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.

rustic escentuals

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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