Display Ideas (The never ending dilemma)!

May 10, 2015

I really liked my display set up from last season and I want to keep most of it, but with the addition of a body scrub line I need something to display those. What I have won’t work.  I’ve spent way too many hours researching different display options. I have a couple of good options…now I have to play around with designs and see what would work and what I think would look best.

Option 1: Love the tiered shelf. Problem is it won’t hold a lot of scrubs…but it would work well on a table set up.

teired stand1

Option 2: Again, won’t hold a ton of scrubs, but would definitely look cute on a table.

whitewash shelf

Option 3: This would cause me to change my whole table set up. And I’m not sold on it. I’d also need to add a couple more shelves as I think five would be better for me. I don’t need as much space between my shelves.

shutter display

Option 4: Love the idea of this, but then it would most likely replace one of my tables…do I want to do that?  Oh the choices!

ladder display


Photo Antics with my Best Friend!

April 3, 2015

Whenever my friend and I get together to do soap pictures we have a little too much fun!  This was our table before we started our session.  We spent the day driving from place to place to gather the needed props.

setup1

We photographed 23 soaps and over 15 different bath products.  It was quite the session.  We spent more time setting up each shot than we actually spent on taking photos…of course once you’ve got the shot set up the photos are the easy part!

setup2

Then came the processing of the (300+) photos we took.  We did narrow it down some, taking the best of each product, but still it was quite a marathon photo and editing session!

setup3


Under Eye Balm

March 14, 2015

Last summer I started playing around with an under eye balm recipe.  I’d gotten a couple sample oils from the soap conference that were more exotic and too nice to (I thought) use in soap.  I was reading one of the blogs I followed that had posted a recipe that used one of those oils and I got inspired to try and create my own “eye butter.”

The first batch worked well enough, but it was not what I was going for. I tried to whip the butter but that ended up no working and it didn’t cool evenly so it was a little grainy and just overall it worked but I wasn’t happy.

I adjusted my recipe a bit and I liked it, but it wasn’t what I wanted.  I set it aside when the holidays came (there was no time to do much of anything outside of restocks!).  I started playing around again with it in January.

I had narrowed down my trial recipes to one (with two variations).  One contained beeswax while the other didn’t.  I loved the final results.  I’m having some people test it and so far results have been good.  Always excited when I create a new recipe to my satisfaction!

eye cream

The beeswax is a balm (and I really like it…it should hold up well in the summer).  The other which has no beeswax I whipped it.  And I actually LOVE this one.  I’ve noticed that it’s really not greasy either.  I’ve been using it on my entire face not just under the eyes.


Advice is Free

March 3, 2015

Turning my hobby into a full time business has been hard work–really hard work!  There are days I work 14-16 hours and I could work longer because there’s still plenty of work, but I unfortunately run out of steam.  It’s been a lot of trial and error.  There have been products that I was sure would be successful and don’t sell and ones I didn’t think would move and fly off the shelf.

The problem with introducing new products is it usually means a new expense.  Rarely do I have everything I need in stock to make the product.    That’s part of the business.  I’ve gotten much better at managing the new expenses and predicting costs I’ll need to invest.  I have a list of “products to try” a mile long. There’s so much I want to still learn to make and experiment with.  There’s only so much money and time to do that though on top of everything else I make.

On top of new products I’ve (along the way) dealt with creating a webpage, figuring out which markets/craft fairs were good/bad, actually attending and selling at those craft fairs, creating a wholesale line, growing my wholesale client base, creating (and maintaining) a newsletter, teaching and developing new soap classes, finding new/more venues to teaching my classes through, maintaining a blog, maintaining Facebook… Oh! And not on that list is just making all the products (over 75 different products) that sell that is the heart of my business.  You see the list goes on and on.  There are never enough hours in the day.  There is always something that doesn’t get done or gets pushed back a day, a week, a month…

This is enough to overwhelm anyone.  I’ve dealt with it though, and fairly well I think.  Along the way my parents (Dad especially), brother, even friends have offered their advice.  They do it to help me. I know that.  Most of the time they’d offer suggestions and they’d already be on my list of “to dos.”  I always got frustrated with them.  I would be like “there’s only one of me and I’m doing the best I can!”  It took me awhile to realize that their advice wasn’t criticism.  It was just that advice. They WANTED me to succeed.  They wanted to help me.  Their advice was their way of caring and trying to show their support for me.

Some of their advice I ignored because it was something that would create more work for me or force me outside my comfort zone.  I learned the hard way sometimes that I should have listened to their advice.  It might have been more work initially but it would have paid off later, whether through sales, increased visibility, attracting new customers, or making me stand out.  Some advice I’m now implementing.  It’s never too late.

That said some advice I don’t listen to.  Not because it’s not good or have merit, but I (just like you) know my business and I know somethings just aren’t a direction I want to go, or I would hate doing it (and that’s not the reason I started my own business!)

The lesson I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) though that I wanted to share is be open to advice.  It costs you nothing (but maybe some time) to listen to and think about someone else’s suggestions.  You don’t have to take the advice.  You can use it as inspiration for something else.  Or you can take it.  Just remember listen with an open mind.  It could be well worth it in the end.

kickstart15


Creating Handouts

February 24, 2015

coverpageI teach soap classes (beginner, intermediate, advance, CP, MP, Milk Soap…just about everything).  I’ve been teaching now through local community ed programs and doing private lessons for over two years.  I used to teach a bath and body class where I taught the students how to make a scrub, balm, and body spray. I was never really happy with the class. I wanted it to be so much more.  I eventually stopped offering it.

Recently I started doing research for my own new line of scrubs.  I wanted to go beyond the basics.  I was compiling all this information for myself and I thought I should create a whole new set of handouts on bath products and teach a class again.  After two years my knowledge has grown significantly.  I’ve introduced a wide range of bath products to my line over this time and I’ve experimented constantly on tweaking recipes and trying out new ones to even creating my own products.

I started to create the handouts and they very quickly morphed into this massive project.  I didn’t just want to give students a handful of recipes.  I wanted to teach them how to formulate their own products!  Of course to do this you have  not only understand what the product does and why we make it, but the ingredients that make up those products.  And by understanding the ingredients you use, their properties, why they’re good for you, why you’d use some over others, they’d be equipped to make anything they wanted.

To teach that though is much more of an undertaking than to give students a handful of recipes and say ok here now you can make some new products.  Sure, they could, but they weren’t really going to learn anything that would help them tweak and alter and eventually create their own products.

Almost 80 hours later I’ve finished a first draft of my (25+ page) handouts.  That’s just part 1.  There is a part 2. There is also a detailed step by step instruction section I want to complete.  I’m a long ways from done, but I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  My 20 pages of notes are now coherent organized ramblings! And it’s super exciting to see it taking shape. I can’t wait to teach and offer this class in the future.  I’ve found a joy in making these products through understanding what I was doing and not just following someone else’s recipe and I hope I can pass that on to others.


Field of Flowers

February 21, 2015

I always have have an idea in mind for my finished soap when I start a batch.  Most of the time it doesn’t quite come out as I pictured it, but it’s close enough and it looks good.  This time I had this idea in my head and I was really, really skeptical that it would work, but I gave it a shot.

It worked.  I was so surprised that the soap came out just like I envisioned!

Field of Flowers

Field of Flowers

Step 1: Pipe the grass.

Step 2: Pipe the flowers.

Step 3: Add the white center, because the flowers just needed a little something more.

fields of flowers1

Cut Bars:

sweetpea

sweetpea1

 

sweetpea5

sweetpea7


New Tags: What’s your vote?

February 19, 2015

Trying to decide what tag to go with the the new cupcake soap tags.  What’s your pick?

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PS: I don’t know if this is my computer or WordPress or what but the colors are showing up more bold and slightly morphed.  Hopefully they look normal for you all.  WordPress is definitely showing them slightly “off” but you can get the idea of the design at least.


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