Register for the 2018 US Conference

2018 US Conference Topics

The HSCG chooses speakers and topics to cater to most business levels and individual skills. You'll learn about business techniques, regulations, formulation-all the things you need to make the most out of your conference experience!

Handouts for the 2018 Conference sessions are available on the Conference Handouts page.

Blending Passion with Profit (and How to Keep Them Both Alive)

Presented by David Fisher

Keeping a business going year after year, batch after batch, takes a combination of skill, creativity, hard work, and an endless supply of motivation. This session will focus on strategically growing your business without losing touch with the reasons you started it in the first place. It will discuss how to balance life and work and find ways to believe in your business (and yourself) so strongly that your passion can’t help but become reality.

Bling It! Trade & Craft Show Table Design

Presented by Michelle Rhoades

You have 3 seconds for customer to pass judgement about your booth. You had better make it look good enough from them to stop. Think of your display as a huge billboard on a highway—would you stop? If the answer is maybe, then you need to attend Michelle’s presentation. Learn how to set up your area for maximum profits and visibility. Find out how to design a space that will make everyone want to stop and shop with you. Learn about the elements of design, how to arrange a display that will attract customers at a craft show without spending a fortune. See what works and what doesn’t. Learn where to buy those special items that will help make your craft show experience a positive one without all the headaches. Showcasing your products with a spot-on design will ensure a successful show! Join Michelle as she helps you navigate the trenches of stellar booth design and be on your way to increasing your sales today!

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble: A Liquid Soapmaking Adventure

Presented by Jackie Thompson

In this half day hands-on workshop, you will have fun learning how to make your own liquid soap and how to identify and solve the most common liquid soapmaking problems. Individually or in groups, you will:
• Make a No Paste Liquid Soap.
• Test the soap for neutrality.
• Titrate a liquid soap sample and calculate any necessary pH buffers whether acid or alkali.
• Test the strength of sodium and potassium hydroxide samples.

Charisma + Drive + Focus = POWER

Presented by Gates Councilor

Buckle your seatbelts because Charlene Simon (HSCG President and Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium Owner), Lela Barker (Lucky Break Consulting) and Gates Councilor (Burly Stone) are going to kick off the 2018 Conference with a presentation that combines their collective power! Hear where real power comes from utilizing all your charisma, drive and focus using real life stories, tips and tricks. Get ready to leave this session energized for the rest of the event and ready to take your company to the stratosphere and beyond. Don't miss these powerhouses all in one killer presentation!


Creating the Perfect Label; It's Not Just the Regulations

Presented by Marie Gale

Creating the perfect label for your product isn't only about the regulations.  Yes, the regulations are important and you need to know what they are, but there are other factors that go into the perfect label. 

You need to investigate and find the right TYPE of label, with the right ADHESIVE (if it's stick on), and the right PRINTING METHOD.  You don't want the label to peel off or the ink to run!

The DESIGN also makes a huge impact.  Sometimes it can be hard to come up with something that looks good and also takes into what the regulations require and the large text sizes needed for some items.

In this seminar Marie will help you put together ALL the pieces, so you can create your perfect label.

Creative Soapmaking with Zahida Map

Presented by Zahida Map

Zahida's sessions on Creative Soapmaking will explore the creative process and how it relates to soapmaking. She will discuss common creative blocks that many of us experience and provide techniques to assist in overcoming them. She will share ideas for finding inspiration and motivation in this often self-directed business. In addition to sharing some tips, tricks and techniques, Zahida will also be demonstrating her much anticipated cold process Butterfly Swirl.

Designing a Profit Focused Business

Presented by Sharon Czekala

Are you drowning in products? Feeling the cash flow pinch? Spending all your time making and wondering why the money isn’t flowing in as it should? Spend an hour with Sharon and learn the secrets of building a business that works.  Handcrafters generally spend their time dreaming up and producing new and ever more creative products, sometimes to the detriment of their business. Learn how shifting your focus can create a healthier, more balanced business model that generates cash, reduces expenses and may even give you some free time. We’ll discuss branding, target markets, creating a focused product line and buying and making in bulk. In addition, we’ll discuss when it makes sense. to let your creativity soar.

Employees 411: How to Save Your Sanity and Hire Help

Presented by Christina Rose

Do you feel like you have a dozen jobs? Are you the maker, formulator, packer, shipper, customer service agent, accountant, bookkeeper, web master, and more? Is it time to tag in help? Learn how to hire your first employee and the steps to take. We will discuss choosing what position to hire for based on your skills, placing a help wanted ad, employee pay, government tax forms and requirements, protecting proprietary information and building solid employee policies.

Fighting Bac! Keys for Successful Product Preservation: Aqueous Cosmetics

Presented by Tia Alkazaz

Bacteria, yeasts, and molds are ubiquitous in nature, which means that they are virtually everywhere- ready to grow and cause problems. Aqueous, or water-based, cosmetics need to be properly preserved to defend against the growth of unwanted microbes that lead to product contamination. This presentation provides insight on factors to be considered to achieve successful product preservation as well as an overview of current natural solutions available in the market.

Fighting Bac! Part 2: Keys for Successful Product Preservation: Anhydrous Products

Presented by Maggie Ghanem

Formulators, chemists, and handcrafters spend a lot of time perfecting their anhydrous formulations, but often overlook the importance of preservative systems in the finished product. Anhydrous products (Anhydrous, meaning "without water"), need to be properly preserved to prevent contamination through consumer use. This presentation will provide an overview of common misconceptions and offer suggestions to properly preserve anhydrous cosmetic and personal care products.

Fun With Solid Bubble Bath (Bubble Bars) & Bubble Scoops

Presented by Amanda Aaron

Learn to formulate solid bubble bath and bubble scoops! These products are all the rage these days. We’ll go over ingredients, hardeners, liquids, formulation, rolling, scooping and troubleshooting. Then I’ll actually show you how I make rolled solid bubble bath and bubble scoops. Solid bubble bath and bubble scoops are so much fun to make! They are whimsical and adorable. Kids of all ages (even adults) love using them!

Help & How To: Tax Tips for Small Business Owners

Presented by Dave Yoshida

Learn about business income taxes. In this presentation, Dave will review with participants basic tax concepts, including:

  • Keeping track of income and expenses
  • What is (and isn’t) deductible
  • The importance of paying yourself
  • Separating business finances from personal finances
  • Tricky areas like business use of home, meals and entertainment, auto expenses and more.

Dave will give concrete examples that are well-founded in tax law. Participants will have ample time for questions as well.

How Thinking About Behavioral Economics Can Help Your Business

Presented by Marc Hight

Reflecting on how predictable irrationalities in human behavior guide how we all make decisions is not just interesting-it can be useful! This presentation will walk attendees through some of the basic findings of behavioral economics and then apply them to practical cases that can help businesses, whether on-line or brick-and-mortar.

How to Distill Your Own Hydrosols and Essential Oils

Presented by Cindy Novack

Did you ever wonder how essential oils and hydrosols are made? Learn what the difference is between them along with their applications. Join Cindy for a live demonstration on steam distillation that extracts the essential oil from the plant material while creating a hydrosol. We will also discuss how to incorporate essential oils and hydrosols into your products, recipes will be shared, and many tips and tricks for a successful distillation process will be covered.

How to Make Detergent-Free Melt & Pour Soap from Scratch

Presented by John Mikrut

Transparent/Melt & Pour base is usually commercially made, but for the knowledgeable CP/HP soapmaker making your own base only requires some additional information. This class will provide the information needed to create a product that is uniquely yours; The additional ingredients you’ll need to make the soap Transparent and/or Melt & Pourable; The oils to choose to create a luxurious soap; And how to use additives to take your soap to the next level.

How to Make Odor Neutralizing Sprays (From Body to Home)

Presented by Cheryl Mitchell

Cheryl Mitchell aka Miss Doyle is going to teach you how to make natural body sprays, pet sprays, room sprays and more, all from scratch! These sprays are made with a naturally based odor neutralizer as well as either essential or fragrance oils. She will present a step-by-step guide all about how to make sprays that are both water-based and alcohol free. Learn how to make amazing sprays on a small budget – a great way to fill that void in your current product offering with something unique that can’t be found in most stores!

Label Logistics; Past the Regulations

Presented by Marie Gale

Figuring out wht kind of label to use - what size, paper stock, ink and adhesive - is nearly as hard as figuring out what needs to go on the label in the first place!  Marie will cover the different types of labels that are available on the market, how to choose the best one for your product.  Print it yourself? or have it printed? What size, shape and paper stock?  What ink or printer will work? How do you get all the required information on the label in a design that looks good?

Marie will tackle all those questions and more.  Please note that label regulations themselves will not be covered in depth - this class is more about how to choose the right label and design.

Learn How to Be Your Own Publicist

Presented by Rebekah Epstein

What would it mean to see your company in your local newspaper, a national magazine, or even on TV? It would mean exposure to an audience of new customers excited to do business with you. Media attention can be the catalyst for success, but most solopreneurs and small business owners don’t know how to tell their own story or who to tell it to. If only the deserving entrepreneur knew how to connect with traditional media outlets to get their story out there.


Fortunately, with just a few straight-forward strategies, you can get media attention to your story and business. During this workshop, you will learn:

  1. A framework of ideas that capture the media's attention
  2. What outlets are for you and who to contact there
  3. Writing pitches that don't get deleted
  4. Follow-up etiquette to get through the noise


Public relations is a skill every business owner can use. With this insight, you can successfully be your own publicist, get the media attention you deserve, and increase sales!

Making Hair Care Products

Presented by Kathy White

Intermediate to Advanced Level (soapmaking experience is recommended).

A comprehensive look at how to make shampoo bars and other handcrafted hair products, with an emphasis on recipes using natural ingredients. Recipes for dry shampoo, a simple hair mask, and hair oil will be demonstrated and included in class notes.

In this intensive/workshop, we will spend the morning learning about hair care theory and product formulation. In the afternoon, we’ll put on goggles and gloves so each student will make their own 2-lb. batch of shampoo bars and 1 lb. of hair conditioner bars.

Please bring your own soapmaking goggles; all other supplies and equipment will be provided.

Making Magic Happen with Scent Blending

Presented by Andee Howard

Remove all limitations and restrictions that you have heard about and let the magic surround you. Learn how to use just a few scents to create magic in a bottle. Use inspiration from your favorite books, movies and even music to create unique blends. This class will teach you to break the rules and have fun while creating your own signature blends.

Movin' On Up: Scaling Up Production and Masterbatching

Presented by Catherine McGinnis

The time has come to say goodbye to your favorite two pound soap mold.  As your company grows, the need to increase production is essential and upscaling is the key. When demand for your soaps increases, you can decrease your costs per bar by reducing the costs of production. But scaling up is not without its challenges. This session will focus on the system and scope of larger scale production and masterbatching.

Own It! A How To Guide on Making Signature Glycerin Shaving Soaps

Presented by Jackie Thompson

Learn why glycerin soaps are a good fit in the shaving arena, why they are gaining in popularity and how the handcrafted soapmaker can make them even better!

Through a step by step demonstration and tutorial, Jackie Thompson will teach you how to make your own hot process glycerin shaving soaps. Through a discussion of ingredients and additives she will show you how to own it with variations of ingredients and additives.

Secrets of Superfatting

Presented by Kevin Dunn

Lye discounting or superfatting is almost universally practiced by CP/HP soap makers. There are two main reasons for this. They discount their lye to avoid having residual, unreacted lye in the finished soap. They superfat because they want residual, unreacted oil in the finished soap. Are these practices actually different from one another? They want oil in the finished soap so that it will remain on the skin after washing. Does it actually remain on the skin, or does the soap carry it down the drain? These are the topics to be addressed in Secrets of Superfatting.

Streamline to Make Time

Presented by Barb DeLosSantos

Maximize your profits by reclaiming your production time. No matter whether you are in the industry to make money or simply for the joy of making products for friends and family, the common factor for both is time. There is only a limited number of hours we can dedicate to our craft; increasing productivity is the solution for both! Maximize the production time and enjoy more profit, more products, and most importantly, more time.

In this workshop we will create product concepts and practical production systems for reducing non-monetary efforts like weighing, measuring, cleaning dishes, and more, all to increase your profits on your production efforts.

Stunning Melt & Pour Designs

Presented by Ariane Castonguay Arsenault

In this demonstration, Ariane will show you how to create beautiful swirls and shapes and how to embed them into a loaf of Melt & Pour Soap. Whether making just a small loaf or producing for a business, being strategic and using efficient methods will make great looking soaps that are ready to be sold in no time! You will see what her favourite tools and equipment are and be able to watch her put them to good use! From making to wrapping, she will tell you her MP secrets!

The Art of Pricing Nice + High

Presented by Lela Barker

Tired of selling yourself short? Me too, sister. Too many of us keep our prices low to stimulate sales, but those low prices leave us broke and frustrated. Join me as we hop off the hamster wheel and explore product pricing strategies with a new lens. This wisdom-infused workshop will challenge you to think differently about your pricing structure. We’ll dissect how we can communicate value to customers and explore strategies for pricing our products nice and high, capturing the full value of what we create and building a legion of loyal fans in the process. I’ve got a Name That Price guessing game that’s going make your head spin and I promise that you’ll never look at pricing the same way again!

The Booming Men's Grooming Market

Presented by Benjamin Aaron

While most of the major beauty and personal care product companies have already created dedicated brands or sub-brands for their male grooming products, a number of handcrafted men’s grooming companies have emerged in recent years, successfully tapping into the unmet needs and growing trends in this burgeoning, lucrative industry. With the ever-growing trend of handcrafted soap and skin care start-ups becoming the norm, how can we capitalize on the developing men’s grooming craze?

The Chemistry of Essential Oil Adulteration- How, Why, and What You Need to Know

Presented by Adam Christensen

Adam Christensen the CEO of EVS discusses the most common adulteration practices, business implications, and testing methods in the essential oil and aromatherapy industries. Topics to be covered: What is adulteration in natural products, the chemical differences between synthetic and natural compounds, methods labs use for catching adulteration, examples of accidental and purposeful adulteration, and what small businesses can do in order to protect themselves and screen their products.

The Power, Passion and Profits of Finding Your Niche

Presented by Feleciai Favroth

A powerful goal in business is to discover that underserved consumer and provide them the right products at the right time, in the right way. We will examine the market potential of consumers who are typically not targeted by big companies. These are the racially, age and/or gender diverse consumers who are looking for the types of products that meet their skincare and cosmetic needs. As a handcrafted company, you have the power and ability to profitably provide them the right products at the right time, and at the right price.

The Secrets to Seducing Store Buyers

Presented by Lela Barker

Does introducing your work to buyers give you heart palpitations? Fret not, my friend. This workshop is for you if: a) You’re not sure how to approach buyers, b) You’ve been introducing your work to retailers and hearing crickets in response, or c) You’re working way too hard to win the hearts + minds of the stores you really want to work with. I’m rolling up my sleeves to dish on wholesale strategies that deliver real results! Who, what, when, and how to approach. Tips for following up. Should you or shouldn’t you sample. What lights up a buyer and what makes them immediately veto a new brand. Essentially, we’re going to crawl inside the mind of a buyer, pitch a tent, and get comfy. No previous camping experience necessary!

Transparent Melt & Pour Soap Creation Lab

Presented by John Mikrut

Transparent/Melt & Pour base is usually commercially made, but an experienced CP/HP soapmaker will be able to make their own base with the information covered in this intensive seminar. We will go in depth as we make a base from scratch. We will also cover how to formulate a recipe and what oils and additives to choose so you can take your Transparent/Melt & Pour base to the next level.

Turning Business Cards Into Valuable Connections

Presented by Lori Saitz

You go to an event/conference, spend time networking, and leave with a fistful of business cards. Then what? Those cards sit on your desk for weeks. Eventually they collect too much dust and you sweep them into the trash. What’s the point of going to the event in the first place?!
• What to do with those cards
• How to convert conversations into relationships
• A system for turning those relationships into clients, referrals & cash

Vibrance II: Developing Color Skill Without the Intimidation of Color Theory

Presented by Clyde Yoshida

Intimidated by the language of color theory? If so, this is the presentation for you.

Let’s unlock secrets to planning color magic, including how to make spontaneous color adjustments that are sometimes needed just before the pour. The focus is on building color awareness and generating color combinations when you’re stuck for ideas.

Clyde will put aside the sometimes intimidating language of color theory and share 15 ideas to help you perfect your use of color. We’ll explore routines that expert soap designers use to produce their masterpieces.

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The 2018 Conference is sponsored in part by:

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for the 2018 US Conference, please email the Conference Sponsorship Coordinator at . The 2018 Sponsorship Brochure (.pdf file) is available and has detailed information about the available sponsorship and exhibitory opportunities.