The HSMG has submitted a petition that needs your voice.
In mid-2012, the HSMG submitted a citizen’s petition to the US FDA requesting a change in the law to make a PO box acceptable on cosmetic product labels in lieu of a street address. The FDA confirmed receipt in August and has been collecting public comments on the petition prior to issuing a response, expected in the first quarter of 2013.
Current FDA regulations state that the business name and address must be on the product label. The business street address is required unless the business is listed in a printed city directory or telephone directory, in which case only the city, state and zip code are required on the product label.
Why You Care
The issue of being required to put your street address on your product labels has been brought to our attention many times over the past year. The general consensus is that this requirement poses an inconvenience and a safety risk to those with home-based businesses. Due to safety concerns and changes in the ways consumers search for business info, we believe allowing a PO box on cosmetic labels to be good common sense while mitigating some of the security risks that soapmakers undertake today in publishing their street addresses on product labels.
Share Your Voice
Here’s where we need your help. The FDA is still collecting comments on this petition, so your thoughts and real-life examples will help determine the future of our PO box request. Go to the petition here and click “Comment Now!” to submit your comment.
Find out more:
>>For an in-depth explanation, see Anne-Marie’s post on the Soap Queen blog.
Sharpen your pencils and tell us why you deserve a full ride to the 2013 HSMG Conference. If you’ve been as eagerly counting down the days to next year’s conference as we have, but can’t afford it, we have some very good news.
Veracity Insurance Solutions is generously offering two full scholarships to the 2013 Conference, covering:
- Conference registration
- 4 night stay at Hilton North Raleigh
- $500 for travel and other expenses
These scholarships are available to any HSMG member who has contributed to the soapmaking community and has a financial need. To be considered, log in to your HSMG account and download the scholarship application form.
Apply before January 31 for your chance to win a full ride to the 2013 Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild Conference.
Thank you to everyone who’s shared their donations via twitter and the facebook page. We want to take it a step further and celebrate your good deeds publicly. Give locally and let us know. We’ll publicize your chosen charity to consumers searching for soapmakers. Even better, challenge a fellow soapmaking friend to a donor duel and score a few golden soap bubbles (good for merchandise in the HSMG store). Log in and go to the Holiday of Hope page to get all the details.
We’re deep in the winter craft fair season, which begs the question: have you ever paid a fee for a craft fair or boutique show only to find out as the show drags on that it was not a good fit for your soap business? Even worse, you’ve wasted a lot of time and energy in the process of finding, applying, and preparing for the show. Don’t let this be you! Your time, energy and cash are all in limited supply.
One benefit of being a member of the HSMG is the great discount available from Craftmaster News (serving states from North Dakota to Texas and westward) and the Art & Craft Show Yellow Pages (serving the eastern half of the US from Minnesota to Louisiana and eastward)! When you sign up (at a discount) you can locate events in your area – and read up on all the details so you can make the best decisions on which events to attend.
All kinds of events are listed including craft shows, street fairs, festivals, county and state fairs, holiday gift fairs and farmers’ markets. There is even a referral program which can add three months of free online access to your existing Craftmaster News account.
See more details, including the discount code, here.
Our Black Friday promotion was so much fun we’re bringing it back for the WHOLE month of December. YAY! From December 1st to the 31st, get 25% off your purchase in the HSMG store.
What is included in this deal?
Books: From aromatherapy to basket weaving, we have a little bit of everything in the book section. Find books on beekeeping, gardening, raising dairy goats, home organization, how to sell at craft shows, good manufacturing practices, perfumes, essential oils, candles, herbs, and soapmaking (from melt and pour to milk soaps and everything in between), of course! Shop by category here.
Calendars: Plan ahead and know where you’re going next with these 2013 calendars, featuring the spectacular work of our members.
Car magnet: Your car = free advertising. Remind the public to “raise the bar…use handcrafted soap”
Aprons: Keep yourself tidy in the workshop and keep your change handy at a show, all while promoting handcrafted soap. These aprons come in a variety of colors embroidered with either “Raise the bar” or the HSMG logo.
Embroidered tees: Make a statement while doing….whatever! These tees come in pink, blue, and green and have a soap logo with a reminder to “raise the bar…use handcrafted soap” embroidered on the chest.
Youth Tees: Indoctrinate (oops, I mean introduce) the next generation to soapmaking with these “future soapmaker” tees
All books and merchandise are first come, first serve, so come check out the goods and treat yourself this holiday season!
Are you joining us in Raleigh next May for the 2013 HSMG Annual Conference? Extend your stay and amp up your conference experience with a half-day seminar. This year, select from one of three in-depth seminars from three industry experts. The seminar sessions will run from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on May 16, the day before the conference officially kicks off and includes lunch (and tea and coffee to get you going in the morning!).
Choose from one of these topics:
Wholesaling and How to Determine Your Pricing: Whether you’re just venturing into wholesale or looking to expand your existing wholesale operation, Marla Bosworth will teach you how to make your products stand out to retailers, build retailer relationships and develop a wholesale strategy that works.
Good Manufacturing Practices: How to Get Your GMP in Place: If you missed the GMP session last year or just plain need help, never fear. Marie Gale will cover current GMP rules and regulations, why they are critically important to small business, how to adapt them to your business, and help you develop an implementation plan.
Liquid Soap Making Solutions: An Intensive, Hands-On Liquid Soapmaking Workshop: Bring your stick blender as Jackie Thompson shows you approaches to liquid soap making that range from the tried and true to novel and new. Be the first to learn from the author of a new book on liquid soapmaking, to be released at the 2013 conference!
Tempted? Each seminar is $79 and includes lunch. Don’t miss this chance to learn from industry-leading experts at a greatly discounted rate. Find all the details here and add on a special seminar to your conference registration here.
Don’t forget: Sign up in the next 3 days for the best conference registration rates and to take advantage of the installment plan.
169 days until the 2013 pre-conference seminars…we’ll see you in Raleigh!
For one day only (okay, 27 hours, to be precise), we’re running a few specials across the HSMG website. You don’t have to get dressed to take advantage of these deals. Heck, you don’t even have to leave the bed if you have a laptop within reach.
Have you signed up for the 2013 conference in Raleigh yet? Sign up on Black Friday and receive a mystery gift along with our early-early bird pricing. Attendees who come to the HSMG Conference say that it is “worth every penny”. If you’re still saving up your pennies, you also still have time to sign up for the installment plan.
How’s your soapmaking library coming along? Need a new apron or perhaps 2013 calendars to give to your customers? Go shopping in the HSMG store on Black Friday and receive 25% off everything in the store AND a mystery gift.
Shop from the comfort of your home, save on some soapy stocking suffers, and score a few goodies for yourself while saving a few dollars.
From organic to gluten-free and everything in between, Gay Timmons of Oh Oh Organic will help you make the right certification choice inOrganic Certification: To What Standard and Why?
Explore what it really takes to open up a brick and mortar location with Elissa and Jerell Klaver of Salus in Retail Realities: What it Really Takes to Open a Store.
Bryan Baer of Kalka & Baer will show you how to distinguish and protect your brand in Trademark Strategies for Small Businesses.
Learn everything from the tried and true to new and novel approaches to liquid soap in author and lifetime honorary HSMG member Jackie Thompson’s special half-day seminar Liquid Soap Making Solutions: An Intensive, Hands-On Liquid Soapmaking Workshop, a pre-cursor to her book release!
Marie Gale, author and HSMG webmaster, will show you how to be easy to find in Search Engine Optimization:Tips and Tricks to Get Your Website Found. Marie will also be leading a special half-day seminar the day before the conference officially starts on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP): How to Get Your GMP in Place.
Discover how commercial melt and pour soap is really made, and other secrets, in Debbie May of Wholesale Supplies Plus’ session Debunking the Mystery of MP Soap. Debbie will also be teaching you how to formulate safely, smartly and with GMP inCreams, Lotions, and Emulsions.
Find out all of the conference detail, including the latest conference schedule, hotel information, and even how to enter your soaps into our soapers showcase competition, from our 2013 conference home page.
Our 16th annual HSMG conference will be held May 17-19, 2013, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Attendees are in for 3 jam-packed days of networking, classes, parties, face time with suppliers and all the soap shop talk you can dish out. If that’s not enough, arrive early for your choice of 1 of 3 half-day seminars with industry experts.
Why are we mentioning this half a year in advance? Two reasons:
We offer a special early-early bird registration rate (that’s right, it’s so early it needs to be repeated) and you have until the end of November to take advantage of it.
We know the conference is a big investment. One option we offer to help break the conference payment into more manageable chunks is an installment plan. The installment plan is only available until the end of November.
Sign up today to take advantage of both the early-early bird rate and the installment plan. The annual conference is the premier gathering in our industry and we’re confident you’ll leave brimming with new connections, techniques, and ideas to implement in your business AND we’ll feed you more than bird food (no, really, no worms here).
We are so excited to bring you a new, improved Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild website. Watch the video below to learn more about the special requests feature and how to set up a brick and mortar location (whether temporary or permanent).
The HSMG is proud to report that two of its members have recently been featured in the media.
Our first member is Lauri Isle of SAC’s & Co.com, whose business was featured recently in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Lauri and co-owner, her sister, Marta Bardonner, create soap and other bath and body products for their store in Winona Lake, Indiana.
The store is recognized under the Indiana Artisan logo, which supports businesses creating handcrafted goods. These businesses follow guidelines set by the state, undergo an application process, and are juried to ensure authenticity and quality.
You can check out the article by clicking on the link below:
As if that’s not enough, they were also featured in Midwest Living!
Our second member in the news is Michelle Rhoades of Mossy Creek Soap in Georgia. Michelle’s Christmas soap was featured in Southern Living’s Christmas at Home’s Special Edition, 2012.
An editor from the magazine contacted Michelle because they saw her website and liked her products. Understandably, Michelle was skeptical at first about whether or not the contact was real, but indeed, it was and now you can find a lovely photograph and description of Michelle’s soap in the magazine! Simply click on the link below:
This isn’t Michelle’s first media exposure, either. Last year, her soap was featured at Food Network.
Incidentally, one of the most interesting things about Michelle’s story is that she only began making soap in 2009, took a year to perfect her skills, and then began making soap as a full time job! She sells soap and other related products and teaches classes.
Michelle credits part of her success to her connections from the HSMG and its conferences that assisted her in her business. We look forward to hearing Michelle speak at the 2012 conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, as well. Her topic is “Increase Profits With Time Management Using the Soapmaker Program.”
Let us tempt you with a sneak peek at some of the amazing speakers you will see at the 2013 conference:
Discover the joys of working with pourable silicon to make your own, custom molds with Amanda Griffin of Lovin Soap in her session: Make Your Own Single Cavity Silicone Molds
Allison Kontur of AliMar Labs, LLC will demystify private labeling in her session: Private Label: Making the Leap From Home Formulating to Outside Manufacturing
Michelle Rhoades of Mossy Creek Soap & Studio will show you how to fully exploit SoapMaker software in her session: Design, Formulate, Organize Using the Soapmaker Program
Find out if you should extend your business into natural haircare products with Marla Bosworth of Back Porch Soap Company in Natural Shampoo Market: Trends, Opportunities and Formulating. Marla will also be leading a special half-day seminar on wholesaling and branding the day before the conference formally starts.
Dean Mayes of Alabu Skin Care will share his secrets to scaling up production as efficiently and cost effectively as possible in his session: Production Solutions For Your Handcrafted Business: Build It or Buy It.
Ruth Esteves of Sirona Springs Handmade Soap will teach you how to create soap that looks like it came from a bakery in her session: Soap Cupcakes and More: Decorative Piping with Cold Process Soap
Stay tuned for even more speaker announcements. Don’t forget, an installment plan is available to members who sign up before November 30, which means you have just under a month and a half to hop to it.
212 days and counting…bring on the 2013 conference!!
Sure, you make soap, but do you ever stop and think about what a fundamentally life-saving device you’re producing? Next Monday, October 15, marks the 5th annual Global Handwashing Day. In celebration, we thought we’d share a few facts illustrating the power of a simple bar of soap.
A staggering 6.9 million children under the age of 5 die each year. The good news is that this represents a 41% decrease over the last two decades, but clearly, there is room for much more improvement. Aside from complications during birth, pneumonia and diarrhea are the two biggest killers of this age group.1 Here’s where soap comes into play: proper handwashing with soap and water has the power to prevent these two infectious diseases.2 For these children, using soap and water can mean the difference between life and death. However, proper hygiene is not just a problem in developing nations.
Even in developed countries, lack of handwashing is an issue. The World Health Organization estimated, in a 2004 report, that children lose 272 million school days worldwide to diarrhea.3 Handwashing with soap can cut diarrhea rates by up to 50%.4 Imagine how many days of school could be regained by washing hands with soap!
Children aren’t the only ones with handwashing issues; failure to wash hands in hospitals is the leading cause of infections in hospitals. Nearly two dozen studies over the past 35 years have shown hand hygiene campaigns, including handwashing, in hospitals reduces infections contracted by patients.5
With all the focus on bacteria reduction, it would seem antibacterial soap is necessary for a proper handwashing. Happily, that’s not the case. A simple handwashing with water and soap, as the Centers for Disease Control have shown6, is just as effective and likely much more environmentally friendly than using antibacterial soaps (triclosan, a key antibacterial agent, is also ecologically persistent). So take up that beautiful bar of handcrafted soap, share one with a friend, and get to washing! You can truly feel good about using soap.
Wow, did you know your soap could do all that? We’re certainly feeling thankful for our soap. Excuse us while we wash our hands now….
Levels & Trends in Child Mortality – Report 2012, UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, 2012
Luby, Agboatwalla, Feikin, Painter, Billhimer, Altaf, Hoekstra, Effect of handwashing on child health: a randomised controlled trial, The Lancet, 2005
Hutton, Guy, and Laurance Haller, Evaluation of the Costs and Benefits of Water and Sanitation Improvements at the Global Level, Water, Sanitation and Health Protection of the Human Environment, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2004
Fewtrell et al. Infectious Diseases, The Lancet, 2005
WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care: a Summary, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2009
Aiello AE, Marshall B, Levy SB, Della-Latta P, Lin SX, Larson E, Antibacterial cleaning products and drug resistance, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2005
Recently, we caught up with Alabu Skin Care founder Maryclaire Mayes. Alabu, a soapmaking and natural products company based in Mechanicville, NY, has been an HSMG member since 2001. Says Maryclaire, “I wanted to be part of a professional group that supported handcrafted soapmakers”.
Making soap fits so well into Maryclaire’s lifestyle that it’s hard to believe it took a homegrown chemistry lesson to spark her initial interest.
You can thank a ten year old’s wish for a horse (fulfilled with two goats instead) for the initial supply of goat milk and goat buttermilk that make up every bar of Alabu soap. Now, a friend’s five-goat crew supplies the necessary fresh milk for each and every batch of Alabu soap.
“My first batch size was 9 bars, " relates Maryclaire, "and I soon doubled that and then I went to 36 bars and then 85. I couldn't lift a larger batch and I thought that was it. Then my husband and my son figured out how to scale the batch size to 320 bars and they typically do 4 batches at a time.” From those early days of 9-bar batches, Alabu now produces nearly 20,000 pounds of soap a year and can be found at hundreds of retail locations across the US.
On the scent end of spectrum, the business has taken the opposite tack. After ballooning to over 50 different scents based on requests, Alabu has decided fewer scents make for better business. “We have 20 now and are still paring down”. Another surprise is just how little production space has been required as the business grows.
And that signature oval bar? It not only felt nice, but was functional, too. Oval bars lent themselves nicely to being made into logs, which, as Maryclaire explains, “helped keep the goat milk from over-heating and simplified cutting”.
A recurring theme at Alabu is productivity and continuous improvement and indeed, says Maryclaire of her husband Dean, “I think he was an efficiency expert in another life.” Dean has developed many time-saving gadgets for the company, including devices to extract soap from molds, cut full logs of soaps, press manufacturing “seconds” into bars, tip and hoist pots, and make molds mobile. You can see a few of these innovative tools in action here.
Thank you, Alabu, for sharing a behind the scenes look at your company with our readers. Here’s to your continued success!
The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild is a trade association, but have you ever wondered exactly what it means to be part of the Guild? We thought Executive Director Leigh O’Donnell gave a pretty amazing definition in her final President’s Report at the 2012 HSMG Annual Meeting.
Here’s how Leigh explained the Guild to the members present:
The definition of a “Guild” is:
An organization of persons with related interests, goals, etc., especially formed for mutual aid or protection.
Any of various medieval associations, as of merchants or artisans, organized to maintain standards and to protect the interests of its members, and that sometimes constituted a local governing body.
“Protection” makes me think of organized crime and we are certainly not a “medieval” association but these definitions really do get to the basis of what the HSMG is.
The HSMG was started in 1998 by a group of women that loved soapmaking, had small businesses and wanted an organization that would represent them on a larger scale. From those small beginnings we have grown to over 1,600 members, with members in all 50 states and in 29 countries. Just to name a few: Canada, Mexico, Norway, Australia, Ireland, Taiwan, El Salvador, Guatemala, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Trinidad and Tobago.
We are the ONLY non-profit trade association for handcrafted soapmakers.
The “Guild” isn’t one person, it isn’t the Board of Directors, it isn’t the people that attend the Annual Conference. It is ALL of the over 1,600 members, it is the group, it is the people in leadership, the people who are vocal and in the spotlight and the people who are not. It is the member who joined in 1998 and is still with us and the member that joined yesterday. It is all of us, collectively. This is so important because it is our diversity, individual strengths and experiences that make up the backbone of the association.
We couldn’t have said it better. What does the Guild mean to you?
Do you sell your soap? Are you trying to expand your reach? Do you have a website yet? The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild has partnered with HSMG member The Template Place to bring you Soap Guild Stores, a fully customizable webstore available expressly for HSMG members. The Soap Guild Stores combine all member webstores into a marketplace that assists consumers in purchasing high quality handcrafted soap and bath and body products.
But I’m not an html wizard! No worries, this does not require any computer sorcery. If you don’t already have an existing website or shopping cart, this is a fast and easy way to establish an online presence. We take care of the set-up; you get to personalize the site (uploading photos of your creations, entering descriptions, describing store policies, etc).
Nice, but I already have a website. Perfect, help drive more traffic your way. You can use the Soap Guild Store as a brochure site directing visitors to your primary site (like A+ Soapmaking Studio’s site). They have been designed to be well indexed by Google, so this is a great way to extend your reach and help people find your website.
What about fees? Simple. HSMG and the Soap Guild Stores charge no fees to maintain a store, list a product or to sell a product (of course, you still have to pay merchant fees to your payment processor).
Okay, so how does this work? Also simple. Send your contact information and a few details (see full list here) to the administrative office. We’ll do the coding dirty work to set your page up. Once it’s ready, we’ll send you your site name and user manual. From there, you’re ready to start customizing your store and open it up to the public. It’s as easy as logging in and uploading photos and text.
What can I do with these stores? Quite a bit! Aside from taking orders and selling products, you have control over what types of payment you accept. You can set up the site to accept Paypal and personal checks. You can split your product offerings into groups or categories to help visitors find just what they’re looking for, whether it be bath soaks, gift sets, or products specifically for pooches. From the admin page, you can manage orders and customers can view their order (and order updates). Shipping can be set by weight or by the total cost of items in the shopper’s cart. You can put products on sale and set up tax to be charged as needed. You can link all your social media accounts to your site, so that customers can catch up with you on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. The Soap Guild Stores are powered by google search and include several different search options, so visitors can easily find just what they are seeking.
And of course, once you sign up for a webstore, sign up for analytics so that you can monitor the traffic on your site.
Your fee-free store out on the Soap Guild Stores site is waiting for you. “Sign up for yours today” HSMG President Cathleen Timberlake says, “and start customizing to be ready for the busy holiday season.”
She’d been salivating over it for months (years, maybe?) and finally, it was here. No more odd-sized bars cut from shoe box molds. No more fighting with freezer paper or struggling to precisely line makeshift molds. She dove into the newly delivered box and unwrapped a brand-new silicone lined mold. Admiring its fine, shiny, perfectly square edges, panic set in…
How much soap would fit in this bright, shiny new mold?
If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, you’re not alone. Figuring out how much soap will fit in a mold, like Marie Gale might say, is not complicated, but it is very detailed.
Now, you can easily use an online calculator (here, here, here) to size your soap recipe to your mold, but just in case you desperately need to make soap when the power’s out, here’s an explanation behind the math.
In order to figure out how much soap will fit your mold, you first need to figure out the volume of your new mold. Assuming your beautiful, shiny new mold is a rectangle (or a square, which is technically also a rectangle), this is easy. Measure the inside length, width, and height of your mold in inches. Below, we’ve made up some numbers so that you can follow the calculations.
Step 1: measure inside dimensions of mold >>
Inner length of mold, in inches: 10 in
Inner width of mold, in inches: 3.625 in
Inner height of mold, in inches: 2.25 in
Multiply those numbers. This gives you the volume in cubic inches.
Step 2: Calculate volume >> Length x width x height = 81.56 in3
Unfortunately, I don’t know many soapmakers working in cubic inches, so let’s convert cubic inches to ounces. One cubic inch equals 0.554113 ounces, so we can multiply the volume by 0.554 to convert from inches to ounces.
Step 3: Convert volume to ounces >> 81.56 in3x 0.554 = 45.2 oz
You’re almost there. You have volume in the correct units, however, you need to convert from volume to weight (ounces are tricky that way). We know that one volumetric ounce of oil does not weigh one ounce. For many vegetable oils, one ounce of oil at room temperature will only weigh 0.9 ounces. (This is referred to as specific gravity and yes, this number is a gross generalization.)
Step 4: Convert volume to weight > 45.2 oz x 0.9 = 40 oz
Congratulations, you’ve estimated the total soap volume that will fit into your mold. (Insert a happy soaper dance here, along with a fist pump of soapmaking victory, if you like.)
If you are making a cold or hot process soap and want to estimate just how much oil to use, Member David Fisher has an easy to follow guide.
Have you ever made way too much or too little soap to fill a mold?
Welcome to September. The days are slowly shortening, summer’s gradually winding down, and school is back in session, which makes this a perfect time to ponder continuing your education. You don’t have to stop learning just because your formal schooling has ended. In fact, many soapmakers don’t discover their passion until well after primary and secondary schooling is a distant memory. No matter how you like to learn, we have some suggestions to further your soapmaking education that we think will float your boat and fit your style:
Enjoy furthering your skills with a friendly cross-country competition? Bramble Berry’s in the midst of a natural colorant challenge for cold process soap while Erica Pence of The Bonnie Bath Company and Bath Alchemy Lab has started a fast and furious color palette challenge for every soap medium.
Want to see it demonstrated? Check out a class from a teacher near you. From candy-like confections to body butters, classes addressing a range of cosmetic and soapmaking skills abound. The HSMG site has a steadily growing list that allows you to search for certified soapmaker teachers.
Last week, the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild welcomed author, past HSMG President, and savvy labeler Marie Gale into our twitter chat room to share some of her vast experience labeling soaps and cosmetics for sale in the US. Read on for highlights of our discussion.
Soap and Cosmetic Labeling #HSMGchat
Last week, the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild welcomed author, past President, and labeling expert Marie Gale into our twitter chat room to share some of her vast experience labeling soap for sale in the US. Read on for highlights of our discussion and check out our post on the HSMG blog.
Storified by HandcraftedSoapGuild · Mon, Aug 27 2012 18:59:32
We started with the obvious….
Q1: Correct labeling…why should a biz owner care? #HSMGchatHandcraftedSoapGuild
and Heather from Honestly Simple Soaps jumped in with a great answer!
@TheSoapGuild Its important to people who have allergies and other sensitivities. #hsmgchatHeather Albrecht
Then, we established that although there are soap exemptions, most soap here in the US falls under cosmetic regulations. Forewarned is forearmed!
Q2: Based on how US soapmakers market their products, how often do you think soap is considered soap and not a cosmetic? #HSMGchatHandcraftedSoapGuild
A2: likely not very often. Labeling includes your marketing info, which almost always turns your soap into a cosmetic! #HSMGchatHandcraftedSoapGuild
Oh! I just re-read that, I meant its probably a considered a cosmetic most of the time – moisturizing/ exfoliating, etc. yes? #hsmgchatHeather Albrecht
The way you package your products definitely impacts your labeling:
I don’t use boxes, that’s a question I had about packaging. I see soaps in stores not enclosed in a package. Is it okay to be open #hsmgchatHeather Albrecht
@HonestVTSoaps yup, it’s okay to be open, but full labeling information has to be available to consumer (even if separate) #HSMGchatHandcraftedSoapGuild
Okay, so just where does that pesky net weight statement go?
Does it matter where the net weight is stated on the packaging? I’ve seen some indicate it on the front, and some on the back. #HSMGchatNoir Naturals
@NoirNaturals good one! Net weight has to be on the front…this is one of the non-negotiable labeling guidelines #HSMGchatHandcraftedSoapGuild
Marie clarified that different levels of government have a different focus when it comes to labeling enforcement:
Q7: Any speculation as to which guidelines the FDA most rigorously enforces? #HSMGchatHandcraftedSoapGuild
A7 – FDA concentrates heavily on drug claims on cosmetics. If they find that, then they are likely to look further. #HSMGchatMarieGale
A7 – LOCAL and STATE agencies are more likely to pick up on incorrect or missing weight or name/address. #HSMGchatMarieGale
Speaking of drug claims….
what counts as a ‘drug claim’ #hsmgchatHeather Albrecht
@HonestVTSoaps Drug claim is that the product will "heal, cure, mitigate or prevent" something physical. #HSMGchatMarieGale
@HonestVTSoaps Cosmetics "cleanse, beautify or promote attractiveness". There’s a big gray area in the middle. #HSMGchatMarieGale
@HonestVTSoaps The bottom line is what the consumer thinks the product will do (or what the FDA thinks the consumer thinks) #HSMGchatMarieGale
so when talking about tea tree oil in your product, for instance, is it okay to mention that it has antibacterial properties? #hsmgchatHeather Albrecht
@HonestVTSoaps Technically, saying an ingredient can cure, mitigate or prevent disease is making a drug claim for the product. #HSMGchatMarieGale
"Antibacterial" is a drug claim, for sure. #HSMGchatMarieGale
Anything WITH or ON the product counts as labeling, so website, signage, the label itself, books displayed with the product … #HSMGchatMarieGale
Best is to say what’s in the product and then let the consumer research it separately. Savvy consumers know what to look for. #HSMGchatMarieGale
At craft shows I’d say, "I can’t legally say that tea tree oil is antibacterial – or that it does anything, but it IS in my soap!" #HSMGchatMarieGale
You can also say things like "we choose our ingredients because of they are known to be healthy and beneficial" – but no specifics #HSMGchatMarieGale
@MarieGale yes, if customers seek you out, they probably know the properties of your ingredients. #HsmgchatTygerheart Fine Soap
@tygerheartsoap great point – consumers are a smart bunch #HSMGchatHandcraftedSoapGuild
Any surprises in the labeling regulation world? Of course!!
So @MarieGale, is there anything that surprises you the most about soap and cosmetic labeling regulations? #HSMGchatHandcraftedSoapGuild
I’m most surprised by the fact that they are so understaffed that they have to concentrate on the most flagrant violations. #HSMGchatMarieGale
FDA seems to concentrate on imports – it’s a "homeland security" thing. #HSMGchatMarieGale
Local and state agencies have been more active over the last few years – possible as a revenue stream. #HSMGchatMarieGale
From enforcement, we move right into another hot topic – soap weight!
Here is a totally off the topic question: how is the weight of a recipe calculated? It will say 58 oz ie. and yield 89 oz of soap? #hsmgchatHeather Albrecht
@HonestVTSoaps Weight of recipe is ALL of the ingredients you put in the pot – oils, water, lye, eo/fo, color, herbs, etc. #HSMGchatMarieGale
@HonestVTSoaps Water percent is the amount of water divided by the total of all ingredients. (Gives a decimal, x by 100 for %) #HSMGchatMarieGale
If you live in the US and have been crafting soap for any length of time, chances are you’ve heard of Bramble Berry. Bramble Berry, based out of the western US city of Bellingham, Washington, has been a vendor member of the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild for six years. “HSMG helps to further soapmakers in all of their endeavors, wherever they may be in their journey, and that’s what appealed to us about the HSMG and prompted us to join,” comments CEO Anne-Marie Faiola. Recently, we sat down with Anne-Marie to find out more about what makes Bramble Berry tick.
Anne-Marie’s journey from a career in law enforcement to the establishment of Bramble Berry is well documented, but did you know the name ‘Bramble Berry’ came out of piano-playing brainstorming sessions?
Can you imagine a workplace where the second-in-command puts on a raincoat and lets the entire company pelt him with eggs? Or where coworkers have dance offs, play softball, and enter trivia competitions? This is exactly the kind of workplace wackiness that occurs at Bramble Berry, where “…ultimately, the entire team embraces the zany and is genuinely game for anything”. As Anne-Marie says, “Brambleberrians rock!”
Bramble Berry sells a huge range of supplies, but, as Anne-Marie relates, “Ultimately, it’s absolutely a soap factory and we all are obsessed with the latest, greatest batch of soap. We genuinely live and breathe soap.” With Anne-Marie making 30+ pounds of soap and her team producing 10 times that for rebatch soap each week, Bramble Berry makes 8 tons or more per year. Wow. Conservatively estimated (and if you convey it with locomotive powers), that’s enough soap to run a 5K.
When not making soap, the Bramble Berry team is hard at work stocking new products and bringing more resources to the soapmaking community. This year, look forward to more recipes on TeachSoap.com, lots more SoapQueen.TV episodes, and a blog series featuring palm-free soapmaking. In addition, Bramble Berry is planning to stock both more exotic essential oils and a full line of silicone, no-line cold process soap molds.
Need a fragrance suggestion? While Bramble Berry’s 12,000+ Facebook fans are a great resource, Anne-Marie suggests personal favorite Energy fragrance oil “because it lasts forever in soap, gives tons of time to work with it (including for a recent batch that was a 12 color swirl!) and smells so delicious! In the essential oils, I’m absolutely obsessed with the tart, musky smell of Bergamot essential oil lately.”
While Bramble Berry’s Facebook page is undoubtedly their most popular social media forum, don’t overlook the Bramble Berry newsletter, which always includes exclusive recipes and coupons that you won’t find anywhere else. Bramble Berry won’t send you the newsletter unless you opt-in, so make sure you visit the home page and sign up to receive it.
“We are here to help,” shares Anne-Marie. “We love being industry leaders with our active blog, our YouTube channel, our forum, our Facebook page and all the customer interaction points that we have. We live and breathe small business, soapmaking and all manner of toiletries. We hope that our customers and friends take advantage of all the resources we offer to expand their craft. And yes, we’d love to see you as a customer as well. We advertise monthly specials in the HSMG newsletter (and our newsletter). Check ‘em out and try us out. We’d love to serve you.”
Thank you, Bramble Berry, for sharing a glimpse behind the scenes and for your support of the HSMG!