Member Spotlight: Sugarloaf Soaps

Sugarloaf Soaps, in Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania, is truly a wonderland. Wandering the shelves, you’ll find a plethora of bath, body and gift items, including glycerin soaps, lip balms, lotions, sugar scrubs, soaking bath crystals, bath bombs, shampoo (for humans and pets), tarts, candles, incense, friendship balls, wooden roses, and antiques. Owner Rose Cunfer credits Debbie May with sparking her interest in creating bath and body products. “A medical life event caused me to leave my long time administrative job in education. Looking for a complete 360 degree turn, I became interested in soap by watching Debbie May’s videos on Wholesales Supplies Plus website. Then in 2010 I joined HSCG and met so many amazing people!”

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While you’ll find plenty lining the shelves of the store to tempt you, Rose insists you try the sugar scrubs, which are most amazing and come in very unusual flavors. And of course, you still have time to pick up Easter-themed soaps and scrubs. If you aren’t close enough to stop by in person, keep in touch with  Sugarloaf Soaps on Facebook.

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“I am truly blessed”, Rose relates, “to have an opportunity to own my business, work in a brick and mortar shop next to my house, and travel to meet new friends and formulate new ides. The sky is the limit in this trade and everyone helps one another to be successful!”

Thank you, Rose, for that little shot of inspiration and thanks for giving us a sneak peek into Sugarloaf Soaps!

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HSCG at CSW 2014

Recently, the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild was lucky enough to send Guild President Feleciai Favroth and Executive Director Leigh O’Donnell out to the 2014 Central Soapers Workshop, held this year in Overland Park, Kansas. The brainchild of Kenna Cote (speaking this year at #soapconf14!!), this fast-growing gathering was designed especially for soapmakers in the central United States who may not have a chance to travel to other gatherings and is, of course, open to all soapmakers (even newbies).

In between chatting up attendees at the HSCG table in the exhibitor area, Leigh and Feleciai had a chance to check out the sessions, the fabulous raffle prizes, and the on-site soap lab. Check out the CSW main page for a link to some of the amazing recaps of the event. Check out some of our favorite photos from the weekend below (and out on our Facebook albums):

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Thanks to CSW for having us and kudos for throwing a great gathering. We loved meeting soapmakers from the central region and beyond!

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Member Spotlight: Tub-Time Treasures

Renee Lillie, owner and creator of Tub-Time Treasures, really is a Jill of all trades. It was a chance stumbling down an online rabbit hole that led her to making bath and body products. Renee recalls, “I had been selling my other crafts on Etsy, and was frequenting the Etsy sellers’ chat room. One of the other vendors was posting these beautiful cupcakes. Now, I’m a sucker for all things cupcake, so I clicked on the item listing. They were bath bombs! They looked really yummy, and I thought they would be fun to make. I googled how to make them, and bought the ingredients. Once I got started making the bath bombs, that was it, I was done for.”

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In business four years now, she went full time last year. From that first foray into bath bombs, Renee has expanded Tub-Time Treasures to include cold processed soaps, scrubs, and all manner of butters, creams, and frosting for the entire body (we’re starting to understand the cupcake obsession!).

As someone who spent over a decade in the medical field, Renee is passionate about developing products that are truly beneficial to customers and spent a full year developing her signature recipe. In addition, Tub-Time Treasures will create custom product batches, so if you have a special request, don’t hesitate to send it over!

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You’ll find Tub-Time Treasures online and at select fairs and festivals near the Sutherlin, Oregon area. And if you’re struck by the soapmaking bug, you can take a class from Renee at Umpqua Community College. Follow the Tub-Time Treasures Facebook page to find out when you can get soap in person and when classes are coming up. Follow Tub-Time Treasure’s Twitter account for sneak peeks of products in progress and lots of luscious product close-ups.

When not running Tub-Time Treasures, Renee is involved with the Lovin’ Soap Project, which teaches soapmaking as a way to ensure women and girls everywhere have the means to overcome inequality. She also contributes to the Lovin’ Soap Project Collaborative, a monthly e-zine for soapmakers.

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A Guild member just over a year now, Renee shares that she loves the Guild community. “My favorite HSCG benefit is most definitely the other HSCG members. There is a very strong sense of community among the members, and when you attend a conference, it’s like a family reunion! The annual conference is also a favorite benefit, and I love that it’s open to non-members as well. I think that if you are a soap maker, and aren’t sure of whether or not the Guild is for you… attend a conference. It will be a life-changing experience!”

Thanks, Renee. We can’t wait to see Tub-Time Treasures open a brick and mortar location and take the west coast by storm!

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Meet the 2014 Board Candidates!

We have just over a month until we all gather at the sold out 2014 Annual HSCG Conference – held this year at the Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona. At every conference, we hold an Annual Meeting that is open to all members, whether attending conference or not and every year, we have a few board member seats that are up for election.

This year, while attending Central Soapers Workshop in Kansas, we were lucky enough to catch up to all five candidates for the HSCG Board of Directors. The candidates elected will serve two-year terms starting July 2014. Members will hear more about the candidates as the Annual Meeting draws closer, but we thought we’d take an opportunity to informally get to know this amazing crew.

from left: Benjamin, Holly, Tanya, Tricia, and Charlene

Holly Port of Lotion Bar Café shares that she has no bad shows, just good opportunities to network with other small business owners. That extends beyond shows – she has a long history of donating through nonprofit group Beyond Survival to a Swalizand neighborhood care point (a centralized location where orphans are able to access food, education, medicine, and other support services). Last year, she expanded her caring role by teaching soapmaking via Harvest Home to women in Missouri recovering from abuse and, of course, you may know her from her contributions to the Lovin’ Soap Project publication.  While famous for her bath fizzies, Holly has a seriously soft spot for her lotion bars. When not working, you may find her taking in nature – or just shooting for big winnings in the local bingo hall. “I see huge growth for the HSCG in the future,” Holly says, “and being leaders in the soap and cosmetic industry.”

Benjamin Aaron of Prairie Soap Company, LLC and non-profit Lovin’ Soap Project likes to be a ‘daymaker’ for his wholesale buyers and managers. We suspect he’s busy doing a lot of that lately as he and his Prairie Soap Company team work on expanding their Whole Foods Market reach nationwide. “We took the cuticle world by storm,” Benjamin shares, with Prairie Soap Company’s signature Nourishing Nail Butter, which he credits his business partner (and mom, awwwww) with creating. In addition to running the business, you’ll find him teaching soapmaking both in his Missouri store and in Haiti through the Lovin’ Soap Project. Outside of work, you’ll find Benjamin doing almost anything, as long as it’s outdoors. He envisions the HSCG serving as a catalyst for everyone in the handcrafted cosmetic supply chain. Benjamin shares, “The Guild can serve as the motivation, the inspiration and the fuel for engagement into serious earning power for its members.”

Charlene Simon is the creative genius behind both Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium and Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcake Shoppe, both located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She’s currently in love with the brand new custom blending bar at Bathhouse, which allowing customers their choice of 20 products in over 133 scents. She already has her retirement plan all figured out. “My favorite thing to do in my business is whipping the top of the soaps, watching the coconut oil melt into the warmed olive oil, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE to wrap the soaps. When I’m 80 and can’t pour 150lbs of soap anymore my plan is to be the soap wrapper for Bathhouse, similar to the door greeter at Wal-Mart.” Charlene envisions growing the HSCG as a resource to soap and cosmetic makers, both new and experienced. “The HSCG community has introduced me to better methods of manufacturing, growth through learning and, above all, limitless inspiration. Being able to work with those that share the enthusiasm of soapmaking AND superior supply vendors is invaluable to my business as a soapmaker and also to my passion for the craft.”

 Tricia Samundsen owns Scentability, LLC and Scentability & Friends, a Winsconsin storefront featuring both Scentability products and other artisanal, handmade soaps and cosmetics sourced nationwide. She relays that the time spent with the other candidates at this year’s Central Soapers Workshop convinced her to get involved with the Lovin’ Soap Project. Fully aware that we have five strong contenders for three open board positions, Tricia had a little bit of fun with it. “I bought all five of us mockingjay pins to wear at Conference…Elections Hunger Games style!” As they say, “May the odds be ever in your favor!” Joking aside, Tricia is a true advocate for small businesses and envisions building our small business vendor membership and in turn, helping those small vendors grow through the support of HSCG members. In addition, she has a passion for learning resources and a desire to build the educational resources offered through the Guild.

Tanya Rasley, owner of Baby Duck Soap Co., will soon be spreading her wings with the launch of Canard Labs, a new private label venture supplying artisanal palm-free soap loaves. It’s no surprise here; Tanya really loves making cold process soap. “It’s an addiction,” she says, “and my therapy.” Lately, you’d find her nose in a batch of Mimosa soap, a sunny orange bar with the classic mix of bubbly champagne and freshly-squeeze orange juice. When you can drag Tanya away from the soap lab, you’ll find her spending time with the boys in her life: her three-year-old son (Baby Duck himself) and husband. Tanya’s vision for the HSCG is “to keep growing the membership, spread the word about handcrafted soap and how it’s different from Dial, and to do what I can to support other soap & cosmetic crafters.”

nominees getting silly

Access the 2014 meeting agenda, proposed bylaw amendments, nominee bios, and more from this link.

We can’t wait to see you in Tucson!!

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Member Spotlight: Bubble and Flame Soap and Candle Co.

Bubble and Flame Soap and Candle Company intends to infuse your daily rituals with fantasy, whimsy, and the esoteric. Sarah Frost, the one woman show behind Bubble and Flame Soap and Candle Company relates that her first soapmaking experience was in high school. “Some people paint, some people sing, some people write…I make soap.”

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Aside from focusing on cold process, palm oil free, primarily vegan soap (do try the Honeyed Porridge with locally sourced raw honey and organic milk if you are not looking for a vegan bar), Bubble and Flame has a unique twist on the process. As Sarah explains, “Some of us soapers like the soap making process because it makes us feel like mad scientists, nurturers, and self-sustainers, but for me soap is a way to communicate with the world. I dream, I journal, I research, I feel, and I put these processes together into soap. I prefer to dwell in the curious realms of folklore and imagination and that is where I draw my inspiration and my most beloved products from.”

You can certainly imagine the spell being cast by a soap like Conjure, a deeply-colored soap packed with activated charcoal and a delicious blend of clary sage, cinnamon, frankincense and other essential oils. And if you can get your hands on it, Strange Brew has piqued local interest with its exotic combination of coffee and a deeply aromatic, extravagant blend of essential oils including French cypress, benzoin, and cinnamon.

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Entering her third year of business and second year of Guild membership, Bubble and Flame offers soap, soy wax melts, and lip balms (seasonally). Primarily online and at shows local to the Gilmanton, New Hampshire area, you’ll also find Bubble and Flame products in New Hampshire at New to You and Susana’s Sewing Studio in Concord, Sorella Flower Shop in Contoocook, and The Studio in Laconia.

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Find out when that next batch is in the mold, when soaps are in stock, and random musings on Bubble and Flame’s Twitter feed. Ogle lovely pictures on Bubble and Flame’s Pinterest board and get the behind-the-scenes company details on the Facebook page.

Thanks, Sarah, for sharing Bubble and Flame with us!

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New Member Bonus Starting NOW

Have you heard the news? Join the HSCG in April, May, or June and we’ll pay for your certification!

If our HSCG President ran the world...

If you’ve been thinking about joining the HSCG, we have a first-time ever deal to sweeten the pot. As an organization, we have exceeded 2,400 members and want to keep headquarters busy right up to 2,500 members and beyond. Join us any time now through June 30 and we’ll send you a $50 voucher to use for your Basic Cold Process/Hot Process or Basic Melt and Pour Certification.

Wondering how the heck this deal works? You will receive an electronic voucher automagically upon joining. You can use this voucher for a certification exam at either the 2014 Conference or through a local  proctored. You’ll have 90 days from the date you join to use this special offer. Make sure you contact the office to redeem your voucher. Unfortunately, you can’t redeem this voucher for cash. It is only for brand new members (Current members, we love you and if we  could, we’d shower everyone with certification vouchers) and only for the first certification (but you have to take a basic certification before you can go for the advanced certifications, so no surprise there).

Find out about the different types of membership here on our website. You can also read all about why we’re so darn jazzed about certification right here on the blog.

Join and find out what the buzz is about!

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Member Spotlight: Alabu Skin Care

Ed. Note: When we asked Maryclaire Mayes, founder of Alabu Skin Care, for Alabu’s founding story, her response was so nicely put we decided to publish it in its entirety. Grab a mug of tea, sit back, and enjoy!

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“People always ask me how we got into the adventure of our natural skin care business. I always thought I was born a century too late. I always liked the old fashion way of doing things and sometimes doubted that “progress” was going in the right direction. I longed for the horse and buggy days when life was slower and people lived with the rhythms of the earth. Maybe my way of thinking about living is a bit unconventional…I’m ok with that. Listening to my folks and helping in our family garden, I learned about organic gardening – before it was called that. We helped mom preserve what we grew and enjoyed the profits of our hard work long after the harvest. I tried to learn from my parents’ wise ways. I developed a lifelong interest in keeping life simple, happy and clean.

I grew up, met my husband, and had two wonderful children, still dreaming of the simple self-sufficient lifestyle. As the children grew, we got our son chickens and our daughter two milk goats. She really wanted a horse but my practical side said they don’t give milk or eggs, pretty as they are, they just eat. So our days were filled with taking care of animals, gardening, preserving, maple sugaring, and sewing. We became deeply rooted in our rich but simple life.

On a sunny winter day in 1997, a friend, my goat mentor, recruited my help on a soap-making project. She had nine milking does and was drowning in goat milk. She was selling it, freezing it, making cheese and yogurt, but she had gallons more and was hoping she could use it up to make soap too. Her first attempt was a nasty mess and she said she needed my moral support to try it again. She added that it would be a good chemistry lesson for our homeschooled children. I jumped at the chance to see my friend, try something new and have a science field trip for the kids. As we crowded into her kitchen equipped with goggles and gloves, she explained how lye combines with oils to make soap.

We waited weeks for the soap to cure. At first, I was a little afraid to try it, remembering some harsh handmade soap my great Uncle used to bring us when we were kids. But trusting my friend’s explanation on how handcrafted soaps today have really progressed and why old fashion soaps tended to be harsh (they were making their own lye from wood ashes and could never be sure about the strength of it), I put it in the shower. I was so surprised; I had never realized how drying commercial “soaps” (most are actually detergents) were to my skin. No more coming out of the shower and having your skin feel like it shrank. No more flaking and itching. I was definitely hooked on making my own soaps. I was hooked on this unconventional way to be clean. I made it for my family and started giving it away as gifts. The response was overwhelming. Everybody loved my soap.

I am a natural researcher and I was curious if all handmade soaps were as wonderful as mine or was it something about the goat milk that made my skin feel so soft and nice. I started buying other handmade soaps and found that goat milk was a superior soap to any other soap I had tried.

My husband Dean convinced (nagged) me that we should go into business selling my soap. And that’s how Alabu was born. I soon was researching and trying to learn all I could about making the best soap possible. The more I learned, the more I was sure I never wanted to use commercial “soaps” again. I started to read soap labels. I found that most of the ingredients had nothing to do with cleansing, and could be irritating to your skin and really didn’t fit my philosophy of the simple life and avoiding unnecessary chemicals.

Alabu has always been a family effort. First our daughter Nell helped out milking the goats and then with wrapping and fragrance choices for soaps. Our son Hal was not as excited. You can imagine how thrilled a 10-year-old boy (who loved to dig tunnels and play in the dirt) was that his mom was making soap. But Hal had also inherited his dad’s geeky side. When he wasn’t getting dirty he was sitting on his dad’s lap infatuated with the computer. Remarkable as it seems he started helping his dad with our webpage around 11 years old. He went on to do all our graphic design work too. Time went on and children grow up. Nell went off to college and got married. Hal went to college but continued his involvement via the Internet. When he came home he became an integral part of Alabu’s growth. Over the next 6 years, he spearheaded our expansion with many new ideas, growing our offering of natural skin care products and all things Alabu. His friends even called him Halabu! Then it happened. Hal met the love of his life and planned to get married. He could see his departure coming and we worked out a plan for this new transition. Now Hal is happily married and we couldn’t be happier for him and his bride. Hal hasn’t forgotten us. He still helps us out when he can.

Dean and I are still here and natural has continued to be at the forefront of our business and lifestyle. Our lives have always been filled with unconventional ways of living naturally. We go to extraordinary lengths to use quality; clean ingredients to bring you effective natural skin care products. As someone who cares a lot about being healthy and clean, I can assure you that you’ll love these products. Visit our blog for more stories of our unconventional adventures.”

In business for 14 years (and an HSCG member for 13!), find Alabu Skin Care’s goat milk soap, natural moisturizers, lotions and lip balms online and in stores around the country. For sweet happenings on the farm, funny musings, and the occasional soap-related update, follow Alabu Skin Care on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks, Maryclaire, for your long-time support of the Guild and for sharing your incredible story with us!

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Put Yourself on the Map

You’ve seen this before. Usually when you are searching for a store. Well, what about all the rabid fans of handcrafted soap? How are they supposed to get their fix? Where do they go to find handcrafted soap? Enter the (wait for it) Store Locator (yeah, baby, yeah).

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This handy, dandy locator works just like you’d think a store locator would. A consumer can enter their zip code or address to find handcrafted soap available near them (or far away, for giggles). The results are pin pointed on a map. Each pin highlights which company is providing the soap, where the soap is available, and links right to the company’s online listing.

So, you have an online listing, have submitted pictures for the soap and cosmetic galleries, and know all about special requests. But ask yourself this – are you feeling lucky, punk are you on the map? If you vend anywhere other than online and you’re not on the map, kick yourself now, then take 2 minutes to rectify the situation, like so:

  1. From the Members menu, select Store Locator just under Online Listings.
  2. The first time you log in, you’ll see that you have no locations.
  3. Click Add a location.
  4. Enter your store address. In addition to the address, you can specify hours and start and end dates (perfect for when you have a pop-up shop or a seasonal market or a temporary show).

And that’s it. Pretty spiffy, eh? You can get the lay of the land in this quick 2-minute video (crank up the volume and paste your ear to the computer to hear the audio). Once your store location is in, you can revisit this screen to add more locations, change existing ones, and even delete ones that you may have entered errantly (who, me?).

And, finally, you’ll have one more way to get found. Just another little something-something for our professional members.

How do you make sure your business is found?

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Member Spotlight: Fire and Ice Handmade Soaps

An undying love and respect for handmade soap drove Stephanie Seagle, owner of Fire and Ice Handmade Soaps, into business. Stephanie relates, “I have always loved handmade soap. I started with melt and pour…read up on cold process soap making and just jumped right in.” In business for a year now, Fire and Ice Handmade Soaps joined the Guild six months ago and has made good use of the insurance coverage while perfecting product offerings.

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On the website, you’ll find a product line-up that includes soap, wax tart melts (no flame required!), and solid lotion sticks. Do try Fire and Ice’s beer soap. This unique concoction is made with both Guiness Stout and Leinenkugel Berry Shandy, produces a rich, creamy lather beloved by men and women, and features a scent inspired by both beers (without giving you that rough morning after feeling, thank you very much).

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Shop for Fire and Ice Handmade Soaps online here and here. Receive notifications of new postings in the shop via Fire and Ice’s twitter feed and keep up with the latest and greatest company and product news on the Facebook page.

Thanks, Fire and Ice Handmade Soaps, for letting us get to know you a bit better!

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Classes in Your Neck of the Woods

You checked out that book (or bought it on Amazon) and are feeling just a wee bit intimidated. Your cold process batch turned into a volcano post-molding, unintentionally leading to really, really clean countertops and floors. That melt and pour bar turned your skin blue in the shower or made you look like you were reenacting a scene from Psycho. You forgot about that batch of soap waiting to be unmolded and you are now the proud owner of four pounds of soap curds, to put it politely. You have experienced an ice cream bucket-sized soap on a stick. Don’t let this happen to you. Get a little help from some pros and take your soapmaking skills from zero to hero.

certified soapmaker teacher to the rescue!

When you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to figure out how to get help. If that’s the boat you’re in, we have a few pages on the HSCG website that just might help guide you to shore AND you don’t have to be a member to access them. (Yep, we think our benefits are pretty awesome, but we want every soapmaker to have some good resources.)

Check out the Teachers & Classes section of the website to find both teachers and current class listings. As part of our Certified Soapmaker Program, certified soapmakers can become certified teachers (superhero cape not included). Of course we can’t guarantee your future billionaire-hood after taking these classes, but we think they are a darn good start. While you’re perusing, you have two ways to browse: the Find a local teacher section lets you browse the full listing of teachers by country and state while the Find local classes section lets you browse classes by US state, by country, and by online availability. Each class listing includes a link to more details, including how to book your spot.

Reading in the round

No local teachers? There is a full slate of online classes in English and en Español that will take you from beginning to pro soapmaking, along with a healthy dose of business classes.

Think there’s a class missing? Wish there was an in-person class near you? Glad you asked. Leave us some feedback right here. These special requests go straight to the membership. Once a tidal wave of demand rushes out to our members, you may just see a new certified soapmaker teacher or class pop up near you.

Want to get a heads up on upcoming classes? Sign up for our e-mail list right here. Each month we send out the scoop on classes coming up over the next two months and we’d be happy to keep you posted.

How do you like to learn? Any great soap-tastrophes you’re willing to fess up to?  

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