Wednesday, October 23, 2013

First Craft Show

First Craft Show

My first craft show was a two day event. I had no idea how much to bring, so I thought  best to err on the side of caution and have a ton of soap. OK, it wasn't really ton but it sure felt like it when I had it all packed to go. As you can imagine, after the last few months having a blast making soap, I really needed to sell it so I can make more soap. I tried hard to not have any grand expectations since I didn't know anything about the event or the venue. Turns out that while this was the 8th annual event for this show, what many vendors didn't realize, including myself, was that it was a first time venue in a well-to-do part of Akron. There were about 100 vendors in all with three soap makers total. I was placed at the back which made me a little nervous. Take a look at my table. I'm open to constructive criticism. The first day, I did pretty well considering there was lots of negative talk from vendors about the lack of volume Since I had nothing to compare it to, I was blissfully ignorant and happy if anyone stopped to sniff the soap.
Then of course there were plenty that walked past with nary a glance or a sniff. My theory is that those people have never used handmade soap and if they caught even a peripheral glance, they were relegated to "just pretty soap that I don't need." Most of the people that stopped at my booth already knew the benefits of handmade soap. I made only $176 in sales on day one and on day two, it was extra extra slow with only a trickle of buyers and tallied up day two with only $70 in sales. I still have a ton of soap left. Overall, it was a success even though I still need to find homes for the leftovers. My daughter was a real trooper. I think she had a lot of fun that first day with all the selling and shopping other vendors, but Sunday when the crowd was thin, it was boring.

I've been in a maniacal experimental soaping streak, so I had 28 kinds of soap which I lined up naked on my little display stand. The wrapped versions were nestled in baskets or boxes. People are funny about picking up stuff and maybe I need to re-think fingers all over the soap. I mean it's's self cleaning, but I understand that germs could park themselves among the swirls or crawl under botanical bits. For my next show, I'm only going to have, at most, 10 varieties displayed on wooden soap decks. Then customers can pick up the decks to sniff it. When the inventory gets low, I'll swap it out with a new 10. My best selling soaps were my oatmeal milk and honey soaps followed by my citrus goat soaps. My whipped shea butter was a great hit, but I think I could have done better if I had more than one scent available. I made lavender, but can you believe it...some people can't do lavender. Interestingly, I didn't sell a single bar of Holiday Soap. I guess it's a little early for Christmas shopping.

I'm not wild about my dark blue table was a beast to iron. I'm eagerly waiting the arrival of a fitted table close cover, a table cloth condom so to speak, which will negate the need for ironing. I hung up the iron along with my nurse's hat about 20 years ago. My soaping sister Kim--yes, we are equally afflicted with the must-make-soap gene--bought one for her show and I think it looks so sleek. She's a master decorator and it's such a bummer she's all the way in Florida! We could bulk buy our oils if she still lived here! Such is life...

I think the best part of the show was talking (and shopping) the other vendors. I talked to both the other soap makers and they gave me great advice. So much to learn. My next show is November 9th. I promised myself I will not make any more soap. Instead, I hit the craft store and picked up supplies to make fancy decoupage boxes for soap gift boxes. It'll be fun, but compared to soaping, it's like a chewing a pencil when you really want a cigarette.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Great Cakes Soap Works Dandelion Challenge

I really had fun with this because it's such a fun method! It's fun to pick out colors for the dandelion then letting the colors slop down the ramp to make something beautiful. In my last post, I talked about how my first attempt's purple base turned grey on me. Actually, it's kind of neat. I had a little slip with the Ylang-Ylang bottle, so the floral's a bit much unless you're a die-hard floral lover. But, maybe someone will like this little grey flower. Shame on me for not reading the reviews on my freebie samples. My, I've had so many lessons lately! Here it is: A Soap only a Soap Maker Mommie Could Love

Now, this one turned out pretty nice. I love the color combinations for the dandelion and top. I mixed my own colors for this one. I love jewel tones! I did a  subtle zebra  alternating layers of neutral soap with layers that had Fuller's clay added for the base. It was a new recipe, too, using a completely new oil to my repertoire--sesame--along with olive, coconut, palm kernel, sunflower, and shea.
 Probably shouldn't try anything new with a challenge soap, but what the heck...I think I try something new with each and every batch. I did a fragrance oil/essential oil blend keeping with those rich sultry colors...sandalwood incense from WSP with fennel and patchouli. I love it and it was so much better, too, because it didn't do any shady business to the trace. It stayed nice throughout.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dandelion Daze...

Goat and Dandelion
Even before I realized the October Great Cakes Soap Challenge was going to feature the Dandelion Tiger Stripe, I've made two batches using this method. I love it how those harp-like bands hang in the soap like angelic apparitions. My first attempt utilized all natural clay-based colorants in a Goat's milk base scented with tangerine and patchouli. I only did a few bands and I love how it turned out.
My second pass was more festive utilizing bright Christmas candy cane colors and scented with spearmint, eucalyptus and peppermint. My batter was much thicker turning my angel harp lines into fat festive little cherubs, or maybe an abstract candy cane sleigh, or melted candy cane Christmas tree--I see different things every time I look at it!  The picture was taken before any final beveling, planing, or fussing. The finished soap is stunning. I love it!
Dandelion Candy Cane
With two pretty batches under my belt, I pondered whether to sign up, but did anyway. Hmmm...what color scheme? What scent? Maybe something not so Christmas-y? On a recent WSP order, I opted for a free oxide sample...a beautiful grapey purple called Matte Purple Pigment Powder. I do extensive research and read every review of everything I buy, but since I didn't buy evaded close scrutiny. Breaking out of the Christmas red and red theme, I was going to do a base using this captivating color and dandelion stripe it with green, pink, white and black. Oh, it looked so pretty, that purple all mixed up with a little bit of oil. I opted for a floral essential blend using lavender, clary sage, and just a touch of ylang-ylang--except ooops... darned bottle slipped and ended up with a shade more that than I wanted. In my experience, this floral accelerated trace, so smart me...I didn't add any of the blend into my separated dandelion patch.

As soon as the purple colorant hit the soap, I knew I should have gone back to the site and read all the reviews, gosh darnit, but oxides are oxides, right? What you see is what you get? Not. My beautiful grapey purple was turning a disappointing barely purple mostly grey. I tossed in a little more and now had dark grey with specks. Instant flashbacks ensued of the time I tried doing a droplet effect with alkanet colored soap into white base and ended up with something that looked like stilton. I soldiered ahead trying my best to ignore the grey and complete the soap. Everything else about the batch was perfect! It's in the mold now...I'll take it out of the mold tonight and get the final verdict. Don't worry, I will post my mistake. It'll be a hoot.

I've messed up a few batches now, but that's ok...I've done over 20 for my fall show and seriously...I've had a blast....even with the mistakes, because it means I'm gaining experience! Yeah! Sure enough...I went back to WSP site and all but one of seven reviews were rants pertaining to how it turned grey, or a few even brown. WPS people had a warning that it could discolor in high ph environment, so the onus was on me and the other overly excited soapers that just saw that pretty color and dove right into the soap box.

Being in the career industry (day job), I just read an article for work written by Jay Block of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches that expanded on Benjamin Franklin's 3 keys to success as applied to career success, but can be applied to anything really : 1). Big achievements come one step at a time. 2) We have the power to mold our lives if we consciously pursue greater knowledge and improve our skills every day and are flexible along the way. Totally agree! Now, it's number 3 that got me a little, made me really think because it's so uncharacteristic of how I used to approach flubs and failures, with fits, tantrums, ultimatums, etc.. 3). Success is measured through pleasure. We've got to be happy along the the way, inclusive all the perceived successes and failures.  Kind of winds into the ole adage, "there's really no pleasure without a little bit of pain." To wrap it up, strive for happiness along your journey to education, a new job, master soap maker, etc. and you'll eventually reach your goals and realize it wasn't so much reaching the goal that made you happy, but the ups and downs of the entire journey.
Winter Warmer

One more this soap. It smells divine. Opening the door to fragrance oils has led to the creation of some uniquely me blends. This one is a combination of Bourbon Vanilla and Cocoa FO blended with Patchouli and Benzoin essential oils. I'm calling it Winter Warmer for it's capacity to melt the coldest of moods.