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.

PR

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?

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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!   

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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!).

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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?

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Quick Tips: How to Make it Big

The handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry is one talented bunch and the collective wisdom from the scores of intrepid entrepreneurs and budding business owners is truly astounding. However, it’s easy to miss out on that business savvy when you’re just getting started and aren’t part of any industry groups, pages, or forums. And that’s where the Guild comes in. We wouldn’t be fulfilling our mission if we didn’t try to connect you, our readers (members or not!) with some of the savvy we witness in the industry. Today, we bring you a simple sliver of advice on the (often completely frightening and icky-feeling) topic of selling, generously shared by HSCG Board of Directors member Benjamin Aaron, co-founder of non-profit Lovin’ Soap Project and co-owner of Prairie Soap Company, LLC, in Lees Summit, Missouri.

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When you get the chance to get in front of a customer (or even via email / phone), you HAVE to make a proposal. Whether it is wholesale, retail or farmer’s markets…You have to make a proposal. You have to ask for a sale. For whatever reason, society tells us to play it a bit safe rather than to go all in with every customer, every opportunity. And even further, us makers will give the excuse that since we are the creative type we aren’t good at selling or whatever…hogwash.
Be willing to go for it with every customer, every time. All in. Put food on your table by actively engaging with your customers. I can’t tell you how many times I get nos, but I will reload my chips and play again.

Buying Hats

The more you commit, the higher your level of your own delivery and abilities naturally becomes…I really believe that. If other folks are making it successfully in our industry, so can you. But if someone else wants it more than you, than you will resolve yourself to working really hard for very little return.

Hope everyone is doing well and that business is good. Keep expanding your efforts and you will see the benefits. It’s super simple, but you gotta ask. Take MASSIVE action towards what you want and you’ll get it cuz what you want wants you back…real bad.

Your turn – have you put yourself on the line by asking for the sale? Got any tips to make it easier?

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For Your Viewing Pleasure

What happened in Tucson this May is now on film. If you’re wondering what the heck these Guild conferences are all about and why you would consider going to one, check out the video created by Monster Productions videographer extraordinaire, Adam Grogin. This video spotlights this year’s 17th annual Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference, held at the Loews Ventana Canyon resort in Tucson, Arizona. Once you see it, we think you’ll want to skedaddle on over to the registration page and secure your spot at the 2015 conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, being held April 18-20 at the Westin Downtown Hotel (and if you’ve booked that, it’s never too early to secure your spot at the hotel). If you need a bit more convincing, check out conference videos from years past right here.

Are you in the video? Give us a shout out, you superstars!

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2014 Conference Recap: Day 3

Miss out on this year’s Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference? Aside from sharing social media coverage and announcing winners, more winners, news, news, and more news, we’ve given you an ever so brief glimpse of what happened before the conference and over the first two days. Today, we’re wrapping up conference coverage with a peek at the final day of festivities in Tucson.

silly david

One last time, we gathered outside, poolside, to nosh on breakfast goodies while checking out the local birds scoping out their morning gruel. Voting over, Soapers’ Showcase packed up and prepared a massive soap and toiletry donation for local shelter Sr. Jose Women’s Shelter, in Tucson, which provides services to homeless women, including showers, laundry facilities, meals, clothing and personal toiletries. What a thrill to see box upon box of gorgeous soaps, shampoos, and lotions waiting to be packed up and sent off to a much-needed purpose. Of course, knowing soapmakers, we had to get one last sniff in before the boxes were taped up.

jjamie bentley

Stephenson Personal Care CEO Jamie Bentley shook the sleep out of our eyes with a knockout presentation on Why Being a Social Soapmaker is Important, sharing Stephenson’s journey to being a social soap supplier, lessons they’ve learned along the way, rules of engagement online, and just how having a social strategy can support your long term strategies.

After a quick break to snag hot coffee and tea, chat up vendors, and check winning raffle prize numbers, attendees chose between two sessions. Trademark attorney Dave Purdue presented Trademarks and Branding: Make your Mark, in which he covered the all-important trademark. Dave showed why establishing a trademark is crucial to building a brand, just how to do it, and presented case studies of branding campaigns.

Meanwhile, Shea Radiance CEO Funlayo Alabi taught attendees all about Making Sustainability a Key Part of Your Brand Story. Funlayo shared how Shea Radiance fostered long-term customer loyalty through sharing their ingredient stories and why educating your customer on the story behind the story is important to ensuring your company’s success.

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After a jam-packed morning, attendees had a break for lunch before heading into the final breakout sessions of the day, repeating a series of three classes twice for attendees.

Soapmaking maven Kerri Mixon, owner of Pallas Athene, A+ Soapmaking Studio, and more, was back to teach Comprehensive Color and Scent for Soap and Cosmetics, an exhaustive look at what colors and scents are and how to use them, including neat tips to disperse colors in water and how to construct a stovetop still for distilling hydrosols and essential oils.

char exfoliants

Bathhouse Soapery owner and exfoliation buff Charlene Simon was also back, this time showing off Exfoliants in Soap. Aside from demonstrating a multi-layer, multi-exfoliant soap, Charlene shared considerations when using exfoliants, tips and tricks to get the right scrub – and the right look. Attendees had a chance to assemble their own soap exfoliant variety pack, with soap samples that included exfoliants ranging from adzuki bean powder to quinoa.

Bath Alchemy Lab CEO Erica Pence had attendees dreaming up everything from mountain streams to galaxies in her session, Create Amazing Scenery in your Soaps. Designed for both cold process and melt and pour, Erica addressed not only how to translate designs into soap, and step by step instructions for a number of scenery soaps, but how to make them efficiently and profitably.

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In between sessions, we had one last chance to redeem raffle tickets, stock up on HSCG merchandise, and visit vendors. After the last session, we took a quick break before reconvening out on the Kiva Ballroom Patio for cocktails, mocktails, and one last round of networking before being whisked off the Annual Awards Dinner. Over dinner, longevity awards were given, certified soapmakers announced, Soapers’ Showcase and social media winners revealed, President’s volunteer of the year declared, and other prizes given. Conference videographer and photographer Adam Grogin had us all in stitches throughout dinner, courtesy of his candid shots, videos, and outtakes from the Learning Library filming sessions. Throughout dinner, attendees guessed at the location of the 2016 Annual Conference – revealed to be taking place in Tampa, Florida at the Saddlebrook Resort.

This year’s conference may be over, but we can’t wait to see you at the 2015 conference in Indianapolis (and don’t wait to register, we will sell out!)

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2014 Conference Recap: Day 2

This week continues our summary of what happened during the 17th annual Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference, held this year at the Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona. Catch recaps of day 0 here and day 1 here. Today, we cover Day 2 of the conference.

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A full day of conference demands a hearty breakfast, so that’s exactly where we started Wednesday morning, with another buffet out on the pool terrace. During breakfast, intrepid soapers had another chance to take certification exams (and over 50 of them did!) and newly certified soapmakers had a chance to have their picture taken. Meanwhile, furious rounds of sniffing and serious evaluating was taking place at the Soapers’ Showcase, sponsored by long time supporter Shay & Company.

soapers’-showcase-coordinator-rose-with-bill-shay-of-Shay-and-Company

Soap whisperer, Scientific Soapmaking author and Elliot Professor of Chemistry Kevin Dunn kicked off the morning with a riveting presentation of his investigation into Protein in Handcrafted Soap, enlightening all of us as to the reactions of goat milk and silks with lye during the manufacture of soap. Finally, inquiring minds have a goat milk saponification value!

After a break with hot coffee and tea, attendees chose between two Nova Studio teacher sessions. For those not lucky enough to make the half-day seminar, Joan McCoy presented a jam-packed, concentrated version of Packaging Your Bath and Body Products, leaving everyone armed to make one of the most important choices in their businesses. The Nova Studio founder and co-owner Lori Nova taught Making Natural Perfume & Cologne 101, elucidating the fundamentals of essential oil blending as well both oil and alcohol-based perfume/colognes.

annual mtg2

Lunch time provided an opportunity for the Guild to hold an Annual Meeting for all members in attendance (and open to all members able to make it, regardless of attendance at the rest of the conference). The annual meeting was action-packed, covering elections for expiring Board of Director terms and voting on bylaw amendments. President Feleciai Favroth reviewed the launch of the beauty box program, teacher enews, Member of the Year, our new eCommerce solution partnership, as well as plans for the learning library and the Guild website. Executive Director Leigh O’Donnell covered changes in the organization, including our growth, the transition from a volunteer to employee work force, insurance price decreases, and an update on the current US legislative landscape. We capped off lunch with a presentation from Amanda Griffin and Benjamin Aaron on the Lovin’ Soap Project.

We followed that whirlwind lunch with an assortment of popcorn and other snacks along with a quick chance to visit vendors prior to launching into our final breakout sessions of the day, repeating a series of three classes twice for attendees.

kerri session

Multi-company founder and 16th generation soapmaker Kerri Mixon taught attendees how to make any soap naturally transparent using simple materials in Making Transparent Cold/Hot Process Soap as well as some of the all-important benefits of doing so.

In Testing Natural Colors in Your Cold Process Soap, Nova Studio teacher and co-owner Ruth Esteves shared her techniques for testing all types of natural colorants. Attendees walked away learning how to get the color from jar to bar successfully.

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Liquid Soapmaking author Jackie Thompson continues to blaze new soapmaking trails, showing attendees both how to make thick soap gels and jellies without thickeners and taking the fear out of accurately neutralizing liquid soap in her Advanced Liquid Soapmaking sessions.

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Finally, there was time for a quick dinner break before a pool party networking session generously sponsored by Essential Depot. We gnoshed on hearty appetizers and desserts while relaxing under the stars and catching up with new friends, before heading off to get a little rest before the final day of festivities!

We’ve nearly covered our conference adventures – stay tuned for a recap of #soapconf14 day 3 (and if you missed out this year, 2015 registration is open now)

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2014 Conference Recap: Day 1

Today, we continue our summary of the 2014 Annual Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Conference, held May 20-22 at the Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona. Tuesday marked the official start of the 2014 Annual Conference in Tucson, Arizona. We welcomed last minute and late night travelers at an early morning registration and served breakfast for everybody out on the terrace near the pool.

leigh orientation

After a welcome and orientation by Executive Director Leigh O’Donnell and President Feleciai Favorth, Prof. Dr. Vijai K.S. Shukla took the stage and delivered a spirited opening keynote on Nature’s Gift to Soap and Cosmetics. He covered an immense breadth of material, from naturally occurring oils found around the globe to oils with amazing potential that are currently unutilized to beneficial oils to eat to why the heck butters go grainy and how to keep free fatty acids and phenols down in fats.

Heads spinning, we headed into our first break. Coffee and tea recharged our brains and attendees cut loose to check out vendors, enter soaps into the Soapers’ Showcase, and enter the raffle.

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We reconvened in the ballroom, where Lucky Break President Lela Barker taught Decoding the Mystery: A Practical Guide to Product Pricing and shared all her tips and tricks to calculating true costs, which attendees blogged about here. Who knew pricing could be so much fun to learn about?

Doing all that math worked up an appetite, which we sated with a networking lunch. Attendees had a chance to meet up with other soap and cosmetic makers living in their region – and sometimes just down the street.

The Guild presented a little surprise and a coupon book post lunch and then it was back to class sessions. Author and long-time Guild supporter Marie Gale and Bathhouse Soapery maven Charlene Simon offered attendees a choice of sessions, with Marie teaching her ever-popular primer on Getting Started With Your Record-Keeping and GMP and Charlene offering up her business wisdom and how to emotionally connect with customers in From Gel Phase to Sell Phase.

charlene speaker Collage-small

Another break, with snacks, ensued, along with another chance to mingle with vendors, staff, and each other. The afternoon kicked off breakout sessions – 3 different speakers gave classes twice, giving attendees a chance to pick two topics (and possibly mourn not being able to hear the third).

Lotion Bar Café owner Holly Port presented Mastering the Bath Bomb, in which she wowed the crowd with live demonstrations of her recipe for perfect bath fizzies. Aside from sharing her technique and recipes, she also explained ingredient variations, sourcing, and how to scale up production efficiently with or without machinery.

christy rose session

In teaching Nailing New Trends: An Intro to Handmade Nail Polish, KBShimmer Bath and Body owner Christina Rose brought our first ever nail polish session to the Guild, elucidating all of us on the history, potential, key terms, and formulation challenges of nail polish. Attendees blogged about this session here.

Back Porch Soap Company CEO Marla Bosworth gave oodles of tips for formulating sugar, salt, and emulsified scrubs as well as the perfect body butter in Formulating Fantastic Body Scrubs & Whipped Butters, as blogged here.

After a whirlwind first day of sessions wrapped up, attendees had just enough time to grab a quick dinner before heading to a karaoke party generously sponsored by Veracity Insurance Solutions. A cash bar provided lubrication and copious amounts of sugar from the desserts (there was fruit, but we’re not sure any of it escaped a dip in molten chocolate) fueled feats of daring on the microphone. In addition to awarding the best singers of the night with cash awards for most outlandish, best duo, best solo, most creative and more, Veracity raffled off a year’s worth of insurance!!

Stay tuned for recaps of #soapconf14 days 2 and 3 (and if you missed out this year, 2015 registration is open now)

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