Member Spotlight: Mt. Lebanon Soap Company

The birth of Christopher and Erin Csernica’s daughter was also the birth of their company, Mt. Lebanon Soap Company. The symmetry is perfectly fitting as proceeds from the company serve a very special purpose for Summer, born with genetic disorder trisomy 21. “We decided we wanted something to teach her, give her skills over the course of her life, with all of the proceeds going directly into her special needs trust.”


Owners Erin and Christopher are a unique team. Per Erin, “He makes the soap, well, be soap and I make it so you actually want to use it.” What started as wedding gifts quickly spiraled into a company.

Now in business a year and a half now, Mt. Lebanon Soap Company is growing into new venues and new spaces. Erin relates, “In our short time, we have already outgrown our space. We will this year be expanding our first floor to hold Mt. Lebanon Soap Company.” While you’ll find soap, lip balm, lotion bars and bath fizzies in the current product line-up, Mt. Lebanon Soap Company is developing and perfecting a liquid hand soap formula.


If you’re in the New Jersey area, you’ll find Mt. Lebanon Soap Company at the Hackettstown farmers market this summer. For those further afield, shop online and follow their Facebook page for sneak peeks, previews, input in the design process, and company updates. If you’re new to the company, every member of the family has a favorite to recommend: “My favorite,” Erin relates, “is our Mojito Soap, my husband would say our Tea Tree Soap, Summer has been known to try and eat our Almond Soap, and our littlest one our Baby Sensitive Soap.”


As a new member to the HSCG, Erin reports, “I’m slowly working my way through all the amazing benefits….thank you.” Thank you, Erin, for joining us and we can’t wait to see what you and your company achieves.

Thanks, Mt. Lebanon, for giving us a peek behind the curtain!

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Lye Calculators for All!

If you’re a new soapmaker, welcome to your new addiction! There are many kinds of soapmaking that don’t involve you needing to handle lye, like rebatching or hand milling a pre-made soap base or the extremely versatile melt and pour style of soapmaking (commonly sold in stores as “glycerin soap”).

For those of you who want to make a cold or hot process style soap, you are probably going to want to create your own recipe at some point and for that, you will want to introduce yourself to a lye calculator. Lye calculators are amazingly handy-dandy tools that take a lot of the tedious (and sometimes intimidating) math out of the equation of making soap. (Of course, if you love the math, who are we to deny you the pleasure. You’ll be the ones with the last laughs when the electricity cuts out and you desperately desire to make a batch of soap.)

And that’s where we come into play. The HSCG offers lye calculators for all soapmakers. All soapmakers can access a basic lye calculator through this link. You can also get there by hovering over the Soapmakers heading on the HSCG home page and choosing Lye Calculator under the Soapmaking Resources section.


HSCG members have access to an advanced version of this same lye calculator. Get to it from this link or by hovering over the Members heading on the HSCG home page and choosing Advanced Lye Calculator from the dropdown menu underneath the Member Resources section. There’s also a link to it right from the basic lye calculator page.


The advanced lye calculator lets you adjust SAP values as well as specify your own saponification values and incorporate oils not already listed in the tool.

No matter the calculator you choose, using it is easy. Open up your respective calculator and follow along with our general guidelines (and keep breathing – that’s important):

1. Enter your recipe name and any notes

2. Choose whether to use grams, ounces, or pounds.

3. Choose whether you want to specify a quantity for each oil OR if you want to specify a total oil quantity and build your recipe by assigning percentages to each oil.

4. Choose whether you are making bar soap (aka using NaOH), liquid soap (aka using KOH), or a cream soap/other hybrid style soap (and you guessed it, you’d be using BOTH NaOH and KOH). When you choose to use both potassium and sodium hydroxide, you get to assign custom percentage to each type of lye (fancy times, indeed).

5. Select your oils and specify how much (or what percentage) of each oil you are using.

6. You can note all the extra herbs, colorants, exfoliants and other non-saponified additives for record-keeping.

7. Customize your display and hit Calculate Now!. You can choose to see a specify water and lye recommendation or you can view a range of suggested values.

And you’re done. The results page will display your chosen oils as well as the percentage and quantities used (as well as the SAP value used if you are in the Advanced Lye Calculator). It will also show the recommended lye and water quantities. If you’ve included directions, the results page will include a bit of explanation of the logic. You can easily edit your recipe from the results page, print the results page, or create a brand new recipe.

If you’ve used the HSCG Lye Calculators, let us know what you think. What do you wish your lye calculator could do for you?

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Member Spotlight: Southern Girl Soapery

While in business and an HSCG member for just over a year, Southern Girl Soapery proprietor and soapstress Stephanie Hamling has been formulating for over a decade. As Stephanie recalls, “I began making soaps as teenager. With intense allergies to many chemicals and fragrances used in bath and body products, I wasn’t left with many commercial options. Over the last fifteen years, I’ve experimented with oils, butters, plant essences, natural clays and botanicals to create the perfect bar.”


That experimentation has served Southern Girl Soapery well and in the shop you’ll find a variety of soaps, soaks, creams, tinted balms, shaving products, and more, all with a fantastic Southern flare (bath grits, anyone?). You’ll also find Southern Girl Soapery throughout stores in Little Rock, across Arkansas, and throughout the South (full details available on the Facebook page).


If you’re new to Southern Girl Soapery, Stephanie has the perfect recommendations. “For the ladies, I suggest our Smackover Lip Balm Collection. Our lip balms are inspired by some of our favorite female characters in Southern writing. For the gentlemen, one of our Shaving Set is a must. Go classic with Beau (bay rum with a lime twist), unique with Smokehouse (burning wood & bacon), or enjoy any of our six flavors. If you’re looking for something brand new, try the ‘Shelby’ Smackover Lip Balm. Named for one of the main characters in the much beloved “Steel Magnolias” it is, of course, the perfect blend of “pink and pink”. It is part of our lip balm collection and the ‘Blush & Bashful‘ gift set.”


For a little southern inspiration, follow Southern Girl Soapery on Twitter. Get first notice on sales and the local Little Rock scoop from Southern Girl Soapery’s Facebook page and follow them on Pinterest for style cues inspired by every one of their products.

Most importantly, stay tuned for more from this young, growing company. Southern Girl Soapery is expanding their reach and looking to be in your favorite retail store. Stephanie encourages you to get in touch; “If anyone knows of or owns a store that they would love to see our products in, shoot us an email at” That’s not all. Far from resting on their laurels, the company is also planning a brand new workshop to better serve both retail and wholesale customers.

Thanks for joining us, Southern Girl Soapery. Three cheers to your continued success!

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Get Certified at Conference!

See that? That’s the fist pump of glory, which you may be doing upon gaining one certification (or several, because you got it like that) at this year’s conference. That’s right, this year is the year you’re going to throw down and show off your soapmaking virtuosity, all while communing with 400 of us for 3 days in the sun (or conference rooms, from which we may or may not just peer out at the sun, but really, you’ll be too busy to notice and any way, outdoor temperatures in Tucson in May may not be your bag) at the lovely Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona.

this could be you, minus perhaps the fancy dress

Annual conferences are the perfect place to get certified. We provide the testing location and a proctor – you only have to bring yourself and your great big brain. Have some questions about the logistics of certification at the conference? Well, my friends, you have come to the right post. Without further ado:

What do I need to do when I check in at the conference?
Find the Certification table (usually near the Exhibitor Area, but we can help steer you in the right direction when you check in) and submit your soap samples and required documentation as soon as humanly possible.

How soon do I need to make soap?
Yesterday! No, we kid – continue to breathe. You’ve probably already been perfecting your recipe, but you likely want to give yourself a good 6 weeks to cure your hot and cold process soaps and a month to perfect your melt and pour designs. We have a little less than 11 weeks until conference, so no time like the present to get cracking on those soap samples.

Can I sign up for certification at the conference?
Totally (but it will cost you more). Save yourself some change (so you can win it all in the raffle) and register for certification here on the website before the conference.

taking a certification test is not as scary as this looks

When can I take the tests?
We have two slots for certification testing: Monday, May 19, at 6:00pm and Wednesday, May 21 at 7:00am.

Can I take multiple certification tests?
Absolutely! Members often take both the Basic Melt and Pour and Cold Process/Hot Process certification tests at the same time.

I want to take a basic and an advanced certification test.
Go for it! You have to pass the basic before you take next level test, so plan to take your basic exam on Monday evening and your advanced exam Wednesday morning (unless, of course you’re taking a basic MP and an advanced CP and you have already obtained a basic CP certification – in this case, you’re welcome to take both tests during the same time slot, if you like, all Rambo-style).

Does anybody really take a test at 7:00 am?
You betcha. Just remember that Tuesday night when you are boogie-ing down at the special evening events. Certified soapmakers need their beauty scientific rest.

if your ancestors took a soapmaking certification test, it may have looked like this

How long do I have to take the tests?
You have 1 hour to complete each test.

What should I bring with me?
Bring a pen or pencil. Unless you have a great fondness for long division, bring a simple calculator (adds, divides, multiplies, subtracts, but is not a scientific graphing or programmable calculator). For both Melt and Pour and Cold Process/Hot Process advanced tests, don’t forget that you need to bring soap samples as specificed in your certification requirement documents.

But wait, I have more questions…what if? Will I need? What about? Can I?
First, breathe. Then ask away – here or anywhere you see us online. Don’t worry, our friendly Certification Chair, Barb De Los Santos is here to help. Contact her through and have all of your burning questions answered before test day.

Most importantly, make sure to check out the website sections dedicated to certification. It’s truly a pot of gold at the end (err, beginning?) of the studying rainbow (it wasn’t good, but we went there). You’ll find loads of information regarding each test, requirements, and practice exams to build your confidence. Be an informed test taker and boldly go where all the certified soapmakers go!

Best of luck to all of our certification hopefuls! Happy studying and see you in Tucson!

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Member Spotlight: Simmons Natural Bodycare

For Simmons Natural Bodycare, it all started with a classic soapmaking tome: Ann Bramson’s Soap – Making It, Enjoying It. Allergies and sensitivies to the fragrances and colors available commercially drove Dottie Simmons and her husband to make their own. It became gifts, then an easy addition to their craft fair table, eventually launching into a business.


32 years later, Dottie relates, “we still love our soap making. I am the experimenter/perfumer and my husband does the main production now.” True to their initial inspiration, you’ll find products catering to customers with allergies as well as soaps, shaving soap and salves. “While all our soaps are rich and gentle and mild, several are specifically made for those with severe chemical sensitivities or allergies.” You must try the woolies. Dottie explains: “A tie in to our previous hand-spun business “Sheep Thrills”, woolies are natural wool felted around our soap for suds and scrubbie all-in-one!”


Regardless of what you choose, Simmons Natural Bodycare provides body care basics of the highest quality, including certified organic oils as the starting point of their soaps and salves. Something you may not realize, as you lather up with Simmons’ fantastically affordable soap, is just how sustainable their operations are. “Not only is our business part of a self-sustaining rural homestead,” Dottie relates, “it is entirely powered by self-generated alternative energy (solar photovoltaic panels, wind and micro-hydro). We also donate to and Trees for the Future to offset our carbon footprint and are very active in volunteering and donating in our community.”


Simmons Natural Bodycare has been a member of the Guild for 15 years, very nearly from the establishment of the HSCG! What keeps them coming back? “We really appreciate the networking, the product liability insurance and general access to the community of soap makers.” Follow along with their daily adventures on the Simmons Naturals twitter feed and Facebook page, as well as the Simmons Naturals blog.

Thank you, Simmons Natural Bodycare, for your long time support. We hope you keep sudsing on for decades to come!

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Two Days ‘Til Early Bird Flies the Coop!

Can you believe how  quickly time passes?

In less than 3 months, we’ll be holding our 17th Annual Conference. We rotate the conference to locations all around the US (next year’s will be in Indianapolis) and this year’s just so happens to be in Tucson, Arizona, at the fabulous Loews Ventana Canyon. There, we’ll be welcoming 400 soap and cosmetic handcrafters, business owners, private labelers, and vendors in a 3-day flurry of classes, demonstrations, networking, eating, and night time entertainment.


In December, we opened the application period for 2 scholarships (a full ride including registration, hotel stay, and travel costs) provided by Veracity Insurance Solutions. The judges have worked their way through many, many applications and narrowed down the numerous worthy applicants to the final two winners. Without further ado, we are pleased to congratulate our conference scholarship winners for 2014:

  • Chris Cullen from Catie’s Bubbles in Forked River, New Jersey
  • Dawne Vrabel from Dynamic Roots Enterprises LLC in Carbondale, Colorado

Chris and Dawne, we’ll see you in Tucson! Scholarship competition was especially fierce this year, but if you didn’t get in, there’s still time to register at the early bird rate and pay your registration costs over six months, interest free, with PayPal’s Bill Me Later service.


We’ve steadily introduced the speakers and topics you’ll experience at this conference here on the blog, through our e-news, website, and social media accounts. Although we may still be one quarter away from the start of the conference, you have just 2 days (count ‘em – 1, 2!) to snag your registration at the early bird rate. We’ve filled 95% of the available space at this year’s conference and are on pace to sell out. Don’t wait to sign up – you may just miss the early bird discounts and the last available spots.

Check out the website for full details on topics, speakers, schedules, pre-conference sessions, hotel discounts, competitions, and all the other salient details and register for the conference here.

Have you had the opportunity to attend an HSCG conference? What do you want to know about this year’s conference?


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Member Spotlight: Radiant Fettle

Quiet, radiant soulfulness emanates from skincare and wellness company Radiant Fettle. You truly get a sense for Radiant Fettle’s heart in talking to owner Kelly Jacobi. Soapmaking is Kelly’s way to honor her mother’s long ago “dabblings in the creation of soaps and other skincare products” and to keep her mother’s spirit alive after her untimely passing. Kelly explains, “I want to keep myself feeling lovely, inside and out. I also want to help other people glow: be it an encouraging word or a wonderful bath experience, I want to help them create lives they love.”


Radiant Fettle products are currently available online. Aside from soaps, you’ll find handmade ceramics and mala in the Radiant Fettle shop. Should you have the opportunity, Kelly recommends the patchouli and sandalwood soap, which includes both colloidal oatmeal and bentonite clay. “Using it is an absolutely brilliant experience!”


We can’t wait to see what this fledging shop introduces next. Follow Radiant Fettle’s journey through their lovely, photographed blog. Find special appearances and product sneak peeks through Radiant Nettle’s Twitter and Facebook pages and get to all of it from their website.


Aside from crafting a product “to create a small, daily paradise and self-healing ritual” for customers, Radiant Nettle loves collaborating with customers. “Please feel free to contact me to let me know what you love,” Kelly says, “especially in regards to your favorite scent combinations and tactile qualities you simply adore.”

Happy 1 year anniversary, Radiant Fettle, and thank you for providing a sneak peek into your inspiration!

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There’s a New Store in Town!

Did you catch the news earlier this month? We are excited to announce a new discount, exclusively for members, on your very own website (yup, no more sharing your ecommerce site with someone else or lots of someone elses. You can hog, I mean, have this one all to yourself, bwa ha ha haaaa). HSCG has partnered with Volusion to provide members with exclusive discounts on all the services you need to build a custom site and get your online shop up and running.

this could be you after signing up for a new webstore

Build your store through Volusion and get discounts on hosting fees, premium templates, merchant services, and SSL certificates. If you’ve taken the plunge into online commerce but are itching for a completely custom look and feel as well as a slick customer experience, drop what you’re doing (unless it’s breakfast, the most important meal of the day – we don’t want you fainting through this) and take a look at Volusion.


HSCG Member Deal

Store (monthly hosting fee)

25% member discount

SSL (1 year certificate)

20% member discount

Premium Templates

20% member discount

Merchant Services

2.05% member rate

Volusion has lots of different options, with dozens of free templates as well as fancier premium templates and even in-house design services. Likewise, hosting plans range from minimal monthly expenditure to premium plans with all the bells and whistles. Sign up for a 14-day free trial and have one of their ecommerce consultants guide you through the process.

Is an online store the missing link to your success?

If you spaced out at the mention of SSL and get the sweats just navigating the Volusion template options, don’t worry. You still have the option of a free Soap Guild store hosted by The Template Place. These webstores are the easiest and fastest way to establish your online presence, allowing you to open up shop with minimal effort. Read all about how to sign up for Soap Guild stores here.

If you’re salivating, read up on all the Volusion discounts and find out how to get your discounts here.

Your turn – do you sell online? Give us a shout out so we can give you some love!

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Member Spotlight: P.S. I Love Soap Co.

What better company to feature on Valentine’s Day than one which proudly proclaims their love for soap? (Yes, we’re pretty proud of ourselves.) It’s apparent that Pam Saldutti, owner of P.S. I Love Soap Co., has a major love affair with soap.


Enter the P.S. I Love Soap Co. lens through Pinterest. There, you get to see the evolution of the brand and loads and loads of gorgeous product pictures. From there, head over to the P.S. I Love Soap Co. Facebook page and twitter account for friendly status updates. And of course, stop in to see what’s in the shop.


And what will you find in the P.S. I Love Soap Co. shop? Ooooh, a little bit of everything, from handcrafted luxury artisan soap to LOVE buttas, scrubs, and lotion bars, all infused with a big dose of love.

What you must try is, well, everything. According to Pam, “Everyone must try LOVE scrub, Whipped  LOVE scrub, Callus Remover Soap, Coffee Mocha Hand Soap (complete with coffee, sugar and cream) and pimple soap.”


Feel good while you’re stocking up on P.S. I Love Soap Co. products. A percentage of each and every sale is donated to a local food bank. As Pam says, “no one should go hungry”.

Thanks, Pam, for sharing P.S. I Love Soap Co. with us!


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Dash on Over for Early Bird Savings

It’s that time. Holiday madness is finally over, corporate taxes are filed (maybe), and cocoa butter and rose fill the air as you ship out Valentine’s Day orders, or maybe just the Valentine’s Day bath you are drawing for yourself during this unusually chilly year. Before you get too deep into that rose petal and lemongrass-induced reverie, make sure you haven’t missed out on Annual Conference discounts.

Heat 3 of the Mens 100m Semi-Final

Luckily, you don’t have to run a 4-minute mile to take advantage of these discounts. Dash on over to the HSCG website and grab your discounted registration to the 2014 Annual Conference. Until Feburary 28, member rates are $509 (non-member rates are $629 and by the way, basic membership more than pays for itself when you factor in all the conference savings).

We are counting down the last 50 or so spots until the conference is totally, completely, irrevocably, oh-my-gosh-I’m-gonna-cry full. Don’t let it happen to you. Check out the full conference schedule here. It’s 3 jam-packed days of classes, demonstrations, networking sessions, eating, and straight-up fun with other makers that only happens once a year. We’re holding the conference at the swanky Loews-Ventana Canyon this year, just outside Tucson, Arizona (doesn’t some heat sound nice right about now? Just imagine those triple digit temperatures. Also: once we’re actually in May and you come to your senses, rest easy knowing that the hotel has excellent air conditioning to keep you a pristine and chilly 67 degrees. Brrrr…oh yeah, it’s gonna be hot, in a very, very cool way.)

P.S., good news if  you’re in the U.S. PayPal offers a 6 month payment plan upon approval of your credit, so you may have the option to spread out those payments.

Less than 3 months – will we see you in Tucson?

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