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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Soapmakers/Bath and Body Products Crafters – Do You Want to be Interviewed?

Copyright 2015, By Lisa Maliga

peppermintblizzardI’ll be featuring a soapmaker and/or bath and body products crafter every Wednesday on my blog. If you make and sell soap/bath and body products, including: aromatherapy products, body butter, lotion, bath bombs, ANY type of soap, perfume, lip balm/body balm, shower gel, salt/sugar scrubs, shampoo, candles, etc., please let me know!

Currently seeking participants who sell at a crafts fair, farmers’ market, boutique, bed & breakfast, or other retail establishment. Do you have your own website? Sell on Artfire, Etsy, eBay, Face Book, a blog, or an online mall? Open to anyone who sells anywhere – but the interview will be in English.

This is completely FREE! Share how you began making your own products, why you sell them, and what [or who] inspires you. I’ll send you a list of 12 questions and you may answer all of them or only a few. Please include links to any photos—four photos per interview is the recommended number. Don’t forget to add your shop’s URL/blog/social media links will be shared in the interview. This is a great way to get free publicity!

If you’d like to be interviewed, send an email to: lisa_maliga@msn.com Please use “Interview with a Soapmaker/Bath and Body Products Crafter in the subject heading.

All interviews will be seen as a keyword-friendly post with your name/company’s name in the heading. All interviews will be on my WordPress pagehttps://lisamaliga.wordpress.com

I’ll promote the interview on my Face Book page, both my Twitter accounts, Tumblr and Pinterest.

Thanks so much & Happy Crafting!

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Starting a Crafty eCommerce Business Website

By Lisa Maliga, Copyright 2014

I’m sharing some basic tips on how to launch a crafty eCommerce business website.

Your website is your storefront. Will you design your own website or hire a professional? Another option is to get a predesigned virtual store at Etsy, eBay, Artfire, WordPress, etc.

Buy Your Domain Name

Usually it costs less than $10 per year.

More than a decade ago, I bought the domain name everythingshea.com which I still own. Although people from China wanted to own it, I said no, you can use whatever you want in Chinese but in good old American English it’s still EverythingShea.com. After all, I started this company because I love shea butter, and all my products contain shea butter.

Internet History: Archive.org

If you’re not already familiar with http://www.archive.org you might want to be. If you start an online website, whether you’ll be running it as a store, or just as a nice online display case of your product[s], it’s a helpful site to visit. You can see just about any website’s history or find out if the website ever existed and/or what it looked like years ago.

PayPal Shopping Cart

I used PayPal as my shopping cart. It’s free and all you pay is a small percentage for each sale. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, PayPal is an option you’ll want to consider. Also, PayPal is the payment of choice on Artfire, Etsy, eBay and many other online shops.

It’s All About You!

the soapmaker's guide to online marketing, lisa maliga, ebooks, soapmaking, soapcrafting, online marketingAside from having an eye catching, keyword-friendly main page, I recommend having an About page on your website. Visitors can get to know about you and your products. This increases customer confidence, tells us how long you’ve been making your products, and what inspired you to make them.

This page should feature information about the origins of your company. Share photos of your products—even if it’s only one. You can also have pictures of you and/or your workplace. If you have a soap site and sell soap bars or shampoo used for animals, show a picture of a dog being bathed in your soap. For an author’s website, display your picture, book cover, and/or workplace.

Expanding the WWW

The WWW is like the universe – expansive! It grows page by page, picture by picture, and video by video–every day and night. Like authors writing more books and uploading them onto Amazon, B&N NOOK, Kobo, iTunes, etc., the more titles you have, the more web pages you have, the more likely you are to be noticed.

Each page should accurately represent your product and not use any tricks. I’m a firm believer in quality versus quantity. Show and tell the audience why they need to buy your product. Be creative. Use photos and videos. Make it a visual feast that engages even a casual surfer. Lovingly describe your products, attracting people in such a way that they want to learn more—and become your customers!

Testimonials

Testimonials – Ask for them. Get them. Use them with the buyer’s permission.

Free Samples or Paid Samplers?

shea butter sampler everythingshea.com

As I was running an online only store, I didn’t offer free samples. However, I sold samplers containing several varities of shea butter and handcrafted soap. I always included a sample with any PAID order.

However, for authors, offering a free eBook will attract more readers. And there isn’t any mailing fee!

Learn more about online promotion here:

Promoting Your Website ~ An Excerpt from “The Soapmakers Guide to Online Marketing”