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

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It’s Lip Balm Season!

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2008-2016

Did you know that our lips don’t produce any oil? That’s why they are can get dry and chapped. You’ll probably notice this during the wintertime or if you live in a dry climate. However, many of us have chapped lips no matter what season. In severe cases lips can become cracked and bleed. Licking your lips actually makes the problem worse.

Several years ago, I had unsightly, chapped and dry lips for no apparent reason. My diet hadn’t changed, I wasn’t under too much stress, and I was in the same location. I’d been using a natural brand of lip balms that I’d purchased from a health food store. It contained almond oil, lanolin and other natural ingredients. On closer inspection, I reread the label. “Active sunscreen – PABA.” Doing further research, I learned that lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool, is a known sensitizer. One or both of these ingredients was responsible for irritating my lips.

I decided to try applying a small piece of cocoa butter I had that was being used to formulate lip balms, body balms and massage bars. Within 24 hours, my lips softened and turned from flaky white back to natural pink. I began exploring ways to make my own lip balm that would contain skin-loving cocoa butter.

Cocoa butter was nice, but after a while, I wanted to go back to using a stick or small pot of lip balm that I could carry around with me. I read several books and researched many recipes I found online. For over a year, I experimented with the recipes until I was happy with the results. In my quest to make natural lip balm I gave away small pots of shea butter lip balm to testers, which had been sweetened with white chocolate. Only one problem occurred – after a week the lip balm turned grainy! I also found another way to naturally sweeten lip balm, because I didn’t want any grains in my balms. I ordered unrefined shea butter and after reformulating my recipe, the problem was solved! Since 2004, I’ve successfully made lots of luxurious shea butter lip balms and have continued to experiment with different exotic oils and butters.  I’m proud of my lippy creations and next year I hope to write an e-book that will share many of my original recipes.

Meanwhile, if you are looking to buy a lip balm, make sure you carefully read the ingredients.

You only have one set of lips and can chose what goes on them—a synthetic stew of chemicals or an all-natural product that will smooth and soothe them!

Pictured below is the Java Kisses lip balm I used to make and sell. It contains natural coffee butter.

java kisses lip balm coffee butter lipbalm