Interview with a Soap Maker ~ Emily Davis of Emily’s Handmade Soaps

Interviewed by Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

emilys handmade soaps lavender lemongrass
Lavender Lemongrass Soap

I’m happy to introduce Emily Davis, the founder of Emily’s Handmade Soaps. Emily has a fun story to tell of how she began making handmade soap. She makes and sells her natural soap and lotion bars in Des Moines, Washington. [Click images to enlarge].

What prompted you to start making soap and/or bath & body products? 

Funny story! I was binge watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix. There’s a scene in one of the first few episodes that shows the main character and her BFF making soap and lotion in her kitchen. As bizarre as it sounds, it had never even occurred to me that you could make soap! I headed to my local Michael’s craft store to buy a melt & pour soap making kit. The project was a lot of fun, but I really wanted to formulate my own recipes. After much research, I started making cold process soap, and the rest is history!

What types of soap do you craft? What types of bath & body products do you craft?

I specialize in cold process soaps, although I occasionally do hot process as well. I also make bath bombs, lotion bars, bath tea, and cuticle oil. I’m always testing new product recipes!

When did you decide to sell your product[s]?

emilys handmade soap group
Handmade Soap Small Giftable Size

After I’d been making soap for the better part of a year, my soap stock began to really pile up. I had over 100 bars of soap in my house, and had been giving them away to family and friends when my husband suggested selling them. Sales were much better than anticipated in the beginning, so I’ve been in expansion mode ever since.

Do you sell your products at crafts fairs/markets, bed & breakfasts, stores, etc.?

I sell my soaps and bath products at my local farmers market, the Des Moines Waterfront Farmers Market here in Des Moines, Washington. I also have several wholesale accounts in Washington (and one in Oregon!) which include lovely gifts, nurseries, and coffee shops.

Do you sell online? If so, what are the advantages or disadvantages?

I do sell online on Etsy. It’s wonderful to have a gallery of items to point customers to, and it’s nice for keeping track of inventory and being able to take credit card sales. I would say that the majority of my sales are made either in person or on a wholesale basis. I’ve had a few sales from Etsy, but there are just so many sellers on the site that it can be difficult to get noticed.

What is your favorite fragrance or essential oil? What are your most popular scents?

Lavender essential oil is wonderful because it can be combined with so many other scents. Lavender is always very popular with my customers. Anything with Lemongrass in it also sells well, and I’ve found that that essential oil is another winner for blending. I have a Lemongrass Litsea soap that sells like hotcakes! One of my personal favorites is my Beer soap. It’s a really lovely soap that uses real beer, and it’s always a conversation starter. Don’t worry, you can’t actually smell the beer in the finished product.

What soap and/or other bath & body crafting books have you read and been inspired by?

Smart Soapmaking by Anne L. Watson was a great source of information in the beginning. Caveman Chemistry and Scientific Soapmaking, both by Kevin Dunn, were also helpful.

What soap and/or other bath & body videos have inspired you?

Anne Marie Faiola of Brambleberry and Soap Queen does some amazing soap making videos. I think she was the one who showed me how to combine oil and lye! There is also a series on YouTube called Soaping 101 that has been really helpful for learning new design techniques.

Where do you get your packaging ideas?

sunflower lotion bar
Sunflower Lotion Bar

I like to take various design elements from products that I’ve seen and been inspired by, and then apply parts of those designs to my own packaging. Packaging has been quite a work in progress, and I’ve found along the way that some ideas are more difficult and/or expensive to implement than others. In the end, I settled on a design that was simple, but elegant.

What advice would you give to newbies?

Learn by doing. Your first attempts might be ugly, or even unusable, but the knowledge that you gain from the experience of having attempted it is priceless.

Do you have any funny anecdotes about unusual customers?

None of my customers really strike me as unusual, but I will say that many of my first customers were family and friends that I am endlessly grateful to. Without their support, there is no way I would have been able to expand my business!

How did you come up with your company’s name?

perfect pumpkin soap
Perfect Pumpkin Soap

I tried to come up with a cutesy, trendy name for my company, but in the end I felt that every name I was coming up with just sounded trite. I ended up with ‘Emily’s Handmade Soaps’ because I felt that it was authentic and fitting to my craft.

If you are a soapmaker, or know of one who you think should be interviewed, send me an email at: lisa_maliga@msn.com

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Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes

Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes lisa maligaBy Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2015-2016

When I first began crafting melt and pour glycerin soap, I was always more interested in what went into the soap rather than how creative or unique it looked. I still like to make a variety of shapes and colors, but I’m more intrigued by what additives improve melt and pour soap. I think I’ve succeeded in using the best types of soap bases on the market that are good for all skin types and don’t cost much more than standard melt and pour soap bases. Best of all, none of them contain sulfates!

What’s it about?

If you want to make the most natural soap without using lye, here is a way to craft organic and sulfate free melt and pour glycerin soap at home. In less than an hour, you can craft lovely organic, sulfate free and eco-friendly Castile soaps with these carefully tested recipes.

This eBook contains:

* Organic, sulfate free and Castile melt and pour soap bases: facts and tips

* How dangerous are sulfates, surfactants and propylene glycol?

* Is your fragrance phthalate free?

* Original, tested step-by-step recipes

* Photographs of all soap recipes and soap bases

* Melt and pour mishaps

* What to look for in a supplier

* Where to buy links

* African black soap information

eBook Links

Amazon version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
Amazon UK version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
B & N Nook version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
iTunes version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
Kobo version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
Scribd version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes
Smashwords version: Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes 

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Interview with a Soapmaker ~ Pam of Kettlepot Soap

Interviewed by Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

I’m happy to introduce Pam, the founder of Kettlepot Soap. Pam is a very experienced soap maker from Ledyard, Connecticut, who makes Kettlepot bar soaps from scratch in a 220 year old New England farmhouse. All handcrafted soaps contain top-quality plant oils, essential and fragrance oils, natural pigment colors, herbs, flower petals, exfoliants and other goodies. Her numerous other handmade products include: bath bombs, lip lotions, hand and body lotions, sugared body polish and body butters, massage bars and more! [Click images to enlarge].

What prompted you to start making soap and/or bath & body products?
PastedGraphic-3I started soaping quite a few years ago after returning from Ireland where I bought some lovely all-vegetable bar soaps. I wanted to recreate the soap and scent; that effort started my foray into Kettlepot Soap.

What types of soap do you craft? What types of bath & body products do you craft?
Since making my first bars of soap, I’ve added quite a few other handmade items to the KPS line: lip balm in an amazing number of flavors as well as custom-scented lotions, sugar scrubs, body butters, bath bombs, bubble bars, and massage bars. I find that my customers really appreciate being able to buy B&B in the scents they prefer. It’s like having your own personal line of skin care products made just for you!

When did you decide to sell your product[s]?
KPS has been in business 15 years. It seems like I have always been making and selling crafts made from a variety of mediums. Once I was confident in my recipes and skills, it seemed natural to move into selling soap.

Do you sell your products at crafts fairs/markets, bed & breakfasts, stores, etc.?
I mainly sell online and at crafts shows. Shows are a great way to introduce new products. I bring testers for nearly every product so people can try before they buy. Also, I really enjoy meeting my local online customers in person. Over the years, I’ve made quite a few new friends. Online selling does have the drawback that customers can’t try items before buying. Online does have at least one advantage though; I don’t have to worry about rainy weather!

What is your favorite fragrance or essential oil? What are your most popular scents?
Scent is a very personal choice; this is why KPS features a wide variety of soap scents at any given time as well as custom-scented goodies. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite scent as some days I like light, clean scents and other days I like deep, earthy scents. I don’t even have a favorite flavor of ice cream!

Where do you get your packaging ideas?
PastedGraphic-5I’ve been sewing since I was in grade school so it was natural for me to use fabric in my packaging. Like many new soapers, I tried wrapping my soaps with fabric and tying them with raffia. I soon grew tired of all that knotting and switched to boxes. I still use fabric, coordinating the colors and patterns of the fabric with the colors, scents and patterns of the soaps. My customers rave about my soap packaging; they reuse the fabric-wrapped boxes as bookmarks, drawer sachets and gift boxes.

What advice would you give to newbies?
Research, test and experiment with every product you make. Understand your ingredients. Use a preservative. Get insurance. You don’t need every FO/EO or every ingredient under the sun. Don’t rely too much on trends; you need to establish your niche and signature and provide your customers with reliable products. Read and apply the FDA rules and guidelines for labeling and product descriptions.

Do you have any funny anecdotes about unusual customers?
Well, I know there is a raccoon out there that figured out that chocolate chip scented soap is not very tasty! A friend of mine’s son took a bar camping. He was pretty surprised to find teeth marks in his soap one morning.

How did you come up with your company’s name?
As boring as it may sound, the name just popped into my head. Kettlepot. It just stuck. But after about 10 years as KPS I thought about changing the name to something more ethereal or evoking nature: Dragonfly something, Blue Moon something, Fair Maiden something (you get the idea). After searching a number of names, I realized that there are just too many soap companies with too many names in those categories. Rather than change, I decided to stay with Kettlepot ~ it’s established and unique. PastedGraphic-4
Website: http://kettlepotsoap.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kettlepot.soap

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KettlepotSoap

Interview with a Soapmaker ~ Irena Marchu of Ginger’s Garden

Artisan Shaving Soap Natural Handmade Best
Artisan Shaving Soap Natural Handmade Best

Interviewed by Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

I’m happy to introduce of Irena Marchu of Ginger’s Garden. Irena is a very experienced soap maker from Rancho Mirage, California, who makes handmade artisan soap. Her array of handmade products include: wet shave soaps, lip balms, lotions [made to order], body wash, body scrub and shower gels containing local ingredients, liquid soap, natural aftershave and natural perfumes.

[Click images to enlarge].

What prompted you to start making soap and/or bath & body products?
My mother and grandmother made soaps, herb infused oils and balms. I am following in their footsteps.

What types of soap do you craft? What types of bath & body products do you craft?

Natural Aftershave Cologne Bay Rom Lime Menthol Citrus Sterling
Natural Aftershave Cologne Bay Rum Lime Menthol Citrus Sterling

I make many types of handmade artisan soaps. This includes cold process soaps, cream soaps and shaving soaps.
My lotions are made with natural oils and butters which are beneficial to the skin.
I also make lip balms, liquid soaps, bubbling bath salts, body scrub made with local dates, men’s aftershave, Zodiac natural perfumes and gift baskets for any occasion.

When did you decide to sell your product[s]?
I’ve made soaps since 1969 and helped my mother sell at local markets. I started to sell professionally in 1991.

Do you sell your products at crafts fairs/markets, bed & breakfasts, stores, etc.?
I sell mostly online and through wholesale accounts.

Do you sell online? If so, what are the advantages or disadvantages?
Yes, I sell online at http://www.gingersgarden.com The advantage of selling online is I don’t need to take my products from place to place.

What is your favorite fragrance or essential oil? What are your most popular scents?
I love well aged, iron distilled Patchouli oil. My most popular scents are my own blends like Suede, Enigma and Amerikesh.

What soap and/or other bath & body crafting books have you read and been inspired by?
I got to meet Alicia Grosso at one of the Soapmaking Conventions. She has a lot of knowledge and her Soapmaking book is one of my favorites.
Kevin Dunn’s Scientific Soapmaking book has information that is not available anywhere else.
I refer to Essential Oil Safety book by Robert Tisserand when I’m making natural perfume blends.

What soap and/or other bath & body videos have inspired you?
When I have the time, I look at swirling videos on Youtube. They give me ideas on how I can make my soaps different.

Where do you get your packaging ideas?
I prefer to keep my packaging simple. My soaps are in boxes to protect them from fingers and dust. I want my packaging to look clean and professional.

What advice would you give to newbies?

ginger's garden soap
Ginger’s Garden Handmade Artisan soap

Anyone that’s just starting on their soapmaking journey needs to read and research, use a lye calculator, know what each oil and butter brings to the table and follow all the safety guidelines. When it comes to handmade artisan soaps, there is no shortcut to making it safely and letting the soaps cure properly.

Do you have any funny anecdotes about unusual customers?
At one of my markets, I had a boy take a bite out of one of my soaps as he thought it was cheese. His facial expression was priceless. One older man took a bite at one of my soap samples as he thought it was a brownie. He quickly realized it wasn’t.

How did you come up with your company’s name?
My middle name is Ginger and I love gardens. That’s how my business name of Ginger’s Garden came about.

IMLotion green cucumber
Ginger’s Garden Lotion

http://www.gingersgarden.com
https://www.facebook.com/soapbuddy

happy birthday melt and pour soap recipes mini soap cake

Melt and Pour Soap Presentation

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

happy birthday melt and pour soap recipes mini soap cakeThere are several eBooks on melt and pour soap crafting available online. This is wonderful news for those of you who wish to learn this rewarding hobby because you’ll be able to glean many helpful tips and recipes. I’ve written 11 titles, mainly concentrating on the basics that you’ll need to know, along with lots of additives that can customize your sudsy creations in many ways. Soap crafting was once a business for me, but now it’s a necessary hobby. I can’t be without soap!

I test each recipe and include photos of the process, along with the finished soap. So far, I’ve concentrated on recipes that contain a variety of additives, rather than on fancier soaps such as: swirled, 3D, stained glass, multiple layers and/or embeds. I’ve made these soaps in the past, and intend to do so again, but to effectively show such examples, that requires lots of photos. As I’m working on book #4 of the Yolanda’s Yummery series, I unfortunately don’t have time to make AND photograph any intermediate or advanced soap recipes.

However, I’d like to share a very basic presentation tip for packaging your finished soap. Here’s a brief excerpt from my latest soap crafting eBook, Happy Birthday Melt and Pour Soap Recipes.

Be creative! The best part about your soapy gift is that once it’s properly wrapped in cling wrap, you can decide how to present it to the birthday guy or gal. Since it’s not for sale, you don’t have to concern yourself with INCI terms and labels. You technically don’t even have to label it unless you want to. It’s up to you to list the ingredients as a courtesy so that if someone may be allergic to an ingredient they can regift your soap. To give you some ideas, I’m including the same soap with three different labels in the next section.

One of the simplest ways of presenting your soapy gift is to add it to a gift bag. Gift bags are easy to find in any discount store and they’re inexpensive. They come in such a variety of colors and sizes.

Ribbons also help make a lovely handcrafted creation stand out, whether wrapping the soap or a gift bag or box. If giving a gift bag of soap, you can line it with colorful crinkle cut shred or tissue paper—also available in a wide array of colors.

Say Happy Birthday with hand crafted soap! This unique book contains eight original recipes for all budgets along with melt and pour information and birthday soap presentation tips. Includes 30+ color photos.

LINKS: 

AmazonAmazon UKB&N NOOKKobo, Scribd

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Don’t Buy or Borrow Kindle Unlimited Rip-off eBooks

Copyright 2015 by Lisa Maliga

 bookscomputerJust after the July launch of the Kindle Unlimited program an author of a soap making eBook emailed me asking for a review. After reading it, I got the impression that everything within the 50 pages was regurgitated information. There weren’t any resource links. The recipes weren’t coherent—add some of this oil with some of this water and this amount of lye. Instead of getting a review, the author received an email asking about her soap making experience. Unsurprisingly, there was no response.

That was my introduction to a Kindle Unlimited eBook.

Books in Kindle Unlimited, KU for short, are only found on Amazon’s website. None of the titles are available at Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Oyster, Scribd, Smashwords or other online bookstores.

While free for authors, readers pay $9.99 per month for the service that “…allows you to read as much as you want, choosing from over 700,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks. Freely explore new authors, books, and genres from mysteries and romance to sci-fi and more. You can read on any device.”

kindle unlimited logo Read this title for free and get unlimited access to over 700,000 titles.

Authors with books in the KU program generally price their titles from $0.99 to $9.99. They can also give a title away for up to 5 days during each 90-day period their title is enrolled in the KU program. If free, anyone can download the book whether they are KU members or not. Another huge benefit for the KU author is the borrowing part of the program. Whenever a KU member borrows a title, the author receives up to $1.40. The amount varies every month but it’s always more than one dollar. Even if the book is priced at 0.99, the author still gets $1.40 [or whatever the amount is that month] PER BORROW. That’s why every single rip-off title is enrolled in this program.

There are many excellent titles in the KU program. But I’m going to concentrate on the rip-off titles that are often plagiarized from websites, blogs and Pinterest. By reading this article, you’ll learn how to avoid downloading rip-offs.

[For the record: I won’t tackle fiction because that’s a lot different, especially with series, serials, billionaire romances, erotica, and alphas, etc.]

A rip-off title is usually less than 50 pages in length. Of course, regular nonfiction titles may also be brief, so I’ll point out the many red flags that boldly signal a rip-off. Again, this is only for nonfiction books, as that’s where I have the most experience as I write about soap crafting. I’m going to expand it to include all bath and body/bath and beauty books. However, even if you read and write about real estate or farming, you still should find this article helpful.

 redflagThe Formula

Soap making books begin with the history of soap making. For other bath and beauty books, the opening pages will let you know how toxic commercial lotions, lip balms, sugar and salt scrubs, bath bombs, etc. actually are.

redflag LONG titles with up to 30 words. This is called keyword stuffing.

Example title: Homemade Body Butter: 25 Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes To Keep Your Skin Smooth And Feeling Moisturized! (How To Body Butter, DIY Body Butter, Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes).

I’ve only changed a few words, but this is how some rip-off books are marketed. It’s not necessarily wrong but it’s clumsy!

redflag Nonexistent book contributors

Every author credits him or herself, but there are also other contributors that can be added like editor, foreword, photographer, illustrator, introduction, preface, translator and narrator. I’ve found books that have ‘body butter’ as an editor, ‘lotion’ as a foreword, and ‘soapmaking’ as an illustrator. Doing this exploits the entire Kindle publishing program and if found should be reported.

redflag Not crediting stock images.

redflag No author biography

Interested in learning about the author? If there’s no bio, there’s no way of knowing how much knowledge they have pertaining to the subject they’ve written about. There won’t be any sort of email address, website, Etsy page or social media information such as Twitter or Face Book. They have no blog or newsletter.

The lack of an author bio may indicate a new to KU author who is unaware that Amazon offers this free promotional tool. Alternatively, it might be a deliberate omission.

An author bio should indicate the author’s experience in making the products they are writing about, as they should be an expert in the field. Do they include their company name and contact information? Whether or not they own a business, or have owned a business in the past? How long have they been making B&B products? If they don’t make and sell their products, what qualifications do they have to write their book?

redflag Common American surnames

This is another way to lure borrowers and buyers—by using familiar surnames like Thomas, Brown, Mitchell, White, etc. It’s also how those from other countries make names seem more acceptable than their own. Authors who use several pseudonyms may do so to avoid detection. It’s also a way of using a name like a keyword – to attract more borrows and sales.

redflag Reviews

If a book has dozens of reviews, that might mean it’s often borrowed/sold. All of the reviews may be legitimate ones, especially if the reviewer indicates that they received a free review copy. To find a rip-off title, look beyond lots of 5-stars or 1-stars, or even no reviews.

eBooks may contain numerous 5-star reviews with only a smattering of bad reviews. Suggestion: read the bad ones. For example, a one star review written by a soap maker noted the amount of lye in a recipe in one of the rip-off titles was incorrect and the author had confused percentages and ounces. In other words, some “author” with no knowledge of soap making is presenting potentially harmful information. If a reader follows the instructions, that soap would burn their skin. Additionally, they would have wasted their time in reading the book and trying to apply the instructions, and money on buying ingredients and equipment. The responsibility of the author of any type of DIY book is to offer correct and accurate information. Sadly, the author of the questionable amounts has also written a dozen other titles in related fields.

A rip-off title may have garnered many positive reviews based on review swaps. I’ll go on record and state that I did a few of them from September to December 2014. Since then, I have completely stopped reviewing books due to the numerous rip-off titles I was getting.

redflag Proofreading problems

If the author is someone who is fluent in English as a first language, the quality of authorship ranges from excellent to riddled with grammar and “spell checkitis.”

redflag Poor translating

Foreign authors may have run the manuscript through an online translator resulting in unintentionally hilarious reading. My favorite was the one about heating your soap over a “weak fire.”

redflag Offer FREE bonus or gift in the beginning of the book.

redflag Enticing cover photo of the product[s]

All book covers should be enticing, of course. However, a rip-off will be revealed if the featured product[s] recipe and photo aren’t included inside the eBook. For example, a stack of oatmeal soap on the cover, yet there is no oatmeal soap recipe in the rip-off title.

redflag NO sample other than a table of contents or a legal disclaimer. The reader has to purchase or borrow the book in order to read more because there’s no actual writing sample.

redflag If recipes are included, they may be in a mixture of ounces, grams, tablespoons and teaspoons, which is very confusing for the reader.

redflag No medical or legal disclaimer. No safety precautions.

redflag The name on the cover may be spelled differently than the name on the book’s Amazon page.

redflag Rip-off titles can be heavily promoted and reviewed by bloggers. Unlike non-KU titles that only earn 4% commission on each title sold, bloggers may get up to 8.5 % on KU titles sold and/or borrowed.

In order to avoid being ripped off, please use this article as a checklist.

Rooibos Tea and Pink Kaolin Shampoo Bar Recipe ~ New eBook + Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

Discover how to craft rebatch/hand-milled soap base into a unique and versatile shampoo bar for most hair types. Also includes a recipe for Rooibos tea and apple cider vinegar hair rinse.

Rooibos Tea and Pink Kaolin Shampoo Bar RecipeThis ebook began as a blog post…but it kept on getting longer and longer and longer! As I’m giving a recipe for a soap base that is somewhat different from melt and pour glycerin soap base, I feel as though more background information is needed.

I’m also seeing a plethora of nonfiction ebooks flooding online bookstores that, in some cases, are written by those with little to no knowledge of their topic. Therefore, for those of you who haven’t read any of my books or articles, I have actually made and sold shampoo bars, as well as soap and other bath and body products. I made my first bar of soap way back in 1998. I still maintain my Everything Shea Aromatic Creations website but no longer sell from it. If you look at it, www.everythingshea.com  you’ll see some of my articles about fine hair care, virgin coconut oil, moringa seed oil, etc. I believe in keeping people informed about natural soap and bath and body products.

For many years, I’ve successfully used shampoo bars. I formulate my own unique blends using hair-loving additives like jojoba oil, moringa seed oil, shea butter, goat’s milk, green tea, and Indian herbs such as amla, shikakai, and aritha. I’m not a cosmetologist. I don’t have a PhD in chemistry. I didn’t attend soapcrafting school. Everything I’ve learned has been done the old-fashioned way: by reading and by doing. I’ve invested loads of time and effort into learning all I can about crafting soap, whether it is glycerin melt and pour, or rebatching. When I first began working with rebatch soap, sometimes referred to as hand-milled soap, I wasn’t aware of the difference. I found out after waiting and waiting and waiting for it to melt in a one setting, one-quart crock-pot. Talk about slow! But that was how I began learning.

To pick up your  FREE copy of Rooibos Tea and Pink Kaolin Shampoo Bar Recipe, just visit these online book stores!
Amazon 
Amazon UK
B&N NOOK
Kobo

iTunes
Scribd
Smashwords

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