Thursday, December 11, 2008
In case you missed it ... here is her rendition of "As the Soap Lathers" - the daily drama of CYA Team (original posting can be found in this thread on the Etsy forums).
I confess - I am a CYA groupie :) I do not make soap, never will - but I will buy from the best - Etsy soapers. You guys are hysterical - I get my daily jollies from your adventures.
Sit back, have some coffee and chocolate (you know you want it) and enjoy my take on your thread. This may run a little long but that is your fault, not mine.
o o AS THE SOAP LATHERS O O
....cue the organ music.....Narrator's voice (could it be Dennis behind that 'stash?)
On this week's episode of ATSL......
....will anyone make it through the week without illness?? Loyal followers of ATSL know to keep Lysol spray beside the keyboard to protect from viral ooze.
.....will there be an explosion of soap in the mold??
....will the Feds discover the secret identities of Swan and Anoki?? We all know them by their alternate personas - enforcers for the Soap Mob.
.....who will be arrested for stalking their UPS/FedEX/USPS carrier??
.....how much hair will be torn out because of supply snafus??
....will anyone raise their goggles and have a lye accident??
......will this be the week that there are no NPB and the sale fairy visits everyone?
......will more children be forgotten at school/activities while soapies work?
.....Most importantly: who will be the first to break out the wine/margaritas/Jack/alcohol du jour?
Found on EVERY episode of ATSL:
...tolerance of differences
...wild, wacky, off the wall humor
She even suggest our new CYA Team Motto should be:
Cleaning up the world one person at a time - unless you can get two in your shower :)
Thanks, scgoddess ... for the humor and for your awesome support of CYA Team. You are appreciated muchly!!!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The fabulous members of CYA (Clean-up Your Act) Team on Etsy have compiled their favorite items into one fabulous Gift Buying Guide to share with you.
Grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage, put up your feet and enjoy shopping in the comfort of your own home. These items are the best-of-the-best - they don't get any better than this!
Enjoy and Happy Holidays from all of us on CYA Team!
Friday, November 14, 2008
There will be a vast selection of Bath & Body Product Gift Recommendations from the talented members for you to shop from for your gift-giving needs this holiday season!
Here's just a LITTLE sampling of the many great items CYA Team is currently offering ... be sure to search CYA Team in tags/titles to see all of our wonderful items!
Friday, November 7, 2008
But what if you don't have any more space to put things? Sure you do! Sometimes it's a matter of looking at the space you have and perhaps rearranging furniture, to make room for yet, one more piece. And sometimes it's a matter of thinking outside the box... or better yet... IN the box.
Use the space above and below your table tops. Get yourself bookshelves that can be hung in layers up to the ceiling and storage units that fit below. Take a piece of furniture that might have otherwise been used for something else entirely, and turn it into a soap storing haven. How about an old dresser? Maybe a buffet table, or a hutch. Maybe some shoe boxes that stack nicely and decoratively on your new book shelves? Plastic crates are also great because they can often be found at the dollar store, and they stack wonderfully on top of each other, yet you can still see what's inside each bin.
Hang spools of ribbon and twine on a paper towel roll. Use old canning jars to store dry ingredients, so you can see clearly what's in each without really needing to look. Label them too of course. There are so many simple ways to stretch our storage spaces into the most that they can be... but the first step is getting truly organized. Having a place for everything, and everything in it's place.
Sometimes the holiday season is the last time you might want to think about a thing like this, there's so much else to do! But, the truth is, that if you take a day or a weekend, or even a week, to really get organized... you might find that your holiday season alone will run so much smoother, having everything organized nicely, and accessibly.
Have a wonderful weekend all, and let's get organized!!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
What is your best advice for someone just starting out in the soaping/B&B field?
Friday, October 31, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Sudsy Fun... brought to you by PinkParchmentSoaps
Click HERE to visit this treasury on etsy!
P.S. If you ever have a treasury you'd like posted to the team blog, please just send me a convo with the link, and i'll be happy to add it for you!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Sweet Pumpkin Spice Soap
Each bar weighs approximately 3.75 oz
Ingredients - Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Castor Oil, Safflower Oil, Glycerin, Goat's Milk, Purified Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Sorbitol, Sorbitan Oleate, Soybean Protein, Titanium Dioxide, Fragrance, Colorant.
Crisp Autumn Apple Soap
An apple day keeps the doctor away, right? Well, how about keeping old man winter dry skin far, far away with this amazing autumn apple soap! This bar will leave you feeling clean without stripping your skin of its natural oils like store bought soaps do. Cocoa butter has been used for centuries to keep skin hydrated and soft. All of our oils will nourish your skin, like olive oil and coconut for lather.And the scent? We searched and sniffed until we found the best apple fragrance possible. It reminds me of picking mackintosh and gala apples straight off of the trees. Very fresh and crisp and not too sweet.
Fall Harvest Goats Milk Soap
This is not your garden-variety spiced apple. It is much more complex and has more dimension to the fragrance than that. A wonderful combination of fresh, crisp apples ripe for picking, a touch of almond, cinnamon, vanilla and a hint of green hay. The perfect impression of a cool Autumn day spent at the local orchard.
White Ginger - Vegan
White ginger has the fresh aroma of the Hawaiian white ginger flower along with mellow hints of ginger spice. This is a very soothing scent.
Weight: appr. 4 oz. / 113 grams Size: 3 ¾” x 2”
Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Safflower Oil, Glycerin, Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Sorbitol, Sorbitan oleate, Soy bean protein, Titanium Dioxide, Fragrance Oil, Ground Ginger
Washcloth/Dishcloth Set of Two - Autumn Colors
This beautiful set includes 2 crochet cloths. They are made of 100% cotton yarn. This set would make a wonderful addition to your kitchen or bathroom.
For your kitchen, the cloths make great dishcloths. When they get dirty, just toss them in the washing machine. No more germ filled sponges!
For your bathroom, the cloths make great washcloths.
These cloths are environmentally friendly because they will last for years if cared for appropriately.
The cloths measure approximately 8" square.
(Note: if this is the winning entry, winning voter wins *one* cloth)
There you have it! Don't forget to visit the shops of these awesome soapers, and ask for your voter's discount!
Friday, October 17, 2008
I ordered up a simple set of 250 free business cards, and payed the additional $3.99 for a blank back, selected the cheapest/slowest shipping, and went along my merry way.
While I was waiting for my cards to come (and they got here a lot faster than the 21 days they tell you for the 'cheap' shipping...) I found a post on a blog of a great friend of mine, AlwaysAmy about not only taking advantage of the free business card section, but also using up some of the other freebies they offer as well... and using them for promos. Even better yet, spending the few extra bucks to add your own photos to them, rather than using the free graphics they offer, you can really dress up a free promotional item from Vista Print pretty easily and make the most of it, to use for your own promos.
Now, I know there are some people who use Vista Print, and some who don't. Some who like them, and some who don't. But, the idea here, is to look beyond the boring freebies some of these business card companies offer, and change them up to make them more useful for your own good. Nothing wrong with taking advantage of free or otherwise inexpensive resources that are available to us, especially when times are tight.
And, one last thought before I go. I've also seen some people use business cards, be they printed from a printing company, or done from your home computer... as ingredient/label inserts for soap packaging too. So there's another inexpensive idea on how we can turn something ordinary, into something useful.
Have a great weekend all!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
When choosing which fats to use in soap, it is important to take into consideration the fatty acid profile of each fat source. The seven most common fatty acids a formulator will look at when comprising a formulation are: Oleic, Linoleic, Lauric, Palmitic, Myristic, Stearic and Ricinoleic. Each of these fatty acids imparts a different quality in the finished soap.
· Linoleic – skin-conditioning, rinses clean, moisturizing, contains Omega 3 fatty acids.
· Oleic – moisturizing, good for mature skin.
· Lauric – aids lather production. Too much can be drying.
· Palmitic – hardness of finished bar of soap, aids in stabilizing lather. Too much can be drying.
· Myristic – good base oils, moisturizing.
· Stearic – hard finished bar of soap.
· Ricinoleic – aid in producing, clean rinsing. Too much can yield softer soap.
A good online calculator for assistance in formulating and fatty acid composition of base oils is: www.soapcalc.com.
When researching the use of fats derived from vegetable sources versus fats derived from animal sources for developing a proprietary formulation for Moon Maiden Soap's line of products, I found a unique distinction between the finished product and how it performs. Animal fats (or AO's) typically produce a harder finished bar of soap which will last longer on average in the shower when properly cared for. Soaps formulated with animal fats like lard or tallow also seem to be more moisturizing and conditioning to the skin than the soaps formulated with all vegetable fats (or VO's) because of their high percentage of oleic and linoleic fatty acids. My initial base formulation for my handmade soap line contained the animal fats of lard and tallow. I also created a specialty bar of soap using a high percentage of lard in addition to emu oil for those who are plagued with skin conditions or severely dry skin. The feedback I have received on the specialty bar has been very positive and it continues to be the single best selling soap in my entire line.
I quickly realized, however, that I was missing an opportunity to service a very large clientele who prefer not to use products containing fats from animal sources. I decided to experiment with different formulations containing only vegetable fats to see if could produce a finished product that would be as liked and accepted as my AO soap line. I believe I have achieved this goal because at this time, I have a loyal following for both my AO soaps as well as my VO soaps. Even my AO customers have used soap from my VO line and report that they enjoy both products but each is distinct in its own way. Soaps made with carefully selected vegetable oils provide fabulous skin benefit like moisture and conditioning. Handmade soaps, regardless of base oil preference, are much kinder and gentler to you're the skin than commercial detergent bars.
The use of animal fats in soap, especially locally-sourced and home-rendered, espouses the green movement by reducing the use of mass transit for delivery of raw materials. Locally raised, grass-fed meat is better for the environment by reducing the use of commercial farming methods and encouraging the overall health of the animal thus producing a healthier and leaner food source for human consumption. Using animal fats also adheres to the time-honored tradition of using the entire animal that has already gone to slaughter for food. Native American culture believed in wasting nothing when an animal was hunted for food and honoring the life the animal gave to sustain the tribe. Exotic tallow from sources like caribou, elk, deer, wild boar and bear make wonderful soap. While it can be difficult to find if you do not know a hunter, be sure to check with your local and state regulations before offering the finished product for sale. Some laws prohibit it.
My intention in sharing this information is not to pit AO soaps versus VO soaps; it is only to inform those I've encountered from within my client base as well as within the circle of fellow soapers I have met who have posed questions about using AO's in soaps. Often, I am asked questions like, "what is the benefit of AO in soap?" Other soapers will ask, "what qualities do AO's impart on the finished bar of soap?" It is because I carry the two distinct lines in my shop that I believe people feel comfortable asking me about using animal fats. I appreciate being able to discuss some of the more common misconceptions surrounding the use of animal fats in soap to help educate both the consumer and the soap maker.
I hope that in sharing this little bit of insight that you may be inspired to create your own formulations and perhaps even experiment with use of AO's in soap.
I've had the distinct pleasure of meeting a couple from Northern Illinois who run a historically accurate, working-farm. Cyndi Muller is the owner of a Yahoo group called Tallow Soapers; a support group designed as a safe-haven for those who make soap containing AO's to discuss the practice as well as for those who wish to know more to come and learn. She and her husband, Paul, spend a great deal of time educating the public about growing your own fruits and vegetables, animal husbandry and living a self-sustaining life. It is because of the efforts of folks like this that I am even able to share my experience using AO's in soap with you today. Without their knowledge and dedication to this practice as well as passing along their passion for utilizing the entire animal we slaughter for food, I would not be as educated as I am about the subject to date.
By Dana Eskes © 2008, All Rights Reserved
Proprietor, Moon Maiden Soap & Sundries
This article may not be redistributed or reproduced in part or in whole without express prior written permission from the author.
Tallow Soapers Link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Tallow_Soapers
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
of Daisycakes Soap
I've been making soap for almost 9 years. It has changed a great deal since I started. The availability of supplies has grown, and the number of soap makers has grown exponentially! The quality and variety of supplies has improved, too.
The business aspect of Daisycakes is what interests me the most. It's not my background at all, and I read all the time about business, finances & marketing. It's easily my weakest area, and studying how to improve my business in this area doesn't ever get old for me.
What is it about soaping that is all yours - something no one else does but you?
That's hard to say, because I don't study what others shops do. I do what I do, I love the B&B community on Etsy, but because I like and respect the soap makers as people, regardless of the fact that they are soap makers.
That said, I probably wouldn't even have Daisycakes if it weren't for authors like Sandy Maine and Susan Miller Cavitch, though. When I first started, I bought every soap book I could get my hands on. I read them all, read them again; and cross-referenced them. After I got the chemistry down, I don't really look to others and try to set myself apart from them, I just work hard and do what I do, if that makes sense.
My customers are a mix of new and repeat customers. I get many many first time Etsy buyers, which I love.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Cookie Cutters!! You could of course use cookie cutters, rather than simply making round ordinary cookies, but you could really go so much further than just festive holiday style cookies with this idea too. Wedding/Birthday/Anniversary party favors, Promos, and more!
Cookie cutters are available in so many shapes and sizes, and even better yet, us soapers are often crafty enough to try different containers for soap molds... get creative and find fun things to use for cookie cutters too, ay?
Hope you have fun with this one... another great project for the whole family!
Have a great weekend all!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Welcome to Part two of the semi-official dictionary of soap talk.
If a soapmaker you know starts turning purple, clenching their teeth and making guttural sounds from the back of their throat, forget the Heimlich maneuver. Of course it’s possible they’re just choking on a piece of candy corn, but more likely their agitation is caused by reading a listing on etsy like this one:
“All Natural Root Beer Float soap, with real root beer EO - no fake chemicals!”
Grrrrrrrr. You see, it is vital that a soaper knows the difference between an EO and an FO. There is all the difference in the world.
An EO is an essential oil. According to Wikipedia, an essential oil is a “concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants.” In English, that means they are the oils derived from plants. Usually, they are created by distillation, and less frequently by expression, or solvent extraction. They are considerably more expensive than fragrance oils, for one thing because the process to create them can be very detailed and time consuming, and for another thing because the plants they are derived from can be rare and hard to come by.
Essential oils bring with them many properties besides scent. Many have medicinal properties. Tea tree oil, for example, has antibacterial properties. Peppermint EO can help with nausea. Many are used in aromatherapy. However, many EOs also have adverse effects both on people and animals, and must be used with caution. For example, many citrus EOs – especially bergamot, lemon, grapefruit, lemon, lemon verbena, lime, and orange – can cause photosensitivity, increased sensitivity of the skin to light. Use of these EOs can cause people to become sunburned more easily or break out in a rash. Some EOs are abortifacients - pennyroyal and sage, for example, should be avoided by pregnant women because it is possible that they could cause a spontaneous abortion. Even well-known EOs like peppermint and clove must be used with caution – a tad too much in a soap and … let’s just say the skin will tingle. A lot.
An FO, on the other hand, is a fragrance oil. These are synthetic compounds generally diluted with a carrier like propylene glycol, vegetable oil, or mineral oil. Suppliers rarely disclose the ingredients of their FOs. In general, they are closely guarded secrets. Flavor oils are a variation of these. Often the flavor oil used in a lip balm is no different than a fragrance oil used in a bar of soap.
Some believe that fragrance oils are inferior to essential oils. That is a matter of personal preference for the most part, however some fragrance oils do contain phthalates, a chemical used among things to make plastics flexible. There has been a good deal of controversy surrounding phthalates recently - high doses have of certain phthalates have been shown to change hormone levels and cause birth defects in rodents. Many products will state if the FOs in them are “phthalate-free.”
A seasoned soaper with reasonable experience in the use of EOs and FOs will know at a glance whether or not a scent is likely to be given by a FO or EO. Since EOs are plant-based, there is no way there could ever be a “rootbeer EO.” The listing above was imaginary … just an example. And yet, these kinds of listing pop up fairly frequently on etsy and other handmade sites.
Soapers tend to be somewhat obsessive about their fragrances. Some have even been known to sell their car to be able to buy more FOs and other supplies. And that brings us to our final dictionary term of the day … the FO-ho.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
By Karina, of SoapThatMakesScents
As the holidays approach more and more of us will be selling at craft shows, contributing our sample items to other sellers to distribute, putting together packets to promote our shops locally, perhaps donating to larger sampling organizers.
So many sellers (and customers!) who have received my promos to hand out have commented on them, and I wanted to pass along my advice and my opinions on what you can do to get your samples in the hands of customers--KEEP them in the hands of customers, and ultimately draw them to your store to find out more about the items you offer.
*Figure out what it is that best represents your store. Forget the candies and coupons--those are yummy and great, but forgettable. No one's going to remember 5 minutes after popping the candy in their mouth who's business card was attached to it. Most likely, they won't even care...because the candy's already eaten..the item's already been used..and it's had no lasting effect.
*It's ALWAYS better to sample an item that's currently carried in your store, or develop a mini-version of it. Here are a few ideas:
-MINI SOAPS: Try to avoid soap "slivers"..they never look appealing in their packaging, and get lost in a multitude of larger samples if grouped together with other things. Try to keep your soap samples to 1oz. or larger--big enough for a couple of uses, and noticeable enough in it's packaging to draw attention.
-LOTION SAMPLES: You'll want to make sure these are properly packaged so that they don't leak. I learned early on that receiving a squirt of lotion in a plastic baggie is not only messy when opening, but can be punctured more easily that you realize. Invest in small plastic vials or mini lipbalm pots--it looks more professional and makes for a better impression.
-PERFUME SAMPLES: There are three ways to go about this--you can either get the small glass vials (which quite honestly can get a bit pricey) or the cheaper just-as-good plastic ones (which can still be expensive depending upon how many you need), or you can opt for the paper samples...the same kind you get handed to you when you walk by the perfume counter in a department store. I know, boring...but why not dress it up a bit to capture attention? Develop your business card into the shape of a perfume bottle and spray that. Or affix several sprayed sample sticks in a wonderful (and naturally handmade!) card that matches your shop theme.
The best sample in hand is one that gives the holder an overall idea of what they can find in your shop, and an impression of how they should view your business overall.
*Keep it professional, keep it clean. Whatever sample you hand out, or give to other sellers to distribute for you, you had better believe that you only get one shot at that first impression--so make it count. I've received samples that gave me the impression that the artist could care less what thoughts I'm left with about their store. The samples were in dirty packaging, the labels obviously reused and half peeling off, or the sample itself was faulty in a way (ie. a pair of earrings where one earring hook used was different than the other, etc.). All this will do is make a buyer think that all of the items in your store must be this way as well. And that your work itself is sloppy..or that if they order from you, they'll get their items in dirty packaging, etc. A sample is one of the best ways to reach potential customers who like to try before they commit to buying..why ruin your chances of snagging them into your shop by passing them a less-than-acceptable sample that will turn them off from your store?
*Packaging is just as important as the sample, too. Make sure your contact info is attached to your sample--Package everything individually--don't rely on the person receiving your stack of promos to do it for you. Again, use clean packaging, well-designed labels, and include a stack of business cards. Don't write your url in pencil on a piece of scrap paper attached to a horridly thrown together sample...yup, I've received those too. Again, it's all in wanting to give the best overall impression.
*Make sure you think about yourself, too. Obviously, you'll want to keep this cost effective. Especially if you plan on sending out a lot. I normally send out 10-12 packages a week filled with my samples to various places for distribution. If you can, and if there's no deadline you have to meet, try to send your items First Class, NOT Priority. It's much cheaper. Also, before you delve into making 50, 100, or 1,000 samples, ask yourself if it's smart for you to do so, or perhaps instead you can make something else that's easy (and not too time-consuming to duplicate)..before I settled on my current sample products, I wasted so much energy on starting promo packages that I obviously couldn't finish due to time, resources, and cost of materials.
*Last but not least..send them effectively. Think about the target audience you are trying to reach, especially when collaborating with other Etsy sellers for promo swaps. We've all seen the forum threads asking for promos to give out with orders...I've written a few of them myself, and answered even more of them. What I always do, is take a look at the shop of the seller who's requesting them. Not to judge the quality of their items, or the honesty in their request, but rather to see WHERE they are located (remember, international shipping will cost you more, especially if your samples are heavy), and what TYPE of items they sell to see if my items would fit in with the target audience they appear to sell to. Put it this way.....I once sent soap samples in the shape and coloring of black widow spiders to an event that dealt with Gothic clothing and accessories. If you can change up your offering to make it fit the event you are sending in items for, or create something especially for that, by all means go for it!
Promotional items and samples go much much further with a potential customer than just sending business cards or coupons. If a customer can see, feel, smell, and admire an example of your work up close, the more chance you have of their interest being taken one step further and them wanting to peruse your shop.
By Karina, of SoapThatMakesScents
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
A little over two years ago, it started as it did for many of us – the desire to give interesting gifts to friends and family. Angela – or LaveMe, as we know her here and on etsy – started making M&P soap. And she was hooked. “Soaping, even M&P, was waaay more fun then I was prepared for. Everyone loved the natural base and came back for more. That is when I decided to try selling.” Next came HP soaping, which intrigued her even more. “I love it more than M&P any day!” she said. “I love to be the creator from beginning to end. Making the recipe from scratch. Getting an idea of the look and smell, maybe trying something new - like adding honey on a whim. I really love watching the process of the oils reacting with the lye in my crock pot. It is truly amazing to see it all happen right before my eyes.”
Angela, a moderator on the site and one of the first members of the team, was chosen for our second team member profile …
I am most intrigued by how much creativity goes into soap. It is basically oils, lye, additives, but man! The possibilities are endless … swirls, soap shaped like poo, soap made with carrots, salt bars, soap pies... What scares me the most is not so much making soap. I respect the lye, therefore I have no fear (I am always safety prepared). I am more worried about the failure aspect of B&B with selling. With a community this BIG it is sometimes overwhelming to get your grasp upon the market - in fact I am still doing that.
If I could pick out one thing that is unique to Lave-me I would have to say it is me. I don't have that gimmick necessarily to carry my shop. I make what I like that I would use. Unique scents like cucumber wasabi cilantro completely make me happy. I hope that my personality comes through. My shop is me and I am selling myself one bar at a time ;)
If they made a movie about soap, who would play you? What kind of movie would it be?
Hopefully Warner Bros would make it so I would not have to go far for work. It would be called, A TUB OF LIES, starring Parker Posey (as me). I would single-handedly take on the FDA and the corporations who want to make it harder for a small B&B business to survive and let chemical companies keep polluting the earth, all in the name of greed.
If you had a million dollars to spend on soap stuff, what would you buy?
I would buy my own B&M soap shop here in LA. It would be pink and teal with bubble shaped lights and crafting tables where you can make your own balms, M&P soaps and such. I would have a full working soap factory in the back where I could create custom soaps with someone helping out the clients up front. I would have my own team of fragrance gurus and all the organic oils possible. Also, I would like a pink stick blender. That would be cool.
What is your best advice for someone just starting out in the soaping/B&B field?
My advice is to research your butt off. Start small, like with a good kit. ASK QUESTIONS! If you feel hesitant or silly, find a soap mentor. I caught a lot of flack in the beginning with questions but I ignored it and kept at it. Start with books and online sites like Teach Soap. You will not learn everything at once. I hope I never know it all. I want to always be learning and trying new techniques. As far as selling goes, I am new at this, but I will tell you what I learned. You will spend a lot of money trying to figure out what works and what sinks. Make a light box and take awesome pics. Know what your target market is and don't give up. I get discouraged too, but then I think of when someone asks how my soap is doing, I cannot hear myself say, “I quit.”
What is one thing you'd like to learn?
I would really like to learn to make my own shampoo and conditioner bars!!! I already use all natural organic, but I would like to eliminate one more purchase and reduce use of bottles even more.
What is your favorite thing you've ever created?
My favorite soap I have ever created would have to be...that is hard. I love every batch like it is a new child. They are all beautiful in their own way. Maybe my new batch with cocoa butter and honey? Man is that good stuff. My least favorite soap would have to be anything with sandalwood. I get nauseated just thinking about it.
I would truly want to know if there is anything they would like that they don't see in my shop. Is there a particular scent or additive they would like to try? I sometimes feel like I get stuck in an idea rut and a fresh idea would be nice!
Monday, October 6, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Now you might be saying... I make soap, I'm not an artist... Au contraire' my friends, soap makers are artists too! In such a variety of ways at that! We play with fragrances and colors, and packaging and presentation all the time. Many of those things require some artistic ability.
But let's take it one step further. What about when you go shopping, and you see a gal carrying around a shopping bag that catches your attention? One that comes to mind for me, is Victoria Secret. Even if you've never shopped there in your life, you probably know the pink striped gift bag from a mile away right? Why not do that ourselves, when it comes to doing holiday shows, craft bazaars, art festivals and the like.
A simple and fun idea found on the Martha Stewart website brought me to thinking... Why don't we make great looking bags to package our things up in, for when we sell at shows. Create a buzz, get people wondering where we are, what we sell... and don't they want some too?!
It can be as simple as stamping your brand or logo on a paper lunch sack, a cute colored gift bag, or even better yet, canvas market totes that people can use again. There are always fun and inexpensive foam stamps at the craft store, and a simple tube of acrylic craft paint runs around a dollar... Or better yet, print up some stickers with your fancy label designs on them, and change them up in such a way that they dress up a simple gift bag perfectly!
Hope this idea inspires you, and makes for a fun weekend project that the whole family can enjoy.
Have a great weekend all!!
P.S. If you do, or have done any projects like this, I'd love to see them posted on our flickr page!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The Semi-Official Saponese Dictionary: Ways to Make Soap
M&P (Melt and Pour). Fairly self-explanatory. A base is melted and fragrance, colorant and other additives (exfoliants, moisturizing oils, etc.) are added in. Plop the soap into mold, let it cool and – voila! You’ve got soap!
CP (Cold Process): Soap from scratch. Typically, you melt the oils, combine the lye with your water and add the mixture to the melted oils and stir until trace is reached. Add your fragrance, colorant, other goodies and stir. Then you pour it into the molds, where you can play with it further - adding swirls or crushed herbs or what have you. After a day or so, the soap must come out of the molds and be cut if you’re using a log or slab mold. Then comes the waiting part – cold process soap must cure for several weeks before it’s ready to use. During this time, the last few oil molecules are saponified and the water evaporates from the soap, leaving a nice hard bar.
HP (Hot Process): Just like cold process, only the combined oils and lye water are cooked over a heat source such as a crockpot, stove, double boiler or in the oven. This forces the saponification process to speed up a bit. It can also cause your more delicate fragrance oils and essential oils to evaporate away, and it makes it almost impossible to do the delicate swirls you can do with CP soaping, so it isn’t ideal for every kind of soap. And the end result is not usually as smooth and clean-cut as CP soap. However it is ideal for the more impatient soaper because HP soap is usually ready to use much more quickly. As a matter of fact, it can be safely used immediately … but it can still benefit from additional cure time if you want a nice hard, gentle bar.
Side note – you may come across several variations of “HP” including …
DHHP - direct heat hot process (stovetop)
DBHP - double boiler hot process
CSDBHP - closed system double boiler hot process (a pot inside another pot, with both pots’ lids on)
CSHP – closed system hot process (pressure cooker)
CPHP - crock pot hot process
MWHP - microwave hot process
RTCP (Room Temperature Cold Process): Throw the thermometer out the door! This process is useful for those who measure out and combine oils for several batches at once (just take as much of the cooled, room-temperature oils and/or lye as needed for that moment and save the rest for later) as well as those who make whipped soap.
CPOP or ITMHP: Cold Process Oven Process or In The Mold Hot Process are basically the same thing – a blend of CP and HP techniques. The soap is prepared as with traditional CP soap, but once the soap is poured into the mold it is placed in the oven at a low temperature. As with traditional HP soaping, the heat causes the saponification process to speed up, and can also help speed up evaporation somewhat. One benefit is that you can still come away with the nice, smooth appearance CP soap usually has. Again, the heat can also cause some fragrances to disappear – which leads us to …
LTCP (Low Temperature Cold Process): Sometimes it is desirable to avoid letting the soap reach the gel stage at all, especially if you’re using more delicate essential oils or fragrance oils with a low flashpoint – you don’t want them “cooking off.” Lye and oils, if melted, are allowed to cool considerably before combining. Sometimes the soap in the molds is even placed in a refrigerator or freezer to prevent gel.
DWCP or DWHP (Discounted Water hot or cold process): this is actually something of a misnomer, because it implies that there is a standard lye-to-water ratio that has been “cut” or discounted. The term has been known to cause some soapers to grit their teeth and mumble under their breath. Each soaper is different, and some use a 2-to-1 water-to-lye ratio (33%), some use a 1.5-to-1 ratio (40%) and many points in between, depending on oils and processes used. The idea, though, is the less water that goes into a batch of soap, the less time it takes for that water to evaporate back out.
Those well-versed in Saponese will often combine these phrases. For example, my favorite soaping method is RTDWCPOP. What’s yours?
I wanted to first introduce myself and tell you a little bit about me, and how I've ended up here, considering I'm pretty new to soap making. ♥ (I like to use hearts, you'll see them following me around online)
Last year when I joined etsy, I used to bump into Dennis in BnR treasuries, and on the forums. From there, I became good friends with his fiance Brandy who runs RiyzeDesignz on etsy and also helps Dennis behind the scenes with the soap shop. Everything since then is history, friendships made, bonds created, and encouragement to reach higher goals... all being inspired from the success of Dennis' soap shop.
I am primarily a jewelry maker on etsy, but I'd also dabbled around in MP soap making for gift baskets and things in the past. I love to do a variety of crafty things, and earlier this year, I took the plunge and opened up a second etsy shop, selling MP soaps. Only to find later, that I really didn't have enough time or energy to successfully run two etsy shops; so I took a break from soap making and started to focus on jewelry again, only to find that I really missed making soap! So here I am today, with a jewelry/soap combo shop on etsy, yet still very new to the world of soap making.
I know that I have a lot to learn about soap making and my goal as a team blogger is to learn from all of you, and share the knowledge! Many of you have been making soap for years, or perhaps just longer that I. So I'm going to start contacting some of you little by little, to do guest style blog posts on our team blog.
I would also like to put out an open invitation for any of you to get in touch, if you have a topic you'd like to do a blog post about, and I'll work with you on getting it published.
Otherwise, you can expect to get to know the silly side of me, who loves variety and all things crafty. I'm looking forward to getting to know you all, and I'm excited to see how open and friendly everyone has been so far.
Cheers to new friendships, growth and fun times ahead!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
As the creator of the Clean up Your Act (CYA) team and a role model for many etsians, Dennis is a natural for the very first member feature on our blog…
The first question is an obvious one: Why a new team? There are teams for soapers already, so how will this one be different?
The vision behind this team was to create a group with a variety of soapmakers, a group that would welcome everyone from the hobbyist to the serious established soapmaker. I wanted a place where a group could talk openly without worry and have fun. I noticed there are not many groups on etsy that are dedicated to soapmakers, and because of this the existing teams are bursting at the seams - and many talented great craftspeople are feeling alone and left out on etsy. A team or group is great for supporting each other and it gives a community feel. I think when you’re part of a group it really helps - especially when starting out on such a large site.
What do you think is the real benefit of being on a team? What benefit(s) have you personally gotten from being on the other teams you're on?
I'm part of a few groups on etsy, and the support within the groups is amazing. It’s easy to step into a thread and chat for a few, and leave feeling at ease and most times much better - usually laughing and taking a different point of view away with me.
Is there a team on etsy that you think models the "ideal" team? What is it you like about them?
Well I would have to say the CCCOE Team (California Crafters Club of Etsy). I am a member of this team as well and the members are truly amazing - always having fun challenges, contests, making treasuries, and they’re an all-around great group. I’ve also heard the MUD team has amazing things going on, but I don't dabble in clay (well other than a little in some soaps).
What would you personally like to learn more about? What would you like to help teach others?
I'm really looking forward to the fun aspect of this group. I love creating treasuries and promoting. I think that would be the funnest part of this team for me.
You are a huge success on etsy. What do you attribute that to? What have you learned in the last year?
For my first 6 months on etsy, I believe I did alright. Last November, my shop exploded. I was starting to retake my pictures and was playing in the forums and started getting noticed by other sellers. I ended up in a few front-page treasuries, I was interviewed for a few blogs - everything started coming together. I have a lot of return customers and they tell friends and family. I feel really lucky.
What is your motto?
“Spoil Yourself!” is the motto I use with my soaps – it’s simple and to the point!
I catch myself sing "Don’t stop, don’t give up" (Yo Gabba Gabba). This one gets my house hopping I have a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old – it’s the best to get them singing and dancing around to this song when we say it :)
What will team members get that everyone else on etsy won't get? In other words, why should people join our team?
I'm hoping people will find this team to be a safe, fun place to have discussions and to be themselves. I'm hoping to get together a private forum-type environment in the future where we can have a more private environment for the serious group things that might bore the public. Also, I think joining a team is a great way to put yourself out there on the Internet. It’s easy to get lost in the massive groups of individuals.