2015 Conference Speakers

Lela Barker

2015 Conference Speaker, Lela Barker

Lela Barker sits on both sides of the table: she's a successful maker with 13 years of experience building a creative business.  Lela began bootstrapping her apothecary brand, Bella Lucce, in 2003 and has since cultivated 1300 wholesale accounts in 27 countries, generating more than $10 million in revenue.

Lela is also a business strategist who's wildly passionate about helping creative entrepreneurs bring their products into the marketplace.  She's parlayed her time in the entrepreneurial trenches into a series of innovative entrepreneurial teaching programs and a robust private consulting practice.  Through Lucky Break Consulting, Lela has had the privilege of helping hundreds of creative entrepreneurs with product pricing, brand development and wholesale strategy.

And while these facets of business are what many naturally shy away from, Lela knows that they're the catalysts which take a business from "good" to "effing great".  These pieces of the entrepreneurial puzzle are that fine line between running yourself ragged and building a sustainable empire and Lela knows them like the back of her hand.

One client recently christened her the "Mother Theresa of Makers", while another described her "as the best business decision I've ever made."

Lela's products and personal story have been featured in more than 100 publications worldwide and her flagship teaching programs - LBU for wholesale strategy and Brick House Branding for brand development - consistently sell out within days each time registration opens.  She teaches and speaks regularly, from conference rooms in Austria to cruise ships in the Caribbean and "almost" everywhere in between.

When not arming makers with tactical business approaches, you'll find her collecting passport stamps, perfecting the ultimate lemon meringue pie recipe and clinging tightly to her sanity while raising four children.

Lela will be speaking on , Tripping All Over Themselves to Work With You: My Secrets to Charming Wholesale Buyers, and Charge What You're Worth! The Art of Communicating Value & Charging a Premium on Your Products.

Deborah Bruijn

2015 Conference Speaker, Deborah Bruijn

Deborah Bruijn is a chemist, soapmaker, mother and owner of Fairhope Soap Company, LLC. She has a BS in Chemistry and has worked as a Biochemist and a GMP Analytical Method Development Chemist in the pharmaceutical industry for 10 years.

Deborah quit the lab and now soaps full time doing the only legal "work from home" job a chemist can do. She is an HSMG Certified Advanced Soapmaker, the Secretary of the Alabama Soap and Candle Association and a member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. She founded Fairhope Soap Company 4 years ago in Fairhope, Alabama on Alabama's Gulf Coast and now has a brick-and-mortar shop in downtown Fairhope in addition to its online store.

Active in the community, Deborah is a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International and volunteers with her Basset Hound, Dudley-Do-Right, in Elderly Care facilities.

Deborah will be speaking on Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles: Bubble Bars, Bubble Scoops and Bubble Frosting.

Daryle Stafford & Chris Taylor

2015 Conference Speaker, Daryle Stafford & Chris Taylor
With over 13 years of experience in the insurance industry Daryle Stafford has become the expert on protecting and limiting the liability for small businesses.  He has worked closely with many business owners and industry experts with a focus on better understanding the many obvious and hidden exposures facing the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry.  He realized quickly that the insurance industry primarily tailored their products and services to large companies while making it difficult for small businesses to succeed.  In 2012, Daryle felt there was a better way to offer his clients insurance than the traditional and outdated industry models.  Daryle founded Veracity Insurance Solutions that same year, incorporating cutting edge technology and automated tools and resources into the workflow while still maintaining a high level of customer service.  With his new business model, Daryle facilitated very quick growth, necessitating a need to expand his team.  In 2012, Daryle brought Chris Taylor on board to begin developing the customer support and marketing aspects of Veracity.  Chris brings a modern marketing style to the team, concentrating heavily on the power of technology, data-driven marketing and most importantly, the voice of the customer.  Together, Daryle and Chris have helped lead Veracity to increase the number of customers serviced to over 70,000 nationwide.

Daryle Stafford & will be speaking on Protecting Your Business' Assets.

Sharon Czekala

2015 Conference Speaker, Sharon Czekala

Sharon is the owner and founder of The Great Lakes Natural Soap Company and has been selling soap, bath and body, and home fragrance products, wholesale and retail, for the past eleven years. Sharon's company employs other stay-at-home moms, just like herself.  This allows for flexibility on both sides, a balanced work and family life, and keeps motivation and creativity high.  Sharon continues to work out of her home in Canton, preferring low overhead to ideal working conditions.

Sharon is a certified soapmaker in Advanced CP/HP and MP processes, as well as an HSCG certified teacher. She is a long-time member of the HSCG, and loves to work with those who are just beginning their soapmaking journeys.

Sharon will be speaking on MP Soap: From Playful to Profitable.

Kevin Dunn

2015 Conference Speaker, Kevin Dunn

Kevin Dunn is the Elliott Professor of Chemistry at Hampden-Sydney College. His book, Caveman Chemistry, brought him to the attention of handcrafted soapmakers and because of this he has undertaken a series of research projects on the chemistry of handcrafted soap. This research culminated in a second book, Scientific Soapmaking, which was published the Spring of 2010.

Professor Dunn has appeared on the Learning Channel's "Mysteries of Magic" and the History Channel's "Modern Marvels".

When he isn't studying soap chemistry, he plays the bagpipes and launches large, high-powered rockets, sometimes simultaneously.  He lives in central Virginia with his wife and several cats.

Kevin will be speaking on Crafting with Chemistry.

Dr. Elham Eghbali

2015 Conference Speaker, Dr. Elham Eghbali

Dr. Elham Eghbali is the Founder of SkinChakra (Cosmetic specialty ingredients) and co-founder of Green Alchemy (cosmetic business & formulation consultancy).

Elham is a cosmetic chemist with almost 20 years of experience in cosmetic science and has been working with raw material suppliers, brand owners and manufacturers of consumer products as a consultant and formulation chemist. Her special field covers "natural cosmetics" and regulatory affairs in the EU. She has two regular courses for formulators of natural & organic cosmetics via Formula Botanica, an online formulation school based in the UK.: "Certificate in natural cosmetic preservation" and "stability testing of natural cosmetics." Elham lives in Bavaria, Germany.

Dr. Elham will be speaking on Natural Gums in Cosmetics.

David Fisher

2015 Conference Speaker, David Fisher

Ever since he made his first candle by dipping a piece of string into a coffee can full of wax as a 7-year-old member of the "Beaver Bug Club", and ever since he made his first batch of soap (he still has a bar of it) some years later, David Fisher has been a constant crafter.

He started making soap 15 years ago, first as a hobbyist and then professionally with his own soap business. In 2005, he transitioned from making and selling soap to making and teaching about soap and candles through the online site candleandsoap.about.com. The hundreds of articles he has written for the site teach a myriad of aspects of soap and candle making through step-by-step tutorials, recipes, videos, tips and more.

"I've always been fascinated and delighted by the mix of science, cooking, art, creativity, and sensuality of soap. Handcrafted soap is a piece of art that dissolves away with each use -- yet is practical, natural, healthy, and delights the senses."

David teaches soap making and other craft classes in Dallas and has presented at previous HSCG Conferences, the Lone Star Soap & Toiletries Conference, and the Alabama Soap Meeting. With a background in acting and theater, and an MBA in Nonprofit Management, he is skilled at finding ways to crack open your own creativity and apply it to your businesses.

David will be speaking on Tipping Points: Growing Your Business to Its Next Level of Success.

Amanda Gail

2015 Conference Speaker, Amanda Gail

Amanda Gail has built her career around providing education in her craft, soapmaking.  She has taught all over the United States in various classrooms and presents annually at conferences and seminars put on by the handcrafted soap industry's top guilds and organizations.

After learning the craft of soapmaking, Amanda started an educational blog at LovinSoap.com, which features step-by-step, full color photographic tutorials, articles, troubleshooting advice and general information about soapmaking.  She publishes eZines and eBooks on the topic of soapmaking and has written for industry publications such and Handmade Magazine, Saponifier and Soap Collaborative.

In 2013, after a heart-moving trip to Haiti to teach a group of women who lived in a tent camp how to make soap, she decided that she would use her love of teaching to help as many women as possible in similar situations.  She created a not-for-profit whose aim was to teach women in developing nations the craft and the business of soapmaking, tackling two of poverty's biggest issues - lack of access to hygiene and lack of economic opportunity for women.  The Lovin' Soap Project is a registered 501 (c) (3) and is currently working in Haiti, Uganda, China and India and will continue to expand to other areas where women need opportunity.

Amanda has written two books for the soapmaking industry, "How to Teach Your Craft" and "Lovin' Soap Studio Cold Process Soap Recipe Book".

Connect with Amanda online at www.lovinsoap.com and learn more about Lovin' Soap Project at www.lovingsoapproject.org!

Amanda will be speaking on Website SEO for Makers.

Marie Gale

2015 Conference Speaker, Marie  Gale

Marie is a soapmaker, long-time supporter of the HSCG and the author of four books, including Soap and Cosmetic Labeling and Good Manufacturing Practices for Soap and Cosmetic Handcrafters. She is a passionate supporter of the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry, and has been actively working to promote and protect the industry and its participants. Marie served on the Board of the HSCG in 2003 and as President from 2004 - 2009, and is currently the HSCG Webmaster. Her books (published after she retired from the board) were intended to fill a need in the industry; to help handcrafters understand and follow the regulations.

Marie speaks regularly about both soap and cosmetic labeling and GMP, posts current information and articles on both labeling and GMP on her blog, and does label reviews and answers email questions about the regulations. She is currently traveling the country in her computer-equipped RV with her husband Jere, her Doberman Pinscher Duke, and orange tabby cat George.

She  was awarded an Honorary Lifetime membership in the HSCG in 2009. 

Marie will be speaking on Navigating the Rocks and Shoals of Product Regulations: Labeling and More....

Matt Hamilton

2015 Conference Speaker, Matt Hamilton

At OnlineLabels.com, Matt Hamilton is known as the Innovation Wizard. He was their first employee 16 years ago and has worn just about every hat -- working in shipping, customer service, and now as part of the marketing team.

On a daily basis, Matt is actively developing new label sizes and products, building relationships with other organizations, managing the blog and social media outlets as well as helping produce and develop online videos that teach customers about labels and how to use them for personal and business related projects.

He's also a dad of two and the self proclaimed, "greatest husband that ever lived." Away from work, Matt likes to snow ski, ride bikes and play baseball with his son.

Matt will be speaking on Make Your Brand Stick! The Labeling Life Cycle.

Andee Howard

2015 Conference Speaker, Andee Howard

Andee has been immersed in the world of soap and scent since childhood, she has the DIY gene that keeps her nights short, her days long and her craft closet full to the brim.  When she is at work, you can find her helping customers, getting messy in the testing lab, or working on projects for the blog, "Adventures With The Sage".  In her personal life, Andee loves cooking, dogs, writing and hunting for mushrooms in a province far-far away.

Andee will be speaking on How to Unlock the Secrets of Fragrance Blending.

Mickie Maxey

2015 Conference Speaker, Mickie Maxey

Mickie Maxey is a mother, bath and body crafter, geek and all around goofball.  She started crafting bath and body products a few years ago as holiday gifts, and her gifting quickly expanded into a hobby.  Soon family and friends were asking for more products.  As demand quickly outgrew her ability to supply with a full-time job, she launched Argyle Cosmetics in 2014.

Within 6 months of launching, her business was so successful that she was able to leave her job as a Software Engineer.  Mickie handcrafts a full range of soaps, facial products, bath treats and skincare items.  Her creativity and enthusiasm have earned her a passionate client base.  She has also developed a network of soapy friends online.  She loves to learn from, teach, support, and celebrate the rich and diverse group of people she has met online.

Mickie will be speaking on Formulating Facial Care: Bringing Luxury to Your Product Line.

Catherine McGinnis

2015 Conference Speaker, Catherine McGinnis

Catherine McGinnis is the owner of www.Soaping101.com, one of the most popular social media outlets for soapmaking tutorials and advice./  With fifteen years of experience in the industry, she is passionate about helping soapmakers sharpen their skills via seminar talks, comprehensive classes and online videos.  The style and know how she offers in her videos and to the soapmaking community is an extension of her genuineness.  She considers soapmaking an industry where information can be freely shared and enjoyed.

When not in front of the camera, Catherine is the owner of a trendy brick and mortar soap store as well as created and personally directs the annual soapmaking social gathering, SoapCon, which attracts speakers and soapers from around the globe.  Catherine graduated Summa Cum Laude from MSU with a Master's Degree in Business Administration with her fields of expertise being Marketing and Economics.  Catherine's videos can be viewed at www.soaping101.com.

Catherine will be speaking on Cold Process Soaping 102.

Alyssa Middleton

2015 Conference Speaker, Alyssa Middleton

Alyssa Middleton has been professionally handcrafting soap, spa products and candles since 2007, when she purchased Vintage Body Spa.  At the time, it was only sold at local craft shows.  She steadily grew the company and now she has thriving international retail and private label programs.

As she began fielding more questions from others on how to start of grow their beauty business, Alyssa opened Bath and Body Academy in 2011.  There, she and her team provide resources, courses, coaching and done-for-you services to help beauty entrepreneurs at all levels.  She is an Amazon and Kindle bestselling author and has written both how-to soap making books and a series on business building tips specifically for the beauty industry.  There are four more books planned for release in 2015.

Never one to sit still for long, in 2014, Alyssa launched A.J. Murray's, her men's grooming products company.  She lives outside of Louisville, KY with her husband and two children.

Alyssa will be speaking on Multiple Revenue Streams to Strengthen and Build Your Business.

Kerri Mixon

2015 Conference Speaker, Kerri Mixon

Kerri Mixon is a 16th generation soapmaker and is the owner of Pallas Athene Soap (founded 2000), Pandora’s Artistic Soap (founded 2009), Certified Lye (founded 2005), Ace Soap Molds (founded 2009), and the A+ Soapmaking Studio (founded 2008). Eight full- and part-time employees currently run the businesses she founded.

For five years, she worked more than 80 hours per week managing the Business Education Department of a college in Fresno, while also teaching at the same college. After studying Organizational Leadership at Chapman University, she completed specialized training in Nutrition, Herbology, and Aromatherapy and currently teaches more than a dozen soapmaking and business classes at the A+ Soapmaking Studio and the Modern Soapmaking class at Cuyamaca College, both in San Diego, California.

Kerri will be speaking on Create Water-Based Facial Serums.

Rachel Mullen

2015 Conference Speaker, Rachel Mullen

Rachel Mullen (aka The Compulsive Lyer), is proud to be the unofficial soapmaker of country music!  Not only have her products appeared in celebrity gift bags at the CMT and CMA Awards, she has created custom soaps for some of country's biggest stars, including Lady Antebellum, Trace Atkins and Barbara Mandrell.

When she's not slaving over a hot soap stove, you can find her and her husband (#MrSuds), traveling around the world and snuggling up to the world's most adorable pups.

Rachel will be speaking on Anatomy of a Tradeshow.

Kimberlee Nagel

2015 Conference Speaker, Kimberlee Nagel

Attended the University of Miami in Miami, Florida for undergraduate studies and then studied law at American University, the Washington College of Law, in Washington, D.C.  While at American University, Kimberlee participated in various programs.  One program was representation of indigent litigants (landmark landlord/tenant cases, traffic court, and small claims court) in Washington D.C. courts for 10 months.  Others were international law programs via other law schools which she studied law in Europe (Italy, Netherlands and England) for 1 year.

Kimberlee's practice has transitioned over the years from a courtroom practice in criminal and civil litigation to advising private clients on compliance issues in the legal areas of DOT regulations, Florida soap/cosmetic/drug laws, labeling laws, Good Manufacturing Practices and OSHA Regulations.

Today, she has an "e-office" concept (mobile, electronic, paperless) that is most conducive to clients (both domestic and international) in today's e-commerce and mobile world, particularly since she travels extensively researching regulation and standards compliance.  All matters today are time critical.  So, when time is at a premium, her e-office provides quicker response time.  However, since she is the only employee and each and every aspect of every representation is handled by herself, her client base is limited.

Kimberlee will be speaking on Is it SOAP? (Florida's Drug and Cosmetic Act, Made Simple).

Lisa Kimball and Trista Page

2015 Conference Speaker, Lisa Kimball and Trista Page

Trista Page is the CEO and Chief Saponificologist at Indigo Bee, Inc.  She has been a soapmaker for nine years, earning the Advanced Soapmaker designation from the HSCG in 2012.  A lifelong entrepreneur, she started her soap company, Indigo Bee in 2006, and has been featured on local and national TV programs and magazines.  She started making soap in her kitchen, opened and closed a retail location, moved to the garage and currently has a soap factory in the Tampa Bay Area.  She most recently started a new division of Indigo Bee called "Bad Ass Beer Soap Company", and manufactures beer soap for several regional and national breweries.  While she has done everything from banking and finance to working for a paving company, she believes that combining soapmaking and craft beer is a whole lot more fun!

Lisa Kimball is the CEO of G3 Consulting, Inc.  She has been in the natural products and consumer packaged goods arena for just under 4 years.  Her experience stems from the financial and mortgage industry, eventually taking her to natural and organic body care after joining the team at Primal Pit Paste as the Director of Sales and Marketing.  Her experience in sales, marketing and brand management spans over the past 17 years giving her a working knowledge of what it takes to make connections and grow in your market.  Lisa has the energy that is unmatched and will inspire you to go big or go home!  After working with several local and national brands, she started a consulting firm that works within the natural products industry but also has clients in fitness, grocery, and health and beauty channels.

Lisa Kimball and Trista will be speaking on Stand Up, Stand Out and Step Off! Marketing Boot Camp.

Erica Pence

2015 Conference Speaker, Erica Pence

Erica Pence is a soapmaker, teacher, author and blogger.  She is the founder and CEO of Bath Alchemy Lab, the first in providing a vast array of comprehensive soap, bath and body, cosmetics, and candle classes, including the Soapmaking Academy, completely online.

Erica is the author of numerous books and magazines both in print and digitally, such as eBooks and eZines, for soapmakers as well as an active blog chock full of ideas, Soap-Blog.  Her new revised and expanded edition of Formulating Your Own Soap Recipes, is available in print and online in 2015, with new books scheduled for release in 2016.  She created a line of fresh and fun seasonal online soap classes for Bramble Berry, in which you can learn many intermediate and advanced techniques throughout the year, without taking a full course.

Erica has been a regular columnist for The Saponifier magazine for over 6 years, providing feature articles and ongoing columns.  She is a Certified Advanced Soapmaker and Certified Soapmaking Teacher with HSCG, and a speaker at the 2014 and 2015 HSCG Annual Conferences.  She holds a BA in Education and combines her love for teaching and researching with her passion for soapmaking.

Erica will be speaking on Creating the Perfect Recipes: The Secrets of Soap Formulating and Recipe Building.

Kristen Prinzing

2015 Conference Speaker, Kristen Prinzing

Kristen is the owner and founder of Lotion Lady (R), based in Encinitas, California.  She studied Psychology at the University of Redlands and, later, business at the University of Denver.  When her youngest son was born, 23 years ago she gave up her career in corporate banking to be a stay at home mom.  She had a family lotion recipe that she updated and gave as gifts to family and friends.  Soon she was taking orders for more.  Since that time Lotion Lady (R), has grown into a well-known business offering a healthy alternative to commercial skin care products.  In fact, Lotion Lady's Vanilla Body Oil has been sold in the Smithsonian Institutes Natural History Museum Gift Shop for 10 Years.

Kristen works with the Encinitas Community Resource Center collecting and donating products to the women's shelter and elderly residents.  She's also helped establish a transitional living program for former foster children from 18-25 years old.  Kristen is a member of the Soapmaking Historical Guild of San Diego, which demonstrates soaping over an open fire in Old Town State Park in San Diego.

Kristen will be speaking on Making Natural Deodorant.

Carrie & Darren Seibert

2015 Conference Speaker, Carrie & Darren Seibert
Carrie is a HSCG Certified Soapmaker who began making soap in 2011 to assist her daughter in dealing with skincare issues. Her experiments turned into a hobby which then quickly transformed into a part-time business. While their small endeavor began to grow, Carrie continued to crank out soap while Darren began dabbling in the art of traditional wet shaving. Together, the two of them formulated an aftershave balm for men, which was met with great reviews. Spurred by its hearty reception (and a pending trademark conflict), the couple decided to shift gears. Darren closed his laser engraving business and together with Carrie began a new soaping company, specifically geared toward the men’s wet shaving community. In May of 2014 they officially launched Soap Commander with a line of shaving soaps, aftershave balms, lotions, and bath soaps. The year 2015 brought exponential growth for Soap Commander, as their products have received international accolades and are currently carried by over 2 dozen retailers that cater to men (and women) who embrace the lifestyle of traditional shaving. Darren (a retired Navy cryptologist) and Carrie (a former math teacher) currently reside in northern Alabama, where they homeschool and raise their 7 children.

Carrie & Darren will be speaking on Boys and Their B.L.A.D.E.S.: Gaining Edge in the Wet Shaving Community.

Charlene Simon

2015 Conference Speaker, Charlene Simon

With 16 years of soapmaking experience and 8 of them having her own retail soap and cosmetic boutiques, Charlene has a battlefield of "but" kicking under her belt.  She is very excited to host this empowering session, taking YOU to the next level in your crafty business.

Charlene's retail business portfolio is one of her greatest accomplishments.  She opened her first retail soap shop in Hot Springs, AR in 2008, her second in 2014 in Natchitoches, LA and third in St. Louis, MO in 2015.  She's super thrilled to soon announce a fourth location!!  Her retail shop portfolio also includes Fat Bottomed Girl's Cupcake Shoppe (featured on Food Network's Cupcake Wars!) and Evilo Oils & Vinegars.  She lives in Hot Springs with her husband and the best business partner in the world, Justin, along with their three children Mackenzie, Dude, and Farren!

She is beyond proud to serve a current term with the HSCG as Vice President.  Charlene says she gets so much fulfillment out of speaking at past conferences and looks forward to seeing you all in Tampa!

Charlene will be speaking on "But Buster!" Don't let big "buts" keep you from feeling the burn of success!.

Jerrod Sumner

2015 Conference Speaker, Jerrod Sumner
Jerrod is the founder of BRANDtabulous, a boutique branding agency specializing in brand storytelling and styling. Jerrod is a storyteller first and marketer second. With a keen eye for brand identity and styling, Jerrod believes a picture and brand identity is worth a thousand words ... and EVERY word matters. It is about telling the right story for each listener.

As a brand storyteller, Jerrod works closely with his clients to develop brands from the maker's perspective. It is all about getting into the heads, hands, and hearts of your customers.

Jerrod's clients include makers, from butchers and bakers to candle makers ... really. As a sought-after lifestyle expert, Jerrod lends his voice and styling to West Elm, Williams Sonoma, Westin Hotels, Mall of America, American Cancer Society, Share Our Strength, and other "lovable" brands.

Jerrod will be speaking on Beyond the label and Logo :: Are you telling your best story?.

Jackie Thompson

2015 Conference Speaker, Jackie Thompson

Jackie began making soap in 1998 and formed Gaily Rebecca Soaps with daughter Gaily to control a growing inventory and continue her passion of soapmaking. In 2000, she branched out from cold process to liquid soap and has been trying to tame its temperamental nature over the course of her soapmaking career! After finally achieving satisfactory results and making new discoveries in the handcrafted liquid soapmaking field, Jackie has decided to share her insights and inroads in her upcoming book, Liquid Soapmaking..

Jackie is an avid supporter of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild. A member since December, 2000, she has attended every conference since the 2001 conference in Virginia Beach and has been a speaker on several of those occasions. She has served as a member and officer of the HSCG Board of Directors and is currently serving on the Policies, Procedures and Bylaws Committee and Certification Committee. Jackie is very proud and honored to have been voted a Lifetime Honorary Member of the HSCG.

Jackie will be speaking on Cream Soapmaking: A Practical Approach.

The 2015 Conference is sponsored in part by:

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for the 2015 Conference, see the 2015 Conference Sponsorship page, download our Sponsorship Brochure (.pdf file) or email the Conference Sponsorship Coordinator at