Need Low-Cost Advertising? Read This!

Do you make a great line of products that are professionally packaged? Know that people will fall in love them, if only you could get them in front of more potential customers? How would you like to accomplish just that at very low cost?

You can! The HSCG, offering another benefit to its members, has found beauty bloggers who will review your products and post their thoughts to their readers! The only cost is to you is sending your products for review.

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We have lined up beauty bloggers from all around the US, with one in Canada and one in the UK (and don’t you worry, the Public Relations committee is still out expanding the contact list), who would be thrilled to accept, test and write about three of your products.

Interested? Here is what you have to do:

1. Check out the list of bloggers and choose one whose audience reflects your market (vegan, young women, etc.)

2. Email the blogger to arrange the review regarding the types and numbers of products.

3. Choose full-sized products that are labeled legally and packaged nicely.

4. In your package to your blogger, include: A letter of introduction to explain you and your product. This could include the ingredients you use, which niche you reach, your backstory, and so on. Keep it to one page. You could also send a brochure. Be sure to include contact information, such as your website address, etc., although we do suggest that you not include your personal phone number. This letter should be carefully written, proofread and printed on high-quality paper. This could be a brochure, if you prefer. Keep in mind that these bloggers receive mostly commercial products that are researched and packaged by large corporations, so it’s imperative that yours be well done, also. Include a few business cards. Get good digital photos of your products.

5. Send your products, letter, links to photos and cards to your blogger in the agreed upon time frame.

 

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Note that the HSCG serves merely as a facilitator and educator in this program. The Guild is neither responsible for the blogger’s actions nor your results. Some bloggers do not test products if they are not up to standard, or they may point out what they don’t like. Each blogger has her own policies that you must research before you contact the blogger. All results are between you and your blogger.

Log in and find all the details on the website right here.

Members, go forth and publicize!

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Stretch those Pinning-Tweeting-Selfie-Taking Muscles…it’s Conference Contest Time

Are you joining us at the annual HSCG conference next week? Get ready for a boatload of awesome contests. We’ve already mentioned Soapers’ Showcase and raffle prizes. Today, we want to clue you into the social media contest.

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Guild conference attendees always enthusiastically share their experiences – why not reward you for doing so? There’s nothing better than sharing your insights and getting some real-time feedback from other attendees. Better yet, when you share online, you have a live, searchable log of key insights and funny moments to remember (because there are always shenanigans at conference).

Ready for the rules? They’re simple. Wherever you are sharing information online, tag it #soapconf14. You can post anywhere: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, you name it. As long as we can find your #soapconf14 tag, you’re entered in the contest! The social media committee will collate and judge all entries, announcing 2 winners at the Annual Awards Dinner. The two best posts will score $75 gift certificates to the Guild store (usable for books, conference registration, professionally printed copies of the ‘Why Handcrafted Soap?’ brochure, certification exam fees, and of course, your annual renewal).

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Let’s recap:

When: 10am, Monday May 19th through 5pm Thursday, May 22nd aka from the start of the half-day sessions through the last session prior to the Awards Dinner

How: tag posts and pictures with #soapconf14

Who: every conference attendee is eligible, member or not!

Why: claim social media victory and a $75 prize plus the love or eternal scorn of your fellow soap and cosmetic makers

This year, as we move towards going paperless and more of us have smartphones, tablets, laptops, phablets (and lablets and who knows what other technological contraptions), engaging online should be easier than ever. When you tag your posts with #soapconf14, not only can you find them more easily, every attendee (and everyone who can’t be with us in Tucson) can follow along (or just get really confused when they’re not around to share in the session jokes!).

Remember, you can share pictures and status updates. Check out last year’s winners and some of our favorite updates for inspiration and get your tweeting, Facebooking, picture-taking thumbs ready!

Are you ready for Tucson? We will see some of you in less than a week!!

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So, You’re Heading to Conference

Heading to this year’s 17th Annual HSCG Conference in Tucson, Arizona? Have you started packing yet? We’ve covered the topic before, but we think it bears repeating. After all, if you’re going to the trouble of getting patted down by TSA for carrying on 10 pounds of national security-threatening soap, you shouldn’t have to suffer packing regrets once you get to Tucson. You know all the normal gear to pack, but how about all those little extras? Don’t let these major packing regrets happen to you:

Packing

Forgetting to bring your laptop/ipad/other internet-accessing device with keyboard. How else will you take notes, get online, check in on your business, compete in the social media contest, and access all of this year’s presenter materials? We love paper like the best of ‘em, but you will want to make out with yourself if you remember to bring an electronic device. Truly. Check the attendee booklet for more information on the data we’re providing electronically this year.

Forgetting to bring chargers. Electronics are all well and good…until they die. You, too, will be kicking yourself if you bring the electronics without their requisite chargers. Don’t let this tragedy happen to you!

Forgetting to bring soap. Yes, this is a soap & cosmetic conference. Yes, the hotel will have *ahem* commercial soap (somebody hurry up and infiltrate all hotels, mmmkay?). Not only will you want premium soap to bathe with (unless you prefer to remind yourself why you make soap?), you’ll want extra to donate (can we donate a ton this year??) and possibly to gift other conference attendees (warn them before you start chucking soap – no #soapbombs, okay?).

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Forgetting your meds. Whether it’s surprise PMS, killer headaches, or something that impedes your ability to move about the building and stay up all hours, forgetting the medications that allow you to maintain some semblance of humanity is an express train to a ruined day.

Forgetting extra money. The conference will attempt to stuff you with the meals and snacks that are included in your conference registration, but you will want some cash to pay for extra meals, those meds you forgot, your ride from the airport to the hotel, HSCG store orders, conference orders from vendors, raffle tickets and shipping that enormous thing you won in the raffle home, of course!

Forgetting to bring extra clothing. Yes, we are meeting in a desert. Yes, it will be a million degrees outside. However, you will be indoors most of the time and conference rooms are notorious for setting the thermostat to “stun” or “refrigerator” level cold. Bring yourself a jacket, pants, and closed shoes too and you’ll have the last laugh at hotel attempts to freeze you alive.

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Forgetting networking goodies. Whether or not networking is a dirty word to you, it will happen at conference. You may meet a cosmetic or soapmaker you fall in love with and want to be your best friend forever. There will be tears and gnashing of teeth all around when you forget to bring business cards to exchange with them. Also, get ready to meet lots of soap-lebrities. Pro-tip: If you’re nice, they may just autograph your personal copies of their publications.

Forgetting certification exam supplies. Attempting to calculate lye quantities by hand without a calculator…yep, not a fun time. Even worse, not being able to scrounge up a pencil to do all that long division by hand. You’ve gone to all the trouble of signing up for a certification exam – don’t forget all the paperwork, required samples, and that most basic of supplies: calculator and pen or pencil.

This is certainly not everything you could forget, but it covers the highlights. Also, look to Kenna Cote’s (one of this year’s seminar teachers) excellent recent article on The Soap Bar blog for more ideas on what to pack and we hope to see you, well-prepared and regret-free in Tucson this May!

What have you kicked yourself for forgetting to pack?

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Going Way Back: The Journal

Bummed that you’re missing out on conference (just about 19 days and counting, you guys!!)? Looking for some best known methods? Wish you had some soapmaking tips and tricks up your sleeves? Just looking for a way to kill some extra time (try not to snort when you read that one)?

Have a look at the archived Journals. From 2000 through 2011, the HSCG (then the HSMG) published a journal approximately twice a year. With the rise of social media forums and our member access to email, publishing a journal was no longer the best way to get information out to the membership. Those of us who love to read shed a tear for its passing, but there’s good news – the Journal lives online for members (and not in that creepy zombie way, okay?!).

Archived Journals are your secret pot of gold

The Guild uploaded every single issue, as well as providing a linked list of all articles arranged by author (so you can find all your favorite experts) and by title (great for general browsing). Every link opens up the entire issue, so get ready to dive on in and learn tips and tricks while you also locate the article you’re interested in. Each file is a PDF, ready for reading online, saving to your hard drive, or printing to read offline. To access, navigate to Member Resources –> Journal Back Issues under the Members tab. Once you log in, you’ll have the option to open an archived issue directly, or browse by article title or author.

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Get a sneak peak of many of our 2014 conference speakers by checking out their past work in the Journal. Need some ideas? (Boy, are we glad you asked)

-        Acquaint yourself with Kevin Dunn’s work, from DOS to gel to an exploration of superfatting versus lye discounts, as you gear up for his conference session on the role of Protein in Handcrafted Soap.

-        Prepare for Lori Nova-Endres’ Natural Perfume and Cologne session with her classic article covering 10 essential oils for soap.

-        You’ll find loads of articles from Marie Gale, covering soap history, controversy, and practical advice. This year, she’ll be handing out loads more practical advice in her Getting Started With Your Record-Keeping and GMP conference session.

-        Get a taste of Kerri Mixon’s colorant knowledge in her early articles on natural micas and understanding colorants before attending her Comprehensive Color and Scent for Soap and Cosmetics session (or LACK of color, in Making Transparent Cold/Hot Process Soap).

-        Read Jackie Thompson’s primer on unsaponifiables as preparation for her Neutralizing Liquid Soap and Soap Gels and Jellies sessions.

Do you have fond memories of the Journal? What’s your favorite online reading these days?

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Showcase Your Soaps and Send Them to a Good Home!

When you show off your soaps and compete for victory at the Soapers’ Showcase during HSCG’s Annual Conferences, you’re also being altruistic. The Guild has a tradition of donating soap to a local non-profit women’s center in our conference host town and this year is no different.

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This year, we are collecting soap and toiletries for donation to Sister Jose Women’s Shelter, in Tucson, Arizona. This four year old shelter focuses on serving women in Tucson’s homeless corridor. Named for Franciscan nun Sr. Jose Hobday, a tireless crusader for the marginalized and close friend of Cesar Chavez and Dorothy Day, the Women’s Shelter is growing by leaps and bounds and already looking to expand into a new facility. By the end of 2013, the shelter had provided thousands of meals, clothing, showers, and personal care products to their clients. They are unique in maintaining an organic garden and having both day and seasonal night programs available (as well as a weekly spa day!). This year, we intend to supply enough personal care products to help this year be another record-breaking year in the shelter’s annals.

Attendees hard at work judging Soapers Showcase at conference

If you’re not already signed up, read all about Soapers’ Showcase and the categories in which you can compete here. Sign up now and make sure you deliver your soap entries to the Soapers’ Showcase table by noon on May 20th. The great news is that you don’t have to be competing in the Soapers’ Showcase to donate to the Women’s Shelter. Bring as much extra soap (and other toiletries) as you can carry – we’ll have a donation box near the Soapers’ Showcase area.

Last year, we donated 400 pounds of soap to the Women’s Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. Help us blow that record out of the water this year. Pack a few extra bars in your suitcase (handy side effect: it leaves room for some of the goodies you’ll be acquiring at conference!!) and we’ll see you there!

See you in Tucson next month – it’s almost here!!

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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.”

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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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