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 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.