Ladies & Gents: The How-To Is Here!

Remember that time that we were bragging about putting together a fantastic collection of instructional videos and business-related toolkits for all of you lovely people??  If you’ve visited the HSCG website recently, you may have seen the new and magical How-To Library tab on our homepage!  Yes, it is finally here in all of it’s knowledgeable glory and we couldn’t be more excited!


The HSCG How-To Library is your go-to source for all types of information to help you improve your soap and cosmetic making expertise and your business skills.  Here’s some more good news: The content provided by the HSCG is free and clear of all sales pitches and slants toward a particular product or service (scout’s honor!).  You can expect the information to be clear, unbiased and peer-reviewed. You won’t get fed any personal opinions in the HSCG learning library (because we fully believe that you are more than capable of forming your own..)– you’ll get facts and useable how-to directions for making products and expanding your business.  Not too shabby, eh?

You’ll see multiple How-To categories that cover various topics having to do with making soap, cosmetics, and other products as well as some business-boosting categories like Marketing & Promotion, Business & Finance, and Legal & Compliance.  Not convinced of the awesomeness yet?  Check it out for yourself!

If you missed it in a previous eNews, register for free on our website and check out the ever-adorable Holly Port, owner of Lotion Bar Café, in what was our very first instructional video teaching us how to make super sassy bath fizzies.  Just click the pic below!  


**Have something in mind that YOU want to see in the How-To Library?  Pop an email about your brilliant idea to our Executive Director and let us know:** 

    Post by The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild

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FDA Responds to PO Box Petition

In August of 2012, the HSCG wrote a Citizen Petition to the FDA – Department of Health & Human Services, regarding the use of a PO Box in the place of a street address on a cosmetic label.  We did this mainly for the safety of the small businesses that make up the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry as many of them operate out of their primary residence.   In February of 2013, we received an interim response from FDA stating that they were still reviewing the request and had not reached a decision.  The original petition as well as the supporting documentation can be viewed online at

In November of 2014, we decided to send in a supplement letter to the petition to update FDA with our new name (the association changed from The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild to The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild in February of 2013) and our significant increase in membership (182% since the first petition).  We again requested that a PO Box be allowed in the place of a street address on a cosmetic label.

We received a final response letter from FDA denying our request to change the current regulation.  You can read the full letter here.

Even though the request was denied and the regulation will not change, there was some clarification on what constitutes a “telephone or city directory”.  You need to pay close attention to this…

Under current regulation, the business name and address (full street address) of the person or business responsible for the product must be on every cosmetic label.  The business address must include the street address, city, state and the ZIP code unless the business is listed in a current city or telephone directory under the business name.  In the response letter from FDA dated November 14, 2014, they defined “city directory or current telephone directory” as both print AND online and that either would satisfy the option under the current regulation if the street address is not listed on a cosmetic label.  They further offer the following examples of acceptable online directories that are “no cost or nominal cost” annually:

What this means for a small handcrafted soap and cosmetic business is that in order to meet the requirement under the regulation, to omit your street address, you would only need to list your business in one of these directories annually.  It would be important to keep the listing up to date with current information.

On the one hand, we were disappointed that a PO Box was not accepted but it was nice to see that the FDA is taking advantage of the non-traditional directory options offered by the internet.  On the whole, this is great news for our industry.



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Use ‘em, Don’t Lose ‘em

Are you getting the most out of your membership? Sure, we advocate for the entire handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry and we offer some pretty killer insurance to professional US and Canadian members as well as a not-to-be-missed yearly conference. But if you’re just here for the conferences or the insurance, you’re missing out on so much more. As we head through the season of holiday madness and into the end of the year, it’s the perfect time to take stock of your business and plan for the new year.

Family Heirloom

With that in mind, check out some of the perks for *all* members (including vendors, private labelers, and handcrafters just starting out)

Reminder: To get to all of these goodies, make sure you log in on the website before you get click-happy (otherwise, these links take you nowhere and nobody likes to be in a sad corner of the internet).

>>Save on your supplies with ongoing and special monthly deals from our Vendor members.

>>Save on printing, office supplies and much more by registering for a Power Purchasing account.

>>Expose your products to the world with HSCG’s Beauty Box Program.

>>Learn how to start your business with the HSCG Small Business Start-up Toolkit.

And check out some of the perks for all *pro* members (this is our most common category of membership – for all the peeps who make and sell goods to the public).

>>Help consumers find your company by filling out (or updating!) your online listing.

>>Let consumers know where you’re selling by listing your stores, wholesale accounts, craft shows and farmers’ markets on the HSCG Store Locator.

>>Learn how to wholesale your products with the HSCG Wholesale Toolkit.

>>Get yourself in the news with HSCG’s Public Relations Toolkit.

You can get to the full list of benefits right here and of course, get in touch with us online or in the office if you need help accessing any of your benefits.

Here’s to a phenomenal fourth quarter and a great start to your 2015 business planning!

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Behind the Scenes: Constructing HSCG’s Library

If you follow us here on the blog (or Facebook or Twitter, you faithful stalker, you) or were lucky enough to join us in Tucson earlier this year for our 17th annual conference, then you may remember hearing about a project we’ve been working on for the soap and cosmetic-making community.

One super important part of the Guild’s mission is to foster the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry. To that end, we’ve been working on an online library to house all sorts of resources for members and the community at large. There you’ll find everything from instructional videos to the various toolkits we released earlier this year to helpful links and articles covering all aspects of your indie business.

Wondering what this content will look like? (Yes, we couldn’t wait, either.) While we are oh-so-impatiently waiting for this library to be built, we couldn’t resist sharing one of the first instructional videos, taught by bath don’t-call-it-a-bomb master Holly Port. In this video, filmed by Monster Productions, Holly, owner of Lotion Bar Café, teaches you how to make (what else?!) fail-proof bath fizzies.

And, if you really want a glimpse behind the scenes (and a newfound appreciation for what it takes to translate instructions to film), check out the blooper reel.


We can’t wait to bring you an entire library full of content like this. Members, keep an eye on your e-news to get the latest and greatest scoop.

Thank you, Holly, for sharing your expertise and your bloopers! What are *you* hoping to see in the HSCG Library?

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Have You Got The Merch?

Did you know the Guild has a store? Yup, it’s not just at conferences where you can get your fix of HSCG goods. The HSCG online store carries general educational material as well as select HSCG-branded items. Order as much or as little as you like for one flat shipping rate (and pssst, you can get a 25% discount on books. How sweet is that?). Take a peek at some of the goods now lining our online shelves:

HSCG acrylic member sign

Announce your membership or  certified soapmaker status with pride. Perfect for display in your shop or at shows, we have newly printed 5″ x 7″ (roughly 13 x 18 cm) acrylic signs for both HSCG members and certified soapmakers available in the store.

grow your handmade business book

Books abound. Stock up on popular business titles, like Keri Chapin’s Growing Your Handmade Business and Marie Gale’s  Good Manufacturing Practices for Soap & Cosmetic Handcrafters. Expand your repertoire with Holly Port’s new release, Make It Fizz: A Guide to Making Bathtub Treats. Keep it legal with Marie Gale’s classic, Soap & Cosmetic Labeling or just kick back with tales like Jenna Woginrich’s Made From Scratch. Whatever titles you cozy up to, you’ll get an extra discount on the list price (how’s that for treating yourself?).

HSCG soap necklace

Finally, did you catch the new jewelry at this year’s conference? We’re excited to have these hot sellers now available in the store. You’ll find necklaces and earrings with dangling bars of handcrafted soap (made out of clay, not soap, FYI, although boy would that come in handy!) in scores of colors. Both are conversation starters, and perfect for announcing your not-so-secret obsession to the world.

Browse the store for the full selection, including aprons, shirts, gift certificates, marketing materials, and more.

How do you show Guild pride?



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Now Serving You: Meet Tanya

Tanya Rasley has been serving the Guild for over a year. Starting as a volunteer on the Social Media Committee in 2013, you may have seen her running around the Loews Ventana this May as a ground crew volunteer during the 2014 HSCG conference or up at the podium during the Annual Meeting as a Board of Directors candidate. When Board of Directors member Benjamin Aaron had to step down, Tanya was the natural choice to fill the remainder of his term.

Tanya headshot

Based in the southern Oregon coastal town of Coos Bay, Tanya runs Canard Labs, an artisan soap company offering retail, private label, and wholesale bath and body care products, which grew out of Baby Duck Soap Co (and no, no ducks were harmed in the manufacture of soap for Baby Duck Soap Co – and yes, that is a question that popped up from time to time).

Words we may have inserted in her mouth: take naps instead of watching television. As Tanya let us know, “You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching TV. So…naps are good!” We’ll happily take that little known fact as motivation to get through this crazy holiday season.

Tanya schooling Adam on the fine art of colorants at the 2014 conference

We’re excited to have Tanya apply her talents to the Board and continue her record of excellence in service to the association. You can get in touch with her, find out her plans for the Guild, and just send a friendly “hello” via Find other contact details for Guild staff and administration here. We are here to serve you!

Welcome to the Board, Tanya!

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2015 Conference: Soap Highlights

Happy (nearly) Halloween! Have you inserted pumpkin into your product lines? Are you ingesting pumpkin, spices, and all things orange for the season? Are you layering chai lip balm over your pumpkin seed oil-based sugar scrub and pumpkin body butter? How about registering for the 2015 HSCG conference? [cue record scratch and music coming to a screeching halt] Just like carved pumpkins are being thrown out post-Halloween festivities, early-early bird discounts fly out the window October 31st at 1pm Pacific and 4pm Eastern time.

With that out of the way, we wanted to let you in on some of the soap-related sessions in store for you at the 2015 annual Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference. This is, after all, a soap and cosmetic guild, so we couldn’t leave soap classes off the menu.

Arianne Arsenault, owner of La Fille de la Mer , will show you how to take it to the next level in Melt and Pour Like a Pro. Master layering and embedding in large batches as well as prepping all that soap for retail.

Arianne Arsenault

Erica Pence, founder and CEO of Bath Alchemy Lab, will be teaching all the basic soap swirls in Swirling Made Easy and building on it with a discussion of tools, soap consistency, and techniques like the hidden feathers, nonpareils, peacocks, butterflies, and zebra stripes in Advanced Swirling Made Easy.

Erica Pence

Sharon Czekala, founder and owner of The Great Lakes Natural Soap Company, will help you understand why combining soap methods can take your soap to the next level – and help you overcome process limitations in Hybrid Soaps: The Best of Both Worlds.

Sharon Czekala

In Soaping for the Specialized Customer,’s Catherine McGinnis will teach you how to tap into new markets by serving customers with allergies and ingredient sensitivities, as well as those who are socially and economically conscious.

Catherine McGinnis

Topic not yet announced, but Guild soap whisperer and Hampden-Sydney College Elliott Professor of Chemistry Dr. Kevin Dunn never disappoints. Past topics include investigations on milk and silk in soap, dreaded orange spots, gelling, partial saponification, water discounts, and effects of time and temperature on soapmaking.

Kevin Dunn

Check out the newly released schedule as well as all of the speakers and topics planned for this conference from the embedded links or from the 2015 conference pages on the HSCG website.

Can’t wait to get our soap on with you next year in Indy! Calling all soapers, did you learn something new about soapmaking this year?

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2015 Conference: Extra Learning

Conference not enough for you? Add on one of our four half day seminars the day before the conference starts. This year, we’re covering social media, branding, product photography, and a hands-on soapmaking class.

We think you’ll learn plenty at conference, but these seminars offer an additional learning opportunity, particularly useful if you don’t have access to local classes or don’t usually get to take the time off for them. Each seminar takes place from 10am to 3pm on Friday, April 17, the day before conference starts and includes lunch. Don’t wait until the last moment to register – each seminar is capped at just 30 attendees to maximize the personal attention you’ll receive. Should you decide to arrive the night before these seminars, you’ll still be able to check in to the Westin at the special discounted conference attendee room rate. So, wondering what seminars are in store for you this year?

Catherine McGinnis, the guru behind, is back with her wildly popular Cold Process Soapmaking Intensive Class. Learn all about soapmaking and dive into making your own batch. This is great preparation for the Basic Cold Process Certification exam.

Catherine McGinnis

Adam Grogin, Monster Productions owner and the hardworking man behind the camera at past conferences, is introducing Product Photography: Perfecting the Shot. Not only will he share the nitty-gritty of what you need, how to set up your studio and how to process your shots, you’ll get to practice with your own camera. Whether you’re sporting a smartphone or a fancy-schmancy DSLR, Adam will help you learn how to get a drool-worthy shot with experience born of years of exposure to the handcrafted cosmetic industry.

Adam Grogin

Lela Barker, empire-builder behind Lucky Break Consulting, is back with a seminar on Branding for Badasses. Learn why branding is the soul of your company and then let Lela guide you to your unique selling proposition, target audience, and figure out just what to say to be recognized for the badass company you are.

Lela Barker

Melissa Ward, managing parter at NewWard Development, is introducing The Social Media Sales Funnel. Social media should be more than a Bermuda triangle of time investment and a rabbit hole into cat videos. Social media marketing master Melissa will show you how to keep your brand on your customers’ minds and how to get your fans from your social media pages onto your website.

Melissa Ward

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your business to the next level, one of these seminars can help you out. Register today to make next year’s conference extra-intense. Your hardest choice just may be choosing one of the four!

P.S., early-early bird rates expire before trick or treating’s begun. Get thee to the registration page before October 31 to get the hottest deal on 2015’s conference!

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2015 Conference: Business Highlights

April 18, 2015: Where will you be? The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild will be in Indianapolis, welcoming 450 lucky attendees to our annual conference. And what, pray tell, happens during this conference? Oh, we are so glad you asked…we’ll be packing nearly 2 dozen speaker sessions covering topics ranging from business to product-making, an exhibitor hall, a product showcase and competition, HSCG merchandise, networking lunches, lots of snacks, a killer raffle, nightly events, and opportunities to take certification exams into 3 days (plus a half, if you come early for optional seminars). Woot! If you’re not tired just reading that sentence, please send some of your energy our way, thank you very much.

We have a slew of speakers lined up for the 2015 annual conference who will be addressing all aspects of your business. Keep reading for a sneak peek of speakers who are going to help you rocket your business to the next level.

Bella Luce and Lucky Break Consulting founder Lela Barker will help you dissect what makes a brand successful and how to apply it to your brand regardless of your cash flow in The Anatomy of a Compelling Brand.

Lela Barker’s David Fisher will explain why your mission statement guides your business and help you draft one in What’s Your Plan? Creating a Working Mission Statement For Any Size Business.

David Fisher

Lovin’ Soap Project’s co-founder and co-director Amanda Griffin will explain different ways your business can give back and inspire you to philanthropic action in Cause Marketing, Empowered Consumerism and Why Doing Good is Good for Business.

Amanda Griffin

Dave Purdue, trademark attorney at Purdue Law Offices, is back to help you separate copyright fact from myth and register your claims without stepping on any legal toes with Copyright: Protect What’s Yours – Respect What’s Theirs.

Dave Purdue

Rising Tide Capital’s Community Business Academy teacher and Nyah owner La Shonda Tyree will show seasoned makers how to boost their bottom lines and capitalize on their knowledge in Monetize What You Know: Start Teaching for a Profit.

La Shonda Tyree

Learn all about The Psychology of Color, from choosing colors that sell to coordinating colors across your entire brand from Mossy Creek Soap Studio CEO and founder Michelle Rhoades.

Michelle Rhoades

Soapmaker and multi-book author Marie Gale is back with a two-session class covering the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act and the requirements from all the agencies with authority over soap and cosmetic labeling in Product Labeling: Regulations as of 2015.

Marie Gale

Packaging expert Jack Leitman of The Leitman Group is ready to show you both how to get a custom look with US-based stock packaging and how to affordably source custom molded packaging in Custom Packaging: Componetics May Be The Answer!


Once you have a packaged, branded product, learn just what it takes to wholesale it in Prairie Soap Company and The Imperial Drifter owner Benjamin Aaron’s How to Wholesale: Selling Your Products to the Broader Marketplace.

Benjamin Aaron

From start up costs to leasing and employees, Bathhouse Soapery and multiple retail shop owner Charlene Simon is back covering all the bases with How to Open a Soap Shop: Everything You Need to be Retail Ready.

Charlene Simon

Social media marketer and web development thought leader Melissa Ward will teach you how to use your business’ culture, values, and individuality to market your business and stand out from the crowd in Naked Marketing: A Return to Intimacy in the Digital Age.

Melissa Ward

Quite the list of speakers, right? Check out the entire conference schedule here and register here.

If you’ve never attended an industry event, attending a conference feels like quite the investment, but this is one that we think will prove more than worth your while. Don’t forget, through the end of October, we offer early-early bird pricing for HSCG members. Sign up today and spread your conference payments over 6 months, interest-free through PayPal Credit.

185 days until Indy! What business classes do you wish you could take??

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Just (whole)sale it!

So you’ve set up your online shingle and your soaps are flying off the shelves. Or you’re up every Wednesday at 4am slinging fancy facial creams from your booth at the local market. Maybe you have a raving group of fans who search you out from Renegade to the local high school show. Your branding is tight and your COGS are on lockdown. The only thing you’re missing now is seeing your product on the shelves of local stores (and heck, stores nationwide)). But how to make that leap to wholesaling?

We have just the toolkit to help make your entry into wholesaling smooth sailing. Whether you are a professional or private label member, log in and check out the Wholesale Toolkit we’ve put together.

look how happy you'll be after securing that wholesale deal!

There, you’ll find a checklist that includes:

-       Wholesale insurance considerations

-       For the US, links to IRS forms your wholesale accounts may need

-       Important UPC considerations and links to UPC issuers by country

-       A sample letter of introduction to spark your creative juices when pitching a retailer

-       How to fill out a vendor information form and why it’s a great first step to a contract

-       A sample wholesale agreement (hallelujah!)

-       A sample order form for those times you’re not hooked up to the web

-       Price sheet guidelines and all the three-letter acronyms you want on it: UPC, VIN, SRP, and more

-       Guidelines on producing a wholesale catalog

-       Why you should care about electronic funds transfer

Most importantly, keep breathing. You got this!! For more great advice on wholesale, check out some of our favorite posts from Lucky Break Consulting, Modern Soapmaking, and the Soap Queen, who have all generously shared loads of business advice.

Check out the HSCG website for links to all the sample documents. From the Guild home page, navigate to Members –> Wholesale Toolkit. The website will prompt you to log in if you aren’t already prior to taking you right to the goods. Getting into wholesale may entail a whole lot of paperwork, but it doesn’t have to be scary.

What do you wish you knew when you started wholesaling? Did we miss your favorite wholesale post?

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