US Conference 2023


We strive to provide a wide selection of speakers and topics during each conference and from conference to conference. These are the speakers scheduled for the next conference ... so far! Check back to see what additional speakers you can look forward to.

Keynote Speakers

2023 Conference Speaker, Samir Lakhani

Samir Lakhani

Samir Lakhani (30) is the Founder and Executive Director of Eco-Soap Bank, an organization employing women worldwide to recycle leftover soap scrap for children in need. He is a social entrepreneur dedicated to restoring health and dignity in developing countries. Samir received a CNN Heroes Award, Forbes 30 under 30 award, Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Award, Rotary Presidential Peacebuilding Award, One Young World Award, amongst others. He also recently gave a TEDx Talk. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and currently lives in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA.

Samir Lakhani will be speaking on:


2023 Conference Speaker, Ariane Arsenault

Ariane Arsenault

Ariane Arsenault has been in the Soapmaking industry since 2003 and she specializes in Cold Processed and Melt & Pour soaps, solid shampoos, bath bombs as well as other handmade cosmetics. Born in the Magdalen Islands and raised on a sailboat, Ariane’s products are colourful and inspired by the seaside. She is always in search of local additives and sustainable supplies to create new designs and colour combinations! She is so happy to be here to share some of that knowledge and get creative with you. Find her on social media via InstagramFacebook and YouTube and visit her website here.


Ariane Arsenault will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Eric Bockelman

Eric Bockelman

Eric Bockelman is an IT and Cyber Security executive who has worked with some of the largest and most well-known software companies, security firms, defense contractors, entertainment companies, and education institutions.  In addition to helping these firms, he has also worked with businesses of all sizes to train staff, deploy new technologies, and plan for future growth. Through his work, Eric has developed a reputation for taking the complex and distilling it down to easy-to-understand parts. Eric is also co-founder of VELA Bath and Body in Orlando, Florida with his wife Erin.

Eric Bockelman will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Beth Byrne

Beth Byrne

Beth is an incurable formulator and teacher, and but she owes it all to a lavender plant. After moving to a new home, Beth found a plant she could not identify. Time and research revealed that it was lavender. That first herb began years of exploration into herbs and DIY cosmetics, which then led to selling skincare products for gardeners ( She became a contributor to Saponifier Magazine when it resumed publication after a hiatus of several years. You now know it now as Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine. In 2013, she was promoted to Managing Editor.


A longtime fan and member of the HSCG, Beth served three terms on the HSCG Board of Directors and is serving again on the board after some time off. She finds it not only rewarding, but an effective way to give back to the industry.


Teaching is in Beth's blood, as well. She earned a BS degree in Education from Central Michigan University and has taught in some capacity since. She now enjoys teaching others to make bath and body products and soy candles..


When Beth is not working, you may find her in her lab, with her family, restoring furniture or in her “Garden of Weedin’.” She resides in Rochester, NY, with her husband, Ken, and two dogs. They have six children and sixteen grandchildren.

Beth Byrne will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Debra Carnahan

Debra Carnahan

Debra Carnahan and Leigh O’Donnell have been working on federal advocacy for the HSCG and the handcrafted soap, cosmetic and candle industry for over a decade.  It is their job to ensure that any legislation that is proposed or introduced by congress will not harm the small businesses of this great industry.  Debra is a former US Attorney and judge, the founding partner of a law firm and a political participant and advisor for almost four decades in American Politics.  She is a former state and federal prosecutor.  For many years, she served as an adjunct professor of legal studies at Columbia College.  In 2005, she receive the school’s highest award of distinguished alumni.  Debra is a regular commentator on the international PBS Show, “To the Contrary”, she has traveled extensively as a participant in global conferences and meeting with heads of state and other dignitaries.  She is currently the principle and founder of The Carnahan Group.

Debra Carnahan will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Shawnte Coleman

Shawnte Coleman

I began hand crafting cold process soap since 2015 because I discovered natural soap was better my skin than detergent soap. It also saved me money making my own soap. I went crazy making soap, having fun with the fragrance and colors! I gave over 500 soaps away to the women's shelter and then I found out the staff was stealing them. I got over that quickly. I realized hand crafting items helped a lot with my anxiety, so I decide to expand my knowledge. I was working in a prison as an officer and making items helped a lot with the stress. After getting injured at work, I was medically retired and decided to never work for anyone ever again. I've been on my own since I was 14 yrs old. I had to work off the books to make ends meet being too young to get a legal job. I have been through the fire working for other people and I was done. It was time for me to take control of my life. I began traveling to different countries trying to figure out what I want to do. I then decided to turn my hobby into a business. I do love making all types of items because I believe to teach, you should have a diverse knowledge base. I looked for places to learn more about soaping. I took a class here and there and then made the decision to go to the UK to a school I found online, "Soap School" which is where I found out about Soap Guild. My life has turned around and while I'm still finding my way... I'm on the right track!

Shawnte Coleman will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Anne-Marie Faiola

Anne-Marie Faiola

Anne-Marie Faiola is the founder and CEO of Bramble Berry Handcraft Supplies (, a company that sells soapmaking and DIY supplies. From founding the business in her kitchen with funding on a credit card to employing over 100 people in Whatcom County, she’s an in-the-trenches entrepreneur with many lessons learned along the way. She believes that creativity should be infused into every successful business strategy & that successful entrepreneurs possess a dynamic mix of resilience, tenacity and unshakeable motivation.

She is the author of Live Your Best Day Ever: Thirty-Five Strategies for Daily Success, where she shows that habit-based living is the key to hitting your goals, and three soapmaking books Pure Soapmaking, Soap Crafting, and Milk Soaps.

This mother of two active kids loves to offer advice on all things business, time management, creativity, and fitness to help provide inspiration to business owners while sharing her unconventional wisdom that has grown Bramble Berry.


Anne-Marie Faiola will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Kayla Fioravanti

Kayla Fioravanti

Kayla Fioravanti is a cosmetic formulator, certified aromatherapist, and award-winning author of twelve books. In 1998, Kayla co-founded Essential Wholesale, which was listed as an INC. Magazine 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America three years in a row. Essential Wholesale began in her kitchen with a $50 investment in 1998 and sold for millions in 2011. She co-founded Ology Essentials with her son Keegan and daughter-in-law Haleigh in 2017. It has quickly become a trusted source of retail, white label and bulk products containing hemp CBD including innovative internal and topical products, edibles, and pet products. Ology Essentials manufactures private label products containin hemp CBD and products without it throughout the USA, Japan, EU, and Mexico.


Kayla is popular speaker and author on the topic of hemp CBD. She published A Little Handbook about Topical CBD: A Revolutionary Ingredient for the Skincare World and continues to share science based and research driven information about Hemp CBD on and at hemp conferences around the country.

Kayla Fioravanti will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Robyn French Smith

Robyn French Smith

Robyn French Smith, known as The Color Queen of Bath Bombs is arguably one of the most influential makers in the soap and bath bomb world. She and Amanda Aaron co-own Bath Fizz and Foam LLC, a company focused on educating and empowering thousands of handmade cosmetic makers across the world.


Today, the free Color Studies, bootcamp style classes and highly rated cosmetic formulations and e-book guides sold by Bath Fizz and Foam have become keystone resources for independent, cosmetic makers, jumpstarting many businesses. 


Robyn’s contributions to the cosmetic and soapmaking world include extensive content creation through articles, classes, blog posts, recipes, YouTube tutorials, Patreon, and hundreds of Facebook Lives demonstrating how to troubleshoot the process of crafting handmade cosmetics. She created Cosmetic Bath Sprinkles, the Pencil Soap design, was the 2022 HSCG Keynote speaker, and appeared on the Discovery+ show, The Meet Your Maker Showdown, where she battled other soapmakers for the title of Maker Champion. Her book, Bath Bomb Revolution, has quickly been recognized in the bath bomb world as an essential resource and continues to aid and inspire makers. Along with numerous awards for design and technique, she won the 2022 HSCG Best CP/HP soap, and is delighted to share both her bath bomb and soapmaking knowledge this year. 

Robyn French Smith will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Marie Gale

Marie Gale

Marie Gale has over 20 years in the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry.  After seeing how the labeling and other applicable laws and regulations were confusing to small business owners, in 2008 Marie researched and wrote her first book, Soap and Cosmetic Labeling: How to Follow the Rules and Regulations Written in Plain English.  Followed by several updated editions, it has become an indispensable mainstay for soap and cosmetic handcrafters, aromatherapists, herbalists and others who make products and who want to comply with US labeling requirements. Her subsequent books include 300 Years of Natural Soap and Cosmetic Recipes (2011), Good Manufacturing Practices for Soap and Cosmetic Handcrafters (2012), and her most recent, Navigating the Rules and Regs: A Practical Guide for Soap and Cosmetic Handcrafters (2022).

Her long-time passion is educating product makers so they can protect their businesses by being in compliance with existing laws and regulations. In addition to speaking engagements and classes addressing soap and cosmetic labeling, Marie has a website ( which provides a wealth of information about labeling and legislation. She also offers a label review service and consultation services. 

Most of the time, Marie works from her home in the Seattle area, where she lives with her husband. However, on occasion, Marie and her husband head out, working from their RV as they travel around the US. In her spare time, Marie spends time researching her family tree.

Marie Gale will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Sara Golding

Sara Golding

After spending a ridiculous amount of money at a farmers market on soaps to soothe her family’s skin sensitivities, Sara though it’d be easier to just make them herself. Little did she know this money saving opportunity would transform into her own business- Sunny Girl Sundries. With over 20 years of retail and business experience guiding her, Sara’s article in Making Soap Magazine, Working Smarter, revolves around some of the common challenges soap makers face when transitioning from home hobbyist to small business owner.

Sara Golding will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Kathy Gray

Kathy Gray

A love for all things handcrafted, a 10-year paralegal career, and a passion for research led Kathy Gray to study soap making and cosmetic formulation. With a focus on plant-based ingredients and anhydrous formulas, Kathy has built a product line for customers who want vegan, organic, “pure, clean and simple” skincare products. She divides her time between running her soap business, writing, speaking, and teaching soapmaking classes. She has written articles for a local gourmet, “foodie” print magazine, Edible Austin, Making Soap Magazine, and Soap Collaborative. Kathy also served as the editor of Soap Collaborative for one year. She has been an HSCG member since 2014 and a certified advance level soapmaker since June 2017.

Kathy Gray will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Tracy Heppes

Tracy Heppes

Tracy Heppes is the current VP of the HSCG Board of Directors and resides in Xenia, OH with her husband Jason, 17-year-old son Austin, and 2-year-old pit Daisy. She launched her business Tracy Heppes Creations in 2016 which underwent a mega facelift in June and turned into Magique. She focuses on making products as simply as possible with ingredients you can pronounce, taking bath and beauty to a "Magiqual" place! 

Tracy Heppes will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Rebecca Inkrote

Rebecca Inkrote

Rebecca is a web designer and WordPress consultant. She teaches handmade business owners how to expand beyond Etsy and launch their own e-commerce website.


With an art degree in graphic design and over 12 years of professional web design experience, Rebecca has built websites on a number of web design platforms such as Shopify, Wix, Weebly, DNN, Squarespace, but has been specializing in WordPress since 2013.


After launching a handmade soap business and joining several handmade seller networking groups, Rebecca quickly noticed a recurring problem: Handmade sellers often struggle with tech stuff and creating their own website!


Since 2016, Rebecca has been dedicated to empowering handmade sellers to elevate and take control of their businesses with their own website. Rebecca offers an online program called Create Launch & Flourish which guides handmade sellers to DIY their e-commerce website like a pro in addition to her website design services.

Rebecca Inkrote will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Kerri Mixon

Kerri Mixon

Speaker Kerri Mixon is a skilled soap and cosmetic formulator and educator, who has worked professionally in the industry for 23 years. Specializing in soap, vegan and sustainable ingredients, and products safe for greywater systems, Kerri Mixon assists commercial producers with their formulations and manufacturing techniques. 

Kerri Mixon will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Brian Morris

Brian Morris

The Dirty Unicorn started as a pandemic pivot from the travel industry but became so much more, so very quickly. After a relatively small soap pour, Baz became slightly obsessed with the craft and its combination of their love of science and art. What resulted is a brand that is rooted in research but flourishes in self expression. The Dirty Unicorn ( encourages people to be who they are, as loud as they want to be! Never forget friends: Get Clean... & Stay Dirty!


Brian Morris will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Naomi Murray

Naomi Murray

Naomi Murray is an HSCG Certified Master Soap Maker and Teacher. She is the founder of Mountain Girl Essentials and a “Soap of The Month” subscription box owner. Naomi is sharing her strategies on how to launch a subscription box from the perspective of a soap maker, covering the special challenges faced by handcrafters.

Naomi Murray will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Leigh O'Donnell

Leigh O'Donnell

Leigh O’Donnell is the current Executive Director of the HSCG.  She has been in leadership for the association since 2005, in various roles.  She has been very active in federal advocacy for the industry since 2009.  Leigh work’s directly with the HSCG”s DC Advocate, Debra Carnahan.  Together they have attended hundreds of meetings with Members of Congress to educate them about the handcrafted soap, cosmetic and candle industry and all of the small businesses that make it up.  She has met with government agencies like FDA and SBA and has testified before congress on two separate occasions once before The Energy & Commerce Committee and once before the Help, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in the Senate.  She has authored or co-authored countless letters and briefs to key lawmakers to be sure that the unique needs of this industry are met.  She has forged relationships with other industry trade organizations and stakeholders, that were key in ensuring that the HSCG’s advocacy efforts were effective.  

Leigh O'Donnell will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Debi Olsen

Debi Olsen

Debi is a Colorado native living in Northern Colorado, with nature's beauty surrounding her. She has been married to her best friend for 26 years and is a mother of 25-year-old boy/girl twins. She is a major animal lover, an avid do-it-yourselfer, and thrives on finding ways to express her creativity - from cooking, gardening, crafts, and soap, to everything in between. Debi has been making soap and other bath and body products since 2015. She has a passion for creativity and a knack for not giving up which has led her to create a successful contract manufacturing business. Her products are sold at two stores in Walt Disney World, and across the nation in stores such as Hy-Vee, Scheels, and CVS. Debi loves to learn new things, and especially loves a challenge! She shines at finding solutions to things that are often thought to be impossible.

Debi Olsen will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Marie Rayma

Marie Rayma

Marie Rayma is a cosmetic formulator, author, and the creator of the popular DIY blog and YouTube channel Humblebee & Me. She holds diplomas in organic skincare and organic haircare formulation from Formula Botanica. Her first book, Make it Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup & Skin Care, was released by Running Press in Philadelphia in 2016. She lives in Calgary, Canada where she spends most of her time making colourful messes and taking pictures of them.

Marie Rayma will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Diane Seimetz

Diane Seimetz

Following a life-changing personal tragedy and chronic illness diagnosis, advertising agency owner Diane Seimetz poured her life and professional experiences into making bath, body and home care products that are kinder to people and the planet. Her company, A Joy Forever, has expanded to include a popular candle and home scenting line, Tumbleweed + Thyme for Men™ and Dogtor Doolittle Pampered Pets™. Her vegan, Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free line up is sold on her website,, at upscale retail boutiques across the country, Fresh by Brookshires grocery stores, as well as pet care giant She is excited to combine her passion for making and years of marketing and advertising to help other independent businesses thrive and grow.

Diane Seimetz will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Jackie Thompson

Jackie Thompson

Jackie Thompson certified HSCG Master Soapmaker and Author of Liquid Soapmaking began making soap in 1998. She and her daughter Gaily have sold at craft fairs, retail, wholesale and private label contracts. Today, Jackie spends most of her soapmaking time researching old soapmaking methods through vintage soapmaking books and adapting those methods to be relevant to today’s soapmakers.

Jackie Thompson will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Janae Tyars

Janae Tyars

I, Janae Tyars am a fellow soaper and owner of Tyars Essentials Design. I design logos, labels, websites, and graphic designs for the bath and body industry. I create artwork that flows seamlessly with your current branding as well as establish new brands reflecting the look, feel, and messaging that appeals to your target audience. Whether you need something totally custom, or simply need access to easy-to-use templates to simply customize with your ingredients, we offer something for the needs of every level of business. Visit to find out more today!

Janae Tyars will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, La Shonda Tyree

La Shonda Tyree

La Shonda Tyree is a women of color, an entrepreneur, an entrepreneurship instructor, a podcaster and business coach. La Shonda started her career working in banking as an accountant and climbed the corporate ladder to Acting Controller. After a bank merger, and tired of the glass ceiling constantly hitting her head, La Shonda decided to take her creative therapy hustle and start it full time. In 2003 La Shonda founded Nyah Beauty.

In 2021, Elle Magazine, named her business as one of thirteen black owned soap companies to shop from. She is the “In the Know” column writer for Making Soap, Cosmetics and Candles Magazine.

During the pandemic when most small businesses were struggling to stay open, La Shonda’s business was no different. She applied for several grants and loans. Successfully securing grants and loans from the Small Business Administration, PPP Loan, Economic Disaster Recovery Loan, PayPal grant, Facebook grant, New Jersey recover grants, FiServ and more.

Recently she acquired a $5k grant from Caress to kick start her crowdfunding and acceptance into the Spring 22 cohort with IFundWomen to set up the crowdfunding campaign. She was one of thirty women selected out of 2500 applications.

Nyah Beauty currently sells her products through her website and various retailers. She also private label manufacture for other indie beauty brands and have acquired accounts with Westin and Marriott making bath bombs with their signature scents for their online store.

La Shonda Tyree will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Chris Van Leeuwen

Chris Van Leeuwen

Chris Van Leeuwen started his insurance career in 1987 working as an independent agent with his family’s agency. Chris is a third-generation insurance professional and became the agency owner in 1994. In 2007, Chris sold the agency to a top 100 firm and focused his efforts on commercial lines accounts and specialty niche markets. Chris left the independent agency system and joined Veracity Insurance Solutions in 2012. He is currently VP of Agency Development and is involved with various aspects of management, sales, training, and carrier relations within the agency. Chris obtained his Certified Insurance Counselor designation in 1996 and is a certified Continuing Education instructor for Utah. Chris’ interests outside the insurance industry include international travel, cycling, fishing, cooking, and spending time with the family.

Chris Van Leeuwen will be speaking on:

2023 Conference Speaker, Belinda Williams

Belinda Williams

Belinda Williams is the founder of Love Your Suds® and the creator behind the award-winning Kaleidoscope Technique and Soap Shaper™ design tools. The idea for Love Your Suds began in 2014 after Belinda discovered cold-process soap making. Her experience as a creative director and graphic designer inspired her to explore advanced soap design processes, develop new techniques and create innovative tools for the soap-making community.‚Äč

Belinda’s journey began as a creative outlet and has grown into a globally recognized brand serving customers worldwide. When she’s not making soap or creating design tools and techniques, she enjoys sharing guidance, tips and tricks to support other soap makers in their creative journeys.

Belinda Williams will be speaking on:

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