Archive for the ‘Soap Making & Personal Care Products’ Category

Handmade Vs. The Wal-Mart Mentality

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016




I finished knitting up a cowl for myself, and had uploaded this picture to my facebook page, offering to make another for the low, low price of $75.  It resulted in a conversation between a couple of my knitting friends.



The timing of the conversation coincided with my train of thought while working on a pair of fingerless mitts.  I no longer depend on income gained from handmade items.  However, I do make a living selling supplies to those who earn a living selling handmade items.  I’m very familiar with both ends of the stick.

When I first went into the handcrafted soap and personal care products business 15 years ago, the running rate for a 4 ounce bar of handmade soap was approximately $4-5 a bar.  These days, the cost of raw materials has more than doubled, but I still see some of my long time customers selling bars for nearly the same price, and it breaks my heart.  I’ll never forget an old farm wife stopping at my soap booth, looking longingly at the selection I had on display.  She told me she really wanted to buy some, but if she did she would have to hide it.  When I asked her why, she told me her husband would blow a gasket over the price, when she could buy a 10 pack of ivory soap for $2.

If I had a nickel for every person who has taken a look at one of my handmade items, and said, “That’s so cool! You should really sell your ________.  If you do, I’ll be your first customer!”,  I’d be a wealthy woman.  The cold hard truth is that makers and artisans usually struggle to get a fair price for their work. I have tried to sell some of my handmade items, and guess what?  Most of the people who told me they would buy never have.  The subject of pricing among my maker and artist friends is a hot topic. It’s not a subject taken lightly, and most agonize over it.

I have a question for you.  How much do you earn for putting in a 12 hour shift at your job?  I’m going to use my fingerless mitts as an example, although they are a gift, and not for sale. They are rather complicated, and the pair will take me approximately 12 hours to complete. If I were to charge $10 an hour for my time and the cost of the yarn, the mitts should have a minimum price tag of $120! Needless to say, I’m probably never going to use this particular pattern for selling.




Hard Lessons & A Free Lotion Recipe

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

This is one of my rare posts relating to work, and a past business relationship that bit me in the butt.  Remember when we were kids, and were told to be careful about the friends we kept?  Well, that applies to business relationships, as well as personal relationships.  Several years ago, I maintained a business relationship in which the boundaries between business and friendship became very blurred.  Long story short – the association was doing damage to my business and my reputation in a very small niche industry with a long memory.  It took me quite some time to recognize what was going on, and when I finally did, I realized I was going to have to extricate myself from the situation.  It’s been more than 5 years, and occasionally I’ll run across a current online conversation mentioning the old association. Lessons learned 1) Try to choose your friends and associations wisely. 2) Always get it in writing.

In my blind loyalty, I agreed to allow some of the business’ intellectual property, in the form of original formulations, to be included on a CD.  It was a verbal agreement, nothing in writing.  Yesterday, when perusing traffic statistics for the website, I discovered an entry link with a familiar title.  What I discovered was a link to a full e-book for sale, which included my material, as well as material of a few other business associates.  Upon contacting one of these other businesses,  I found they had not made agreements for an e-book either.

After discussing it with The Essential Herbal Magazine  and Lancaster County Soapworks, we have decided to respond by making the formulas and recipes we contributed publicly available in a series of blog posts.  About 1/2 of the recipes in the e-book were contributed by theses two businesses. A lot of the other material contained in the book is public domain, easily found with a bit of searching on the internet. My personal opinion is that it’s not worth the $27 price tag, especially since we are going to give you 1/2 the recipes for free.

The following formula is one I created several years ago, submitted for use in the original CD, and now appears, without permission, in the e-book.   Over the last few years, some of the ingredients have been discontinued from my website, The Original Soap Dish.  I have plans to reformulate it with more readily available, and less expensive ingredients.  Once reformulated, it will be added to the formulary of free recipes offered on my website.

-Here is  The Essential Herbal’s first installment with a free recipe
-Maryanne of Lancaster County Soapworks writes, “If You Are Going to Steal My Recipes, At Least Get Them Right!”
-The second installment from Tina at The Essential Herbal blog, “handcrafted recipes -#2 Whipped Body Butter
-Number three from Tina,  Handcrafted Recipe #3 – Incense Cones
-Another from Maryanne, who also owns Torchsong Studio,  More Purloined Recipes
-Another from Tina,  Handcrafted Recipe #4 – Melt & Pour Remedy Soap


Multi-Performance Hydrating Cream – From The Original Soap Dish
Gentle enough for under eye use. Makes a good overnight cream. Can also be used like cold cream to remove makeup. cream

Part A
Behenyl Alcohol 1%
Emulsifying Wax 5%
Olive Butter 20.5%
Avocado Butter 20.5%
Evening Primrose Oil 8%
AquaEm 4%
PEG-7 Olivate 5%
T-50 Tocopherol 1%
Phenonip .5%

Part B
Water 29%
Phenonip .5%
Antioxidant Compound 4%
Fragrance 1%

Melt Behenyl Alcohol, Emulsifying Wax, Olive Butter, and Avocado Butter together. Cool to around 150 degrees. Add remaining Part A ingredients. Mix well.

Heat water to approximately 150 degrees, and add phenonip. Blend thoroughly with stick blender. Add Antioxidant Compound and fragrance. Mix well. Add Part B to Part A with mixing. Alternate cooling, and mixing with stick blender until mixture reaches around 110 degrees. Pour into jars and allow to cool completely.

Lavender Coconut Milk Bath

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

 I don’t usually post about work, because this blog is supposed to about my spare time, and honestly it’s also about how I handle stress. Work causes me some stress, and when I’m stressed I cook, garden, clean, or scream. Usually, if I do one or more of the first three, I never make it to the last one.  However, my business is a part of who I am, and most of the time it’s all good.

If you’ve never run across what I do for a living while reading this blog, I own a small company that supplies raw materials for making soaps, lotions, and any number of other handmade personal care products.  It’s a completely separate body of knowledge which I should probably try to share from time to time.

Today I’m going to shamelessly plug my business, The Original Soap Dish, and show you how to throw together a really super quick and easy bath product.  It’s a great project for kids and beginners. This is the type of project I’d help my boys do when they were in elementary school, and suddenly decided they wanted to give gifts to teachers for Christmas.

Bath and body products are usually formulated by weight, but for the sake of kids and newbies, I’m going to give  common volumetric kitchen measurements.  Also, each of the ingredients is linked to my website where the ingredients are available.  If you have access to the things you need locally, that’s great!

Lavender Coconut Milk Bath
Before getting started, gather a few common kitchen items:

Measuring cups
Measuring spoons

You will also need the following items:

2 cups coconut milk powder
1/2 cup lavender flower buds
2 Tablespoons lavender fragrance or essential oil
Large heat sealable tea bags

Place coconut milk powder and lavender flowers in the bowl and whisk together until evenly mixed.

Add fragrance oil to the mixture and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.  It’s sort of like making biscuits and cutting oil or butter into flour.  You’ll know it’s done when you have an even consistency, and no clumps of the fragrance oil and powder.  Next, spoon some of the mixture into the empty tea bags.  Each bag will hold about 1/4 cup.

Once the tea bags are filled, simply seal them with a hot clothing iron.  Make sure the iron is set to a high temperature, and the steam is turned off.  The teabags won’t seal properly if the steam is on.

Once sealed, package your bath tea bags for gift giving.  Here I’ve packed a few in a cello bag and made my own labels using clear laser jet labels.  Packaging is a great creative activity in itself.  Your kids may want to get busy with brown paper bags and crayons. You could place the tea bags in decorated recycled jars. Recycle an old tea tin or Altoid tin.  Recycle cardboard tea boxes by stamping, or using some of your scrap book materials.