As additional speakers are confirmed for the 2015 conference, they will be added here.

See also information on our Keynote Speaker, Andreea Ayers.

Benjamin Aaron

Ben has directed Prairie Soap Company LLC for 7 years, in which he established a storefront and wholesale nationwide to national chain retailers. In recent years, he has had the honor of becoming Co-Director of the Lovin’ Soap Project, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that focuses on women's empowerment through soapmaking in developing nations. Even more recently, he founded The Imperial Drifter, a new business catered to men’s grooming and facial care.

Ben is having the most fun in life when he is helping others with their goals, traveling and eating. If he can do all three at once then his heart truly leaps. He has a deep belief in the power of goal setting. Ben believes in the power of positivity and self-discovery. In fact, he thinks the most successful people in the world are the ones who know themselves the best, and he professes that to anyone who will listen. And he loves a good porter or brown ale.

Bens's topic will be How to Wholesale: Selling Your Products to the Broader Marketplace

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, 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 travelling when she can.

Ariane's topic will be Melt & Pour Like a Pro

Andreea Ayers

Andrea 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.

Andreea's topic will be Growing your Handcrafted Soaps and Cosmetics Business Through Publicity

Beth Byrne

Beth Byrne has been involved with making cosmetics since the late 90's, 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.

Beth's topic will be Marvelous Moisturizing: Making Basic Lotions and Creams from Scratch

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.

Sharon's topic will be Hybrid Soaps: The Best of Both Worlds

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 Channels "Mysteries of Magic" and the History Channel's "Modern Marvels".

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.

Marie's topic will be Product Labeling; Regulations as of 2015

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 professional 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 puttin him at a level where he understands the needs and mentality of the Handcrafted industry.

Adam will be giving a half-day seminar (optional) on will be Product Photography: Perfecting the Shot

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

Catherine will be giving a half-day seminar (optional) titled Cold Process Soapmaking Intensive Class and also presenting Soaping for the Specialized Consumer.

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.

Kathleen's topic will be Transforming the Face of Preservation: Peptide Technology in the Personal Care Industry

Erica Pence

Erica Pence is a soapmaker, teacher, author, and blogger. She is the founder and CEO of Bath Alchemy Lab b providing a vast array of comprehensive soap, bath & body, and candle classes both online and locally. She has helped many get started and open businesses while assisting others polish advanced techniques. She owns Herban Apothecary offering her own line of natural products to popular boutiques and stores.

Erica is author of numerous eBooks and eZines for soapmakers as well as an active blog chock full of ideas, Soap-Blog. She is publishing a brand new book (in print) for extreme soapmaking techniques and has 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.

Erica has been a regular columnist for The Saponifier magazine for over 5 years providing features and articles for Herbal Wisdom, Chandler, and Potpourri columns. She is a Certified Advanced Soapmaker and Certified Soapmaking Teacher with HSCG, and was speaker at the 2014 HSCG Annual Conference. She holds a BA in Education and combines her love for teaching and researching with her passion for soapmaking.

Erica's topics will be Swirling Made Easy and Advanced Swirling Made Easy

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.

Dave's topic will be Copyright: Protect What's Yours – Respect What's Theirs

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).

2014 and the Tennessee Soap and Candle Meeting 2014.

Michelle's topic will be The Psychology of Color

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 work olive backwards). Currently, Charlene is building out her 4th retail shop, another Bathhouse Soapery, slated to open in the fall of 2014.

Charlene's topic will be How to Open a Soap Shop…Everything You Need to be Retail Ready

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.

LaShonda's topic will be Monetize What You Know: Start Teaching for a Profit