2015 Conference Topics

Advanced Swirling Made Easy

Presented by Erica Pence

This class dives into advanced swirling. Get a brief overview of how to use various tools and soap consistency to your advantage. Learn to juggle many colors and work within a time frame. Then see multiple advanced techniques. Learn to make zebra stripe swirls, mantras, hidden feathers, nonpareils, peacocks, bouquets, butterfly swirls, and more. The Swirling Made Easy class will give you the foundation for this course, however it is not required.

Anatomy of a Compelling Brand

Presented by Lela Barker

What makes some brands stand out from the crowd? Why do come companies seem to get all the buzz and gather raving fans and land on the shelves of the coolest stores while others just... sit? Branding is the key to building a successful creative company, but branding is about so much more than simply selecting fonts and choosing a color palette.

Swoon-worthy brands know their customers inside and out. They infuse their products with soul and invite consumers into their world. They create memorable customer experiences and use radically consistent messaging to become the experts in their field and the brands that catch the eye of editors, customers and wholesale buyers.

Join me for an exploration of what makes for fantastically compelling branding. We'll touch briefly on the elements of brand stories, ideal customers and product packaging before dissecting enormously successful brands to discover what makes them tick and learn how you can apply those same principles to your brand, no matter how deep your wallet or how far you are in your entrepreneurial journey.

Beyond E-Wax: Formulating Custom Emulsions

Presented by Deborah Bruijn

When you hear "Glyceryl Monostearate, Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Carbomer" does it make your head spin? Throw out the e-wax, this class will try to make sense of it all. We will cover the different classes of emulsifiers and review the (HLB) Hydrophile-Lipophile balance method used as a starting point to formulation.

In addition, we will learn all components of a formulation and review ingredient lists of known and popular products to break down their emulsification systems.

Branding for Badasses

Presented by Lela Barker

Branding lies at the cornerstone of every success you hope to have with your business. Many of us mistakenly think of branding as the colors or font used in our logos, but branding runs much, much deeper than that. It's the soul of your company, your "why," your brand story, the color palette and typography you select for your packaging + website, the experiences you create for your customers and the way in which you position your products within the marketplace. The very best brands start with something important to say and then align every other decision around communicating that message to their target audience. What is your brand saying

Bring a freshly sharpened pencil and your thinking cap to this hands-on workshop and we'll dive deep into both your why and your how with real-time activities and worksheets. We'll discover your unique selling proposition, unearth your target audience and craft language + experiences that make you stand out as a branding badass in a densely crowded marketplace.

Cause Marketing, Empowered Consumerism and Why Doing Good is Good for Business!

Presented by Amanda Gail

Doing good is good for business! Research shows that consumers care about the philanthropic activities of companies in which they support. Empowered consumerism is now driving the necessity for businesses to give back to their communities -- local or global.

Learn about the different ways to add a cause marketing program to your business model and how to find a non-profit or good cause to support. We'll talk about cause products, pin-ups, percentage of sales and other programs you can engage in to do good things through your business.

Cold Process Soapmaking Intensive Class

Presented by Catherine McGinnis

What you will learn:

  • A brief history on soapmaking
  • The basic chemistry of soapmaking
  • Mold choices and preparation
  • Soapmaking tools
  • Oil properties as they contribute to soap
  • Soap colorants (natural vs. man-made)
  • Scenting your soap (natural vs. man-made)
  • Simple design techniques
  • Lye safety and preparation
  • Preparing oils and butters
  • Mixing soap
  • Cut, cure and storage

This is a hands on lab. You will make your own batch of soap to take home with you. This class will prepare you to test for the HSCG Basic Cold Process Certification, which will be available for all members in the evening following the class.

Copyright: Protect What's Yours; Respect What's Theirs

Presented by Dave Purdue

Copyright can protect your web site pages, labels, logos, pictures, illustrations, and more. Learn how to use copyrights to protect your stuff, how to register your copyright claims, and how to avoid infringing on someone else's copyright.

In the class you'll also learn how to distinguish between copyright facts and myths, such as:

  • "Copyright is too complicated for me"
  • "I can use it if I found it on the Internet"
  • "I'm protected because I mailed a copy to myself"
  • "I can use someone's copyrighted work if I change it by at least 10%"

Custom Packaging: Componetics May Be The Answer!

Presented by Jack Leitman

Jack will show you tips on how to take stock packaging components and make them look different to create a unique brand, and how to get minimums as low a 12 units from a stocking location in the USA.

He will discuss how custom molds from China for small bottles and jars are not expensive if you have the required volume (which may not be as much as you think).

Are you ready for custom packaging? Jack will discuss and answer questions so you can decide if you are ready to take the leap.

Growing your Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics Business Through Publicity

Presented by Andreea Ayers

When you're running your own handcrafted business, there's a good chance you're your business' only publicist. Join entrepreneur Andreea Ayers for a workshop that will teach you how to handle your publicity like a pro.

Andreea will guide you through her easy-to-implement seven step process for successfully presenting your handmade products to the world -- without spending thousands of dollars or hiring a publicist. You'll define and craft the story of your brand, so you're able to share it with the media. You'll learn how to build press connections and reach out to bloggers and editors. You'll explore pitching to magazine editors, writing strong subject lines, running product giveaways with bloggers, and getting your products into the hands of celebrities.

By the end of this course, you'll have the skills and confidence to generate dynamic, engaging publicity for your company, and to turn that publicity into sales.

How to Open a Soap Shop: Everything You Need to be Retail Ready

Presented by Charlene Simon

This is a how-to workshop on what it takes as a handcrafter to secure and run a retail shop while selling your products successfully.

Topics covered will include business planning, start-up costs, insurance, trademarks, setting up an LLC, leasing, employees and marketing/selling - all the basics you need to get started with a retail shop.

Hybrid Soaps: The Best of Both Worlds

Presented by Sharon Czekala

Create stunning soaps by combining Melt and Pour and Cold Process soaps and techniques. MP soap adds a whole new dimension to your CP soaps, allowing you to use colors, swirls and embeds in whole new ways. In addition, using MP allows you to use colorants and fragrance oils that morph or disappear in CP. This demonstration class will cover embedding, layering, MP swirls and using MP soap to anchor embeds and botanicals to CP soap.

Little White Lyes

Presented by Kevin Dunn

This year, as with previous years, Professor Dunn will shed light on the most rescent research he and his students have done to answer questions about soap making and soap chemistry.

In his humorous and easy-to-understand manner, Prof. Dunn consistently amazes us with real and proven answers to the questions that soapmakers have asked him. This year will be no different, but we'll have to wait until the conference to see what surprises are in store!

Marvelous Moisturizing: Making Basic Lotions and Creams from Scratch

Presented by Beth Byrne

Lotions and creams are easier to make than you think! With just a few ingredients and equipment you probably already own, you too can create luxurious lotions and creams. Using oils and butters, emulsifier and distilled water, see how simple this product really is. We will discuss preparation of your work surface, procedure and packaging, as well as a bit about formulating your own creations. You'll return home confident in your ability to whip up a marvelously moisturizing batch of your own.

Melt & Pour Like a Pro

Presented by Ariane Arsenault

This presentation will help you break the ice and get serious about making Melt & Pour for your business.

You will learn how to get started to make Melt & Pour in larger batches and be guided on how to choose the right equipment and tools. Coloring, layering and embedding Melt & Pour in multiple 12 to 24 inches loaves made easy! You will also be given tips and tricks on wrapping & labeling the final product for retail.

Monetize What You Know: Start Teaching for a Profit

Presented by LaShonda Tyree

This advance 'how to' workshop is designed for seasoned soap and cosmetic makers who own creative businesses but are losing out on capitalizing the knowledge they possess about their craft or skill. No longer struggle to see how a 'do-it-yourself' service can be implemented to your product line and boost your bottom line.

By the end of the workshop, you'll have developed the draft for your first class concept that you can incorporate when you get back to your office.

Naked Marketing: A Return to Intimacy in the Digital Age

Presented by Melissa Ward

This session delivers an insightful and frank look at online marketing methods and offers actionable tips on how you can stand out from the rest of your industry.

Let's face it, we live in a mass manufacturing, mass marketing world. People expect instant gratification and our newest generation of buyers reacts to the market en' masse. More then anything else, people value being valued. Your consumer wants to know that you are listening and you value their purchase whether they are spending one dollar or a thousand dollars.

International speaker Melissa Ward, brings you through the process of stripping yourself down so you stand out in a crowded market place. Learn how to market your business based on its culture, values and individual uniqueness, creating a win win for you and your customer. You will walk away with insights on the how to provide exceptional customer service, how to handle criticism and increase your market share without compromise.

Product Labeling: Cosmetics (including Soap as a Cosmetic)

Presented by Marie Gale

The regulations for labeling cosmetics, including soap that is not exempt from cosmetic regulations, is not too difficult, but it is detailed.  There have been some clarifications from the FDA in the past year, particularly having to do with how to identify ingredients.  

Marie will cover the basics and get you on the right track to correctly label your cosmetic products.

Product Labeling: Simple Soap (Not a Cosmetic)

Presented by Marie Gale

Labeling soap and cosmetics isn't difficult, but it is detailed. While the rules and regulations haven't changed much over the years, the interpretation of them has been clarified a bit.

Even when soap is exempt from the cosmetic labeling requirements, it is required to be labeled in accordance with the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act and any state regulations.

Product Photography: Perfecting the Shot

Presented by Adam Grogin

You already make outstanding soap and cosmetics, learn how to show them off properly with beautiful product photos. Stepping out from behind the lens, Adam will share with you the secrets of shooting your line on any budget.

The first half of the seminar will cover:

  • Camera Types and Lens Choices
  • Necessary Equipment
  • Proper Lighting
  • Studio Set Ups
  • Basic Camera Settings and Formats
  • Post Processing Software
  • Editing Techniques

The second half will be a hands-on lab. You are encouraged to bring your camera, whether it's a smart phone or DSLR. Be sure to bring some of your products with you to practice taking your own photos. You'll be implementing the techniques you learned earlier in the day, with Adam as your guide. Come out of this seminar with the ability to take your own eye catching, customer pleasing product photos.

Psychology of Color

Presented by Michelle Rhoades

Learn how to level the playing field with the big box companies. What if you knew which colors to use to stimulate potential customers into buying from you instead of your competitor? Understand how color influences customers to buy, information on what triggers emotional buying and how to increase sales based on color. Understand the psychology of color through chromotherapy and how to apply it to your designs. Learn how color can stimulate learning, perception, buying; how colors attraction certain buyers and emotional buying based on color. Tie in your branding colors from your website right down to your soap designs. Gain confidence when choosing colors, color palettes and combinations. Keep the color moving to create visual interest.

Learn about colorants, micas, pigments, and natural colorants, and how to:

  • use color and sell like a pro.
  • color blend micas
  • create color profiles
  • add natural herbs, flowers, powders to create new colors.

The key is to learn how "see" the color and understand how your customer responds to it.

Soaping for the Specialized Consumer

Presented by Catherine McGinnis

A great number of consumers fall into one or more of the following groups: socially and economically conscious, vegan, gluten sensitive, skin conditions and allergy sufferers. As the soap market expands, catering to these groups, and others like them, is often overlooked. It is essentially an untapped market. Indeed soap is a wash off product but many individuals that identify themselves within these groups are mindful of maintaining faithful guidelines. This presentation will offer comprehensive information on expanding into these markets, factors to be aware of, altering a base recipe to accommodate requests and marketing to the specialized consumer.

Swirling Made Easy

Presented by Erica Pence

This class introduces you to swirling. You will learn about the types of swirling and the effect of soap consistency and tools on your designs. See the step by step process of many popular designs, which are the basis for more advanced techniques. Learn pot swirling, funnel and faux-funnel swirling, drop swirling, linear swirling, hanger swirling, and simple marbling, plus combo methods. The Advanced Swirling class is an excellent follow up to this course.

The Social Media Sales Funnel

Presented by Melissa Ward

This session will help you engage your social media connections, build up traffic to your web site and increase online sales.

Likes, fans and followers are all great, but they don't pay the bills. Learn how to leverage your social networks to create an engaged and enthusiastic fan base that will be flying to your web site where you have the greatest amount of control over the conversation. We will talk about specific tools and techiniques you can use to maintain top of mind awareness, and increase your sales.

Topics discussed will be:

  • Know when and what to post on your social networks.
  • What a good landing page looks like and why
  • How to select an email provider that suits you best.
  • Creating effective email campaigns
  • Asking for the sale
  • Tools for online catalogs
  • How to upsell
  • Making sure you are using your web site effectively
  • The ups and downs of affiliate programs
  • ... and more.

Transforming the Face of Preservation: Peptide Technology in the Personal Care Industry

Presented by Kathleen Norris

Parabens and synthetic preservatives have been demonized by the media. Instigated by a research paper issued from the University of Reading, parabens are now associated with cancer. Although parabens are the most frequently used preservatives in cosmetics and beauty care products, the media's reaction coupled with sensationalism have made these materials a now avoided, albeit it, effective, low cost product.

Changes within the personal care market, specifically, bans on different preservatives are forcing formulators to look at alternatives for their products. Materials such as alcohols, organic acids/salts, multifunctional additives (like caprylyl clycol) and natural flavors and fragrances are the proposed antimicrobials.

The problems surrounding these options are the lack of safety and efficacy data, instability and incompatibilities, supply and source, sensation potential and cost. We need to focus, identify and develop antimicrobial ingredients that provide effective, safe and stable options for formulators. Using innovative peptide technology with added cosmetic benefits, there is a new alternative created that restricts antimicrobial activity. Using Lactic Acid Bacteria, one can produce novel antimicrobial peptides, bacteriocins. These proteinaceous materials inhibit grown of bacterial strains and are structurally, functionally and ecologically sustainable and diverse. Peptide technology next generation of proactive, innovative and efficacious antimicrobial materials.

What's Your Plan? Creating a Working Mission Statement for Any Size Business

Presented by David Fisher

It is said that "those who fail to plan, plan to fail."

This session walks you through creating a basic guiding/mission statement for your business. We'll first creatively brainstorm on the "qualities" that embody your unique business, and the personality, talent and passion you bring to it. Using that, we'll craft a draft of a mission statement that will guide nearly every decision you make in your business.

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