Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New: Black Tea and Lavender Soap for Men!!

Here's my new soap Black Tea and Lavender. It's really a very strong manly scent even with the lavender and I'm very pleased how it turned out. I added the lavender to round out the very strong smell of the Black Tea, with something that could take the edge off without making it sweet or taking away from where I was trying to go with this soap. I couldn't be happier with the results.

It isn't ready to be listed yet as it is still a little soft, but it should be ready Sunday as well as the Sandalwood I made. I'll probably end up retaking these pics a little better than I did for the blog. I have finally went ahead and got a shrink bag to package my soaps in, so hopefully that's the last change my packaging goes through. I really like the way it looks, so when I get a chance, I'll post some pics of that.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I just got my first online repeat customer. It's so cool to me. Just wanted to write that out. I have always measured a business' success by how many repeat customers they get. If people like you then you're doing something right. Well, I guess I'm finally doing something right. Let's hope this continues.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting Going

I made some sandalwood soap yesterday. It turned out pretty good with the exception that the scent isn't as strong as I'd like. That's probably a good thing though since it's supposed to be a men's fragrance and I know a lot of guys that don't like really strong scents in soap and stuff. So I'll be a busy bee making soap daily until I run out of scents to make. Really gotta get crackin' on this stuff because I'm so far behind schedule :(.

I haven't decided what scent to make next, but it really doesn't matter since they'll all get made eventually. Until next time *waves*.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't You Just Hate......

When you start to something and realize you are missing a very important component of the process? Yeah I have started melting oil for soapmaking and wouldn't you know I don't have any wax paper to line my mold. I would try other types of paper but for fear that the soap may stick to it. So I'm off to the dollar store to get some. In the Chicago cold mind you, which Chicagoans refer to as "The Hawk" because the cold swoops down on you from the lake like a predatory animal . Anywho, I haven't decided which scent to make. Then again it doesn't even really matter for how long it's been.

Check back later. Oh before I forget, *waves* to new follower.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just a Quick Update....

On Business: I finally got my shipment of soap oils today. I am going to really have to work at rescheduling when I need supplies. I always run out around this time of year, when really in order to succeed in the Holiday rush, you need to have finished product on hand to offer to the public. It really defeats the purpose to have people interested in your store, only for you not to be able to post anything new for more than a few days. It's been a few weeks for me. :(

Personal: The workouts have been going well if I take a step back and stop being so critical of myself. It's been little over a month and I have learned a few spins. It still takes a lot of effort for me to master them although I keep working at it. Really I need to be less critical and remember that I am very new to this. I watch the professionals and then look at myself.....ugh. That's just me though. They had to start somewhere too right? Like, at the beginning. A long road ahead, but I know I will be pleased if I continue on. It's still fun even though I have had some bad pole days.

So until next time. Once I start listing new items perhaps I'll have promotion going on this blog. So look out for that.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pole Dancing....Best Workout EVER!!!

Yes, it's official that pole dancing, once thought to be the career choice of whores and sluts only, is the best total workout I have ever done. Period. My sister recently purchased a pole last week and received it over the weekend. Since she lives right across the hall from me, of course I had to be in on this. Plus the both of us wanted to do this since we've been watching it on youtube for about a year now. I also once thought that pole dancing was automatically something slutty, but my perception changed as soon as I started watching these ladies perform. It's really amazing and their strength makes it look easy, but I assure you it is not!

So anyway, my sister and I have been practicing on the pole for maybe a week now and we already see improvement on our ability to do a few moves and have better control. The only thing about pole dancing is the process of breaking your body in on the pole. I kinda mean that literally too. Like it takes some getting used to in a way that is different from getting used to a new exercise regimen. Your skin becomes sore and achy until it toughens from the friction of gripping the pole with your hands, arms, and legs. However all of that is just a small obstacle for me with this thing. I am overweight and have had a bum knee since I was a normal weight teen. You know how it is ladies, you get married and maybe you're a SAHM or wife, and if you're not careful the weight can pile on before you realize. I have finally found an exercise that doesn't punish my joints for simply trying to help my fat ass lose weight.

If you're like me you hate conventional exercise. I just can never stay motivated. I start out strong but then I always re-injure my knee and it's all over from there. Moreso than becoming uninspired I become injured which completely stops my progress. So the pole dancing is going a-okay for now. I'm sore in muscles I didn't know could be worked! It's good normal muscle soreness, and the best thing is I look forward to it daily.

If you think you might be interested in pole dance you should give it a try. No matter how big you are you can eventually learn to do pole tricks and it's fun working up to various goals. I hate conventional exercise, but strength training in between pole dances is a must for those of us who haven't been athletically active for a while. So that means you won't be getting away from crunches, push ups, and leg lifts. Try some chin ups also if you can, because upper body strength is key to even the simplest of pole moves.

So to wrap it up, anybody who is interested should try it. If you don't want to spend the money yet to buy your own pole, check to see if there is a pole dance studio somewhere in your city. If you live in a large city chances are there is one or two in your downtown area. Many of them offer a free session for walk ins and first time people just so you can try it. If you have money to spare and for whatever reason do not feel comfortable with trying that in front of people you can buy your own. The best and most convenient pole in my opinion is the X-pole. It runs you about $300 + shipping. It's the most convenient because it is one of few poles that do not screw into anything, is in pieces as opposed to a single pole, and can be easily installed and removed. This is best if you rent and maybe you can't drill holes everywhere. It's very sturdy (I should be getting paid for this ad I'm putting in for X-pole). If installed correctly it will not fall down or wobble around even if you are very overweight.

You need three things to successfully pole dance:

1) Strength. It will be built so long as you attempt pole dancing. It is of utmost importance for even simple moves to be done fluidly.

2) Patience. It seems simple at first but once you get up there you realize it's harder than it looks. You may not get even a simple spin the first few times but keep at it. Eventually you will get it but until then, don't be discouraged.

3) Confidence. This is more important than the other two. Simply because if you have no confidence you will NEVER succeed in this. The first trust to gain is with the pole. Once you trust that it will not fall and will support your weight no matter how you pull and swing on it, it gets easier. The next thing is to trust yourself and the fact that you can support your weight and do the moves. If you can think it in your mind about a move most likely you will succeed at it. You must be fearless to try the basic thing like simply taking your feet off the floor.

With that I leave you with a few videos for your enjoyment.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Printer Died.....But Then I Got a New One!!

Yeah, my old Lexmark Z23 died about 2 weeks ago. It was really devastating as I can't conduct any business without it. So after much looking around I found a nice HP printer for a wonderful price. It was only $32 on the HP site. Other stores had printers but they were either too pricey or they were all-in-one's which I hate. It's like the technology for them is not up to par. Either that or they're designed to fail you. I've had three different brand new all-in-one printers from different companies and none of them lasted beyond a couple months.

I'm pretty good at fixing PC problems but I'm crap with printers so when they break it's over. The one that finally died though was at least 6 years old, and it was only $24 at Target at the time. So it paid for itself and then some. This new one though is fast! It prints so quickly, quietly, and clearly. Very much worth the money I paid.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Free Shipping! YAY!!!

I've gone ahead and made free shipping a standard in my shop. It was such a big success for me I decided that the cut I take in my already low profit margin was worth it. I want my product in the hands of as many people as I can get it to, and I am willing to accept coming out of my pocket for this. Of course when I crunch the numbers it isn't a financially sound thing to do to run a business, but then neither is waiting months between sales but at least I won't get beat on shipping.

I've said before that the number one complaint of all customers who were reluctant to purchase handmade soap, was that shipping made the overall price unappealing. I understood where they were coming from. Soap such as this is viewed by many as a once-in-a-while treat, and not as a necessity. If they want to be economical, they wouldn't come to me to buy their household soap for that month. Even though free shipping doesn't mean people will now get soap from me rather than buy a pack of Dove (although that would be great), it does mean that they will now buy my soap. I couldn't give away a bar of soap until now. Mainly because with shipping a single bar can cost upwards of $7. Unless you have a set clientele most will not purchase it.

So have at it people. Come get soap free of the weight of shipping!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Now I Understand It...!

I understand why everyone loves that show True Blood. My sister and I just spent like the last week or so watching back-to-back episodes to catch up the first season. Then we watched almost the entire second season. I love that show, and after watching it I see why other people like it. The episodes are very interesting. I think the aspect of the show I like the most is the fact that the existence of vampires is open.

Okay so we agree that Bill has a certain vampire "swag" (my sis and I vowed not to use that word, and if she read it here she'd pinch me!) that makes him kinda sexy. My sister is smitten with Eric, and me? Well, my favorite vamp is no longer in the series. Don't know if I'm the only one but I thought Godric was sooo hot. Maybe cuz he was so old yet looked so young?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ever Since Free Shipping

Sales have been picking up a great deal. As I remember the number 1 complaint from potential customers was shipping, coupled with the price of soap made them not want to buy. So, I was seriously considering keeping my prices the same and doing away with shipping costs. I may or may not raise my prices a bit to offset the cost, but if I decide to simply include shipping in the price of the item I'll definitely let it be known.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Can You Smell That?.......Well I Sure Can't!

The rigors of soapmaking are ever ongoing. During this month of Ramadan I have found it more difficult than I assumed to have the energy to really make soap consistently. The thing that really has been bothering me more so than lack of energy, has been my stagnant group of fragrances. The time has come around for me to remake some of the older scents that have sold out, so that's not a big issue. What about the new scents though? Well, lately I've found myself not really being able to spare the money to purchase a new round of fragrances. I "window shop" as it were almost daily making, then deleting, then remaking a list of fragrances that I want to buy. With the fall around the corner, I need to put my body butter sticks back on the shelf. They were a best seller over the winter and fall months, and so would be a complete fail if I didn't get them back up. As for the scents, I want oils that are appropriate for the season, but that doesn't scream Thanksgiving and Christmas. I want subtle and warm and spicy without having to fall back on the old standby's like pumpkin or pine. Though admittedly I have never used them in my lineup, so they may be worth a blend.

Well I don't know how I'm gonna pull it off, but I may be getting a little finacial boost in a couple weeks. That should be a big help in deciding exactly what kind of scents I want to go for.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Such a Long Time

Oh boy, it's been such a long time posting here, that I'm afraid no one will read me!

Nothing much has been happening, hence no posts. Over the last few months business did pick up however. Etsy, the site where I sell, decided late last year/earlier this year to create their own brand of SEO. For those of you unaware SEO= search engine optimization. It seems they buried pretty much the entire site from Google by taking up valuable keyword space, that should have otherwise been used at the discretion of each individual shop. They "spammed" the word Etsy in everyone's metatags, basically making Google's crawlers regard the entire site as a spam site. Google buries sites like that into an irrelevant supplemental search. Basically no one's shop could be successfully searched via Google or other major search engines.

Well, I guess they finally sorted that out after much wrangling by the Etsy sellers. It has taken a little while for the search engines to re-catalog the site and thusly individual shops. It must have worked because I started getting sales and views again after a very long draught.

All in all I guess I am getting quite tired of the whole Etsy site and how things are run there. It doesn't seem to run very effeciently, and they spend more energy closing threads it seems, than tending to real issues.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm on Twitter

Yep, and I update twitter a whole lot more than I do this blog. I'm earthtonesbath on twitter as well. So if you wanna see more updates from me more often, I suggest tweeting me.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Finally I got some sun and took some pics. I posted new items in my shop, and more to come as long as the sunshine holds out!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Standing in the Way of My Own Success

Going into this business, or any for that matter, I knew it was not only a distinct possibility but a matter of time before I would seemingly stand in the way of my own success. As long as I'm online behind the safe haven of my flat panel display everything is fine. It's when I appear before the public that I become my own hindrance. I'm speaking about my appearance in public. It's off-putting and quite frankly takes many people off guard. It distracts them from what's on my table, and redirects their attention to me personally. Now, I guess you're saying to yourself that's silly. Why not change your clothing? That's easier said than done. You see I am a Muslim woman. That alone without the accompanying attire is enough to stop some folks in their tracks.

I wear all appropriate attire dictated by my religion. I wear a hijab (head scarf) and a veil (face covering). Yes, I wear both of those, but I'm an honest soap-maker I swear it! I wear pretty much what you see in that photo, although Sadie the bellydancer who is the lady in the photo, is a bit more beautiful about the eyes that I am. My eyes aren't quite so captivating. I assume though that you get the point. I am covered almost completely from head to toe and it is most intriguing to some.

I suppose you may be able to imagine exactly why this may present me with a unique situtation when selling things in person at a show. The big issue is that people see me. I have been wearing this attire, (and yes I wear a myriad of colors so as not to totally scare people with an all black ensamble) for about 11 years now so I am fully accustomed to stares, oohs and ahhhs, the ever-present look of disgust, the looks of pity, and the pseudo-frightful startling that I sometimes induce upon entering a room. All these things don't bother me as much as the prejudice I encounter when selling at a venue. Let me ask you reader, and you may answer this to yourself but I prefer that if you read this you answer the following in the comments section. If you saw a Muslim woman dressed as I have described, would you not buy from her based on her appearance? This is what happens to me. Whenever I go somewhere to sell the first thing I must overcome with the general public is my own attire. I must make extra efforts to strike a conversation with them to appear less intimidating. This is a small issue in itself, given that I am quite introverted and sometimes have a difficult time just striking up conversation with total strangers. However, it's a hit and miss kind of thing. Sometimes when I venture to speak I get a weird "don't-talk-to-me" look and they walk immediately away from the table. Only those people who aren't totally prejudice or thrown off actually ask the question on their mind. Usually they ask where I'm from. Well I'm from Chicago born and raised. I am an African-American and have never been overseas a day in my life. People sometimes are relieved to find that I have no foreign accent, and I can get on with the business of a sales pitch.

All this proves very difficult at times, and depending on where I am it can totally halt all sales. My best selling venture was not surprisingly at an all Muslim function. There, no one cared how I was dressed because we were all Muslim anyway. Many of the ladies knew me and I made a ton of money.

I guess I am writing this to get it off my chest and to write out loud how prejudice people are in reality. I mean your average American walking down the street has such hang ups about those who are or appear different from them, so much so that buying a product from me dressed the way I am is unthinkable. I'll keep plodding along though and never let it be something that prevents me from doing what I like, and offering a product to people that I believe in, and that I'm pretty sure they will enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nothing Much Going On....

Yep, nothing much happening. I just don't want to leave my blog abandoned and my precious few followers wondering why I dropped off the face of the Earth.

The Etsy street team that I am a proud member of (the SAFE TEAM) hosted a very informative 'soap symposium', and the topic of discussion was how to label soap and cosmetic products properly. Some of the rules got our feathers ruffled a bit, but we are a strong team and able to stand by our creed of producing safe and wonderful products for all our customers! In any case, the lady that spoke to us, Marie Gale, was very knowledgeable and very nice. She answered as many of our questions as she could as thoroughly as possible, and we were very pleased with the outcome.

For those reading this blog who are new to the idea of handmade soaps, and wish to know more about it, our team will be hosting these informative little shindigs every Monday at 4:00 pm central time. The next one will have a different guest speaker, and the topic will be preservatives in products. To come sit in on one of these meetings, all you need to do is sign up with a buyer account on Etsy. This is completely free by the way. There is a link on the main page at the top that says 'community'. Click on it then click on the button that says 'virtual labs'. This takes you too another page where you will then click on the 'gallery' button. That's it, you're there and ready to join us. It is set up like a chat room, so there isn't a whole lot going on that most internet savvy people haven't seen. For more info on all this, click the link to the left that says Safe Team Blog. There you can learn about our team and what we stand for.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Fruit and the Flower is Here!!

Well, they're finally here. At least the first two are anyways. The beginning of my Fruit and Flower Collection is here, and soon to arrive in my store. I took some pictures of them and they are so beautiful. The fragrances of both are awesome as well. There are surely more to come to this bright and fresh summer collection!

The soap above is my pride and joy and the first in the series, Strawberry and Chamomile. This fragrance is much fresher then the first batch of this I made (which I was unable to part ways with, hence the second batch!). Chamomile is usually thought of as calm and serene, but this scent in just the opposite when paired with sweet strawberries. A zesty almost cool scent leaves you feeling and smelling wonderful!

This one to the right is Raspberry and Mint. Spearmint and eucalyptus was blended with a sweet and tart raspberry fragrance. Surprisingly this scent is more subdued than the soap above. Each scent works wonders at toning down and complimenting the other in this blend. You would be very pleased with this intoxicating smell!

Well those are it for right now, but I'm in the laboratory cooking up a (soap) storm and coming up with some unique and bold fragrances. These two beauties should be up before the end of this month (March '09).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stand Up and Be Noticed

Hi, my name is Kendra and I'm addicted to blending fragrances. Yep, it's a pretty bad addiction but I wouldn't be caught dead going to rehab for this one. It all started last year when I was searching some of my favorite sites for fragrance oils. Many of them were Bath and Body Works or Victoria Secret types of fragrances. Most famous fragrance designers don't want their name referred to in order to describe the scent. For instance if I used Aquolina Pink Sugar as a scent for my soap I can't call it that or say I used their "type". It was then that I said to myself, forget those big designers. I don't need their name or notoriety to sell a product often times superior to major brands anyway.

I started blending fragrances together to see what worked. Many times a soaper will blend scents to get rid of small amounts of fragrance or essential oils that aren't enough to scent products on their own. However, I believe it's time for handmade soap makers to look into making an entire line of custom blended scents all their own.

I thought about why those designer fragrances catch on so well aside from name recognition. I came to the conclusion that it was because they were coming up with unique scent combos that other designers didn't have, and that everyone else wants to copy. How do they come up with those admittedly wonderful smells? Well, aside from the truly unique scents that have no natural referrence such as Paris Hilton or Dolce & Gabbana Blue, these companies are finding different scents that go well together. Maybe two or three and sometimes even up to five or six different fragrances are used to achieve a single unique smell.

How can a small time soapcrafter achieve these same results you ask? Well I can't gaurantee that anyones scent combos are going to be all this summers rage, but we can be unique. It calls for thinking outside the box on what smells go nice. It also calls for lots and lots of experimentation. Instead of pairing together cucumber and melon, or apricot freesia, why not Lilac and Lime or something equally as fabulous?! There are so many fragrances out there to choose from and to blend that we don't need to wait for Philosophy or Perry Ellis to tell us which scents we should aspire to.

I also believe the exclusivity of the scent you create will make your product stand out more. Isn't that what people also pay the big bucks for, exclusive items? When they believe that they cannot purchase from anywhere else what they purchase from you, they will return to you again and again especially if your products are exquisite, like mine. My very first foray into making a custom scent was my Cedar Falls soap. I blended some essential and fragrance oils that came out beautifully and I advertise it as unique and exclusive to my shop.

Here's how to make your own custom scented line of products:

1) Pick some scents that you think will go good together and try blending them. Be sure to actually blend them in a small plastic or glass container to get the true sense of what they smell like together.

2) Allow them to sit at least a day so the fragrances can fully mingle. Sometimes they change on you!

3) If all goes well give the fragrance a snazzy name. Remember, don't be boring think outside the box!

4) Put the smell into your soaps and toiletries and voila, you have a custom scent that you made and you can feel free to advertize it like that.

No more worrying about if you can use the name of some designer. You can use your own name and in the end for us business owners our name is the most important one to put into the ears of your customers anyway!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I Know I Abandoned It!!

Yes, I know I have been such a long time in posting anything new here. Things have been up and down for me lately, including having to put my pc in the shop recently. Anyway, I'm back and will be making more regular posts.


I have made some new soaps that have yet to be posted in my shop. In addition to the new Lavender soap already there, I have made a Castile (olive oil soap) soap that I just haven't been able to take pictures of. I also have some bath and body oils, bath salts, and some new body butter stick fragrances available soon!

My issue is pictures. Every since the winter time there has been little sunlight whereby I can take a good photo. So I've had to take them outside whenever there was sunlight which hasn't been often at all. I do plan on making an extra effort to put these things up in my shop soon.

I also have a new scent collection I will introduce called the Fruit and the Flower Collection. I am obsessed with blending fragrances and came up with this idea a long time ago. I have just recently decided it might be time to add these to the lineup with the spring and summer coming up soon. My first fragrance in the series is so far a secret, but rest assured it's something that BBW and Victoria Secret will be envious they didn't think of it first! A very feminine scent that'll make any bath a delightful experience.

Okay, I'll be back in a couple of days to give some updates and tell how my recent vending events have gone.