2015 Conference Speakers

Ariane Arsenault

2015 Conference Speaker, Ariane Arsenault
With a University degree in Visual Arts and creativity up her sleeves, Ariane founded La Fille de la Mer, Savonnerie Artisanale in 2003 in the Magdalen Islands, Quebec, Canada. The colours and design of her products make her stand out as a soapmaker. Born on an island and raised on a sailboat, no wonder Ariane's product lines are inspired by the seaside! Always in search of local products to add to her soap formulations, she uses local honey, kelp, and sand as well as many other hand picked botanicals.

After 11 years in the soapmaking business, Ariane has specialized in both Cold Processed and Melt & Pour soaps as well as other cosmetics. Melt & Pour is part of her daily job and there aren't many secrets she doesn't know about it yet!

In Canada, she is a leader in the industry and is very active on social media and soaping forums. Her YouTube channel and facebook page are places where soapmakers go for inspiration.

Besides soapmaking, Ariane is going back to school for Accounting while taking care of her two beautiful little girls and traveling when she can.

Andreea Ayers

2015 Conference Speaker, Andreea Ayers

Andreea Ayers is the CEO and founder of Launch Grow Joy and Get Media Happy, the go-to source for top editors and bloggers seeking product-based news stories from media-ready entrepreneurs. Her mission? To make PR less intimidating for those entrepreneurs who can't afford a monthly retainer fee for a professional PR firm.

Andreea opened her first product-based business selling inspirational t-shirts in 2006. Despite knowing little about the industry, she went on to sell over 20,000 tees in over 300 stores in the United States and around the world, with 6-figure sales just 18 months after launching. In 2013, Andreea also founded Soaps to Live By, a line of handcrafted soaps and was able to get her soaps featured in more than 50 outlets in 9 months. In more recent years, Andreea has focused on helping hundreds of entrepreneurs secure media coverage through one-on-one consulting and coaching.

Andreea's products have been featured in over 300 magazines, newspapers and TV shows including ABC, NBC, Fox, The Bonnie Hunt Show, Redbook, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, Self, Shape, The Nest, and many more. Her tees have been worn by celebrities including Tori Spelling, Ed Begley, Denise Richards, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Lela Barker

2015 Conference Speaker, Lela Barker

When it comes to teaching you how to build an empire, Lela Barker has a simple philosophy: beneath every successful creative brand is a solid business foundation.

As the founder of Bella Lucce, an award-winning international beauty brand distributed through 1200 spas in 27 countries and the mind behind Lucky Break Consulting, Lela is wildly passionate about helping creative entrepreneurs bring their products into the marketplace. She works with beauty companies, ceramicists, stationers and upstart apparel and houseware designers to infuse their brands with seasoned strategy with regard to product pricing, branding, wholesale distribution and public relations.

One client recently christened Lela "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 sixty publications worldwide and her 8-week business intensive, known as "LBU: Secrets to Wholesale Success," sells out within days each time registration opens.

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

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.

Beth Byrne

2015 Conference Speaker, Beth Byrne

Beth Byrne has been involved with making cosmetics since the late 90s, when she discovered she could make products using the herbs she grew. She soon became obsessed with growing even more herbs and making more products. No stone was left unturned. By sharing her results with friends and family, Beth found that she had a potential business opportunity, so she began selling her soaps, lotions and other products under her company name, Soap and Garden. Not surprisingly, Beth specializes in products for gardeners.

In 2006, the Saponifier magazine was back in business after a several year hiatus and Beth became a column writer until 2013, when she was asked to become its Managing Editor, a position she still holds. In 2010, she joined the Board of Directors for the HSCG, where she thoroughly enjoys serving soap and cosmetic makers and doing her part to make the industry flourish.

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 ten years. The company now supplies well over 100 upscale stores, boutiques, spas and more throughout 8 states, and has been featured on TV, in newspapers, magazines, and blogs. The Great Lakes Natural Soap Company is known for beautiful, creative soaps, and stunning designs in CP, MP and Hybrid variations.

Sharon's lifelong passion has always been food and cooking, especially fancy desserts, over the top cakes and pastries. She brings this passion into her soapmaking through mouth-watering soap cakes, cupcakes and bar soaps that look good enough to eat.

Rather than beginning as a hobbyist, Sharon planned her company from day one as a wholesale company, allowing her to put processes in place that make wholesale production of elaborate soaps possible. In addition she chose to make products that reflect the beauty of the Great Lakes region as her particular niche. As a result, the company was selected to provide soap to state-run health clinics throughout Michigan, which forced the company to grow quickly and ramp up production in a very short time frame.

Sharon is a certified soapmaker in Advanced CP/HP and MP processes, as well as an HSCG certified teacher. She teaches weekly classes in basic and advanced CP and MP Soapmaking, including a class specializing in cupcakes.

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".

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. More than 175,000 readers from all over the globe visit the site each month generating nearly 1 million page views.

"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.

Marie Gale

2015 Conference Speaker, Marie  Gale

Marie 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 feels passionate about 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, does label reviews and answers email questions about the regulations. She lives in Oregon on her family's timber ranch with the man in her life, and various animals including a horse, a dog, two cats and numerous chickens.

Amanda Griffin

2015 Conference Speaker, Amanda Griffin

Amanda Griffin is co-founder and co-director of Lovin' Soap Project, a non profit with the initiative to empower women in underdeveloped countries through soapmaking; editor of the Soap Collaborative, a publication for the soapmaking industry; and owner of lovinsoap.com), a popular educational blog for soapmakers which features tutorials and soapmaking articles.

Amanda has taught soapmaking all over the country at bootcamps and conferences teaching hundreds of students over the years. She has been a speaker for the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild, Central Soapers Workshop, Alabama Soap Conference, Tennessee Soap and Candle Meeting and Texas' Lonestar Soap and Toiletries Seminar. She teaches everything from the basics of soap making, to advanced formulations, mold making, color, and design techniques.

Adam Grogin

2015 Conference Speaker, Adam Grogin

Adam has Bachelors of Science Degree in business and has been an entrepreneur since 2001. A jack of all trades, Adam has a multitude of small businesses which contrast and complement one another all the while allowing him to take his passions and hobbies into business.

Having always been a photography enthusiast, Adam took his photography to a professional level in 2009. Since then he has expanded his expertise across many realms of industries, customer bases and styles. His specialties include; Studio & Portrait Photography, Sport & Event Photography, Product Photography and much more. His company, Monster Productions now also offers an arsenal of services to individuals and business serving all of their multimedia needs, including Photography, Graphic Design, Videography & Filmmaking.

With two years of involvement in the HSCG Annual Conference, Adam has picked up the basics of Soap Making, lingo and industry standards putting him at a level where he understands the needs and mentality of the Handcrafted industry.

Jack Leitman

2015 Conference Speaker, Jack Leitman

Jack Leitman started his long career in packaging in 1960. as Organic Chemicals Manager at Mcarthur Chemicals. Since that time he has worked with various packaging companies in the US and Canada and in 2007 formed L&S Packaging, LLC, now The Leitman Group. Their mission is to provide the industry with high-quality packaging components at the lowest possible prices.

The Leitman Group has partnered with many factories in China and offer a complete line of sprayers, pumps and dispensing packages, as well as PET and glass containers. They also design custom closures and opal glass bottles and jars. Jack travels to China twice a year to source new components and qualify factories.

Throughout his career, Jack has been very active in many associations and has written numerous articles in packaging trade publications.

Catherine McGinnis

2015 Conference Speaker, Catherine McGinnis

Catherine McGinnis is the owner of www.Soaping101.com. She earned her MBA, Summa Cum Laude from MSU. With a background in marketing/economics and a keen eye for design, soapmaking was a perfect fit. She founded newt+fig Soap Company which soon gained a faithful following and led to requests for video tutorials. She now helps soapmakers sharpen their skills with tips, tricks and techniques through free weekly online classes via YouTube. Catherine's videos can be viewed at www.Soaping101.com

Kathleen Norris

2015 Conference Speaker, Kathleen Norris

Kathleen Norris works in the Technical Marketing Department at Active Concepts, LLC and is presenting on behalf of Formulator Sample Shop. Formulator Sample Shop is a sister company to Active Concepts.

She has been with Active Concepts for over three years, as well as an active member of the Carolina SCC. She was appointed newsletter editor for the Carolina's SCC Chapter at the start of 2014. Kathleen recently moved back from Milan, Italy, where she directed the marketing initiatives for Active Concepts, Srl., ACL's European counter-part. Kathleen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English from UNC Chapel Hill.

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 providing soap, bath & body, and candle making classes, and The Bonnie Bath Co., her own line of natural bath and body products. She is author of the blog, Bath Alchemy, where she provides information for those in the bath and body industry. She has recently founded Soap for a Cause, through which money is raised for various small charities with each bar of soap sold. Erica is a columnist for The Saponifier magazine. She holds a BA in Education, and combines her love for teaching and researching with her passion for soapmaking. Erica is a native Floridian, who now resides in North Carolina with her husband, daughter, 2 dogs, and an old cat.

Dave Purdue

2015 Conference Speaker, Dave Purdue

Dave Purdue of Purdue Law Offices, LLC., is a trademark attorney in Toledo, Ohio. His father, John, founded Purdue Law Offices in 1984, and they practiced together until 2009. Dave is a registered patent attorney, like his father, and Dave represents and counsels clients in connection with their patent, copyright and trademark portfolios. Clients include individuals and companies in the United States as well as clients in Australia, Germany, and Russia. These clients are involved in many different industries including food, adult beverages, personal care products, aerospace, film, investment, and cosmetics.

Dave earned a degree in Engineering from the University of Michigan and graduated from the University of Toledo College of Law in 1983. He was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1983 and became a registered patent attorney in 1984. He provides pro bono services to entrepreneurs through Assets Toledo, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, and the Ask a Patent, Copyright and Trademark Attorney program at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Dave enjoys spending time with his family and fishing in the Maumee River searching for the elusive small mouth bass that swim there. A bad day of fishing beats a good day at the office.

Michelle Rhoades

2015 Conference Speaker, Michelle Rhoades

Michelle Rhoades is the CEO and founder of Mossy Creek Soap Studio. She began her journey in the bath and body industry in 2006 as an independent contractor for a direct sales company offering spa parties at home. This lead the way for her success as both a soapmaker and an instructor. Her use of color and visually stimulating photography has earned the recognition of the foodnetwork.com and The Holiday Edition of Southern Living Magazine.

Michelle's passion is sharing her love for soapmaking through classes and workshops in the middle Georgia Area. Students travel from all over the country to learn how to create works of art with their soap in her soap design workshop. she has spoken at the HSCG Annual Conference (2013), the Alabama Soap and Candle Conference (2012, 2014) and the Tenessee Soap and Candle Meeting (2014).

Charlene Simon

2015 Conference Speaker, Charlene Simon

Charlene Simon is a true lover of retail. She opened her soap shop, Bathhouse Soapery, 6 years ago. Her passion for retail overflowed in November of 2011 when she opened Fat Bottomed Girl's Cupcake Shoppe, another creative outlet for Charlene. FBG was featured on Food Network's Cupcake Wars in 2013. In March of 2014, she opened Evilo Olive Oils & Vinegars (evilo is the word "olive" spelled backwards). Her 4th retail shop, another Bathhouse Soapery, opened in the fall of 2014.

LaShonda Tyree

2015 Conference Speaker, LaShonda Tyree

La Shonda Tyree wants to live in a world where glass ceilings are smashed, dreams do come true and everyone is using handcrafted natural soap.

In 2003, what started off as a soap-making hobby bloomed into a natural handmade bath and body brand called Nyah located in Paterson, NJ. During the eleven years of business, La Shonda Tyree has served the handcrafted natural soap and cosmetics industry as a board member of The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild as well as a local director for Indie Business Network.

Now, as a sought after natural soap and cosmetics instructor since 2006, she's been a guest on the Indie Business Network Success Calls, featured in the "Herald News", EbruTV and "The Network Journal Magazine", "Inside Jersey Magazine", a monthly contributing writer for the Lovin Soap Project eZine and a speaker on Indie Cruise 2013 as well as Rising Tide Capital's 2013 Semi-Finals Start Something Challenge event.

Recently she is proud to be one of the first female instructors for Rising Tide Capital's Community Business Academy, a 12 week entrepreneurship training program focused on supporting starting and growing businesses to be successful. Her first book How to Make Money Teaching will be available spring 2015.

Melissa Ward

2015 Conference Speaker, Melissa Ward

International speaker, Melissa Ward is a social media marketing and web development thought leader. Over the course of her extensive career she has shared her expertise and knowledge globally through her blogs, articles, and networking initiatives. Through her professional development conferences, training sessions and seminars she has helped corporations and entrepreneurs increase their presence, solidify their market position, and improve their visibility across all industry channels.

Melissa has worked in the IT industry developing software for Commodities Trading, Financial Analysis, and Customer Relationship Management for large multi-national corporations. Additionally, she has worked in promotional graphic and magazine advertising layout and design. A business owner for over 15 years, Melissa leverages her technical and marketing expertise to benefit her clients. She brings with her almost two decades of experience as a seasoned and knowledgeable professional, graphic designer, Internet Marketer, entrepreneur and business journalist.

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