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 www.Soaping101.com, 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!

Bookmark and Share

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

About.com’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??

Bookmark and Share

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?

Bookmark and Share

2015 Conference: Cosmetic Highlights

Are you joining us in Indy for the 18th Annual HSCG Conference in 2015? April 18 kicks off three very full days of classes, networking, soap competition, and special nighttime events in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the Westin Downtown Hotel (and psssst, members, the early-early bird rate expires at the end of the month, so don’t wait if you’re planning to go!).

If you’ve never attended a conference, we pack each day with activity (and food!). After all, if you’re taking time away from your business, we owe it to you to make that time as worthwhile as possible. The class schedule is legendarily packed, with classes often happen concurrently so that you can choose topics most relevant to your business. Today, we’re highlighting some of the speakers you’ll hear during the 2015 conference who are focused on cosmetic topics.

Beth Byrne, owner of Soap and Garden, managing editor of Saponifier, and member of the HSCG Board of Directors, will be presenting Marvelous Moisturizing: Making Basic Lotions and Creams from Scratch. If you already work with soap but are intimidated by lotions, let Beth lead you fearlessly into the moisturization arena. Beth will be demystifying the lotionmaking process, showing you how you can add a few ingredients and reuse tools you already possess to make lotions and creams. In addition, Beth will discuss good manufacturing practices, packaging, and formulation.

Beth Byrne

Kathleen Norris, Technical Marketer at Formulator Sample Shop’s sister company, Active Concepts, and newsletter editor of the Carolina Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, will be presenting Transforming the Face of Preservation: Peptide Technology in the Personal Care Industry. Part of making a lotion or cream is effectively preserving it, and that’s where Kathleen’s expertise comes in. What’s a cosmetic maker to do when the most effective, efficient preservatives have been thoroughly demonized by the media and newer preservatives have not been thoroughly vetted? Kathleen will discuss where the industry is heading and the exciting new possibilities contained within antimicrobial peptides.

Kathleen Norris

Find out more about the 2015 conference here and register here. While conference is open to all, HSCG members receive the very best rates ($160 cheaper than the non-member rates while the early-early bird deal is running).

There are 199 days to conference and just 30 days left to take advantage of early-early bird pricing. We can’t wait to see you in Indy at #soapconf15!

Bookmark and Share

We’re Expanding: Meet Nicole!

Have you contacted headquarters lately? We’re excited to announce that we’re expanding our administrative support here at HSCG headquarters. Yes, it was just last year that we welcomed Lani Dake to the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild team as Executive Assistant. One year and innumerable phone calls and emails later, Lani is now serving as HSCG Member Services Director. So who’s answering your queries now? It may just be our newest addition, Nicole Carte, who started part-time at headquarters September 15.


Get in touch any time at 1-866-900-SOAP – both Lani and Nicole field phone calls to headquarters. Current HSCG office hours are Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm EDT. Nicole will be fielding emails sent to admin@soapguild.org while Lani will happily handle all of your membership questions through MemberServices@soapguild.org. Find more ways to contact us right here.

A big welcome to Nicole and virtual congratulations to Lani – thanks for keeping us running!

Bookmark and Share

Pumpkin Season Waits For no Man

Pumpkin-inspired food, drinks, and decor have hit the store. In fact, it’s easy to stumble over just about any pumpkin-inspired thing you can think of aside, perhaps, from the actual squash (which aren’t quite in season yet for many of us). And the all-things-pumpkin craze can only signal one thing: the inevitable build up to the Q4 holiday craze and gift season.

Duaflex: Pumpkin Patch

For many of us, this is without a doubt the busiest time of year, the time when many of us move from the red into the black, while developing toned cores from repeated sessions of packing and lifting soap and frantically attempting to avoid paper cuts from handling copious amounts of shipping material. As a business owner, are you well-stocked for the holiday season? Have you already secured wholesale accounts for the season?

If you could use a little help getting the word about your company name out there, we have the toolkit for you. Announcing the Public Relations Toolkit, a guide to helping your product and company get noticed by both the public and the media, so that you are well positioned for the next holiday surge! Just for members, this toolkit contains a guide to the basics, loads of tips and tricks, templates, and links to other resources for members.


On to the goodies! When you log in, you’ll find:

–        Basic info on types of media coverage and how to approach each one

–        What you need and how to assemble a press kit

–        How to interview like a rock star to put your business in the best possible light

–        What it takes to get your products featured in media outlets

–        What you have to nail for PR success

–        Members of HSCG’s beauty blogger program ready to feature your goodies

–        Easily customizable press release templates for a variety of business-related announcements

–        Where to share your PR successes for feature in HSCG’s Members in the Media page

–        How to get your products in the HSCG galleries

–        How to get your store, farmers market, or craft show listed on the HSCG site

–        How to have your company listing show up on the HSCG site

Still breathing? Yep, it’s a lot of goodies, but the good news is that Public Relations is a journey, so you don’t have to execute all of these things at once….unless you’re down with that, in which case, bombs away! For the rest of us humans: just take baby steps, young grasshopper. It’s never too late to work your PR. (And pssst….if you are just getting started, we’ve also released a business start-up toolkit with all the basics. Read all about our Business Start-Up Toolkit here on the blog and find it on the website here.)

Whether you are a professional, vendor, or private label member, this toolkit is available for you in the Members section of the website. Find it by navigating to members –> Public Relations Toolkit and logging in. And don’t let next holiday season catch you by surprise.

What else do you wish you knew about PR?

Bookmark and Share

Announcing 2015’s Keynote Speaker!

We are excited to officially announce Andreea Ayers as keynote speaker for the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild’s 2015 Annual Conference. Join us April 18-20 at the Westin Downtown Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana to hear Andreea kick off our 18th annual conference.

HSCG's 2015 Annual Conference Keynote Speaker Andreea Ayers

Serial entrepreneur Andreea Ayers has a wide array of experience, including, of course, running a soapmaking company. Her first company, in 2006, was the wildly successful Tees for Change, which she sold in 2011. In 2013, she fulfilled a decade-long dream to start a soap company. Today, as CEO of and founder of Launch Grow Joy and Get Media Happy, she focuses on helping hundreds of entrepreneurs demystify PR and secure media coverage through one-on-one consulting and coaching.

Andreea’s keynote will focus on growing your handcrafted soap and cosmetics business through publicity. You can handle your publicity like a pro, even if you are your business’ only publicist. Andreea will guide you through her easy-to-implement seven step process for successfully presenting your handmade products to the world — without spending thousands of dollars or hiring a publicist.

Read more about Andreea and her keynote here. The conference pages on the HSCG website are continually being updated as conference details become available. Check out all of the speakers, topics, and find information on sponsorships, exhibitor space, and more from the 2015 conference home page.

We may be seven months away from the next annual HSCG conference, but now is the perfect time to start planning for it. We are offering a special discounted early-early bird registration fee especially for members through 4pm EDT, October 31 (and get this – if you’re not a member, joining as an associate makes this price a better deal than the current non-member registration price). Check out what comes with your conference registration and register for the 2015 conference here.

Join us April 18-20 2015 at the Downtown Westin in Indianapolis, Indiana, for HSCG’s 18th Annual Conference…220 days and counting!   

Bookmark and Share

Hew to the Dues News

Hear ye, hear ye, new dues are coming!

The new HSCG Board of Directors held their annual strategy meeting this June, specifically approving a 2014-2015 budget which includes new benefits, programs, and services for our membership, as well as provisions for hiring new employees to maintain customer service for our fast-growing membership. (And trust us, if you could see the current state of our inboxes and voicemail, you’ll appreciate the fact that we’re bringing on new help.) We’re psyched to bring you new features and new help at headquarters. In order to do so, we are raising dues (for the first time since 2009, holler!).


Rising prices are never fun, so we are extending a special offer. Renew or join today and take advantage of the current, lower rates. That’s right, instead of silently phasing this in, we’re announcing it here and giving you another two weeks to take advantage of the old pricing. Once we reach September 15, these rates will disappear like Cindarella’s coach at midnight; no ifs, ands, or buts, so don’t delay (and for the love of time zones, plan ahead, west coasters – headquarters is operating on Eastern Daylight Savings Time right now!).

Take a look below at the rates coming September 15:

Member Type Dues Insurance Total
Associate $100 N/A $100
Professional, insurance waived $140 N/A $140
Professional, with insurance $140 $380 $520
Professional, Canadian $140 $400 $540
Professional, International $140 N/A $140

Pondering membership but confused about what type of membership you should have? Check out the types of membership here, and a handy-dandy benefits chart here. And don’t forget, membership gets you a juicy discount to our annual conference, coming up in Indianapolis in 2015!

If you’re thinking about joining, do it today at the lower rates. We can’t wait to bring you juicy new benefits and a few new faces in the office.

Bookmark and Share

Now Bubbling Up: Brochures en Français

The Why Handcrafted Soap? brochure has long been a resource for members to use with English-speaking customers. The brochures are a wonderful introduction to handcrafted soap, explaining the differences between commercially prepared and handcrafted soaps and spotlighting the wide range of handcrafted soaps produced by our members. Today, we’re excited to announce the “Why Handcrafted Soap?” brochure is available in French as “Le Savon Artisanal”. At long last, members with French-speaking customers can take advantage of this beloved HSCG publication.

_Flashmob Bubbles @ Grand Place Bruxelles-4027

Members can download both the “Why Handcrafted Soap?” and “Le Savon Artisanal” brochures from the Members section of the website by logging in and navigating to Marketing Tools> Handcrafted Soap Brochure. You can also choose to have the Guild print them in full color for you, by ordering through the Guild store.

Thank you to Guild member Helene Metivier and her spouse Daniel Tate, for their help in translation!

What language should we tackle next?

Bookmark and Share

If You Start Me Up, I’ll Never Stop

That’s what we’re hoping, at least. Do you make the most bodacious bath bombs? Perhaps you’ve perfected a body butter? Or maybe your soap swirls are ready for prime time. If you’ve been thinking about moving beyond a cosmetic-crafting hobby into a business, we have a little something to help start you up.

Start Starting Line Americorps Cinema Service Night Wilcox Park May 20, 20117

Introducing the Business Start-Up Toolkit, accessible from the Soapmakers dropdown on the HSCG’s home page. This toolkit is available to everyone, member or not, free of charge. This toolkit (one of many we are rolling out) will be part of our new resource library. While the library isn’t ready for prime time, we couldn’t keep this toolkit from you any longer.

Why introduce a resource? Part of the Guild’s mission is to foster the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry through education and training. We believe the more you know about getting your business off the ground, the better positioned you are for success!

100 metros 3

On to the good stuff…so, you’re wondering, what kinds of things will you find in this toolkit? Today, we’ve broken the toolkit into six key areas, including quick guides to:

–        Types of business structures and their respective advantages and disadvantages

–        How to choose a business name, including pitfalls to avoid

–        How to get an employer identification number from the IRS

–        What the heck an assumed name is and how to handle it

–        Various types and sources of insurance for your business

–        What you need to do to start your business finances on the right foot

Take a look at the website and check out the toolkit for all the juicy details. Starting a business can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. We hope this guide helps give you the kickstart you need to build your business! This is by no means a static guide, so do let us know what other start-up advice you’d like to see.

What did you wish you knew when you started your business?

Bookmark and Share