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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2014 Conference Recap: Day 0 (Pre-Conference)

Were you at #soapconf14? Wanted to go but didn’t snag a ticket in time? The industry has done a great job of capturing what happened, but if you’ve missed any of their posts, we’ll be recapping each day’s activities right here. Today, we cover Day 0, also known as “technically the day before the conference officially starts”.


Why Day 0, you ask? Well, Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conferences have added a unique twist in the past few years. Each year, we arrange several different intensive, partial-day sessions for conference attendees who want an in-depth look at topics. These intensive seminars are generally capped at 30 attendees, run for 6 hours, and include lunch. These optional sessions carry an additional cost and are a great way to take a class, particularly for conference attendees who don’t normally have access to teachers locally.

This year, our Day 0 kicked off with the 4 seminar sessions: Taking Your Empire to the Next Level: Sales Reps + Trade Shows, Cold Process Soapmaking Intensive Class, Scaling Production & Masterbatching, and Packaging Your Bath & Body Products.


Lucky Break President Lela Barker taught Taking Your Empire to the Next Level: Sales Reps + Trade Shows, a killer business class covering the fundamentals of finding and using sales reps and all of the ins and outs of trade shows, including how to decide if you’re ready for one, what to pack, how to design a compelling booth, and all the other tips that build street cred for your brand. (Additional blog coverage on this session here.)

Soaping101.com owner Catherine McGinnis taught a hands on Cold Process Soapmaking Intensive Class. Aside from making their own batches of soap, attendees learned about the history and chemistry of soapmaking, how to select various ingredients and tools, ingredient safety, design fundamentals, how to store and cure soap, and all the basics in preparation for the basic cold process certification test.

cp101 students

Modern Soapmaking founder Kenna Cote shared all her tips for growth in Scaling Production & Masterbatching. Attendees learned various methods to scale production, the challenges and frustrations possible when doing so, and tips to maintain their sanity and their bank accounts while taking their business to new heights.


The Nova Studio teacher Joan McCoy brought her wildly popular Packaging Your Bath & Body Products class to the conference, sharing packaging considerations and tips for massage oils, herbs, tub teas, body scrubs, bath bombs, bath salts, lotions, creams, body butters, MP/CP/HP soaps, and perfumes of all stripes. Attendees not only learned market trends in how to wrap it all up, store it, and ship it, but left with loads of reference materials to help pick the right containers, closures, and suppliers.

In between seminars, our teachers and other experts whipped up batches of bath bombs, soap, and more to film the first educational films that will stock our upcoming learning library.


Later in the day, we opened general registration and held a first round of certification exams. After the last certification exams were handed in, all 5 HSCG Board of Director candidates introduced themselves and their passions and mingled with the crowd at an informal opening reception held just outside the check-in area.

Conference staff and current Board of Directors were also on-hand to welcome conference attendees and chat all things soap, cosmetic, business, and HSCG-related. We gnoshed on appetizers (you could call them appetizers, but I called them dinner), dessert, and drinks, while relaxing under the high desert evening sky and recuperating from long car rides and cramped airplane seats. This opening reception is quickly becoming a Guild favorite event and we look forward to continuing the tradition for future conferences!

Stay tuned for summaries of the remainder of conference (and don’t forget, registration for the 2015 Conference in Indianapolis is open now).

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Long Time Coming

Another year, another batch of members to celebrate. You know we like our awards and in this organization, we recognize members with longevity awards. Longevity awards are a bit like winning Survivor, only without the nasty infighting, bug eating, and general lack of hygiene. We award them to any member who’s been with us for five years or more. You’ll notice many members who attain longevity awards also join us at Annual Conferences as speakers or work with us throughout the year as staff, volunteers and board members. It’s a testament to a member’s success to have them with us for so long and we, in turn, feel lucky to have such a dedicated member base.

okay, so maybe not that kind of longevity
Here are the Longevity Awards we celebrated at this year’s Annual Conference:

5 years
Stephanie Docktor
Ruth Esteves
Jennifer Grimes
Jessie Hoffmeier
Jedwards International
Teri Kalgren
Julie Koenig
Patricia Monk
Veracity Insurance Solutions
Pamela Zeirott

6 years
Angelene Bonner
Laurie Clark
Deanna Crowe
Barbara Downey
Pamela Ernst
Feleciai Favroth
Cindy Heinemann
Kimberly McCarty
Donna Pixton-Hacker
Lynn Rodenroth

7 years
Gaily Baughman
Marcia Cunningham
David Fischer
Nina Gerhold
Barb DeLosSantos

8 years
Lori Nova Endres
Donna Johanson
Art Marko
Sheryl Matranga

9 years
Sharon Czekala
Kevin Dunn

10 years
Leigh O’Donnell

11 years
Cindy Christ
Mary Fountaine
Wanda Gillen
Bernadette Mayo
Kerri Mixon
JoAnne Somers

12 years
Margaret Neff
Shay and Company
Jackie Thompson
Sister Cathleen Timberlake

14 years
Val Marhefka

15 years
Marie Gale
Lebermuth Company

And the list grows longer every year…we can’t wait until it gets unmanageably long. Hats off to our longevity award winners (psst, if you’re wondering what the fuss is about, check us out right here).

Members are the reason the Guild exists, so cheers to you!

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Round ‘em up, Social Media Pardners!

Did you attend this year’s HSCG conference in Tucson? You may have caught some of the media coverage (including a live spot on KOLD and coverage in the Arizona Daily Star), but, as usual, attendees were hard at work sharing live updates from conference.

There’s no substitute for being at a conference, but get a feel for some of the content and see the experience through attendee (and volunteer) eyes, with posts from the folks behind Tiki Bar Soap, Baby Duck Soap Company, Nature’s Garden (post 2), The Nova Studio, Avital’s Apiaries (post 2), Adventures in La-La Land (post 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), Burly Stone Soap Company, Horsing Around Soap, SoapArt (post 2), Stephenson, and Empire Rose Soap Company.

Status updates were numerous, and punny. Highlighted here are just a few of the social media postings that came pouring in before, during, and after the conference:

Our best post winner, Denisse Canez, chimed in with:

And best picture winner Kristen Prinzing of Lotion Lady had this to say:

Getting so many new ideas here at the The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference! Can’t wait to get home and start working on new products. Bath Bombs, liquid soap, natural perfumes, on and on. #soapconf14

bestpost photo 2014 - lotion lady

In addition to the #soapconf14 hash tag, something new we added to the mix this year was a tagboard to track posts across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Peruse the tagboard here and keep clicking load more to live vicariously through attendees’ postings!

Pssst, if you’re planning on joining us for #soapconf15 in Indianapolis next April, the lowest registration rates expire at the end of the month (in, oh, say 5 days or so).

What was your favorite post? What did we miss and how do you plan to follow the action next year?


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Getting Busy…Certified

It’s true. Members were getting busy at this year’s annual conference in Tucson, Arizona….obtaining certifications, of course (what were you thinking, eh hem??). This year, 53 soapers achieved 58 soapmaking certifications ranging from Basic Melt & Pour to Advanced Cold Process/Hot Process.


Without further ado, our latest and greatest certified soapmakers are:

Basic Cold Process/Hot Process Soapmakers 
Alicia Villacorta Jessica Eveleigh
Amy Bryce Jodi Chen
April Cardona John S. Ykinionty
Audra Weisenberger Joyce Smith
Brenda Kasztelan Karen Harvey
Christina Wheeler Kiyoko Puyaoan
Cynthia Carrasco Kirsten Nagashima
Debbie Deupree Kristina Nanninga
Deborah Bruijn Leanne Laboy
Denise Jackson-Gunter Marilyn Plummer
Ester Bautro Omitade Adediran
Francis Cullen Patricia Monk
Gates Councilor Philip Olive
Heather Folks-Lambart Priscilla Dufilho
Heidi Warren Raymond Martin
Heidi Jaynes Regina Bauscher
Holly Mackley Sam Swerdlen
Jane Leebeck Sherry Matranga
Janet Tietz Sue Robertson
Janet Vallego Susanne Gamble
Jeanette Marquis Theresa Novoa
Jennifer Chaloux Vivian Salas
Jennifer Katehos Yvonne Bernard
Basic Melt & Pour Soapmakers  Advanced Cold Process/Hot Process Soapmakers
Maria Rios Heidi Jaynes
Holley Mackley Ester Bautro
Janet Vallego Karen Harvey
Heidi Warren Jennifer Hofmann
Starla Ledbetter
Tricia Samundsen
Deborah Bruijn
Reginia Bauscher

Of course, members aren’t restricted to taking certification exams at an annual conference (log in for information on proctored exams), but it’s a darn convenient place to take them, as long as you didn’t karaoke too much the night prior to the exam or overwhelm your brain from the first full day of conference activities (always a danger). The two testing slots offered this year kept our Certification Chair Barb De Los Santos and her judging committee busily grading exams and soaps.

Members, we’ll let you know once your certification information is available online. Also look forward to your pictures soon, for those of you who took them.

We will offer certification testing slots again next year in Indianapolis at the 2015 Annual Conference (pssst, don’t forget, you have until the end of the month – a scant 12 or so days – to score the lowest registration rates), so if you were pondering it at this past conference, sign up now!

Congratulations again to all of our newly certified soapmakers. You guys rock!

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Soapers’ Showcase Winners

Drumroll, please….it’s time to announce the 2014 Annual Conference Soapers’ Showcase Winners.

soaper showcase table

If you were with us in Tucson at this year’s conference, you had a chance to ogle all the entries in person, along with boxes and boxes of soaps and personal care products donated by many, many generous conference attendees for donation to local non-profit Sister Jose Women’s Shelter.

Categories for competition this year included Best Scent in both melt and pour and cold/hot process soaps, Best Appearance in both melt and pour and  cold/hot process soaps, Best Packaging, the always intriguing free-for-all category of “Something Different”, and Best In Show.


Beyond the usual fierce competition for each of the seven categories, soapers continue to defy categorization, creating their own transparent bases, mixing cold process with melt and pour, and mixing cold, hot and rebatch techniques to spectacular ends. Needless to say, our judges (aka attendees) had a tough job ahead of them.

The winners, as determined by attendee vote and announced at the 2014 Annual Awards Dinner were:

JoAnne Somers from Dirty Face Soap Company for Best Scent in Melt and Pour


Dawn Cabral-Quimby from Horsin’ Around Soap for Best Scent in Cold/Hot Process


Shonna Mangeris from The Soap Shop for Best Appearance in Melt and Pour


Emily Shieh from Shieh Design Studio for Best Appearance in Cold/Hot Process


Janey Davies from Scrubology Soap for Best Packaging


Chris Port from Lotion Bar Cafe for Something Different


Jennifer Chaloux from Three Crows Soap and Bodyworks for Best In Show


Congratulations to JoAnne, Dawn, Shonna, Emily, Janey, Chris, and Jennifer for sharing your spectacular winning specimens with us! Thank you to everybody who entered for making this, as usual, an impossible decision and thank you to entrants and attendees for donating loads and loads and loads of soap for Sr. Jose’s. We can’t wait to see what you cook up for #soapconf15 in Indianapolis!

Did you have a favorite soap this year? New categories you wish we’d create? Feel free to sound off here!


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Show Us Your Heroes

Soapmakers, Cosmetic makers, and Guild members, let’s gather around the fire or air conditioners, as the weather may currently dictate, and have a mushy moment. It may not be that traditionally “thankful” time of year, but we are feeling pretty darn grateful right now. Why? Because you guys rock. Week after week, month after month, stories roll in from near and far of the quiet generosity of soapmakers to other soapmakers, within their communities, and far beyond. Here at Guild headquarters, we don’t hear about all of the unsung heroes, but we can darn well start trying. And that, my friends, is where you come in.

Magnifying Glass - Brooklyn Flea

We are excited to announce the Member of the Year program, aka “Show Us Your Heroes”. Anybody can nominate an HSCG member to be Member of the Year. Why might you nominate someone? Besides just being generally awesome, a Member of the Year candidate may have:

-        advanced human rights through their soapmaking expertise
–        found a new way to make their operations and other makers’ operations eco-friendly
–        tackled a local social issue
–        or maybe even led the charge to advance cosmetic making methods in their local communities

Our precious Earth.

So just how will you show us your heroes? So glad you asked. Nomination forms are going live on the website soon. You’ll have until the end of the year to nominate a member for Member of the Year. Once nominations close, a special selection committee will have the thankless task of narrowing down the nominations and presenting a final slate of candidates to members. Here’s where it gets awesome. We will share each nominee’s story to HSCG members, and you get to decide on the winner, who will be announced at the annual HSCG conference. All of the candidates who make it to the final slate will win a free registration for the 2015 conference (because, hey, you gotta be there to find out if you’re the big winner!) and the final winner wins a trip to the 2016 conference.

We are beyond excited to find out what good soapmakers are up to in your hood and to share more of those stories. Get your nominations ready!!

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Roll That Tape!

Were you lucky enough to join us last week in Tucson, Arizona for the 17th annual HSCG conference? Yes, there was an awful lot of demonstration last week (this desert spa-inspired six layer exfoliant soap by Charlene Simon  was an excellent case in point), but that’s not the only thing we were up to.

char exfoliant vid set up

Oh yes, there was the perfect bath fizzy (those are Holly Port’s hands and her amazing technique),

HSCG_2014-1 fizzy perfection

there were fearless batch-splitting into impressionist-worthy multiple colors (as calmly and very cleanly demonstrated by Erica Pence),

HSCG_2014-4 multicolor pour

and there was even some mica on mica swirling action (as demonstrated here by a safely gloved Tanya Rasley).

HSCG_2014-10 tanya mica swirl

But despite all these lovely demos happening, you may not have seen all of these things if you attended HSCG’s Annual Conference last week.

Wondering why? Here’s a hint, courtesy of Marla Bosworth and a jammin’ Lisa Frank-esque tidal wave soap:

marla and finished soap

Not helping much? How about this?

erica and soap

Getting warmer??

mcginnis behind the scenes (2)

Wonder what we were up to last week? That’s right, we were shooting video (witness rare behind-the-scenes shot above of producer Adam Grogin of Monster Productions). Holly Port of Lotion Bar Cafe, Catherine McGinnis of Soaping101, Erica Pence of Bath Alchemy Lab and The Bonnie Bath Co., Tanya Rasley of Baby Duck Soap Co. and Canard Labs, Charlene Simon of Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium, and Marla Bosworth of Back Porch Soap Co. all donated their time and mad cosmetic-making skills to film tutorial videos that will eventually land in HSCG’s Learning Library. The Learning Library will be a vetted source of tips, tricks, techniques and creative inspiration for members…and it will be free.

Thanks to these amazing ladies and a killer production and behind-the-scenes crew (can’t forget the dish washers!), we’ll have tutorials on how to layer your soaps, use exfoliants, combine swirling techniques, make amazing bath fizzies, utilize spoons and condiment bottles in your swirling technique, and more. We are still collecting and producing content for the Learning Library, so stay tuned. We will keep you posted on Learning Library progress – we just couldn’t resist sharing these early behind-the-scenes shots! (And while you are oh-so-patiently waiting, allow us to distract you with kittens a time-lapse video of the hard-working conference crew setting up for registration last week.)

What would you love to see in your own personal soap and cosmetic reference library?

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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.


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.



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.


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).


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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