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!

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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!

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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?

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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!).


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!

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?

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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.


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.


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.


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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