake well. Package or place in a dish for use. Enjoy!
|Recently, I was asked to show how to make a batch of liquid soap that was a 100% Olive Oil batch. This batch of soap was easy to make, but definitely a learning experience during the dilution phase!
Collect needed items:
To begin making my liquid soap, I weighed and poured my Olive Oil into the crock pot. I turned the crock pot on and waited for the oil to heat. My desired temperature is around 160° F. This temperature does not need to be precise. This took about 10 minutes to heat the oil to 157° F. As this is close enough, I weighed the Potassium Hydroxide and then added it to my water. I’ve made three other batches of liquid soap, so this time the boiling sound did not bother me. Once the Potassium Hydroxide solution was completely mixed, I added it to the oil in the crock pot. Don’t forget to pour in a slow and steady stream to help prevent splashing oil or clumping of the ingredients.
I used the immersion blender and began mixing to combine the Potassium Hydroxide solution and oils. It will take a longer time to mix together because Olive Oil takes a long time to saponify. It actually took about 20 minutes before the soap reached to cottage cheese stage! I would switch my motor for the immersion blender out with another motor to prevent myself from frying the motor. I probably switched between the two motors every 5 minutes.
After the soap finally reached the cottage cheese stage, it still took another 30 minutes just to finally reach that thick & sticky stage that is called the “sticky, saltwater taffy” stage. I could no longer use the immersion blender as the soap was so thick. I grabbed the whisk attachment for the blender, switched out the blending blade for the whisk and continued to mix the soap.
This batch of soap was behaving much more slowly than the other batches that I have made so far. Another indicator was that the soap never puffed, which I was ok with. I don’t like worrying if my soap is going to overflow! I continued cooking the soap and stirring every 20 minutes. I remained in the blog kitchen working on other projects so I could keep an eye out for any problems with the soap.
After 3 hours of stirring the soap every 20 minutes, the soap still had an off-white appearance with some translucent spots. Since it was the end of the work day, I took the crock pot home with me. I continued to cook the soap for another hour I stirred the soap every 20 minutes. After that additional hour of cooking, I the soap was completely translucent. When the soap reached this translucent stage, I boiled 2 ounces of water and added 1 oz of soap to the water. After stirring until the soap was completely dissolved, I allowed the soap sample to cool. Yippee! The sample was completely clear.
I turned off the crock pot and allowed to soap to cool completely in the pot. The next morning, I took the soap back to work and dumped it into a large pot for dilution. I added 64 ounces of tap water to the pot and cooked the soap for 1 hour on low heat to allow the soap to dilute slowly. After 1 hour of cooking, there were still clumps of soap, so I added another 32 ounces of tap water. I cooked the soap for another hour and finally the soap was completely diluted. I poured the soap into a 2 gallon pail to cool and covered it. Then I cleaned all of the remaining tools and pots.
I left the pail sitting on the counter overnight and when I came back the next morning, I was VERY surprised to find my soap had become a thick gel that was like in rubber cement in consistency. Ack! What did I do wrong? I asked our Technical Support team and they asked me what water I had used for dilution. Ahh, there was my problem. I used tap water and since we have a water softener, there was a higher salt content to the water. This caused the soap to thicken so much. I asked if it was possible to fix my soap or if I had really messed up. Luckily, I was told that I could dilute the soap gel with either distilled water or reverse osmosis water and have a fluid soap again.
I pulled out my clean pot and scraped the soap gel into the pot and added 32 ounces of reverse osmosis water to dilute the soap. I cooked the soap for 1 hour on low heat to allow the soap to dilute slowly. After 1 hour of cooking, there were still clumps of soap, so I added another 32 ounces of reverse osmosis water. I cooked the soap for another hour and finally the soap was completely diluted. I poured the diluted soap in a clean 2 gallon bucket and covered the bucket. The next day, I checked on the soap and was so excited to find that it was still liquid.
The Olive Oil Liquid Soap samples have been sent to the Shipping Department to send out in orders. I’m excited to say I have approximately 80 samples of this liquid soap! I would love to hear your comments about this liquid soap. I hope that anyone wanting a sample soap will request one with their order and if we have any samples we will send them to you.
I hope you have found this post to be entertaining as well as educational. Stay tuned for some great upcoming posts including a special bar soap for a special person, lotions that are perfect for the spring weather and even some food recipes!
If you liked the Special Feature on March 21st, I’m sure you will also enjoy today’s feature. As you may know, I love surfing the blogs from soapers and other crafters. One of the blogs I follow, The Great Cakes Soap Works Blog, had the cutest Valentine style soaps. Amy made these Sweet Pea & Rhubarb Soaps using cake decorating techniques! When she released these soaps to her store, I wanted to try them.
I promptly placed an order for not only soaps, but lotions and lip butters too! I ordered 3 of the Sweet Pea & Rhubarb Soaps and gave one to my mom, one to Taylor and the third is proudly sitting on our front counter as part of a soap display! I had to laugh, because while I didn’t get to try one, I still have four other soap bars that I ordered to try. The other soaps that I ordered are the Creamy Castile, Patchouli Beer Bar, Cinnamon Bun Coffee Soap, and Moroccan Spice Soap. The lotions are scented Fruit Stripe, Spiced Cider and English Garden! The three lip butters were flavored Vanilla Latte, Strawberry, and Butterscotch. Taylor promptly took the Strawberry Lip Butter and I haven’t seen a sign of it since, but she apparently loves it!
When I received my order, I had to show my soap around and finally I decided to e-mail Amy and find out if she would be kind enough to “sit down” for an interview. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I have!
You began making soap in 2002 as Christmas gifts, what encouraged you to make soap in the first place?
I had set a precedence to give my two closest friends a handmade gift at Christmas. So that year I was searching online for ideas when I found Kathy Miller’s website and several others with all the information about how to make soap from scratch. The whole process seemed so interesting, yet challenging, and I knew I had to give it a try!
What do you enjoy most in your day-to-day work?
I think there are several aspects that I look forward to. First, is the idea of a new soap. What will it look like? How can I make it special? Second, is when I actually put the soap together and seeing how the soap in my head is translated into real life. Of course, the best part is then cutting the soap to see how it looks inside!
What separates you and your company from the competition?
That’s a tough question because there are so many great handmade soap businesses out there! My soaps are top quality – made with 7 different vegetable oils and butters. I’m starting to branch out into more of the artisan type soaps as well. I get compliments from shoppers and even other vendors on my presentation when I’m at the farmer’s market or other events that everything looks so professional, so they are surprised to find out that I make everything that I sell. This also translates to my online presence where I strive to create a very professional feel to my web store and blog, yet provide very personalized service. Melisa Carter, who is one of my customers in Zebulon, Georgia, sent this email to me last year: “Kenneth and I were commenting when our soap arrived yesterday, that you have done such a great job with your business. Very professional but yet personal. Kenneth has bought soap from a number of different people and he even commented how impressed he was.”
What advice would you give someone just starting their own business?
Stick to making soap! It’s the best selling product with the highest profit margin. Get a website started, then learn about search engine optimization. (I highly recommend Cricket’s SEO Techniques & Marketing classes, which are free classes via yahoo.) Have a customer list and send out regular communication with them via email newsletters. Have a presence on Facebook and regularly interact with your fans. And no matter how many people offer to sell your soap in their retail stores on a commission basis, don’t do it!
What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?
I would invest in retail and production space, and hire some help!
What was the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
How about getting my business set up on Quickbooks! I just purchased the software in December and I’m still trying to figure it all out. I finally started setting things up last month because I was completely dreading it. I like math, but this is just complicated.
What do you see as the coming trends in the personal care industry and particularly with the soaps and lotions that you make?
I see my customers constantly looking for the next new thing, so the new artisan style soaps are selling very well. I’ve also noticed that more and more people are looking for products they can use on their sensitive skin – that includes both soaps and lotions. One of my childhood friends contacted me recently because she found out that her oldest daughter is allergic to tree nuts and she needed a lotion that didn’t have almond oil in it.
What was one of your most memorable experiences while testing products?
As in one of my biggest failures? Let’s see, that would have to be when I tried to make an all-natural sugar scrub with a highly superfatted, hot-processed soap. One of my soapmaking friends had done it with coconut and jojoba oil, and I tried replacing some of the jojoba with apricot kernel oil. Well, it was way too thick. I kept adding more and more oils, but it never relaxed. I ended up with two gallon-sized ice cream tubs full of the stuff and added some fragrance and colors to it so my girls could use it in the bath. It actually went rancid before they had a chance to use it all!
What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?
Regularly sending out newsletters to my Preferred Customer list is one of the best ways. Finding ways to have sales is also key. I did a 12 Days of Christmas Deals last year that was highly successful. Facebook and Twitter have also been great ways to advertise. I’ve had orders from high school classmates who never would have known about my business otherwise!
When you aren’t working on your products, what do you do in your spare time?
I’m a mom and a wife. My girls are in 2nd and 4th grade, so one of the reasons I’ve kept the business small is so that I can spend time with them. My husband and I also enjoy lifting weights together 2-3 times a week and playing volleyball in our church league. If I actually have spare time to myself, I love to read a good book! But that is rare, precious time!
What gives you the inspiration for your products like the Sweet Pea & Rhubarb Soap, Fruit Loops Soap or even the Almost Paradise Soap?
These are some of my favorite soaps! The Sweet Pea & Rhubarb soap was inspired by the fragrance. I googled images of sweet peas and found one I thought would translate into soap. Then I took what I knew about cake decorating and applied some of those techniques as well as a technique from the Lovin’ Soap blog using bottles with yorker caps.
The Fruit Loops soap was inspired by the fragrance as well. Of course, the cereal is so colorful, and I wanted the soap to reflect that rainbow of color. I had seen a tutorial by Grumpy Girl on the CraftServer about how she made a salt bar soap with at least that many colors, so I knew it could be done.
The Almost Paradise soap was inspired by a customer. I had to poll my customers to come up with the name “Almost Paradise” for the fragrance. After that, I asked my Facebook fans what an Almost Paradise soap should look like. And wouldn’t you know, the customer who suggested the winning name also suggested that it should look like a beach scene. So that’s what I did! The sun part was inspired by Soaphora’s Chocolate Mint soap. I just used a much smaller pipe, so it was a real struggle to get the soap out! I was just so excited when the idea in my head actually translated into the final product!
Thank you for this great interview! I had so much fun writing back and forth with you. I hope others will find your products just as inspiring as I do!
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