Sunday, May 31, 2009

Inspiration!

Handmade soap can be just your basic bar of olive oil or a popular, but simple lavender and oats. But it can be so much more. What inspires a soap? Whether it is a melt and pour soap or a cold process bar, many things can trigger the imagination.

You know, for the longest time there was a scent I would smell and it reminded me of going to my grandparents house. We only saw them once or twice a year, but that smell was always them. I never really knew what it was. As an adult, I finally figured out what it was one day while in the floral department of a craft store...Eucalyptus. Grandma always had it in the house! I like to add a little Eucalyptus Essential Oil to scrubs, bath bombs, and even soap just as a reminder of those happy memories of crafting with Grandma.

Many times it is as simple as a scent or a fun mold that inspires the creation of a particular soap. Who couldn't help but be inspired by a Freezer Pop tray? Sometimes it is a season or upcoming holiday that gets the creative juices flowing. Spring is one of my favorite seasons and it brings with it a newness, a freshness. Mystic Garden is a very good example of such an inspired soap. Other times it is more complex...like a memory or an idea or feeling I'd like to get across. Of course there is music, stories, and poetry that can make a soap come to life.

And then there are your Soap Team Challenges! I created Creme Brulee for such a challenge. The next challenge should be interesting and I look forward to completing it. Our inspirational challenge: Describe yourself in a bar of soap! Now if that doesn't bring about an interesting soap, I don't know what will. Now off to the drawing board...to figure out who I am as a bar of soap of course!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Foot Spas Now Available

Now available are the foot spa kits I've been talking about here and there. After debating the perfect container and testing many recipes, I have come up with what I think to be the best combination of oils, salts, and scents to get your feet ready for summer sandals and lazy days pool side, deck side, or sea side. What's great is you can treat your self with this easy at home spa at a fraction of the cost of day spas.



What's included in the kit? Three products make up the kit. First, a Fizzing Soak composed of milk powder, baking soda, and citric acid. These are blended in just the right proportions and topped off with avocado oil for a soothing and moisturizing treat for your feet. The second step in kit is a Dead Sea Salt Scrub. Dead Sea Salt works to exfoliate the rough skin on your heels and foot pads. To counter the gentle, roughness of the medium ground salts is a blend of avocado and jojoba oils. Finally, after a rinse and gentle pat dry your feet are ready to be pampered with a bee's wax and shea butter foot butter. Now your Foot Spa is complete, don those sandals and flip flops with confidence!

Currently available in Vanilla Mint, a soothing, refreshing, and cool blend.
Coming soon in Vanilla Orange, Lavender, and Tea Tree & Lavender.

Keep checking my Etsy Shop for availability.

For the Men-Blog Feature

We've been blogged again! Thank you to The Soap Bar for the very kind feature! Don't forget to pick up a Tax Man today!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Deals For Dads

Dad's Day Sale running 5/26-6/4 in Etsy Shop

Code: DAD

All MEN's Soaps, Sets, and Sundries available at 15% off.

Free shipping on orders over $30 in US and Canada. International orders over $30 receive 50% off shipping.

Sample of Men's (more to come): http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=18828141

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We've been Blogged!

I love seeing how customers use my products in creative ways. This customer, Amy, purchased my customizable shower favor soaps as the final touch to a bridal shower she was hosting. HERE is a link to her blog showing how she paired them with tea bags and custom tags from other Etsy sellers as a fabulous party favor for the guests.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Melt and Pour Inferior?

I have had a few people recently ask me the difference between melt & pour and cold process soaps. Many are under the assumption that Melt and Pour (MP) are inferior to Cold Processed (CP) soaps. Let's address this by first defining the two and then discussing the benefits each yields for the soaper and for the consumer.

Melt and Pour (sometimes referred to as Glycerin soap).

Melt and Pour is a soap making method that involves taking a pre-made soap base that can be melted in either the microwave or a special melt pot. Then additives are carefully selected and measured and added to the base to create the desired effect. Additives include essential oils, fragrance oils, colorants, and/or botanicals to name a few. MP bases do vary in quality. You have the type you can purchase at craft stores that are fine for weekend crafts with the kids and even for testing. However, the serious soaper will use bases that can be bought in bulk and are of superior quality, formulated for specific needs. They can be simple or challenging to create. They can be decorative and ornate or just plain fun.

At Soap Scent-sations I use a quality bases that are SLS free (that's another topic all together). Each color and scent is tediously selected and can be as simple as my Soap on a Rope or layered and molded into fancy layered soaps such as the Fleur de Lis collection. I love how simply clean my skin feels after using a MP bar. My kids especially like the animal and bug shaped soaps. That helps make bath time fun for them and I know that by using quality bases, I am not compromizing their delicate skin with unnecessary chemicals.

Cold Process Soap (many know this as Lye Soap).

Cold Processed soap is a method of soap making that involves using sodium hydroxide (or lye) in combination with oils (fats) to create a cleaning agent we all know and adore--soap. The beauty of CP is that you get to be involved with it from the very beginning. You select your oils and butters and measure them out in the proportions that give you the properties you desire. I won't bore you with the chemical reactions and properties that allow all this to happen, but know that the right combination is important to the CP soap maker. Too much lye can make a harsh bar that is either completely unusable or drying to the skin. Excesses in oils can clog pores, etc. And don't think that cold processed bars are frumpy and without their own amount of creativity. The practiced soaper can create beautiful swirls of color, fanciful layers, and highly aromatic bars of soap using the cold process method.

Me, I like a nice hard, long lasting bar so I use plenty of coconut oil. But I also like to feel soft when I am done so I balance the coconut oil with skin happy oils and butters like olive, jojoba, and shea. To me, each batch is it's own beast! And I like them all for different reasons. The Shea Butter Soaps are one of my favorite recipes. They are the perfect balance for my skin. But the Gardener's Soap is very popular for its extra scrubbing power.

Both MP and CP soaps contain glycerin. Glycerin is a naturally occurring by-product of the soap making process. Glycerin is a humecent (draws moisture to the skin). That is one of the reasons handmade soaps do not dry skin out like commercial beauty bars. They start as soap, but the natural glycerin is leached out and sold as a separate product. Don't be wary of soap that lists sodium hydroxide or lye in ingredient lists, it's part of the process and completely necessary to soap making. While both use lye in the creation of soap, neither MP nor CP soaps contain lye in the end. The chemical process involves the lye fully incorporating with the oils.

As you can see, both MP and CP methods of soap making can be challenging to the creator and beneficial to the consumer. I don't think one is especially better than the other. We all have our preferences. In the end, it's all just soap! But do look at ingredient lists. Be on the look out for chemical lathering agents in MP and certainly request ingredient lists on CP soaps. Both can work for you if you know what you are looking for.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

All Natural?

I was involved in a conversation yesterday about "All Natural" products, rather that is, products claiming to be natural and what constitutes natural. We are increasingly becoming more interested as a society, I think, in natural products and that is a good thing in my mind. But many are using the term in a loose way to draw in unsuspecting customers. What most people don't realize is that (1) just because it has the word "Natural" on it doesn't mean it is truly all natural and (2) all things "Natural" aren't necessarily good for you.

So let's take a moment to expand on each of those two thoughts and how Soap Scent-sations addresses them in our products.

1) "It's All Natural" Yes, I use natural ingredients. Natural bee's wax, natural butters, natural oils, and natural essential oils. They are natural in the sense that they come from nature and I do my best to find ingredients that are grown and harvested in a responsible way. However, a key ingredient needed to make soap is sodium hydroxide which is a manufactured chemical. Without it, soap simply could not be. And I do use fragrance oils and some FD&C colorings that are not "natural". They are chemically made to mimic scents and colors found in nature.
Some of them I find pleasing and at Soap Scent-sations we use them on occassion.

Furthermore, any products containing water must be preserved to prevent bacteria from growing in the products. While there are certainly some less potent/harmful preservatives, I know of none that are truly natural. I would rather take the chance with a preservative than introduce my customers to potential bacterial infections that they may never recover from.

So can I, or any other bath and body business call their products natural? In a sense yes if they are using natural ingredients, only essential oils, no synthetic dyes, and no preservatives. All Natural, I don't feel that I can make that full claim. I do use the necessary ingredient sodium hydroxide, limited fragrance oils, and synthetic dyes in many of my products. However, I will say that handmade products in general can be far more enjoyable.

2) Natures Own Well, it is from nature so it must be good for you, right? Not by a long shot. There are many essential oils that should not be used on any skin, and certainly none should be ingested. And what is good for one individual, may not be good for another. We all have different skin types and certain oils are more helpful to dry skin, while others are better for oily skin.

Of course there are the allergens to consider. I have become increasingly aware of the many allergies that exist today. In my house we avoid dairy and peanut products. Many are allergic to nut oils, including a favorite among soapers--coconut oil. The best I can do is be aware and considerate of those allergens. While I do not think it is possible to make an entirely allergen free product, I have made a conscious decision to no longer use almond oil in my Lipster Sticks due to an awareness of allergies. Allergies are also why it is extremely important to Soap Scent-sations to list every ingredient on all products. It is your job as a consumer to know what you can't use and be deligent in requiring ingredient listings on the handmade goods you purchase. And of course, if you have special requirements, we are always happy to find a way to make it possible (within reason of course).

So what should you gleen from this? 1) "All Natural" is a clever marketing tool. 2) All things "Natural" may not good for. 3) Be an informed consumer and READ LABELS!

I hope this has been helpful to you in looking for quality, handmade products. And certainly hope it has informed you on the nature of "Natural".

Friday, May 15, 2009

WINNER!

And the winner of the drawing is (hand selected by my 7 yr old) ............. PolkaDotCandle!

You will be receiving a FREE bar of Double Chocolate Delight Soap! Congratulations! And thank you for being so patient as this was a long running contest.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Contest Winner to be Announced

You may recall that in January I entered a contest for small, mom owned businesses, called Start Up Nation. The votes were tallied and while I was not the winner, there were many votes and it was an overall great experience I am proud to have taken part in. You also may recall that I offered a drawing for a FREE bar of soap from Soap Scent-sations to those who voted and commented on my blog. No, I did not forget and the drawing will be taking place tomorrow. So stay tuned....oh the suspense. Who will the winner be? I can't tell you until tomorrow, but I will let you in on the bar the winner will receive...a 4 oz Double Chocolate Delight Cold Process Soap Bar, because life is sweet and so are each of you!

Gardener's Soap

For those of you who adore the Gardener's Soap and know I am down to just a couple bars....do not fear, I have another batch in the works. It will be ready in four weeks. If you haven't tried the
Gardener's Soap you will find it to work amazingly on ground in dirt, grease, and those icky kitchen smells. This bar is packed with cornmeal and pumice for that extra scrubbing your hands need when you've been working hard. Be it in the Garden, the Shop, or the Kitchen I'm sure this soap will do the trick.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gift Sets

Today I listed a few new gift baskets. I think the lavender set is just gorgeous. I love the bird decorated box. It would be perfect for a mom to be or college grad. Of course I couldn't forget something to spoil the golfer in your life. Cut Grass soap is an excellent choice for the guy who spends his time on the green. I had one other gorgeous box with a french theme and my creme brulee soap, but it has already sold! Hurry before these are gone too!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tug of War

Today, at the prompting of another Etsian, I have been making some business considerations regarding all the many directions on-line sellers are being pulled. Are you playing tug-o-war?

In an attempt to broaden my market I've opened two other on-line shops in the past. One over a year ago, and the other at the beginning of the year. What I am finding is that it is difficult to promote all of those shops...there just are not enough hours in the day. Not only the promoting, but also the keeping enough stock to cover all three shops (you know, just in case I actually make any sales in those venues). I have a family, social life, and local business opportunities I would like to explore.

So what is to be done? For the time being, Etsy is my numero uno! I put the greatest amount of effort here, I am familiar with the ins and outs of Etsy, and am a member of 2 fabulous teams here. My clientele is building and many consistent, return customers. I think the tug of war is ending for me. I know where home is. Etsy is home, my local venues, and eventually I think my own web site is in order.

I would love to hear others thoughts on this. Are you pulled in many directions and don't know what to do? or are you focused and organized enough to manage various on-line venues?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Local Event


Please Join us at the North Village Artists Market.

ORR STREET STUDIOS & SVEN’S KAFE & GALLERY
SATURDAY, MAY 9 10AM – 5PM
(OFF WALNUT St. BEHIND WABASH STATION in Columbia, MO)

You will ENJOY LOCAL ARTISTS’ WORKS, MUSIC, FOOD, CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES & MUCH MORE!