Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Earthtones Is Featured on a Blog

My store is being featured on another wonderful person's blog. I feel so honored that someone thought my shop was good enough to share it with the people who follow their blog. It's being featured here. So go and check it out! I'm even hosting a giveaway as well there, so you can enter for your chance to win a free soap from my shop as well!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shop Announcement: Free Shipping!!

From today until December 31st I am offering free shipping for US buyers. So instead of having to ultimately spend about $7 for a single bar of soap, you can purchase a little bit of handmade luxury for a more affordable price. Who says luxury is expensive?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Storytime: Thumpers part 3

12:30 p.m. Downtown Chicago

The steel-framed, glass covered skyscraper stood monolithic against the clear summer sky. Joseph Hauss (pronounced 'house') stood just outside of it peering skyward, taking in the sight of this inanimate creature who had sucked up twenty years of his life. Joseph Hauss, who stood in front of the busy revolving doors of the John Hancock Center with his briefcase held tightly in one hand was the poster boy for having your shit together. His dusky brown hair was graying at the temples, and the feet of crows were just beginning to scratch at the corners of his eyes. At 52-years-old he was still handsome. A 6'4" muscular frame and eyes of the palest blue is what kept his wife Carlisle comming back for more.

The people hustling and bustling past him gave only grunts of dissaproval that he stood in their way. The revolving door just kept on revolving. Round and round they went in a never-ending cycle of life-stealing. They made sure their salaries were in order, their 401k's intact, their suburban homes furnished in the latest trends as flat panel plasma T.V's, but they had no time. No time and no energy to enjoy any of it. Joseph Hauss didn't have much time either. He only had 32 hours to be exact, and then he would be decidedly out of time. With a solemn face that did not do his chiseled features justice he stepped through those doors. He stepped through the revolving maw of the life-stealing, time-eating beast, but not for the last time.


Claire was opening the door of the house when her husband pulled into the driveway behind her. Tyler gave her his pleasant smile and parked the car. Aiden ran to him, Thumper in hand to show his dad his new pet. Scooping Aiden in his arms, they all went into the house together.

Tyler had been a wonderful father to Aiden and that's saying alot. They had all been through some rough times in the beginning of their marriage when Aiden's biological father decided that Claire and Aiden were his property even from a distance. Claire had never seen her mild-mannered husband Tyler so angry as he was the night of the thunderstorm. That's how Claire thought of it. It seemed that night that even the weather signaled the climactic breaking point for all of them, especially Aiden. She liked her cool, calm, and collected husband. He didn't raise his voice, and he never raised his hands to her or her son.

"Go on upstairs and get Thumper comfortable Aiden," Claire said giving him a quick pat on the butt. Aiden ran up the stairs and almost tripped. He turned back towards her when he reached the landing and gave her the biggest grin.
"Thanks mom," he said in the sweetest voice. "You're welcome baby," Claire said having to hold back the tears that threatened to run down her cheeks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Couple Of Updates

Ok first off, I am sooo sorry for not posting the continuation of my story. I promise to get back to it soon, probably this weekend. This is how it is for me. I don't have writers block I have lazy block. I WILL finish this story though, in a timely manner.

The other thing is that I finally got my order of push-up style sticks for putting body butter in them. Solid butter that is, like cocoa and mango butter with a bit of massage oil and some scent. Just in time for the winter, so look for that to pop up in my store window over to the right of your screen. In case you didn't know that is a clickable link to my Etsy store and you may go there to puruse my online store.

Until Next Time!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Trying Something New With Pics

Okay so I have been thinking about trying out something different for my pictures. I have been taking them on a light wood surface using only natural light. I like the outcomes but find that I am limited in the angles I can take pics at because my other "scenery" isn't flattering in such pictures. I take them in the kitchen and no one wants to see my microwave clash with the soap! So here are a couple pics of the Almond Biscotti soap that isn't yet ready for sale. The first ones are with the natural light:

I like those pics because they are clear. What I don't like about them is that you can see where the table meets the wall in the background. I think this brings the reality out of just where I am taking these pics at which is what I don't want. I think a good product shot makes you wonder just how and where a shot like that can come from. The other thing that hit me about the pictures here is that this particular shot does not render the true soaps color. Here it looks strikingly similar to my White Ginger and Amber soap, and the two are quite distinct from one another. They do not look alike at all.

So I decided to make a real quick bootleg light box. I already had some foam board that I bought a while ago that I cut into four pieces. I took a small lamp and took its shade off and somehow got it to prop up against the microwave that it also on the table out of view. I had to go edit the pics to get a truer color and make it look a little better. Here they are of the same soap.

What I like about these shots is that the color is more true. It would be perfect if not for the fact that the "seams" where the two pieces of board meet are still visible. This is easily remedied by getting one piece of white poster board and propping it up to achieve the seamless look in so many nice photos. This is my really quick version of a poor man's lightbox. I guess it came out okay. I'll have to see how my other soaps photograph before I implement a change like this. If I do change one I'll have to change then all accordingly. There's nothing I hate more than an Etsy shop who pics are not tied together via a common theme. Be it background or whatever. I NEED consistency in my shop. I think especially with bath and body pictures, they need to be congruous with each other, not mixed up.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Storytime: Thumpers Part 2

Claire and Aiden had finally gotten across the parking lot to their car. It was early in the day and the biggest strip mall in Indigo Lake County wasn't too busy. As noon approached, the teens in the town would be converging onto Ralph's Arcade and the small theater. Summer was quickly making its exit, and the crispness of the morning air reminded them that school was only a week away.

Claire spotted Mrs. Laurie coming from Peer's Pharmacy, and quickened her pace to avoid the old lady. She was uneasy around her, and from the way Aiden reached for her hand and gave it a firm squeeze, he had also seen her and was equally unsettled. There was nothing outwardly strange about Mrs. Laurie aside from being almost imposing in her presence. Mrs. Laurie was 68-years-old and made a point to remind everyone about it as often as she cared to mention it. She was 5'7" with shoulder length auburn hair and lovely grey eyes. She never seemed to be ill and lived alone, and for this reason Claire never understood why she so regularly filled prescriptions. It was not her physical presence but her aura that was strange and mysterious. Mrs. Laurie always made a point to speak your name and give you direct eye contact when she addressed you, and her eyes seemed to hint at some knowledge she had about things you could not know. Her small bright pink lips were perpetually upturned at the edges as if she would break into a full grin at any time, but a smile would have looked strange upon her face. Perhaps it was the fact that no one knew too much about Mrs. Laurie. Not even old lady Fisher who knew about everybody, or Ralph that owned the arcade who had been here all his life and had seen and heard it all just about. Claire couldn't pinpoint it as she made her way over and realized that her quick pace wasn't quite quick enough as Mrs. Laurie met them at their car.
"Hello Claire, how are we today?", Mrs. Laurie asked. She always spoke Claire's name as if it hurt her to say it, and her constant use of the word 'we' was simply nerve wrecking.
"Fine. Just fine Mrs. Laurie," Claire said and motioned to Aiden to get inside the car. Aiden quickly hopped in and placed his pet's cage on his lap. Not particularly interested in talking to Claire at all, Mrs. Laurie made her way to the passengers side and peered in at the small bunny.
"I just got that for him today. He's very excited to get him home." Claire said in an effort to get the womans attention and perhaps shoo her away. Mrs. Laurie just stood there gazing at the bunny as if she were almost puzzled by its existance. Claire got into the car and started it and let the windows down. Immedietly as if she had been waiting for the window to come down Mrs. Laurie leaned into the passenger side window.

"So you got yourself a thumper there huh big guy," she said almost to no one in particular. Without answering Aiden wrapped his thin arms around the cage as if to protect Thumper from her.
" How did you know his name was Thumper" Claire asked, becoming more and more unsettled at this strange encounter.
"Oh," Mrs. Laurie said as though she had beed snapped out of her enthrallment by Claire's words, " he just looks like a Thumper that's all," she said raising herself out of the window as Claire put the car in gear.
"Well I hate to be the party pooper, but we have to leave now Mrs. Laurie," Claire said as she slowly began to back out of the parking space.
"Don't let him speak to you."
The words just hung in the air between them. She spoke them directly to Aiden. She spoke them loud enough to be heard but softly, and there was a quiet sense of urgency in them that sent a chill down Claire's spine. Aiden looked long and hard at Mrs. Laurie and grabbed his mothers skirt. Claire did not want to look at the womans face. Mrs. Laurie's words still hung in the air like a bit of winter's chill as she whispered them again. Claire drove out of the parking lot as fast as she could. It wasn't until she pulled into her driveway that she noticed her knuckles were white from griping the steering wheel.

(Okay that's it for right now. I'll be back to add some more later!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Followers Widget

Just a quick heads up. I added the new following widget, so if you'd like to follow my blog or follow the story I'm writing, you can do it easily from there!

Storytime: Thumpers Pt. 1

"Mommy I want this one", Aiden said pointing emphatically at the brown and white bunny.
"Okay Alan, just let mommy look around a bit more", Claire said ruffling Aidens' thick black hair.
"Okay," he said, then focused his attention back towards the bunny. Claire walked over to the desk, was pointed towards the end of the line, stood behind a tall gentleman, and waited her turn. She took a quick look around the animal shelter. It wasn't very large, but it was clean and the animal odor was kept to a minimum. Claire looked over to her son. Aiden was a premature baby that she didn't think would survive long after birth. She thanked God everyday that he had. Aiden was 8 years old and small for his age, but very mature. He was clear thinking and logical and very articulate, and Claire had to be careful not to pour her heart out to him when they talked. It was sometimes easy to forget he was only 8.
" Go ahead" an annoyed voice from behind her said.
" Oh sorry," Claire said a little embarassed and went up to the desk.
"Good afternoon ma'am. How can I help you out today," the young man spoke from behind the desk.
"Hi, I just wanted to sign and pay for the bunny over there. My son seems to have already bonded with it." They both looked over at Aiden who seemed to be talking to the bunny. Aiden glaced at them, gave an awkward smile, and resumed conversation.
"Kids and their imagination huh," the clerk said while handing her the animal adoption papers.
"I just need you to sign these and the fee is $40. We'll collect the animal and you should be on your way in just a few minutes."
"Okie dokie." Claire signed the papers and couldn't wait to get outside into some fresh air that didn't reak of cat litter and dog food.

Out into the fresh air Claire and Aiden made there way across the giant parking lot. Aiden beamed with excitement. He had already named his pet Thumper after a certain other cartoon rabbit. Claire was happy to see him like this. It was rare lately that he smiled and he always seemed so sullen. Aiden had been overly protective of her during the past few months much to her husbands chagrin. Aiden's black hair shone brilliantly in the late summer sunlight. His bright huge blue eyes sparkled, and his step had an extra bounce in it. Claire almost had to choke back tears. It was wonderful seeing him so happy, seeing him as a child again.

(To Be Continued.......... Check back soon to read the rest!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writing Live Novels/Short stories

I want to try my hand at writing novels. I have a couple in the works but can't find the motivation to complete them. Some have been on hold for a few years. I don't have writers block. If I were motivated to return to them I could, but I just don't have it. So what I am thinking of doing is creating a story right here on my blog. Just write it as I go and see if this will put a spark back in me for writing. I have been writing poetry since I was maybe 14, and I naturally gravitated towards novels and stories as I got older. My knack for poetry isn't what it used to be. The things that were inside me that compelled me to write it aren't there anymore. I miss it but can't recreate my poetry. Stories began to develop in my mind. I dream them, I see them when I look at people or read events and articles. I find inspiration in the strangest places but usually my dreams are rife with the images that can make stories all their own. I think I'll try to start this weekend, and update and add on to the story at lease once a week. We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Quick Soap Tutorial

I just made a real quick soap tutorial. Well, it isn't truly a tutorial so much as it is just an example of how I make soap. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Orton to Start for the Bears

So yeah this ain't got nothin to do with soap this time. I am so glad to know that Kyle Orton is the Bears choice for starting QB. About time, although I know that Angelo ain't gonna let Grossman sit out the entire season. Too bad that, because Rex has given me and the rest of the Bears fans (and Coach Smith I believe as well quiet as it's kept) about all I can take. With the fumbles and interceptions, bad decisions and general inability to run simple offense effectively, it's about time the Bears camp saw things the fans way.

Even when they benched Orton during his rookie year, I liked him. Yeah he was making mistakes but so do all rookies. I believe Kyle Orton has what it takes to be a good competent QB. Maybe he won't be the next Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but so what. If they give him a fair chance to show what he's got during the regular season he'll be good. Unfortunately, the OL won't be helping him too much, but I'm guessing that since Orton is taller than Grossman, he'll be able to stay in the pocket to take advantage of what little protection the OL can give him. In any case no matter what the rest of the offensive positions are like, I'd rather have Orton lead the team than interception-the-poo. I mean anytime teams blitz you constantly in a preseason game you know the word has been out on you that you can't take the pressure. He even let the 7th round draft pick QB outplay him and that's sad but not surprisingly.

People who want to defend Grossman always bring up the 06 season, saying he led the team to the SuperBowl, but he didn't. The defense and special teams did the bulk of the work, while Grossman coasted along. The OL was in better shape, so his mistakes weren't as glaring with a winning season. It all became very clear when he totally f*d up at the Super Bowl. Fumbling snaps and otherwise making an ass out of himself, he needed to be let go in this off season which brings me to my next gripe.

Jerry Angelo sucks. He can only draft defensive players. His offensive picks are usually busts. In this last draft he should have been picking offensive players in the higher rounds not in the 7th round were the busters roam. Instead he picked a dude with a bad back who is out for the season which officially makes him a bust, and he picks defensive players surprise surprise. The Bears brass does not like to spend money on its offense which is the lamest thing I've ever seen. How can you expect to be a winning team without effective offense. This brings me to my next gripe.

The offense itself is not creative at all and very bland and vanilla. Orton can run the offense I believe but doesn't have a whole lot to work with. The same old plays over and over with no deviation make for a very predictable and defendable offense. Poor Orton. Seems he will have a short rope with which to hang himself should he prove not the be the next pro bowl QB they were hoping for.

At the other offensive positions are also "?" but this is the issue. Since the Bears don't see the need to spend money on offense they will suffer. Since Jerry can't seem to pick a good offensive player to save his life (or the life of his team) then hire someone to help out with that. Lovie Smith is a good coach but the people he has around him are lame and are hindering what could be an otherwise threatening team from being just that.........a threat in the NFC.

Okay so I'm done with that. I can't wait to see how this season turns out. I figure they'll win about 7 or 8 games. If they win more than that I guess that'll be bootleg good news. If they lose more than that, maybe they'll think about offense more. I doubt it though.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bergamot and Rose Soap is Mine All Mine!!!!!!!!!

Okay so I got off my lazy butt and finally figured a formulation for the new base oils I bought. I like to play around with the base oils if I have never worked with them before to get a feel for how they behave during the soapmaking process. So I made a test batch which I had already decided wouldn't be up for sale, but my own personal batch. Well, it turned out so good I might rethink it........nah it's mine! I had some palm oil that I added to the list of base oils I used.

Babassu, palm kernel oil, castor, coconut, and palm. I didn't try out my colors nor did I test my new fragrances. I soaped some older fragrances I had around. I decided to make a blend of Bergamot which is a citrus type smell, and rose which is floral. That blend was awesome! Too bad I don't have any more of either of those fragrances. Can you tell I got a new crinkle cutter too? I'm so excited. I can finally start making some to put up for sale.

The soap was rock hard the next day. I believe it was the palm kernel oil that did it. It was rock solid in the bottle and now I see why people sell it in flakes. Anyway I had to give it a hot water bath just to melt it enough to pour into the crockpot to melt it.........crazy. Plus palm oil is hard too, and coconut oil is solid if you get 76* melt point of the 96* one. I don't bother with fractionated for soap making. Too expensive for no reason.

Happy to be back soaping again. Peace out!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Negative Feedback Makes Me Feel Sick!!

Okay I just got my first negative feedback for the first time ever, either on Etsy or in person. It makes me feel literally sick to my stomach. I'm not angry at the person, but I guess what I am disappointed about is the fact that I was not contacted first by this person. I would have been more than happy to do whatever I could to make sure that each and every customer walks away satisfied with their shopping experience. I know this isn't always possible, because not everyone is going to like what you sell even if they buy it. Doesn't mean I can't strive for that though.

For any buyers out there whether you buy from Etsy or any other place, here's a tip. Never ever walk away from a shopping experience unhappy and then spread a bad word about the people you bought from. Always if you can get back to that person/store and tell them that you are unhappy with your purchase please do so. This is especially the case with small business owners and businesses where the person(s) in charge are accessible to you. If they are unaccommodating, then fine they are asking for a bad rep to be spread about them. A seller cannot know that something is wrong if you don't tell them so. You may be surprised how amicable and approachable some small business owners are. So buyers give that a try before you walk away angry or disappointed.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Torn on Fragrances!!!

Ok so since my last post I came upon a couple of dollars that will help me get some of the things I need so badly such as fragrances. Well, now I'm torn as to which fragrances to get and who to get them from. My three choices are New Directions Aromatics, Brambleberry, and Wellington Fragrance. I can't decide. They each have their pros and cons. For instance New Directions has some of the lowest prices for their pound of oils. However, they do not have the colors I want not even titanium dioxide to help make my soap white. They have colors but I am leary of FD&C colors as they tend to be unstable in HP/CP soaps. I am going for powder pigments such as iron oxides and ultramarines. Even if they did, their shipping is higher than the other two places. Brambleberry is also reputed to have excellent fragrances for soaping, they also have some other tools that would be useful such as a wavy cutter, and pour spouts for their bottles. They have the colors I want also. The drawback is that the oils they have while sounding great seem to be stand-alone and not ones that are simplistic enough to blend well with other scents. This is important to me. Maybe I'm just being anal about it though. Finally Wellington fragrances has a pretty good deal on prices as well, but they tack on a $10 fee for minimum orders. It's trifling to say the least. It adds at least $20 to the whole order when paired with the shipping which is actually reasonable.

My other issue is that I am trying to budget this money out. There are other things I need to purchase such as packaging for soaps, more shipping material like box mailers, business cards, and labels. So all the money can't go on just scents and colors no matter how much I'd like that. I have also had to back out of getting another lotion base which I would have preferred from NDA. Simply because they have a lotion bottle there to die for. It would look so good, but the drawback to that is how smart of me would it be to purchase another lotion base? My lotions aren't doing so well (although I have a sneaking suspicion as to why), so is it smart business to buy yet another lotion base? Maybe not. I was thinking shower gel since so many people seem to like those in many cases better than bar soap. However that drives my costs up by another $30+ because if I buy lotion or shower gel I will need the bottles to go with it. I would still have a few dollars left over after all that even with the extra cosmetic bases tacked on. I guess my frugal nature is really having a hissy fit about spending more than $20 at one time. I have to be so careful about my expenditure that it is almost unfathomable to me to consider spending more than $30-40 online at once let alone the amount I will have to spend now. Meager to other soapmakers but a big yet necessary step for me to take. I whined and pouted about not having the money to buy this and that, and now that I have a bit of pocket change to spare for this exact purpose I'm sweating bullets.

I'm trying to purchase most if not all the things I need online at one spot to save on shipping. I want other things too like what about things for my masks? They are lacking in additives and I wanted to add at least two different kinds of clay to the mix. I was also considering natural colorants that would double as things I could effectively put in the clay masks. Colored clays would work well for this but so would ground herbs like parsley and maybe tumeric. I may have to get some things at one place and a couple others somewhere else. www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com has other things I wouldn't mind getting, but I will never waste time and money buying FO's from them again. Their clays and ground herbs were good prices so I guess that's might be my next mission.

Maybe writing this out will help me in my decisions. If I can re-read this maybe I can get a clearer picture of what I need to do.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Soap Oil Waiting Game is Almost Over

Yes!! In a few days time I'll be able to order my soap-making oils. The end of the wait draws nigh. I died a little inside each day that I couldn't, or rather refused to make soap. So yeah, those are a lot of days that went by so I'm like at zombie status right now,lol! I refused to use oils that I had already had. Currently, I make a good bar of soap, but that isn't good enough for me. My skills have surpassed mid-grade oils and so now since I'm a big girl soap maker, my customers and I are ready for a better soap. I finally have the money saved to get my wish list to a certain degree. The oils I'm ordering are:

Babassu - For it's fluffy lather, cleansing and emollient properties.
Castor Oil- For its lather and conditioning properties
Coconut - for lather as well as hardness. Also a good conditioner for skin and hair.
Palm kernel - you guessed it for lathering, cleansing, and conditioning

As you can see I went for lather and hardness that can be usually achieved with solid oils. I may add some stearic acid to increase hardness of the bar. I tried to stay away from oils that produce DOS = dreaded orange spots. It can make an otherwise fine bar of soap aesthetically displeasing to say the least. I am tired of having to stop selling bars that have done this, so it was time for an upgrade. I'm happy that I'm about to be able to offer something even better than before to my customers.

My shop has come to a standstill because of this waiting. I also need to purchase some cotton yarn for the crocheted bath puffs I am about to offer as well. After this hurdle of soap oils is over, I can concentrate on buying other things like better colors, and some more fragrances. Slowly but surely it is all coming together for me.

Just a note I finally sold out of two of my soaps! The spearmint and the orange oats. I'm so happy that now I get to remake some soap instead of looking at soap on the shelf that I still have a few bars of that haven't all been sold.

Well, that's all for now people. Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Trip to Atlanta in All its Un-Glory

Okay so I learned a few things when I was down there about doing craft shows. Some things I discovered that would have made me happy, but the show didn't turn out so good. Here's what went down piece-by-piece.

The Show Itself:

The show itself was a flop to say the least. Firstly, there was hardly no one there attending. This was a very big decline from last year. Last year there were at least a few hundred people in all. There had to be at least 30 vendors as well. This year there was maybe 10 vendors and we were the only ones from out of town. I think it had more to do with gas prices and people just not having enough money to travel from far away on the hope of making that money back. So basically the locals attended and I was highly disappointed at the turnout.

We got there Friday before noon and tried to check into the hotel, which didn't have the two rooms ready. They had only one room available even though two rooms had been booked. We were so mad. We each had to take turns going in and taking showers and freshening up from the drive. Once we got that done we checked back with the front desk to have the lady tell us that the rooms would be ready by the time we returned. Okay fine. We left to attend Jumuah (muslim Friday services). Once we got there we were fooled into thinking the turnout would be fine. It was just because we were all crammed into the Morris Brown Gymnasium. Once jumuah was over we saw that some people had set up their tables already to start selling. Most of them were food vendors so we got some food and decided that we should go back to the hotel, get a good nights sleep and start fresh in the morning.

When we got back to the hotel we saw there were a whole lot of people waiting to get in. It was a family reunion and it was a LOT of them. We went up to the front desk to see what the status of the rooms were. Surprise surprise they weren't ready. Then the manager had the nerve to say they weren't reserved and no one had paid which was a complete lie. So after about 30 minutes haggling with him we got some rooms.

That Saturday we set out for day 2 of the show. We got there fairly early and began setting up the canopy and the tables. That took about an hour and a half to do. People starting coming in and the day started deceptively well. We figured that as the hours ticked by more people would show. They didn't. We all were very disappointed by that.

Things I learned:

1) My product and spiel is much improved from last year to this year. I would say an average of 80% of the people that visited the table bought something. Under optimal conditions this is excellent for a seller at a show. However, because of the low turnout and the fact that my target market was not present this didn't give me a whole lot to work with. The profit margins on soap is relatively low, so if a sell 10 things I haven't made that much money. I tried to draw attention to my pricier gift sets, but people just didn't have the money. The good news is that I was able to talk more about the product thusly making people more interested in it. It was unspeakably hot, so I could ill afford to be long winded while people stood in the hot sun. I had little time to make an impact and I was able to do that. The bad news was that I can't sell soap to the same 10 people over and over, lol!

2) Always stand to greet customers as they approach the table. Never sit. It seems to make people walk away faster as if you are not acknowledging their presence. Always stand to greet them and immediately began the sales pitch. Not too pushy, just start extolling the virtues of your product. The more you say about it the more you can pick up on what they want to hear and say more of that. For example, I started talking about how good handmade soap is for the skin. I started talking about people's sensitivities to color and fragrance, and I was able to pick up on the ones who had sensitive skin and market my color-free fragrance-free soap to them. Others I could tell liked fragrance if they picked up the lotion and sniffed, so I was able to market the fragrance soap to them. In short, learn to quickly read your customers. The more good stuff you can say in a short time, the more likely they are to show strong interest for later or buy something right then.

3) Learn which customers are totally not interested in your products. You can tell when a person is just looking and when they are interested. For those uninterested people speak kindly to them and do not start the sales pitch. They just walk away mid-sentence or get an uncomfortable look on their faces as they wish you'd shut up.

The Overall Trip and Stone Mountain:

The overall trip was quite enjoyable despite not making as much money as I'd hoped. We even enjoyed Monday morning at Stone Mountain! Here are some pics.

This is a pic of the carving on the side of the mountain. Sorry I forgot who they said the people were. I wasn't listening. It was inexpensive to get in there. It was only like $25 to get in each adult, and with a Krogers card you could get like $5 off. My sister and I wanted to go to Six Flags but our husbands are lame and didn't want to go, but the mountain was cool though. It was a toss up between this and Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. We chose this so we wouldn't have to stop once we got on the road. I want to take a trip where we go the same route and stop at all the cave attractions that litter Kentucky and Tennessee, and stop at Lookout Mountain. Here are some more pics and a video that's also up on youtube.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Going Over the Preservative Issue Again

I was re-reading what I wrote regarding the preservative issue. I would like to clarify a few things.
The first is that these are my personal viewpoints. This is one of the rare occasions that my personal view does not reflect what I actually do with my products. From a business standpoint I am all about safety being part and parcel of what a good product means to me. So even though I have my own personal views on preservatives and all that, I do include a preservative system in the products that need them. Like I said before, this is one of those rare occasions that my personal view doesn't play into what I do with my products. I would always rather err on the side of caution than cause anyone any potential harm by being bull-headed.

The second thing is that I don't feel that preservatives are a bad thing at all. Many products need preservatives (I'm thinking particularly food here) and I wouldn't purchase without them. With that said, I do feel sometimes that those who create bath and body products engage, probably unknowingly in scare mongering. What I mean is they will often unnecessarily frighten consumers about the dangers of this and that, when in reality the dangers are there but sometimes over-exaggerated. True indeed that if produced improperly bath and body products can be very dangerous, which is why the utmost care, concern, and execution of recipes and formulas are absolutely in order. No way would I support nor encourage others to support a bath and body seller with inferior knowledge and even poorer execution of it. These people who haven't the slightest idea just how imperative understanding of the craft and proper manufacturing is are a danger to those who would buy from them. Fortunately I do not know anyone who fits this category, but I know they exist.

So I hope I made clear my feelings regarding this issue, so that those reading this won't get the wrong impression about me or my products. I absolutely care a great deal about the quality of my goods in all aspects. Not only if it's cute and smells nice, but does it work and is it safe for consumer use is one of many chief concerns for me.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Going to A Craft Show

In Atlanta, GA. I'm gonna be at the "riyaadah" (the name of the event), and hopefully I will do well there. I'm having high aspirations that I'll make money there, and will be shutting my etsy store down for the weekend.

After I come back, I'm most likely going to go soap shopping. On the list is soap oils, and fragrance oils. As a customer, what kind of fragrances would you like to see in my store?

I eagerly await anybody who wishes to post their answers. I'm really interested in the customers helping me make decisions that appeal to them for my products.

Thanks a bunch ya'll!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Soap Oil Waiting Game....

I am waiting and very desperately I might add, for the chance to buy some more soap-making oils. I want better quality and better prices and I found a really good site to buy from. It will cost me about $80 to get the oils I want though, but it is very worth it. The soaps I make now are very good quality. They clean very well and lather well also. But now as with anything, it's time for improvement. I want a wider range of oils to use.

Short list of things I need to improve on:

1) Colors and presentation of the actual soap.

I have focused on making a soap that people will want to come back for time and again. I have mainly focused on the quality of my soaps, moreso than having all the visual bells and whistles. I need to step my game up on that. People like to have something nice to look at as far as colors and such, so some ultramarines, iron oxides and micas are in order now.

2) Range of fragrances.

I don't have a lot of money at this time, and sadly it prohibits me from making the types of fragrance purchases in the quantity I need. I need at minimum 1lb of each fragrance I buy to be able to make soaps and lotions,and then be able to restock when the time comes. At the moment I can only invest in enough of any scent to make products once or twice and still maintain a strong scent. I need to improve in this area as well. More scents means my customers have more to choose from and consequently more sales.

3) Range of base oils.

What I was talking about at the beginning of this rant. I need to have at least 4-5 different base oils to combine to formulate soap for different types of applications. I wish to make shampoo and conditioner soaps, but lack the proper oils to make it truly effective.

These are three things crucial to my continued success in this business. Armed with these three things, I can create a wide range of product that people will want to buy, and keep buying, and refer others to buy too.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The New Packaging -- Again

So I hope it's clear in the pic. That lacy thing is yet another wrapping for my soap. I think I settled on a netting fabric instead of the tulle. I can get more of it for a cheaper price, so it's more economical. I don't know if you can see it but there are three layers of color. There's a rust color, ivory, and dark teal. I decided to layer the fabric since it's so thin, and I thought it might be interesting to look at.

Well, until next time.....!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Monthly Sale!!!

Just fyi, I run a sale on the last ten days of every month. The sale is as follows:

10% off of any purchases $15-$19 excluding shipping charges. 15% off of any purchase $20 and up excluding shipping. Cannot be applied to existing sales or discounts.

I will also be introducing gift certificates and/or coupons in my shop in the gift combo/deals section. So be on the lookout for those! I'm getting some fragrances in time for Father's Day, so I'm doing the best I can to make it a one-stop-gift-shop. Check back often because I make updates almost daily to my online store!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Preservatives in Your Cosmetics part II

Okay I promised to continue this today.

The other side of the hotly debated issue is the one that says you must have a preservative that kills the microorganisms no matter what. These people are likely to also say that there is no such thing as an all natural preservative system, which isn't true and I'll get to that later. The FDA backs this up (surprise surprise).

For large companies I can see the logic of using a complex chemical preservative system. It would be stupid of them not to. From the time of manufacture to the time someone buys and uses a product can be a very long time indeed. A company makes cosmetics in large quantity. Then they must store it in warehouses until such time as they can deliver these products to whatever stores carry them. This can even be worldwide. Then they can sit in the backrooms and shelves of these stores for a long time. So these large companies must be sure that by the time it reaches the consumer, the product is as fresh as the day it was made.

I can totally understand this. Even though I feel a product can last without any preservative, it can't last that long.

As for natural preservative systems, there is a very famous company that uses a simple system consisting of sugar. Glucose, glucose oxidase, and lacto-oxidase , is a sugar combined with sugar from honey and milk to create an oxidase system. Upon reading I found out that they work by consuming any oxygen that the lotion or other product may come into contact with. I was surprised to find it. It lent a small amount of credibility to my own conclusion that it was over-exposure to air that caused the main problems with the growth of yeasts, molds, and other nasties.

I must say before I end this that I have much respect for both lines of logic. For the home bath and body product maker, they only want to ensure that they are being safe and offering a good product. I can't argue with that. On the other hand, I believe that being very small manufacturers we don't need the extraordinarily long shelf life. When people buy cosmetics, they are usually purchased with the intent to use them right away. Things like soaps and other toiletries are bought on a need basis. People buy more soap when they need more soap, and rarely buy so much that it can't be used within a short period of time.

Preservatives in Your Cosmetics: Necessary or Not

Okay. Just a couple days ago I was approached (rather rudely I might add) by a couple sellers on Etsy that brought to my attention something about my lotions. They pointed out that I had no preservatives in my lotion. Lo and behold they were right there was not a single preservative in my lotion. I began to research as is my habit when some new light is shed on something I thought I had a handle on. Anywho, I stumbled upon many opinions. This is a hotly debated issue in the homecrafters world. On the one side you have those who feel that an alternative can be found to avoid those "parabens". Parabens is a generic name for a class of chemical preservatives that are found in just about any cosmetic formulation that has water in it. The whole said purpose for this addition of preservatives is that the water will eventually breed harmful bacteria, mold, and yeasts in a cosmetic product such as creams and lotions. I have a slight problem with that line of logic.

The first problem I have with that is that water on its own does not breed harmful microorganisms. Think about it. How long does that bottled water sit on the shelves and the warehouses across this nation undisturbed? Once you open it, is it spoiled? As a consumer are you worried that harmful microorganisms are lurking in that water? Probably not. This is untreated water, "purified" water, spring water, nursery water, distilled water, carbonated water, etc etc. Even your regular old tap water can sit in a bottle pretty much indefinitely without issue.

Furthermore, think of this aspect. You have a bottle of unopened water and a pool of stagnant water outside. Both waters are stagnant as opposed to free-flowing. Why is the stagnant pool of water unsafe to drink and the stagnant bottle water safe? The big difference between them is that the stagnant pool of water outside is OUTSIDE. It is in constant contact with the air. Many things including microorganisms are airborne. Any insect can come in contact with the water, or any microbe can thrive there. This is not so for bottled water. Bottled water, treated or not, is bottled in a facility and basically kept away as much as possible from exposure to air. So, my simple logical conclusion is that the air, not necessarily the water is the culprit for making water unsafe for human consumption and use.

Lotion for instance is created out of this bottled water that has a very long shelf life. It is also created out of various oils and butters each with substantial shelf lives of their own. Lastly, it is made of the emulsifiers, or the chemicals that allow the water to bond with the oils in order to create lotion in the first place. So since all of these things can stand alone without spoilage or becoming dangerous for a long time, why is it that when I put these things together they need all this extra chemical protection? To me it's not logical.........

It's late so I'll pick this up and finish my thoughts tomorrow...... Peace ya'll

Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Soap Packaging Idea

I'm going through packaging woes right now. I was wrapping my soaps in craft gift wrapping paper. I was also labeling them with business card stock (which was totally a fluke and not something I wanted to continue). I was alright with that setup until a few problems presented themselves.

1) The soap sweats heavily in the paper. Sweating in the realm of soap means that the glycerin in the soap is coming out. This makes an ugly and very sticky bar of soap. Visually unappealing. The ideal is that I don't wrap the soap at all until it's ready to be sold. However I lack the space for that, unless I do some major reworking of closet space.

2) I can't keep using business card stock as labels. I need them for making business cards, so I need to use labels for labels. A person can get very creative with address labels, and other types of labels as well.

3) The visual appeal of my other products are taking a life of their own. My lotions and now my scrubs have a certain look to them, and the craft-wrapped soap doesn't jive with it. Not really. Here's my lotion and scrub:
And here's the new soap packaging. It's wrapped in tulle (that netty looking material):

I think it goes along with the other products better than the old one here:

The tulle is growing on me because it looks more gift ready and the tag sits better I think. It might attract more people to buy it wrapped in tulle than paper, because I don't think too many people really payed any attention to the paper wrap. The white gift looking soap might be more eye-catching. If your products aren't eye-catching then you need to rethink how it's being presented.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Workspace

Here are some pics of my workspace. It's really just my kitchen island. It's a kitchen island, a soap cooking station, and a pic studio all in one.

Usually I have my microwave, coffeemaker, and toaster on there. When I want to take a pic, I just move that stuff over, raise the blinds a bit to let the sun in then take a pic. Yep so this is it. Nothin big and nothin special either.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The New Soapaccino!!

This is the soap that I was cooking in the pic below. It's fuzzy because it's pretty much in the dark. It really is quite beautiful in person. It looks like the chocolate marble cake but doesn't smell like it, and the color isn't as uniform either which is done purposely. I got too lazy to do real streaks and swirls so this was the result. What I was really supposed to do was take a bit out of the pot and color it uniformly. Then add it back the rest of the soap and fold it into the mixture to get a streaked/swirled effect. I did nothing of the sort. I just put a tad bit of real cocoa powder and "folded" it in....how very lazy of me!!

Here's another pic although I can't promise that it is much better than the first.
It smells awesome too. My whole house smells like what I'm gonna call it......Venti Mocha Soapaccino w/ shot of Vanilla Hazelnut.......

Too long? I don't know and don't really care cuz that's the name. Ode to my other obsession ..Starbucks Frappaccino's.

My Big Ole New Crockpot Baby!!♥

I am so happy about my new large crockpot. There's nothing worse than a soaper being literally confined to a very small pot to cook soap in. But here's my new baby working hard. As you can see it is rather large. I wish I had pics of the smaller one. Maybe I'll upload those another time so you can compare and see what I'm talkin about.

Anyway, I was cooking some soap in it at the time and was actually able to allow it to self turn and everything without having to constantly stir it down so that it doesn't creep right out of the pot.
Here's my little working cooking soap for mama!

That's the soap in the middle of the self-turn process. I actually got this one for $10 at a resale shop. They had other vintage models but they were more expensive and smaller. So I got this one. I couldn't ask for a better slow cooker. I'm so happy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Figured out the Direction of My Business!!!!

So it hit me one night while I was drifting off to sleep. I want to take my soap business in a direction I haven't seen to often on Etsy. I have a couple of skills and was thinking on how I could incorporate them to add depth to my shop. Well, this is where Earthtones Home comes in at. Yep, make things that correspond nicely with soap. Naturally when you think of soap you think of showers and baths, in turn you think of the bathroom, then visualize a bathroom either your own or the one you want to have. How about I make things that go in the bathroom aside from soap?

I have already started crocheting washcloths. I am going to sew those and hand towels, and even large body towels too! I would even go so far as to expand into bedding particularly sheets and pillowcases. I think that would be a fantastic idea, as it brings into play things I already know how to do such as sew and crochet. Just thought I'd share the excitement.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Customer's Patronage and the Power Struggle

So who wins the power tug-of-war that goes on between a buyer and a seller? Recently I have noticed on Etsy the growing trend of the buyers in a way using their possible patronage to almost run the shop of sellers. What in my opinion started as a well-needed way of communication between buyer and seller turned into a threat of sorts.

It started when sellers, including myself, started asking buyers what turns them off and on about a shop. This was a response to slow sales, and I believe a desire to have better customer service, and improve the viability of a shop all around. It started friendly enough, with buyers simply stating what common mistakes sellers make, that leave a bad impression, or other things that work against the seller. This was very good, as I looked forward eagerly to see just what buyers wanted and expected out of a shop. Then I could decide which of these things works best for me, and I could implement them in such a way as to be consistent with the vibe and appeal of my own shop space.

It started to take a bit of turn as time went on, when some buyers began making statements beginning with the words "I won't buy from you if......" These words are now infamous among some sellers on Etsy. Indeed I, being the person I am , just had to speak out about that. So I made a thread about it. Nothing big. It got a few responses and that was that.

Now obviously, you and I know that not all the buyers were guilty. Most people on Etsy are quite nice and helpful. Most are reasonable and very level-headed individuals. What I think happened was that people just got a bit carried away. We can do that sometimes. We get started on what we don't like, and then we start nitpicking about ALL the stuff we don't like. The buyer critique (so to speak) went from "I don't like it when sellers don't ship internationally" to things like "If I don't see my country listed I won't buy", never mind that the option of EVERYWHERE ELSE is sitting right there. One of those is a legitimate gripe, and one is a nitpick.

Here's the tug of war part. Sellers, including myself to a certain degree, began these massive shop overhauls. I did an overhaul on shipping which I think may have been long overdue anyway. I thought it was legitimate to make the shopping experience easier for people. I have no problem with that and don't believe many sellers do. Where does it end though for the sellers? How much do you take into consideration the opinions of potential customers? Do you draw a line? Where is that line anyway (rhetorical question)? Do you allow it to change your whole perspective or even your own vision for your creations, to please the customer? Or do you just make what you make, run your shop how you run it, and let the ships fall where they may?

I was stressing it before, but now I'm letting those chips fall and I ain't even watchin where they fall. I take the advice/suggestion/opinion I think makes sense to me and I apply it when and if I can. I'm starting to just concentrate on my craft and let that be that.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Just wondering

Just wondering in what direction I should take my shop. I'm a little bummed about not having a sale in about a week or so. I am really thinking hard about all the things I need to do to get myself more exposure. I think one of my problems is that my shop isn't as full as it could be. I have to concentrate on creating more than obsessing over when I'm gonna get a sale or whatnot.

At any rate, stocking a full regimen of products has become a priority at this point. Someone said it in an Etsy forum, and it made sense. I wouldn't necessarily want to do a whole lot of shopping in a store that had half empty shelves.

Still trying to figure out this online business and the best way to conduct it. Pleased to be doing it though nonetheless. I figure as long as I offer a great product, and keep pluggin away at it, it'll work out like I hope it will.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Finally...A Friggin Lotion!!!

Finally I can stop worrying constantly and just plain freaking out about not having lotion or any other kind of moisturizer in my product line. It's very incomplete not to have at the very least a basic type of lotion to offer your customers, ya know? I couldn't really make a gift set without it. Now I have an awesome lotion base that is as close to natural as a water-based product can be. It's already thick and rich so I don't have to do much to it to get it just how I want it to be.

I'm so happy about it. I know my customers are gonna be relieved about it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Are You Defeated on Gas Yet?

Well, are you? What ever happened to voting with your dollar? The gas prices here in Chicago and across the US have climbed well over $4.00 per gallon now. When is this going to end? Why are we being choked out of all the money in our collective pockets? And the even more pertinent question is why are we doing nothing about it?

I have been trying to raise concerns over gas prices (mainly) and secondarily food prices around my friends and colleagues, but no one wants to do anything more than complain verbally. I have brought up repeatedly that perhaps we should do a small-scale but effective partial boycott of gas stations. That has been knocked down I can't tell you how many times. Everyone keeps telling me that won't work, but I'll tell you what will work. What will work is that when we continue to purchase this gas at the asking price of these large companies, we are telling them we are pleased with it, even when everyone knows we aren't. This is why the gas has steadily risen over a relatively short amount of time. We started out paying close to $3 and people started complaining but again did nothing. Then they raised it to $3.29, $3.59, $3.69, $3.99, and finally in some places regular unleaded is now $4.09. The thinking of these companies, and rightly so might I add, is that if the majority of consumers will pay x amount, then they won't mind paying only $.20 more. This is what our inactivity has taught them. We will complain verbally but when push comes to shove, we will ultimately do nothing. We're gonna go over to that pump and pay that money no matter what.

What I have proposed was a partial boycott. It is obvious these companies couldn't care less about what you or I have to say about these prices. As long as we pay without any retaliation they will continue to make excuses as to why the gas prices must rise yet again. I would say to boycott the gas stations at least twice a week. I understand that a full boycott is not only unreasonable, but unfeasible as well because many people really need their cars. However, no one goes to the gas station every single day except maybe a cab driver (and it's called a day off guys ). So one or two days out of a week shouldn't hurt the consumer, but it would hurt the companies over time. If you've been reading the news reports you will have noticed that companies such as Chevron and Exxon have posted extraordinary profits over the last quarter. Why do you think that is? If this government who is hand in hand with these big corporations were really raising gas prices to cover the cost of crude oil, how could they post such large profit margins over only a single quarter or so? I'll let you ponder that one yourself. If in a single region in the US conducted a boycott of only two days out of a week for a couple months I bet we'd see a change for the better!

Let's face it that the only thing that matters to these various entities is money. Not the lives they are sending towards a downward financial spiral because everything is going up. Not the strain and stress they are causing in the lives of your average citizen. Only money. Money talks and bullshit walks as the old saying goes. So let's do that then. Let our money talk. If an entire region or (lest I should dream too much) the whole nation boycotted two days a week (preferably stagger the days where one region boycotts on Tuesday and Thursday, another on Mondays and Wednesdays you get it) they would be forced to lower prices.

I urge all who read this not to shoot that idea down. Roll it around in your heads, because if no action is taken, you had best believe you'll be paying $5 or more at the pump by this summer or next year. Get together with the people in your communities and plan something, anything. Never let the government fool you into thinking that the collective people have no power. We do have power. This government is not some invincible monster that has no weakness. Money is its lifeblood. If we take it away it will be forced to change like any other business we don't like. It's the same thing. If there was a large chain of stores that people stopped shopping at for some reason, they will be forced to either change or go out of business. We should approach this gas issue the same way.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Castille Soap

This is my first castille soap. I was well pleased with the outcome of it. It is very soft and smooth and silky. I am really proud of my little creation and I hope it sells. I use it myself, and couldn't be more pleased. It photographed pretty good too. Looks soft in the pic.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Very First "Commercial"...Sort Of

Yay for me. I dream of the day I can afford the type of exposure a tv commercial could give me. Well, I decided that a video I make and put on youtube would serve the purpose well. Hey, if souljaboy can get famous from youtube and myspace, so can I. This is the first time that I have ever even attempted to create a movie, much less upload it somewhere. I hope this embed works so you all can see it. I'm so excited! If you read this blog post tell me what you think of it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Are They Trying to Kill Us?

It's a serious question. As I become more and more aware of ingredients in different skincare and bath products, I also become aware of something I'd rather not. Are these big name companies trying to slowly kill us? Some people think so. Many ingredients that we put on our bodies we also put in our bodies, but I don't think many people know that. Slowly reports about certain artificial, man-made, and severely altered natural indredients are surfacing regarding their potential harm.

Let's take toothepaste for example. Most of them contain flouride. We have been told that flouride helps our teeth be healthier and cleaner, and at the same time we are told not to swallow toothepaste because flouride is also a poison. How many times have you accidentally swallowed flouride in your lifetime? What was the effect of the chemical buildup? Do we know? Did we expell it out of our systems, or did this poison build up over time to help damage some of our organs, or disrupt the way our body performed, or overall health? I don't know. I doubt you know either. In any case, an effective toothepaste can be created using natural ingredients. Also, eating less refined sugar can have a number of benefits to our health, including eating less of it to preserve our teeth.

It is becoming more and more serious an issue for me to start with something so small as to offer a soap that does not contain these undesirable components. I feel more and more like I am doing a public service by offering such products, and I think I can safely speak for other soap crafters that feel likewise.

So I'm on Myspace....

And I wish the layout ws more like blogspot. I also wish that blogspot was more easily browsed like myspace. I thought briefly of getting rid of my bloggers account because, let's face it not many people even know I'm here let alone view me. After signing on with myspace, I can say that barring some catastrophic event, I will NOT be shutting down my bloggers account. I may not get many views, but that's my own fault. The polished look of blogspot beats the slightly confused look of myspace any day of the week.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

High-End Products with a High-End price?

I did a search yesterday on the prices of facials, body scrubs, and "natural" soaps, and was more shocked than I thought I would be. Those prices are so high. They were astronomical. I'm going to use it as a marketing strategy to tell people that my products are just as good (made from the same ingredients) and are but a fraction of the price. I'm talking very well known stores sell these things for crazy prices. A regular old 4oz jar of clay facial was like $20. I sell mine for $8. I was thinking about raising that price to $10, and even if I did that I'd still be half the price of the leading brand. Makes me feel good, and should make customers wonder why they are paying so much more for a name, when the quality is what counts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Out of the Melt and Pour Mindset

No, this isn't an MP bashing spree....I hate those. What this is, is me finally breaking out of the MP soapmaking mindset. As a former MP soap maker, I was accustomed to not having to use a ton of fragrance oil to get a strong scent for my soaps. Only if a scent was really weak did I have to use more than a .25 oz . When I turned to HP soap making, I knew technically that using so small a quantity of fragrance oil wasn't going to cut it. In reality though I couldn't bring myself to physically pour more than a half ounce of fragrance at one time. I knew deep down, that I couldn't go on doing that and settling for weak smells that disappeared soon after the soap cooled.

So yesterday I did it. I made a soap with a little more than 1.5 oz of fragrance and voila! Soap that smelled like more than the oils I made it with. I was stuck thinking I could work with such little fragrance, but finally had to come to reality. You just have to use more fragrance to get better smell. Simple as that. You'd have thought I would act on it immediately but hey, you live and learn.

Customer Feedback and Appreciation

As a seller, one of the things I wait for with baited breath is customer feedback. Of course I love positive feedback, but negative ones are just as valuable if not more so sometimes. I gave a completed set of products to my mother in law. When my husband visited her, she simply raved about the quality of the soap I had given her. She said she always without fail has to put on a ton of lotion after a shower no matter what soap she buys, but after using mine she didn't even notice that she hadn't put on any lotion at all. She said she really didn't need it as her skin wasn't dried out.

I just got feedback from a recent sale I had, and that customer loved it as well. They even liked my clay facials, which I was worried over since I hadn't sold any of them before now. I always appreciate a customer taking the time to comment on your items. It lets me know it left enough of an impression on them, that they thought about it later.

I wanna say thank you....a big fat THANK YOU!!! To all my customers so far.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

To All Buyers/Consumers Is Truth a Turn-Off?

As a seller I learned rather quickly that you aren't supposed to communicate negative things about you or your products to customers. I wondered though does that include the truth? Is it off putting to you when a sales-person tells you something not-so-steller about what you are about to buy? On the other hand do you appreciate the honesty? I know that I have no problem laying it all out there. I hate misrepresenting items, and I am quick to tell customer whether it's up to snuff or not. For instance I had a soap for sale whose smell sounded yummy, but had lost its scent over time. When a buyer came along to purchase it I extolled the virtues of the soap, but drew direct attention to the scent issue. They bought it anyway, and was a happy camper afterwards.

So buyers you can weigh in on this. It the not-so-great truth about a product undesirable, or do you appreciate honesty?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

My Other Passion....

Okay time to take a break on soap, just for a bit. My other passion is cars. Paraticularly race cars, be they muscle cars old and new, domestic and import tuners, or sleepers....cars you didn't know were fast. My personal favorite sleeper is the '98 Oldsmobile Aurora. This car replaced Olds Toronado. The Toronado was Oldsmobile's race car, but when it became outdated they replaced it with the Aurora. It was a big hit. I bought the old boy in '05. It was white and I named him white lightning.

That's what it looked like although that's not a pic of my exact car. The sad story of white lightning is that I bought it from an auction. Beware of those. I turned off my spidey senses, because of my need to have the car, but I paid a price. My car had been previously in a collision, and the case frame was busted. Whoever owned the car before must have loved it, because they attempted to have it repaired. This involves removal of the engine, and welding of the frame. You can't re-weld a frame. It never works. Once a car's frame has been warped or busted it will never be the same again. Some car frames are worked from a single piece or employ a technology beyond welding. To weld a case frame gives the car maybe about 6 months before it breaks again. That's how long I kept white lightning. He died on me on Lake Shore Dr. The case frame broke and the car simply came to a halt. I was forced to junk it. Not only did I not have the money to fix it even if I wanted to, but I knew that it would be a waste of time and energy to try and repair something that in essence can't be fixed.

I am quite passionate about many cars, none of which I can afford lol!. Like this 2008 Dodge Challenger
It hasn't deviated much from the old 70's Challenger, and I like that a lot. I hate it when they revamp a great car, and in the name of making it better they make a monster. Case in point is what happened to the Ford Mustang. Remember the 70-71 'stang? Now think back to the monstrosity of the 80's version of the 5.0. Ford finally got it right when they came out with a body style similar to the old mustangs. Even with that said, Mustangs are still crap compared to the Charger and the Challenger.

Another car company that did a god job on a remake of their old car is Chevy. The 2008 Camero is a thing of beauty.

Okay that's enough on that. Had to take a break from the soap talk. I'm more than a one-trick-pony ya know.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Knowing Your Stuff

You know I wanted to write a little something about having knowledge of what you do. This applies particularly if you are making something and selling it to the public at large. Do you know what you are doing? Do you have a deeper knowledge of your product beyond the price tag? Let me talk about soap, since that's my chosen field of expertise and what I am most familiar with. As you know if you've been visiting me, I am on Etsy. There are plenty of bath and body sellers on the site. Some of them are absolutely phenomenal, some are pretty good, others are fair, and others are dismal. One thing that has come to my attention over a short span of time is the amazing lack of effort on some soap crafters parts to even take the time out to find out what it is they are selling.

Let me break the soap making processes down really briefly for those of you who don't know. There are three basic ways to create soap. The first and probably most well known method is the cold process way. This is basically taking a lye/water solution and mixing it with oils until it reaches trace, or the stage of saponification. Saponification is the very process by which the oils are converted by the lye into soap solids (a type of salt really). After the mixture has reached trace, all additives like fragrance and color are added at this time. The mix is poured into the mold in order to harden over a period of 24-48 hours. After it has hardened, the soap maker usually allows at minimum 4 weeks of cure time. Curing is the process of allowing the soap to further harden, and to become more mild. The pH level drops during this period as the soap becomes more ready to be used.

The second method is melt and pour. This is just what it sounds like. A pre-made base of plain unscented and typically uncolored soap is melted down by the soap maker. After that the fragrance, any color, or other additive is added while the soap is in liquid form, and then it is allowed to harden in a mold. This soap is ready for use as soon as it hardens without the need for a cure time. I personally view this as a great way to see if soap making is a craft one would like to do. Also, for people who have small children and pets, it is safer than doing the cold process method due to lack of using raw lye in the process from start to finish.

The third method is hot process. This is the method I use personally, and find that it satisfies my urge for instant gratification (no cure time), and my need to control the ingredients in the soap. This method is basically the same as the cold process method, with the difference being that a hot process soap maker is not looking for trace to mark the end of the process. Trace is important here but to a lesser extent, because the soap mixture is being cooked until it becomes usable, mild soap. This is as opposed to the cold process where you are waiting for the soap to become usable on its own over time. Hot process uses heat to speed the saponification process, and bring about the end result within a couple of hours depending on the size of one's recipe.

Okay, so those are the three methods of soap making that a soap maker is gonna use. Some people use all three, others specialize in one, etc. Now ask yourself, was that hard to read? Was it very long? No, right? Okay so why can't people who choose to create soap take the time out of their busy schedule's to research what it is they want to get into? I don't think many so called soap makers understand the gravity of what they attempt to make. This is stuff that people are gonna rub all over themselves in a bath or shower. They trust us to be able to competently make a product that won't harm them due to negligence and ignorance. We are dealing with people's skin. We are dealing with their sensitivities, allergies, and all that goes with the territory. We as soap makers, and all bath and beauty makers must be aware of what we are doing. It is the epitome of irresponsibility to choose to create soap in whichever capacity, and then have no idea what you're doing. This ranges from not understanding the method you use, not knowing what's in your product, not knowing the various effects of ingredients, etc etc.

Reading a few articles on soap making does not qualify a person to make it. At first I started out doing melt and pour. I felt passionately about soap making then, but realized that I needed to know what the heck I was doing. This started out as a desire to have a sales pitch. So I went online and found out about different soap bases, what was in them, and what people were looking for and what they were trying to avoid. Once I started digging though, I realized I wasn't even close to perfecting my chosen craft. A soap crafter who uses a melt and pour base must realize that their soap is only as good as the base they buy. I realized that desirable butters and oils couldn't really be added to a MP base without negatively affecting it's quality and lathering ability. So what was an amateur soap maker to do? I could create it from scratch. So that's when I stopped all production. My soaps were mediocre at best and I couldn't tolerate it. How can I sell a mediocre product and feel proud to sell it? I couldn't. I realized that in order to move forward both as a craft and a potential business it was absolutely essential to understand soap making. If I wanted a certain type of soap I had to have certain ingredients but how to know what does what? More and more research I had to do. After careful consideration I decided that hot process was best for me because I simply do not have the patience nor the space to cure cold process soap. I would end up with no less of quality by choosing this other method, so the choice was made.

I am still learning about soap making. I am becoming more of a fan of it not only because it feels so much better, but because I am learning about why store brand soaps are becoming more and more undesirable to many. See until recently I was only a fan of making it. I knew that the quality was much better than any store bought brand I had ever used, but chalked it up to being more natural. That is indeed true, but there are other factors as well. I have not purchased a single bar of store soap since I have been creating my own, and I don't plan to.

One other thing. People get into soap making as a business for different reasons. Some simply want to make money. The bath and body/cosmetic industry is a multi-billion dollar one. I want to cash in on this as much as other people. I can't be mad at that if someone got into it because they saw a potential money-maker. It is hard times economically here in the US, and making soap is honest work. Some people get into it because they have loved it for so long and decided they want to share the fruits of that love with others. For me it is both. I want to make money with this because I believe I can. I'm broke and find that this is an honest way for me to get back on my feet financially. I find that I love it so much, that even if I were not to sell soap I would make it anyway. I am enthralled with doing this so much so, that it drives me to keep finding ways to improve it, and that calls for more and more research all the time.

I guess what I really want to stress is to those who wish to make money doing this is do your homework. It is really unprofessional and reflects badly upon you and others in your field when you have no knowledge of what you're doing. Please, please, please read up on it. You don't want to harm others nor yourself all because it wasn't worth your time to simply know. That's all I want to say.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Laundry Soap

I was talking to my husband today and got thinking about laundry soap. I had heard of using handmade soap for clothes, but hadn't thought too much about it. Now I am seriously considering it. Only thing is, people say that lard is the best solid oil to use for it's cleaning ability. Now, that may be so but I neither consume nor utilize pork on any level where I can help it. I will absolutely not buy lard to make anything with. So, with that said, palm oil is largely considered veggie tallow so I'll be using that, along with washing powder, and a little borax. I want to offer it in bars for use as like a immediate stain remover, and a powder for the washing machine. It is soap after all and soap tends to cause a buildup of the oils on things around it. I hear that it can leave a washing machine with oil buildup over time. To resolve this issue, I believe the best thing is to create a soap that is not superfatted. This would make it lye-heavy but then again it isn't to be used on the skin so it all works out.

I wonder if my customers would like to see a more natural alternative to regular detergent? It might catch on big if I can figure a way to make it both affordable and highly effective. To get people to switch, my product would have to measure up in most every way to the leading brands on the market. I don't think that will be such a big problem though.

I have finally found a good way to display gift sets....small ones at least. I have these cool little boxes that are rather small, but I can fit a good amount of product in them for a good price. I am really proud of my own creativity, because I was stumped for a bit. I didn't want to go out and start spending a whole bunch of money on packaging. I knew I had the raw materials to get a good looking set out of the stuff I already had if I only put my mind to it. I think I can have it ready to present in my shop tomorrow if I can get off my lazy bum and make the things I need. I need to create the scrubs in scents matching the soap I make. You would have thought it was a no-brainer, but trust me to have not done it until now. How can you make a really cool set of things and they neither match nor truly correspond to one another? You can't. Otherwise it just looks like you threw a bunch of stuff together and expect somebody to just buy it.

Well until next time........

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Paid Advertising

You know, paid advertising is the way to go if I really want to get my name out there for my store. Even though both yahoo and google have a pay per click program that is very reasonable, I still can't really afford it. Okay, if I spend the lowest possible amount, that is $1 a day for 30 days to equal $30 a month which ain't bad. However, the lowest amount I could pay per click is .10 which is also reasonable, but I wonder how affective? I mean what happens to my spot when my money is spent for the day? I suppose it's just taken down for the day. I would ideally like to spend $5-10 a day but that goes anywhere from $150-300 a month which I just don't have. So I guess I'm stuck with a the lowest amount. I don't really feel that the free advertising I do is really getting me the customer views I would like. I could go to crafter sites, but that would be spinning my wheels with people who are already familiar with the type of products I offer, if they aren't producing their own.

So how do I break the cycle? How do I really take my advertising to the next level? I know the answer lies in paid advertising like other companies do and it works. Millions of people shop online, and how nice would it be for my etsy shop to show up at the top of a search for soaps and other b and b products? To connect with potential customers who are already searching to buy what I have is always the smartest thing to do as a business. Any successful business adverts to it's market and goes where it's best prospects for customers are.

I may have to get some fund-raisers going. I can bake a mean cookie so that might have to be my ticket. My small shop pays enough for itself to replenish supplies and packaging, but not much after that. It can't yet pay for its own advertising. How many times did I use that word in this article? LOL.

I have always heard of the old adage location, location, location but never thought about how critical that is in the virtual world as well as the real world. My location on the web is key to my success or failure. Etsy is a great place to start, and I love the community there, but I need outside traffic to come to my shop. Search engine is the most used tool on the web for buyers and people shopping for specific things. I just have to get on them and make myself known.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thinking of New Stuff

I been busy thinking of new ways to ell products. I been tossing around the idea of some deals or gift sets or something. I guess people like gifts and sets, so maybe putting some slow movers together with things that move well might prove fruitful. Anyway, I don't have anything to write about tonight. I have a total of 4 sales in my store and I think it's great. I have to do more advertising though. I am not very talkative in person, so that makes for interesting sales techniques. I have to practice being more aggressive but also not be a tool about it. Balance balance balance. Well, be back next time and maybe have something more interesting to talk about.

Friday, March 21, 2008

It's been a good day

It was yesterday technically that I got another sale. I made a blueberry soap that is so good, I'm very proud of it. I hope my customer likes it. I feel so much better about my store now. I feel like for a fledgling store, its doing good. I hope business continues to pick up. I'll be blogging tomorrow about all the paperwork i have to do that I don't want to do. Oh well. Bye until later.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Got Another Sale!!

Yay me I got another sale on Etsy. It's only my second sale but, I figure it ain't doin' too bad for a new web store. The lady ordered my only melt and pour I had in the store. That was a relief because they are on clearance. They really don't stand up to the quality of my hot process soaps, so that's why I'm extra happy when they sell.

BTW thanks to Anuj Agarwal for linking me to her blog. I couldn't embed the slideshow about the Titanic. That's alright though. It sparked my fascination with the history of maritime tragedies. A dark fascination I know, but I have it ever since I was little and heard the story of the Titanic. I have always been awed by such magnificent ships, how large they are, be overtaken by a sea that is so much more powerful than it. Okay that's enough of that.

Oh yeah, I'm feelin better too. I had no medicine but oddly apples made me feel better. I just had to sleep it off, and so now I've only got the sniffles. I hate that too because there is an overwhelming amount of snot that the human body can produce and hold. Its disgusting.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm Sick!!!!!

I don't know where it came from but I'm sick. I just woke up Saturday morning and BAM my throat was so sore I couldn't talk. I was ok except for that, but as the day went on I just got weaker and weaker. After sundown it was over with. I couldn't do anything more than just lay down. I even turned off my computer. If you knew me, you'd know that turning off my computer before 2:00am is a big no no. I hate being sick. It makes me immediately realize how much I value my good health. I feel sorry for people who are constantly in this situation and my heart goes out to them. I don't know how I would act if I were always sick.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stayed Up Waaay too Late....

So yeah, I pulled a serious all-nighter and now I regret it. I want to make soap today but as of this post I'm sitting here typing. It's still only 1:40 pm where I am, but still. I woke up only about 12:00 so......

I wanna make a hazelnut vanilla soap. I think that'll go over well at my store but you never know. People can't smell through the screen, but wouldn't it be cool to have a scratch and sniff screen?! Maybe one day I'll invent that...

In other bootleg news, I just got my graphics card back from EVGA repair. Well they didn't really repair it, they simply sent me a new one. I installed it just a few minutes ago and it works. The other one was doing that whole blank screen thing. I hate that when the monitor won't come on. Anyway, I can get back to doing the other thing I have a passion for which is games. Particularly racing games, and even more specifically the NFS series. I love that, and I have Most Wanted and couldn't play with a crap integrated card. Hopefully this one will last throughout the rest of the warranty. BTW I remind myself that I need to buy Prostreet and just skip Carbon altogether. Anybody who loves these games will know of what I speak.

Anyway, I'm thinking of ways I can advertise this blog so people can actually read the stuff I write. I guess I could always start by telling people about it yeah? That might help it a bit.

If anything else happens interesting I'll post although I suspect I'll just be busy making stuff today.

See ya'll soon!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hey everybody....

Well this is my very first time ever blogging. I am excited about it actually more than I thought I would be. I simply wanted an are where I could talk about my absolute favorite hobby, making soap. Most my blogs are gonna be about soap, but if I get passionate about something (as I often do), it'll show up here no doubt. So I hope I get a lot of visitors. I want people to feel free to comment on whatever I write. Lemme know what you think because I really like feedback.

Also, I did want to introduce myself to the internet and people who might be interested in what I make. Soap making is more than a hobby for me, it's a business venture as well. I have only really just begun my business a few months ago. I've been making soaps longer than that of course, but I always thought I should improve my method and skills before I tried offering soaps to the public.

If there are any other soap makers out there, I'd like to get to know you all. I wanna talk to people who understand the whole process. Maybe sometimes we can share important knowledge about this, offer tips and tricks..the works.

Here's a link though to my site. I'm on Etsy (yay!). There are so many things there and many great artists. Go have a browse around, but check out my site first...:p


Until next time I guess........