Teaching (and Me)

February 22, 2017

teach tell involve

This is a fundamental I live by when teaching.  My soap classes are all hands on.  They’re small classes because I have my students MAKE everything and I’m there to instruct and guide them.  Even with my college kids I still try to formulate all exercises and homeworks and even in class work so that they are involved and have to figure out ideas/concepts/whatnot rather than me just “preaching” to them on topics.  This is how I learn!

I love teaching.  It’s funny though, as a kid I never once wanted to be a teacher.  There are a number of reasons why that I can point to, reasons that I thought wouldn’t make me a good teacher.  Looking back now I can say that many of those reasons shaped me into the teacher I am today.  Funny how life works.

Anyway, my mom always thought I’d be come a teacher (I think she was thinking more grade school level, but still).  I never considered teaching until I became a TA in college and even then my motivation for becoming a TA were the extra credits I earned.  I did realize though through the experience that I enjoyed helping others learn.

A couple years after graduating I was approached by a college to teach an evening college class.  To my surprise I loved it.  What surprised me even more was I was good at it.  The first class I ever took on soap making (some of you might know my story) was not because I wanted to make soap, but because I was doing research for an article I was writing about the history of soap.  That class was a small all day intensive class.  There were just two of us.  We made everything ourselves and the teacher just guided us.  I can say without hesitation that if that class had been a lecture styled class I’d never have gone home and made soap after that.  I wouldn’t have had the confidence. That was back in 2009!

I have since that first class been a student of soap making–constantly learning.  I have a collection of soap books, I have binders and binders worth of notes, handouts, and recipes, I follow blogs, and YouTube videos.  There’s so much I don’t know, but I do have a pretty good knowledge base at this point.

I started teaching in 2013.  And while my handouts and how I run classes have grown over the years I still teach my class very much the same way I did my very first class: HANDS ON! There’s something extremely rewarding to see a student conquer a fear, or get excited over their first soap, or start to make connections on information they’ve previously read.  There’s one thing I will continue to always do and that’s teach. I will always help anyone who emails me with questions.  I remember when I had those questions and was eternally grateful for those that helped me out.  And I’m still learning too.  And I appreciate those who take time out of their day to help me with my questions.  It’s one thing I love about my soap community: for the most part people want you to succeed and are willing to share their knowledge.

Hopefully I’ve made a small difference in the soaping world with my teaching. 🙂

 


Inspirational Friday

February 17, 2017

It’s that time of year where I make a list of my goals for the year.  And that list is always bigger and longer than any one person can feasibly get done in a year, but it’s great motivation.  There’s always worrying and stress for me in the beginning of the year, but there’s also a lot of excitement for what the year will bring.  I’m ready to tackle 2017!

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12 in 12 Soap Your Year!

February 10, 2017

Years ago, back in 2006 or 2007 (it’s been awhile), then casting agent Chad Darnell started something called “12 of 12”.  On the 12th day of each month you had to take 12 pictures of your day.  Then post them in a blog posts (which we would then link/share back to Chad’s original post).  It was just something different and something fun.

A bit of background: I knew Chad through a Crossing Jordan webpage I created.  He did casting for Alias and Crossing Jordan and eventually became a writer on Crossing Jordan.  He’s currently working on Mercy Street (for any of you that watch that show on PBS).

Anyway, about a month ago for whatever random reason this game popped into my head and I thought this would be fun to do with soap!  But, I figured it needed some altering, because I’m not necessarily doing soap on the 12th day of every month.  Before I could work out the details January had passed, but I think I’ve figured out a way to morph the game just a tad!  So, I’m going to start in February! (Even if I’m a few days behind).

Here we go!

Rules:

  1. Each month document your soaping/bath product making in 12 pictures.
  2. One picture MUST be taken on the 12th of the month.  If you’re not making/working/doing something soap related that day it’s ok! Take a picture of your empty work space, or if you’re on vacation share a vaca photo.  You just have to have one photo taken on the 12th.
  3. Create a blog post of your 12 pictures (with a one or two sentence explanation)!
  4. Post the blog post on the last day of the month.
  5. Feel free to link your post back to mine so others can see your posts.

On February 28th I’ll post my first “12 in 12” (I did change the name slightly to match up a bit more with the morphed version of this game).  Feel free to participate and post your own “12 in 12” as well!

I think this will be, if nothing else, fascinating for me to go and look back over the past 11 months at the end of the year to see how my work load changes.  And how I documented it in pictures!  And hopefully, you my loyal readers, will enjoy the journey I share as well!


Destash

January 16, 2017

It’s that time where I go through my stock from the last six months and destash stuff! Shipping will be calculated based on what each person wants.

First come first served. If you want something comment or email me (JenniferSoap [at] gmail [dot] com) with what you want and your mailing zip so I can calculate shipping costs for you.  Please note that everything will be shipping from MA.  Some of the heavier items if going outside of New England the shipping will be (most likely) more than the actual destash item.

RAW MATERIALS:

Cocoa Butter – 6 lbs Available – $4.50 per pound

  • I bought this by accident when I meant to by deodorized Cocoa Butter.  This is brand new.  I have a ten pound block I would prefer not to break up that I’m selling for $38 plus shipping (this discounted price applies if you buy the whole block – otherwise you can order per pound however much to want).

FRAGRANCES:

3.5+ oz. approx Pink Lemonade (WSP) $3.00
4 oz.  Cider Lane (WSP) $5.00
4 oz. Ice Tea Twist (WSP)$6.50 
2.5 oz. Ice Tea Twist (WSP)$3.50 
3.5 oz. Sparkling Limoncello (WSP) $5.00
3 oz approx. Revitalizing Rosemary Mint (WSP) – $4.00
4 oz. Lemon Mint Tea (WSP) $7.00
3 oz approx. Sparkling Blackcurrant Wine (WSP) $5.00 
4 oz. Caribbean Escape (WSP) $5.00 
1+ oz. approx.  Caribbean Escape (WSP) $1.50
Some Sample 1/2 oz. Jars Free w/ Purchase of other supplies
14 oz Monkey Love (NG) – $10.00
7 oz Fresh Pear (NG) – $8.00
2 oz Fig & Rosemary (WSP) – $4.00
1 oz approx. Soothing Sandalwood (WSP) – $1.00 (not recommend for CP – seizes)
3 oz Love Spell (NG) – $5.00
4 oz Gin Martini (NG) – $6.00
1.5 oz approx. Winter Garden (NG) – $2.00
14 oz Yuzu (Lebermuth) – $10.00
4 oz Almond Marzipan  (NG) – $7.00
8 oz Blueberry (NG) – $6.00
12 oz Cherry (NG) – $9.00
10 oz Pear Pomegranate (Lebermuth) – $9.00
8 oz Gingered Peach (NG) – $9.00
8 oz Rice Milk (Lebermuth) – $9.00
1 oz Cranberry Relish (NG) – $1.00
4 oz Twilight in the Woods (WSP) – $6.00 
4 oz Cotton Candy Twist (WSP) – $6.00
3 oz Cotton Candy (WSP)- $3.00
Approx. 1 oz (a little less) remains in the following bottles: $0.50 each

  • Vanilla Champagne (NG)
  • Fig Lychee (NG)
  • Poison Crocus (NG)
  • Straight Strawberry (WSP)

FLAVOR:

2 oz Double mint Flavor Oil (WSP) – $2.00

COLORANTS: (Micas from The Conservatorie)

(2) Peach Luster Mica (Pink) 4.8 oz – $15.00 each
Violet Mica 100 grams (approx. 3.8 oz) – $12.00
(2) Violet Silk Mica 100 grams (approx. 3.8 oz) – $12.00 each
Violet Silk Mica 94 grams (approx. 3.5 oz) – $10.00
Violet Silk Mica 48 grams (approx 1.7 oz) – $4.75
Peak Green Mica 66 grams (approx. 2.3 oz) – $7.00
Pansy (Dark Purple) Mica 100 gram (approx. 3.5 oz) – $12.00
Pansy (Dark Purple) Mica 94 gram (approx. 3.5 oz) – $10.00
Patagonian Purple Mica 92 grams (approx 3.2 oz) – $10.00
Bubblegum Pink Mica 39 grams (approx 1.3 oz) – $3.75
Hot Pink Mica 60 grams (approx. 2.1 oz) – $7.00
Sapphire Blue Mica 22 grams (approx 0.8 oz) – $2.50
Passionate Purple Mica 100 grams (approx. 3.9 oz) – $12.00
Lemon Drop Mica 100 grams (approx 3.9 oz) – $12.00
Black Onyx Flare 1 oz (from Nurture Soap) – $5.00
Orchid Purple 4 oz (from Nurture Soap) – $12.00

PACKAGING/MISC:

bag

  • HP Black Ink (2 pack) #564 – $8.00
  • Wilton Sprinkle Pearls: Black, Gray and Light Pink – $3.00  (Note: I got these for soap and then just ended up not liking what I was going to do with them. They have been opened and I don’t recommend for use outside of soap/bath body i.e no food).
  • NOT FOR SOAP 12 Color Glitter Box Set Martha Stewart Crafts – $5.00 (I got these for a project and ended up not using them. Brand New)
  • NOT FOR SOAP Glitter – $1.00 Each
    • Fine Glitter Teal
    • Chunky Glitter Green
    • Chunky Glitter Gold
    • Chunky Glitter Brown
  • Russian Piping Tip  #10 (BRAND NEW) – $4.00
  • Russian Piping Tip #14 (BRAND NEW) – $4.00
  • 6 Gold Boxes from Nashville Wraps Square Box w/ Ribbon 5-3/4×5-3/4×3″ – $2.00 per box

goldbox

  • 25 Tea Light Boxes – They no longer sell these but they hold the tea lights (I believe it’s 6 per box) – $4.00 for set (come flat you must put together)

teaboxes

 

FREE:

  • 4″ Diameter  18″ Long Plastic Tubes and Tops/Bottoms FOR LOCAL PICK UP – box is too big to deal with shipping. Could be great for school art projects.  I got these thinking I’d use them for soap molds, but they were too wide diameter and a little to flimsy for me to want to use with soap.  Returning them would have cost more than it cost me to buy. I just want to get rid of them.  If you know of anyone local in MA that could use them let them know!  Could be great for local schools/art classes/YMCAs…

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  • Epson 126 Cyan Ink
  • Push Up Cake Tubes approx. 80 count – FREE  *The shipping is going to be around $15-25 depending on where you’re from, from what I can tell by the weight.

 push up tubes

MOLDS:

  • Three Tiered Cake Mold – $4.00

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EVERYTHING ELSE:

  • 4 oz Jar Seaweed Powder – $5.00
  • 4 x 4 x 3 (height) White Gift Boxes (27 boxes) – $2.00
  • Online Labels approx. 90 sheets OL6200 (Ink Jet Glossy) – $15.00
  • 27 Soap Boxes 2 3/4 x 1 3/16 x 3 13/16 – $0.18 eachSoapBoxKraftLeaf
  • Sets of 3 Double End Measuring Spoons (1 tsp and 1 tbsp) –Sets Available
    • $7.00 Each Set (includes shipping) / $4.00 per set if included with other items (doesn’t include shipping).
    • Note: I got these for myself and for my soap classes. I really like them! However I had to order in bulk when I got them and I don’t need the extra three dozen I have left over.

measuring spoons

DISPLAY ITEMS:

8″ (base) Round White Metal Bucket $5.00  3 available

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1 Galvanized Metal Oval Display Dish 8.5″ Top/6″ Base$5.00

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Blue Metal Display bucket 5″ base/6.5″ top $5.00  3 available

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Fall Colored Basket   $2.00

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Wood Dishes 4.75″ x 10.25″ (outside measurements) $5.00 each 2 available 

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Winter Themed Basket – 6.5″ x 8″ $3.00

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Green/Yellow/and/Blue Wood Bucket 4″ base $2.00 all 3

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Green Wood Bucket 4″ wide x 9″ long $4.00

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Copper Metal Bucket 4.5″ x 10″$5.00

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Teal Wood Display Crate 5″ x 8.75″ $3.00  2 available

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10″ Galvanized Metal Bowl $5.00  1 available 

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When soap goes wrong…

January 10, 2017

I haven’t had a soap seize on my like this in years!  The last time in fact I got soap on a spoon was when I was making soap with hard alcohol.  I mixed “Soothing Sandalwood” from Wholesale Supplies Plus.  I’d gotten it as a free sample and I figured I was make Shaving Soap sticks and I was breaking up a five pound batch into four different scents that this would be a good one to use up the sample on.  I added the fragrance and stirred it in and went to go pour the soap and it was practically solid!

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I crammed and mushed it into some individual cavities.  It’ll go into my grab bags once it cured…thank goodness it was only a pound of soap I lost.  OYE!


2017: A Look Forward

January 3, 2017

2017: A Look Forward

What are my goals for 2017? Well I’m glad you asked!  What do I want to accomplish in 2017?  Oh quite a lot!  You know overachiever that I am. 😉

  1. Increase my profit by 25%.  To do this I have to bring in more sales, which means I HAVE to have help…i.e. I have to have an employee.  I can make the product, but I need to sell more, to do so I need to do more events, which means double booking, which means I have to have someone to covered those events.
  1. Higher a part-time employee. <– This looks calmly typed and doesn’t portray the excitement/fear/anxiousness/giddiness of how I really feel ha!
  1. Each year I’ve introduced new products (and removed those that weren’t selling). At this point I’ve about got my set up set.  I know what fits in my display, what I can travel well with from event to event, what holds up in the heat…you get the picture.  I really don’t have anything I want to introduce or anything that I feel is a good time to introduce with where I am.  So, I don’t have plans to have new products this year.
  1. However, on to point four, I do have plans to experiment with new products. Shaving soap, liquid soap, foaming bath whip, and cream soap.  Most of these are all things I need to know for the Master Exam and to further my soapy knowledge (for my own personal satisfaction).
  1. Grow my online sales. This has been a long slow tedious process that I will continue to work on year after year!
  1. Grow my sales for custom wedding/shower (baby & bridal) showers.  I did do more favors this year than last year, but I need to find ways to get them out there in front of the target customer. Part of that involves me getting out there and partnering up with local florists and caterers and seeing if they’ll be willing to work together with me.  Definitely a plan I need to spell out and set clear goals for myself.
  1. Continue to grow my teaching classes.
  1. Start forming the Local New England Soap Guild Chapter. As secretary, much of this will fall on my shoulders for getting it started and initiating everything.  It’ll be a challenge and I’ll have to make sure I schedule time for it, but I’m excited about it.
  1. Take (and pass) the Advance MP certification test…since I didn’t get it done last year.
  1. Submit a class proposal for the 2018 Soap Conference. Nope, I’m not telling what the topic is yet. Ha!  And yes this is a different idea/class than the one I submitted two years ago, which wasn’t accepted.
  1. Sign up for the Master CP Soap Exam. And start really PREPPING and studying and learning all that I need to pass said exam.
  1. Continue to save a percentage of every sale for future plans.

A Year in Review: 2016

January 2, 2017

A Year in Review: 2016

In January I posed my goals for 2016.  Well it’s come time to review those goals and see how well I did with them.

1. Increase my profit by 50%.  Last year’s goal of doubling my profit was a big one, and a big step up in my business. I did it.  This year if I can increase it by 50% it’ll  be a good year.  If it so happens I can increase it more I’ll take it! But an increase like that will mean I’ll  have to re-approach how I make things because there’s only one of me and only so many hours in the day to get stuff done!

I increased sales by 25% (which if I was being honest with myself last year I would have said 50% was probably impossible…but I believe in setting high goals!)  The biggest problem with trying to increase by 50% was there wasn’t enough “me” to make that happen.  But, I’ve got plans to address that in this year’s goals (post coming after this one)!

2. Grow my customer base. Yes, this is the same goal as last year and it will be a goal next year and the year after and the year after that…you get the point.

I continue to do this, both online and locally.  It’s never ending work.  This coming year I need to create some specific goals on how I could increase my customer base.

3. Introduce some new products.  On my list of new products: shower tabs, cream soap, liquid soap, foaming bath whip, and maybe a shampoo bar.  There are many other things I want to experiment with, but this is the list for this year.

Hahaha! Ummm yeah none of that happened.  I did play around with shower tabs, but came to the conclusion they weren’t worth the effort for the profit return on them.  Everything else…yeah that’ll be on the list again this year. Honestly I ran out of time.  I have a precious 3-4 months January through (mid) April to experiment before show season starts to get into full swing, and at that point it’s about just keeping up with what I have, forget experimenting.

I want to do a better job this year. I’m going to pick two or three items and try and focus on those during my off months and not get distracted with “too” many things on my list to fully focus my attention on anything.

4. Grow my online sales.

Accomplished 🙂

5. Grow my sales for custom wedding/shower (baby & bridal) showers.  I started that this year and I had so much fun making these custom favors. I hope to continue to grow this side of my business.

I’ve made progress, but there’s more still I need to do with this.  I have some definite plans for this which will be on my 2017 Goal List.

6. Expand the number of classes I teach (and where I teach).

I only taught five “more” classes than last year, but I did expand where I teach this year.

7. Attend the 2016 Soap Conference in Tampa.

Accomplished.  That was another fun experience where I learned new things and had a great time!

8. Take (and pass) the Basic and Advance MP certification tests (at the soap conference). This shouldn’t be hard.  And while MP is just not my thing, I do teach and I think having these certifications is a must for me.

Well I had good intentions to complete both tests at the conference, but I only did the basic. I didn’t have my act together enough before I left for Tampa to have my soaps made and tested.  There was so much going on with show season starting and turning the conference into a vacation also (so all that planning) I just ran out of time.  I’ll get that Advanced MP done this year. I don’t really need it as I’m a CP girl, but I feel since I teach I should get it.

9. Start working/prepping for the CP Master Exam.  My goal this year is to get my act together. That means learning how to make liquid and cream soap.  It means deciding on the topics I want to write/research for part 3 & 4 of the test.  It means starting to study the essay questions and know the answers backwards and forwards.  Because come 2017 I plan to register to TAKE the Master Exam!

I started.  I have not accomplished much…but I can say I’ve started.  My goal is still to sign up before May 1 for the exam, which should motivate me a lot more this winter to get with it when it comes to studying and learning.

10. Save a percentage of every sale for a really BIG (potential) goal that is (potentially) years away. (Yes, this goal is back and will continue to come back until I reach said goal!)

Accomplished.  It’s going to take a long time to get there, but every little bit makes a difference.

A few other things I’d like to add to this list of accomplishments from 2016.

  • I made a little over 4,800 bars of soap this year. Down by about 500 bars from last year, but the slight decrease in sales in bar soaps was made up with a (significant) increase in sales in Hand Balms and Bath Bombs.
  • Speaking of bath bombs, I made 10 times more than I did last year!  In November someone told me they were the “in product” this year.  Apparently, they weren’t kidding!
  • I did 77 events this year. (Up from the 69 I did last year).
  • I taught 28 classes.
  • I made over 30 new soaps/designs.  And I rotated out only one standard soap (Vanilla Oak).  All the other standards sold well enough I’m keeping them all this coming year.

So there you have it!  Not a bad year. I’m excited to see what 2017 brings!