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Soap Making Success Stories

  • How Leaning on Books Improves Product Photography


    Linda O’Sullivan (also known as Mimi and Boo) creates stunning cold process soap and bath fizzies in the UK. I first came across her soaps on Instagram, via the hashtag #SoapShare. I quickly found myself scrolling through her dreamy Instagram feed, feeling incredibly inspired. All of Linda’s creations are elegant and sophisticated. I love how each look so creamy and decadent! Read more about Linda, her creative process and photography tips in the interview below! -A.M.

    Linda O'Sullivan creates gorgeous cold process soap and other bath and body products. In this interview, Linda shares what inspires her, tips and tricks and more!Linda’s beautiful peppermint cold process soap.

    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    I came across a soap making book back in 2000 and decided to give it a go. So I made my first batch and I’ve basically never stopped. It was very much a hobby at first and I gave away my soaps to friends and family as gifts. When my son started school in 2009, I realized that I wanted to be at home for him. I wanted to be at the school gates, I wanted to be there when he did his homework… I worked in broadcasting at the time, with a long commute and some traveling to faraway places. So I gave up my job and set about starting my own business making and selling handmade soaps. It turned out to be the best decision for me and my family.

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    Well, what works for me is that I love what I do. Even when I work long hours it never feels like work and that keeps me going. To those starting their businesses I would say: Believe in what you do and go for it. You will make mistakes along the way. We all do but we can learn from them. And try to find the balance between being artistic and being consistent. When you’re running a business it is important be able to recreate the exact same product time and time again. I have many repeat customers who keep coming back to buy the same soap. This means keeping meticulous notes all the time.

    Linda O'Sullivan creates gorgeous cold process soap and other bath and body products. In this interview, Linda shares what inspires her, tips and tricks and more!Left to right: Rose clay cold process soap, Vetiver cold process soap, turquoise and gold cold process soap

    What is your favorite type of product to make?
    I make bath bombs, bath salts, body butters, liquid soap but cold process soap is what I love best.

    What inspires you to create?
    It took me years to realise that I was creative. When I was at school I couldn’t draw or paint as well as my friends so I grew up assuming that I was not artistic. Soap making unlocked my creativity; it made me believe in my own ability. Everything around me inspires me. My husband says ‘Look at that beautiful sunset!’ and I see an ombre soap! I see soap in everything around me: in the colors of nature, in the walk by the sea, in a painting on the wall, in food… I think about soaps pretty much all the time and have been known to jump out of bed in the middle of the night to write down an idea that has just popped into my head.

    Gorgeous charcoal soap made by Linda O'Sullivan. Linda’s stunning Obsidian Cold Process Soap, made with charcoal. 

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    I use my own name as my business name.  I thought long and hard but did not come up with a name I liked enough, a name that I felt comfortable with. In the end it felt natural to go with my own name. My Instagram name (mimi_and_boo) came about by accident. I noticed last year that my son was showing an interest in photography. So I set up an Instagram account so he could post some pictures. Mimi is my nickname for him and Boo is my husband’s nickname for me. Of course being a child, he soon moved on to other things so I started to post pictures of my soaps instead.

    Your product photos are absolutely stunning! What advice do you have for taking great pictures?
    Thank you, my photography is a work in progress! It is an evolving thing. I can’t afford a professional photographer so I had to become that photographer. I am very conscious that when you look at something on a screen you can’t pick it up, you can’t touch it and you can’t smell it – bad news for soapmakers. My advice would be: get as close as your lens will allow you, swap your flash for natural light, and steady those hands (I often lean my elbows on a pile of books!).

    Linda O'Sullivan creates gorgeous cold process soap and other bath and body products. In this interview, Linda shares what inspires her, tips and tricks and more!Top left to right: Rose Oudh Cold Process Soap, Triple Milk Cold Process Soap, lace cold process soap

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    I love, love, love your Sensuous Sandalwood Fragrance Oil. Oh how I wish you were in the UK!

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I don’t know if I am unusual but I am obsessed with details and I think that comes across in my soaps, my photos and my packaging.  I am not happy until I get things just the way I want it and I will keep at it until I get there. Oh, and French is my first language, not English, but even I seldom remember that these days!

    Stunning Ylang Ylang cold process soap made by Linda O'Sullivan. Ylang Ylang Cold Process Soap, scented with a blend of lavender, geranium and ylang ylang essential oils.

     What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    I really enjoy baking. Sadly my waistline doesn’t. My family and I travel as often as we can. We love the excitement of being somewhere new, discovering a new culture, trying new food etc. And I’m pretty sure there’s a potter in me somewhere. One day I will take up pottery.

    What is your number one soaping tip?
    Be prepared!  Plan the process in your head and lay out everything before you start. Always have a Plan B when working with a new fragrance oil.

    Linda O'Sullivan creates gorgeous cold process soap and other bath and body products. In this interview, Linda shares what inspires her, tips and tricks and more!Top left to right, clockwise: Toasted Coconut and Coffee Soap, Anise Orange & Lavender Cold Process Soap, a collection of over 180 cold process soap bars, textured lace cold process soap

    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    Oh yes, there have been plenty over the years! In my experience, soapy fails are often related to fragrances. The first time I got ‘soap on a stick’ I dumped the whole lot in the bin. Now I know that I could maybe have let it gel in the pot and then poured it. These days I tend to trust my instinct. I was working with a fragrance recently that, according to the supplier’s website, was not supposed to accelerate on me. I couldn’t find any reviews but I could detect a familiar floral note in it that made me proceed with caution.

    I split my batter into different portions, adding the color I wanted to each portion. Then I stirred in a small portion of the scent into the first jug and poured it. I could see little lumps forming at the bottom of my jug so that gave me a good idea of how long I had before things went pear shaped. No time for fancy swirls. Sure enough, the whole lot was almost rock solid by the time I had finished pouring. It’s not the prettiest soap but I am pleased that it has no air pockets.

    Linda O'Sullivan creates gorgeous cold process soap and other bath and body products. In this interview, Linda shares what inspires her, tips and tricks and more!Linda’s beautiful cold process soap!

     What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    I love the alchemy, the magic of transforming oils and raw ingredients into sumptuous, fragrant products.  It makes me feel like a magician.

    Find Linda O’Sullivan
    On the Web
    On Instagram

    The post How Leaning on Books Improves Product Photography appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Interview with Marcela of Majestic Bliss Soaps


    Marcela of Majestic Bliss Soaps creates gorgeous cold process soap with lots of color and intense swirls. Marcela’s soaps are not only beautiful, they also make a difference around the world. Every month a portion of the proceeds from Majestic Bliss Soaps are donated to world-recognized charity organizations. In addition to beautiful soap for people, Majestic Bliss Soaps also creates FUR PAWS, a line of soap created for canines. Read on to learn more about Majestic Bliss Soaps, including Marcela’s tips for selling wholesale and giving back to charity. -A.M. 

    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    I’ve been happily soaping since April of 2014. Majestic Bliss Soaps was created to help my clients extend their bliss beyond a therapeutic session. As a bonus, we saw the opportunity to extend assistance to organizations that help humans and animals thrive. 

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    Research all legal requirements in your area for establishing a business—whether it’s home-based or brick and mortar. Also, research and invest in good accounting software. These two steps will save you a lot of time, money and headaches down the line. And above all, don’t be afraid to experiment with ingredients. As is often said, “The greatest invention started out as the biggest mistakes.” Also, inform yourself on FDA labeling. Personally, we used and resort to Marie Gale’s book titled “Soap and Cosmetics Labeling: How to Follow the Rules and Regs Explained in Plain English.

    10517488_871046612965840_838777605995096231_nFrom top to bottom: Guru Rinpoche, Soul Centered, Buddha’s Nature, Arhat Soap

    What is your favorite type of product to make?
    FUR PAWS, our exclusive line of doggie soap. Our inspiration for FUR PAWS came from our own fur baby, Gonzo, a Rat Terrier, and the love for all animals. Gonzo is prone to allergies caused by grass. He loves to roll around in it but soon afterwards his belly and eyes flare up. After getting him the proper vet care, we set out to formulate a special soap that would be mild enough for our pups. We infuse the olive oil with oatmeal and flaxseed, add a few other great oils and butters and top it with a gentle and soothing blend of Lavender & Tea Tree essential oils.

    collageOn the left are cold process salt bars and FUR PAWS soap. On the right, FUR PAWS soaps are being expected before being sold.

    What inspires you to create?
    I’m inspired by knowing that what we are handcrafting serves a higher purpose. Paying it forward is a huge thing for us.

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    I was playing around with key words and phrases but none seemed to hit that “feels right” button. Then one day, my good friend Sarai said, “How about, Majestic Bliss Soaps?” My heart swelled up with joy and the “feels right” button went off the charts.

    You donate a portion of your proceeds every month to charity. What advice do you have for small businesses who want to give back?
    Research and select one or a few reputable organizations that align with your mission statement. Giving back to those in need through monthly proceeds, time or products gives your company and team members a sense of accomplishment that builds strong character and a family like culture.

    collageOn the left, two colorful soap loaves just waiting to be cut. On the right is Marcela’s stunning Kundali Rising cold process soap.

    Customers can find your products in several Whole Foods locations. What have you learned from distributing your soap in a large retail setting?
    Order your materials in bulk ahead of time and have a good inventory system set up for this purpose. Whether you are distributing on a small or large scale, the last thing you want is to not deliver on, or before, the agreed-upon time. Large retailers love a great exchange program and similar perks. Come up with something that works for you both. For example: we offer hassle-free exchange of slow moving stock and on items that begin to discolor or lose their scent. Commit to hosting demos in the store. Face-to-face time with your customers is important to the success of your company. And never give up when 90% of doors close on you. Remember, there’s that 10% who are waiting for your knock on their door. Persistence, discipline, confidence and a great mission will make your products stand above the rest.

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    Oh my! You’re putting me on the spot here. It’s difficult to choose. But I have to say that the 5-pound silicone liners are my favorites. When we went big with Whole Foods, these were my go-to liners. I hold a very special place for them in my heart as a reminder of our success.

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I meditate every morning. This helps me to connect, focus, prioritize, and accomplish my daily goals. 

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    I’m a holistic health practitioner and instructor. I love spending quiet time with my husband, kids and fur baby (doggie).  And definitely melting into my comfy couch to watch The Awesomes on Hulu.

    collage2On the left are three gorgeous soap loaves, on the top right are a collection of Marcela’s products, and on the bottom are Fur Paws soap for pets.

    What is your number one soaping tip?
    Canola oil isn’t as bad as its reputation dictates on the Internet, but hey, everything on the web is true, right? He he he! I really like working with canola oil for its oleic properties and slow trace time. This means swirl-extravaganza!!!

    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    Oh yes!! Our second ever batch seized on me as soon as I poured in the fragrance oil. Unfortunately, I had to trash the entire batch. I learned that cheap isn’t always good. I purchased that fragrance oil from a less-than reputable vendor. We learned very soon not to make that mistake again. 

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    I love that our energy, vibes—or whatever people like to call it—is extended onto our products and thus onto our customers. Playing with color schemes, layering, swirling, you name it soapy fun, we love!

    Find Majestic Bliss Soaps
    On the web

    The post Interview with Marcela of Majestic Bliss Soaps appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Interview with Siennalily Soaps


    One of the best things about social media is being able to connect with fellow crafters from around the world. I started the hashtag #SoapShare to help connect soapers, and of course to browse through all the beautiful photos. While looking through photos tagged with #SoapShare on Instagram, I stumbled upon Carolyn of Siennalily Soaps. I was blown away by the gorgeous designs created by Carolyn, who lives in Spain. Read my interview with Carolyn below to learn more about this talented soaper! – A.M. 

    10931132_691605397632929_6778515256446460616_nSiennalily Soaps’ show stopping Rio Cold Process Soap. The drop swirl looks amazing!

    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    I started about 7 months ago. I decided I wanted to try something different and wanted to make something special for my 4 daughters as a little stocking filler that meant something to us all for Christmas. I looked into soap making and got a little anxious when I read about the lye solution, but I didn’t let it stop me. Next thing was finding supplies! I live in Spain, and the only thing I could buy here were my oils and sodium hydroxide, no fragrance and no colours. So, I hit the internet to find everything.

    While I was waiting and itching to get started, I found YouTube videos about soap making and watched them in every spare minute I had. All the lovely soap makers around the world helped me immensely, especially Anne-Marie (The Soap Queen). I loved watching all of the videos to gain knowledge before I started. I was intrigued by all of the intricate swirling and pouring techniques and thought to myself, “I will never be able to do that in a million years!” It took about 10 days for my supplies to start arriving. My first soap was pink, green and white and fragranced with an apple scent. It is ugly and smells awful but I was overjoyed with that soap. Everyone got the photo sent to them. With my first soap under my belt I gained confidence and on 11th October 2014, Siennalily Soaps was born.

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    I would advise to take baby steps along the way. Dont try to rush anything. I know that I can be impatient with things, but I am learning to wait. Everything takes time to make, to wrap, to sell, to look after my children and run a house. I am busy, busy all of the time like all business owners, but be patient and it will all come together in the end. Also, ask questions to soap makers who are willing to help. I have found soap makers around the world to be the most friendly community ever! You ask for help, you get it. It is so lovely to be involved and I love all of my soap buddies, they are very supportive.  I wish in the beginning I had even asked silly little questions like “where do I buy mica or fragrance oils?” Wvery little snippet of information helps. I got no help at the start and wish I had before I jumped in.

    collageLeft to right, clockwise: Summer Fruit Cocktail Soap, Pretty Flamingo Soap, Recycled Soap

    What is your favorite type of product to make?
    My absolute favourite product has to be CP (cold process) soap. I love the diverse patterns you can come up with by mixing everything in a bowl, fragrancing and colouring and then seeing the creative outcome the following day. I love it and nothing prepares you for that first cut into your soap loaf to see what is there. Good or bad, I love every minute of the process. I make bath bombs and lotion, but it is not as exciting as soap.

    What inspires you to create?
    Everything in my life inspires me, and I am always on the lookout for new ideas. From a day out at the beach to lunch in a restaurant, I get inspiration. A month ago we had lunch at a local restaurant, and my 5 year old Cassie ordered clams. When she had finished, I asked for the shells to be bagged. That evening I made my “Washed Ashore” soap and each piece had 2 little clam shells added. These little things mean so much to me and I put a lot of love into my soaps.

    collage4Siennalily Soaps’ beautiful Fiery Flamenco Fusion cold process soap. 

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    My business is named after my youngest daughter Siennalily. I thought it just had a ring to it. I have 4 daughters, Tia Leoni, Brooke Lara, Cassie Layla and Sienna Lily. Siennalily won!

    Your soap is so vibrant and colorful! Where do you find inspiration for your color palettes?
    I look around every day and see beautiful colours – in clothing, in my home and garden, and also when out and about. Spain has gorgeous coloured buildings and every house is painted a different colour. They also have beautiful handmade tiles around everywhere, so it really isn’t hard to put a colour palette together with all that is going on around me. I made “Hawaiian Hibiscus Hunny” last weekend because I went into my garden and the hibiscus plants were in bloom. The beautiful flowers got my brain ticking over, so I made a soap to reflect the beauty and the colours with my own twist. It reminded me of a Hawaiian shirt, so that is where that name came from.

    collage2Top left to right, clockwise: A Dragon in Damaskus Soap, the full loaf of A Dragon in Damaskus, Moulin Rouge Soap

    Your soaps also feature a variety of techniques – everything from drop swirls to embeds to column pours. What’s your favorite soapy technique?
    My favourite has got to be The Tiger Swirl. There are so many variations to that pour. By moving over to one side of the mould, you get a completely different pattern than pouring straight through the middle. Tilting the mould gives another pattern. I also love the drop swirl. Very basic, but the effect can be dramatic. Its all about what you can create with the knowledge you have of past soaps and just going for it regardless.

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    That is a tough one, as I love all Bramble Berry products, but I will say the fragrance oils. There is so much choice that I don’t think I will ever get through them all, but I will have so much fun trying. My favourites are the Cold Water dupe and Oatmeal, Milk and Honey. My husband loves the soap I made with the cool water, and I use body lotion I made with OMH fragrance. Everything is fantastic that I have used so that was hard.

    11127725_691604860966316_6576592504437929173_nThe gorgeous India cold process soap, scented with Nag Champa Fragrance Oil. 

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I speak Spanish (not fluently) but enough to get by. I went through 2 pregnancies here and that was, let’s say “different.” I had to learn the words for everything and I was in my 40s, so I had to go through the whole bottle and nappies thing again. Twice. I make soap, which I think is unusual to some people who don’t. They are always intrigued by soap making. I can talk for England and if there was a competition for talking I would win, no problem. Needless to say I make friends easily.

    I shock people sometimes. I am a hairdresser by trade and when I was younger I went to bed with long hair. Woke during the night and decided to cut my hair off so I got up and fully restyled my hair SHORT!  I went back to bed. The next morning my husband got up and just looked at me and shook his head!  He went to bed with one woman and got up with someone different, lol!

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    I like to paint old furniture and turn it into something beautiful. A lot of the furniture we have in our house has been painted up to match colour schemes in our home. I have ongoing projects which drives my husband crazy because I have “STUFF” everywhere. Paint, soap supplies, wrapping materials, just “STUFF.” I can also knit, crochet and went through a faze of glittering glasses, which all that stuff is still around. I can cook and bake too, and make a mean Guinness cake which is delicious!

    collage3Top left to right, clockwise: Tilted Tiger Pour and Drop Swirled Soap, Rainblow Soap, Naughty Nora Soap, Washed Ashore Soap

    What is your number one soaping tip?
    Always test your fragrance oils in a tiny little bit of soap batter so that you can see if it works before pouring the whole lot in and getting a soapy disaster. I didn’t once and have never done it again. I used a raspberry fragrance oil in a 2 lb recipe and the full lot got stuck in the jug. I couldn’t even get it into a mould. So better to test first.

    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    I don’t usually do melt and pour (MP) soap loaves, as the two I have done have been failures. We do not get along. It doesn’t stick to the next layer for me or my colours all run into the white base and end up horrible. I made a mojito mp soap with clear ice cubes and lime wedges. The whole soap ended up turning green so it didnt even look like a mojito. My friends love my failures because they are still usable, just not nice looking so they get given away. I will stick to CP I think, and use MP for embeds. I learned that you cannot be good at everything so just accept that and move onto the next project.

    collage5Left to right: Hawaiian Hibiscus Hunny Soap, Beach Soap

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    The thing I love the most is creating something that is usable and natural from my own kitchen. I think it is so interesting to find that something you can cook with can be used to wash with. Its amazing! What is good for you on the inside is equally as good on the outside. It also amazes people when you tell them what has gone into your products.  I also love the creating side of making handmade bath and body products. It keeps my brain active by thinking of new ways to do things. I am no inventor, but I like to try different ways. If it doesn’t work it is back to the drawing board but my family and friends have fun trying everything out.

    Find Siennalily Soaps
    On Facebook
    On Twitter
    On Instagram

    The post Interview with Siennalily Soaps appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Interview with Margaret of Sweet Soft Skin Handmade Soaps


    Margaret of Sweet Soft Skin Handmade Soaps creates gorgeous soap that is full of color and personality. Her signature style are bars with plenty of layers, soap frosting, embeds and glitter. The result is showstopping! Read on to learn more about Margaret, including what inspires her color palettes and her number one soaping tip! -A.M. 

    11312637_443501015823625_8105286925183897827_oMargaret’s adorable berry soap cupcakes. Margaret is known for her use of embeds, glitter and lots of color. 

    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    I started soaping two and a half years ago. I was gifted some nice soap from my brother-in-law for my birthday and looked up how soap was made. It sounded like a cool process and something that would be fun to do with my homeschooled children to illustrate the usefulness and marvels of chemistry. We all made a batch as a family (my husband helped too) and I was hooked!

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    I think the most important thing when you are starting to turn your soaping into a business is to be patient and set small goals for yourself. I already had some experience with a (failed) etsy store before, so I was under no illusions that it would be easy. My first goal was just to get some of the soap out of my house so that I would have room to make more! The Soap Queen blog helped me think about further goals and motivated me to keep taking small steps towards turning my interest in making soap into a little business. Each time you meet a goal is a good opportunity to chart where you want to go next.

    10708664_361665217340539_3959088872523438866_oBeautiful Sunshine and Rainbows Cold Process Soap. I love the sparkle on top!

    What is your favorite type of product to make?
    Cold Process soap is my one true love! I’ve made bubble bars, lip balms, and even bath bombs as well; but nothing beats the satisfaction of pouring a loaf of cold process soap. I make lip balms because it is really simple and why not make it when it is something you need, but everything else while neat to try seems like work and soaping is like play.

    lemoncollageMargaret’s Lemon Verbena Soap Bars. Her stamp looks phenomenal! 

    What inspires you to create?
    My sister-in-law Rosie is my inspiration. She taught me to quilt, she made costumes for my daughters so they could be whatever they wanted every Halloween, and she was the first fan of my soap. I had made soaps to be Christmas presents for family when I first started making soap. When it became clear that the cancer we thought she was beating was going to claim her before then she got her soap early and how much she loved it really meant a lot to me. I think of her every time I do anything creative. She was a sparkling, happy, creative person who is my inspiration in all things handmade. The peacock in my logo is for her. The peacock is a symbol of the resurrection.

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    Oh gosh, names are the worst! I’ve always liked to write and compose stories to myself in my head, but any time I put pen to paper I always get stuck on the names. My mind totally blanks and nothing sounds right. It’s total agony. I bounced many ideas around in my head (and wrote them out) for days. I wanted something that rolled off the tongue but was not too goofy. Sweet Soft Skin was the first thing I came up with that didn’t make me unhappy so I chose it and stuck with it glad to have the naming challenge behind me.

    soapcollageTop Row: Strawberries and Champagne, Black Raspberry Vanilla Bars
    Bottom Row: Colors Before Night Soap Bars, Licorice Soap Bars

    You have such vibrant and colorful soaps. Where do you find inspiration for your color palettes?
    Back when I was first married I really like quilting. Going into a fabric store and seeing all the colors, choosing a bunch and coming home and making something bright and cheerful so I could feel surrounded by beauty really made me happy. A quilt takes many hours of work to make, however, and after a few years my linen cupboards where full and there was not as much time available to me. I missed all the vibrance of those colors and when I found soaping it all came back to me. I can whip together a gorgeous soap in 1 to 2 hours and in addition to gorgeous colors I get aromatherapy from working with various scents and get to keep and use something that is beautiful and useful afterwards. What is not to love?

    The top of your soap often features fun frosting, embeds and sparkle. What’s your favorite soapy topping?
    My favorite embeds are the seasonal shapes like snowflakes, pumpkins, butterflies, and seashells. It is really fun to get psyched for the upcoming season and bringing to mind all the things you love about it. I am also inspired by the pastry arts. My mom would let us play with frosting as kids. She’d give us a piping bag and cookie sheets and let us try out making different shapes and designs. Blending these different things together is just fun and I love them all!

    11070528_434686236705103_1967781962949672290_oSweet Soft Skin Handmade Soap’s beautiful Berry Mango Cold Process Soap.

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    Do I have to pick just one? There are so many! Your Cherry Almond Fragrance is a bestseller for me. The Champagne Fragrance Oil is my favorite blender. It goes with anything and really brightens it up. I love your 5 lb mold and liners, your spatulas, so many things! You guys offer a great variety of wonderful items and then there is also the Soap Queen blog which is such a source of support and inspiration.

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I have red hair and freckles, but I am one quarter Mexican. I speak fluent Spanish because I grew up in Puerto Rico and my schooling from pre K through High School was all in that language. I always get a kick out of the reactions I get when I speak to people and they are shocked by that. I grew up in a Hispanic culture and really feel like a part of it even though I don’t look it at all.

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    I am an avid reader. I read all kinds of books and get through 5-8 in a month unless I get caught up in something like “Brother’s Karamazov.” I also like to make beeswax candles for myself and family members, quilting, and baking.

    cpcollageTop Row: Gummi Bear Soap Bars, Patriotic Pie Berry Soap
    Bottom Row: Lavender Martini Soap Bars, Goody Goody Gumdrops Soap Bars

    What is your number one soaping tip?
    Start out with small batches so that you can make lots of soap without it taking up all your space! This way you can try those new techniques and fragrances you just have to try without all the guilt. A good scale is very important when working with smaller batches though, so make sure you have one. A big part of learning your art is to practice, and you don’t want to sell soap until you have a real grasp on how it all works, so small batches let you practice, practice, practice.

    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t experience a soapy fail at one time or another. I find that for me it usually happens when I am feeling confident, but rushed. When I think I can handle and accelerating fragrance, or don’t look up a new fragrance because I think I remember how the reviewers said it behaves, that is when my small carelessness causes problems. The important thing is to stay calm! Small disasters like soap on a stick or acceleration that means your design won’t happen are distressing, but if you don’t panic you can improvise and even plop and glop soaps are perfectly useable even if they don’t embody your original vision.

    11289458_443501475823579_8215362988617599221_oMargaret’s beautiful Beachcomber cupcakes. 

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    I love that you end up with beautiful, great smelling, and extremely useful things at the end of the process. The combination of use and beauty delights me. Getting to use beautiful things is so pampering, a small every day luxury that is accessible to anyone! Plus they are so fun to create.

    Find Sweet Soft Skin Handmade Soaps
    On Etsy 
    On Facebook
    On Pinterest

    The post Interview with Margaret of Sweet Soft Skin Handmade Soaps appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Chatting with Sarah of Spicy Pinecone


    Sarah of Spicy Pinecone creates gorgeous cold process soap that demonstrate a wide range of techniques, colors and design elements. Her passion for bath and beauty is evident in each creation, which are beautifully presented and photographed. Sarah shares her soaping making on her YouTube channel, which has more than 80 fun and informative videos. Read on to learn more about Sarah, including how she came up with the name of her business, and tips for making YouTube videos. -A.M. 

    collagespicypineconeLeft to right: Sarah’s beautiful Eucalyptus and Spearmint cold process soap, and the stunning Coconut Lime Verbena cold process soap. 

    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    I’ve been soaping for a little over three years now. It started off as a stroll through a craft supply store where I spotted some melt and pour soap base and fragrances. I’m always excited to learn about new hobbies, but I had no clue what kind of door I was opening when I took my purchase home that night. As soon as I got home, I made my very first batch of soap. Popping it out of the mold several hours later, I was hooked. Not just a little hooked, but 100% enamored.

    As I often do, I dove in headfirst. I lived on Google for a few days, purchased several books on soaping and a ton of soapy supplies. My very first supply box was from Bramble Berry! I loved the thought of making cold process soap, especially since my kids suffered from skin issues; however, at first, the process (especially the lye) terrified me. When I geared up for my first batch, I looked like I was suiting up for war. My very first soap barely filled the mold halfway (lesson 1 was learned, though: learn to calculate mold volume), but I loved those short, squat little bars.

    collagecpTop left, clockwise: Purple Hooters coconut milk soap, Victorian Rose coconut milk soap, Caffeinated Coffee Soap and Sweet Thang soap.

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    My best advice is to “research first, make after.” Read as much as you possibly can. Buy books, join groups, watch videos, make Google your best friend. Always be open to learning, no matter how young (or old) your business is. No one knows everything, but a little bit of knowledge can really expand your ability to create.

    That is your favorite type of product to make?
    My favorite items to make are definitely cold process soaps and bath bombs. There are endless ways to customize cold process soap batches, and to express yourself creatively through design and ingredient use. You can make the same batch twice and still get slightly different variances, keeping things interesting and fresh. Bath bombs are fulfilling because, to me, there’s nothing quite like unmolding a perfect sphere and setting it out to dry. With every bath bomb, there’s a little thrill of, “Yup, I made that.”

    bathbombcollageSarah’s bath bombs look amazing! Click here to shop her bath bombs on Etsy.

    What inspires you to create?
    I find inspiration anywhere and everywhere. Music, my children, nature, even something like a silly comment that makes me laugh. I’m always taking pictures with my phone and jotting down notes with ideas for a later project.

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    My husband and I were at the Commissary a few years ago, when my middle son picked up a pinecone that had fallen in the parking lot. He held throughout the entire shopping trip, petting it, and holding it out to others while yelling enthusiastically, “LOOK AT MY SPICY PINECONE!” (He could not pronounce “spiky” for the longest time, so “spicy” it was.) The other shoppers would nod politely and nervously smile, then book it in the other direction. For months, he was obsessed with pinecones. We’d go hunting them in the woods and he’d talk about his “spicy pinecone”… even my daughter and my oldest son picked up on his pinecone devotion. We had baskets of pinecones on the front porch and in all of my planters. I joked with my husband that “Spicy Pinecone” would be a great name for a band, but instead, I picked it for my business because it still makes me smile.

    11149675_671981192907652_6963734532619510511_oSummer Lovin’ cold process soap fragranced with a blend of floral and musk.

    You have such cute and creative names for your products. How do you come up with them?
    Sometimes the name of the fragrance oil is inspiration, other times it’s just random stuff that pops into my head. My husband once asked me to make him a “manly-man” soap… so I told him I would make the most “mantastic” of all soaps in existence… thus, “Mantastic” was born. I like to joke and play, and try to bring that lighthearted, fun feeling into my products. If it makes me smile, I like to try and pass it on.

    unnamed (2)Spicy Pinecone’s stunning “Claire’s Garden”cold process soap made with heavy cream, calendula and chamomile infused oil. 

    What’s your favorite thing about making YouTube videos?
    The absolutely BEST feeling is when someone messages or comments that my video was able to help them in some way. A lot of the time, it’s hard to know if what you’re doing is making a difference or not. When someone posts a “thank you,” it truly does make the time and effort spent well worth it.

    What advice would you give to someone who wanted to upload a video on YouTube?
    There are a few things to take into consideration when you’re thinking of uploading to YouTube. First, decide what you want your channel to focus on and try to stick to that as much as possible. (People who subscribe to soaping channels expect to see soap-related videos). Next, do not let naysayers get you down. You can’t please everyone, and if you try, you’ll end up sorely disappointed and frustrated. Do what YOU do and do not try to fit into a mold of what you think others want you to be.

    Lastly, have fun! Making a video is a way to express yourself and share your creativity. If you find that you’re not having fun, don’t force yourself to do it just because you THINK you should.

    collage2Top left, clockwise: Pink Berry Mimosa soap, Free Spirit Bubble Bath Bars and Raspberry Lemon Cookie Bar soap. 

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    Only one?! Oh my goodness, that’s a tough one. I would have to say the fragrance oils, just because I am an absolute fragrance oil nut. The Buttercream and Snickerdoodle, Baby Powder, Marrakesh, and Energy fragrance oils are at the top of my list. Though I do also have to say that the Small 9-Ball Silicone Mold is invaluable as well.

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I’ve always been told that I’m “different” from other people, but I view that as a positive thing. If everyone were the same, the world would be such a ho-hum place. I speak Mandarin Chinese, used to breed geckos, and can (poorly) sing the entire “Batty Rap Song” from “Fern Gully.” An odd collection of talents, but life is all about learning new things and it keeps the kids entertained.

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    Bath and body products are my life, but I also sew, sculpt, paint, crochet, woodwork, blow glass and bake. My husband doesn’t even bat an eye anymore when I announce that I’ve decided to build/create x,y, or z. He’s always been very supportive, even when I had to use his work shirt to stomp out a fire. (Sorry, my love.)

    1554500_469063873199386_1965783811_nGorgeous Rainbow Swirly Soap made with cocoa and mango butters. 

    What is your number one soaping tip? 
    Print all of your recipes/notes and file them where you can find them. I used to trust my computer to keep my files safe until it crashed and I hadn’t backed it up. I’ve since moved to a “paper and accordion file” system that has worked like a charm!

    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    I think my most epic fail was my “meat soap.” I didn’t test a purple colorant’s performance before using it and had to rebatch the soap because of its awful color. The soap went from bad to worse, and essentially, looked like ground hamburger but smelled like plumeria. It was the most disturbing thing I’ve ever created and even my husband (who is usually very supportive) could not wrap his head around a flower-smelling meat soap.

    collage3Top left, clockwise: Sarah’s Activated Charcoal soap, Mermaid Lagoon soap, Shave and a Haircut soap and Sweet Magnolia and Orange Blossom soap. 

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    I love when a customer uses a product I’ve made and tells me how much they enjoyed it or how it helped with a certain issue or concern. It gives me a huge sense of satisfaction and purpose. It’s a truly incredible feeling. :)

    Find Spicy Pinecone:
    On the Web
    On Facebook 
    On Etsy
    On YouTube
    On Instagram
    On Twitter
    On Tumblr

    The post Chatting with Sarah of Spicy Pinecone appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Interview with Sami of Poor & Pretty Apothecary


    While browsing Pinterest one night, I stumbled upon these adorable Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream Frosting on the blog, Poor & Pretty. It was clear they were created by someone with serious DIY skills and a creative eye. Following the blog led me to Sami Jo’s Etsy shop, Poor & Pretty Apothecary, where Sami creates gorgeous collections of salts, scrubs, masks and more. Sami’s products are beautifully packaged and photographed. One of her niches is that her products are 100% vegan. Find out how blogging has helped Sami’s beauty business, along with her tips for starting a blog in the interview below! If you’re looking for even more blogging tips, check out 5 Things to Know Before Starting a Blog post. -A.M. 

    roseproductsA collection of Poor and Pretty Apothecary rose products, including Rose Tea Facial Toner, Rose Face Mask and Rose Salt Scrub. 

    How long have you been making bath and beauty products for and how did you get started?
    I was 13 when I made my first foray into soapmaking. I’ve been a crafter my whole life, and constantly on the lookout for new things to make. I discovered melt and pour soap supplies at my local craft store and couldn’t wait to start my own lab in the kitchen. I melted down the clear, unscented soap base in our microwave, burned it, added fragrance and color anyway, poured this mixture into a few star and moon-shaped molds and anxiously waited for them to harden. Our kitchen stunk, but I was hooked (to my family’s dismay). I continued making soap on and off since then, mostly for myself, family, and friends, and my skills improved tremendously.

    cupcake soapsSami’s adorable cupcake soaps!

    After launching the Poor & Pretty blog in 2009, I created more beauty products. I began testing and sharing cosmetic concoctions made easily with supplies from the kitchen — sugar scrub, sea salt hair spray, an avocado hair and face mask, green tea mask… you get the idea. :) In 2010, I combined my love for cupcakes and non-toxic beauty and launched a line of handmade cupcake soaps, which I sold on Etsy and in a few local boutiques. Last year, I discontinued my soaps and started a new line: Poor & Pretty Apothecary, 100% natural handmade bath & body products. I use only the highest quality natural, organic, and fair trade certified ingredients in my expertly crafted sugar and salt scrubs, bathing salts, lip and body balms, whipped body butters and more. My products contain absolutely no artificial colorants, fragrances, parabens, preservatives, or other toxic chemicals, and they’re vegan-friendly! My motto? You’re a natural beauty; keep your beauty natural.

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    Don’t rush. I did a lot of research before launching the cosmetics arm of Poor & Pretty, and I’m still learning, defining, and redefining my brand and product line. It’s important to understand your competition and how your products differ from theirs. It’s equally important to network with your peers, whether it’s other soapers or other small business owners. Find ways to learn from and help each other. Bounce new product ideas off of them, cross-promote each other… you just never know what networking and can lead to!

    productscollageSami’s beautiful scrubs and body butter. Top, clockwise: Vanilla Sugar Scrub, Whipped Body Butter, Coffee Sugar Scrub

    What is your favorite type of product to make?
    Definitely my whipped body butter. It makes a complete mess out of my kitchen, but it smells incredible and is so moisturizing! I get oils all over myself while I’m making it, so my skin is always super soft afterwards. It’s my favorite, so I’m not at all surprise that it’s a customer favorite as well.

    What inspires you to create?
    Everything! If I’m not creating, I’m not happy. My Dad and his father were both tinkerers and my family is full of creative, crafty people. My product creation is born out of a need for non-toxic cosmetics. The shelves of grocery stores and makeup retailers are stocked with beauty products filled with parabens, sulfates, aluminum, phthalates, and all kids of unpronounceable toxins. I blog to inform others of these dangers and I create products so we have a healthy alternative.

    rosesalts Rose Salt Scrub by Poor and Pretty Apothecary, made with Himalayan salts.

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    After defining what I wanted my blog to be about, I created a long list of names and words I liked that described my blog. In the end, Poor & Pretty won out because it was short and sweet, catchy, funny, the domain name was available, and it used alliteration and an ampersand (I’m a big fan of both).

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    I love your kits! As both a business owner and a hobbyist, I understand the frustration of hunting down obscure ingredients and trying to figure out how much you need for a project. Your kits make it super easy for me to get everything I need with as little button clicks as possible. I’m especially fond of the Mineral Makeup Foundation Kit, which I’m featuring on Poor & Pretty today. My boyfriend and I have had our eyes on your Beginner’s Cold Process Soap Kit for a while because we really want to learn how to make soap from scratch. Maybe this summer!

    Homemade-Mineral-Foundation-Tinted-Moisturizer-via-@poorandprettyCheck out Sami’s tutorial for creating your own mineral makeup and tinted moisturizer in this blog post on Poor & Pretty.

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I have a great sense of humor and I really enjoy practical jokes and pranking people. I love bright colors, sequins, and polka dots, and am usually wearing some combination of these every day. So on April Fool’s Day this year, I wore dark colors to work and pretended to be in a sour mood all day, which really freaked out my co-workers. It was great!

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    Reading is my go-to relaxation technique, and I wish I did more of it. I love the tactile experience of turning pages, highlighting passages, and writing in the margins, so I refuse to read books digitally. I’m a giant Harry Potter nerd, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my all-time favorite show. I enjoy baking, especially cupcakes. I love LOVE playing games! We have game night with family or friends almost weekly, and my Dad (from whom I inherited my playful prankster genes) has a fantastic collection of bizarre games.

    collage2From top right clockwise: Sami’s adorable Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream Frosting. Sami visits the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and shows off her impeccable fashion sense in a style post. 

    You have a fantastic blog! When did you start blogging, and what motivated you to get started? How has it helped your crafting business?
    Thank you!! The Poor & Pretty blog is the foundation of my business. When I began blogging, I knew I would have to update frequently, and knowing that has pushed me to be creative on a pretty regular basis. My readers (and I) are always looking to try new crafts or cooking techniques, be inspired and entertained, and discover local treasures, all while sticking to a budget. If I didn’t start my blog and find others who were interested in my DIY beauty posts, who knows if I would have ever had the courage to branch out into a beauty line!

    products_edited-1You can find all these beautiful products via Sami’s Etsy shop, Poor and Pretty Apothecary.

    Do you have any tips for bloggers just starting out?
    Don’t rush. (I know, I say that a lot). But really: take your time with your content, and do it right. My Papa used to say “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right,” so if starting a blog is something you really want to do, give your posts the attention they deserve. If I rush a post just to meet an arbitrary deadline I’ve set for myself, my readers will notice because it will look like I rushed it. Organization is one of my biggest weaknesses (that’s an understatement!), but I forced myself to use a blog planner — I love this one by Regina Anaejinou — and it’s made a huge difference in my process. It gives me a bigger-picture view of Poor & Pretty, helps me schedule time for photography, and serves as a metrics record to help me understand what my readers are responding to. Also: understand your audience and yourself. Don’t follow trends for the sake of following trends. Be authentic and blog what you’re passionate about, otherwise it will just become a chore.

    collage3Some of Sami’s fun crafty tutorials on her blog. From top left, clockwise: Chocolate & Caramel Dipped Strawberries, DIY Confetti Ornaments with the Confetti BarTimex Weekender Dip Dye DIY, Homemade Mint & Rosemary Vapor Rub

    What is your number one crafting tip?
    Embrace failure and always have extra supplies — you’re bound to mess up. I just accept it at this point, because I screw up all the time! I used to get really frustrated when this happened, but I realized I was putting too much pressure on myself to get it right the first time. If I have extra supplies and take my time (and don’t pay too much attention to the TV while I’m crafting), I’ll have a good time and won’t be super pissed when I eventually mess up.

    Have you ever experienced a horrible crafting fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    Yes, all the time! Again, that’s why I keep extra supplies around when I’m crafting, especially if I’m creating something I’ve never made before. Here’s a great example: when I was still selling my cupcake soaps, my sister and I would get together every month and create real, edible cupcakes inspired by one of the soap ones. One of my bestsellers was called Aloe Juniper, a beautiful light spring breeze type scent. We chose not to include Aloe in the recipe (ew), but we at least wanted to include Juniper. I mean, Juniper is used to make gin, right? So it couldn’t be that terrible! It was. Juniper berries are very piney, so when we bit into our chocolate cupcakes topped with Juniper-infused buttercream frosting, it was like biting into a Christmas tree. We laughed, fed the cupcakes to her husband’s unsuspecting bandmates, and blogged about how awful they turned out. It’s very important to have a sense of humor.

    junipercupcakeSami’s juniper berry cupcake fail. Still looks delicious! 

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    I love that I know exactly what goes into them. I don’t have to worry about reading ingredients labels, researching chemicals, or consulting the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to see how toxic they are. I know they’re safe because I made them safe.

    Find Poor and Pretty:

    The post Interview with Sami of Poor & Pretty Apothecary appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Interview with Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio


     Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio creates colorful cold process soaps that showcase what an artform soapmaking is. Several months ago, the talented proprieter Lisa won the Facebook Photo of the Week contest with an intricate swirl cold process soap. After looking at her soap, I immediately wanted to know more. Lisa’s passion for soap shines with a masterful use of color and swirls. Read on to learn more about Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio, including how she came up with her unique business name and where she finds color inspiration. -A.M.

    10174938_685126398248596_2153573933168482667_nLisa’s Misty Rainbow Soap created for the in-the-pot swirl Great Cakes Soap Challenge. 

    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    I have been making soap for about 4 years. I have always had an artistic streak but few opportunities to put it into practice, and I was feeling a bit rebellious one year about the Christmas retail ‘machine,’ so I decided to do my own thing. As I was browsing online bookstores for candle-making guides, there was a suggestion that I may also like ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Natural Soaps’ by Sally Trew and Zonella Gould. Well, I bought the book, and I was promptly so enamoured with making soap that the candle idea went on the back-burner for quite a while (no pun intended).

    collage2Lisa’s skill shines with her wide variety of soapy techniques.

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    I would advise 2 things, in essence: be passionate, and be patient. I see so many people asking other soapmakers what sells for them, and it strikes me every time how much the answer varies from artist to artist, and market to market. I even find that I sell different types of soap online to what sells at my market stall. Don’t try and copy someone else’s passion. If you’re passionate about your own soap, it will shine through on every level and your enthusiasm will draw people in. As for being patient – experiment, see what recipes and techniques work for you, test, research, learn, network and share ideas. As they say, more haste, less speed.

    What is your favorite type of product to make?
    Cold process soap is my absolute favourite.

    11083834_791032280991340_6512362350966919462_nFig Jam cold process soap, scented with Autumn Fig Harvest Fragrance Oil.

    What inspires you to create?
    Anyone who has made cold process soap will relate to the ‘Christmas Day’ feeling you get when you cut a soap open and you have just nailed that swirl. Or even if you haven’t, or even if there’s no swirl, or you’ve used a single cavity mould, there’s still that sense of achievement in seeing the process through, seeing something that a day or so ago was just regular olive oil is now a gorgeous creamy solid something else entirely! And you made that!

    Your soaps are so vibrant and colorful. Where do you find inspiration for your color palettes?
    One of the themes I keep returning to when I make soap is the rainbow. It has become my go-to palette for almost every technique I have learned, and I never tire of it. Who could ever get tired of a rainbow? I really like to push the limits of that as a concept, and I love what I have learned along the way. But sometimes just a fragrance, a landscape, a flower or even the shape of a mould inspires a colour selection.

    collage A collection of Lisa’s extremely colorful and vibrant soaps. 

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    Kangaroo Apple or Devil’s Apple (Solanum) is a native Australian plant with medicinal uses, and is also used to denote seasonal change by Aboriginal Australians. Just like the lye used in making soap, it is dangerous until ripe, and should be treated with respect. The solanum flower has five petals, which to me represent earth, water, air, fire and spirit, all of which are crucial elements of the soap making process.

    ‘Kangaroo’ is of course quintessentially Australian. ‘Apple’ is an important aspect of the mythology of the British Isles, my ancestral lands. It is also synonymous with independent women who challenged authority and were depicted as ‘bad’ for it: Lilith, Eve, and countless ‘wicked’ fairy tale characters. These women, their independence and freedom of thought, inspire me. And my spiritual home is Tasmania, the ‘Apple Isle,’ itself blessed with an abundant kangaroo population.

    ‘Kangaroo Apple’ succinctly encapsulates the journey I am on, and so many of my influences and inspirations.

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    Hands down, the fragrance oils. It is hard for me to narrow it down because I have so many Bramble Berry citrus fragrances, but right now, I am a bit obsessed with Energy Fragrance Oil and Pink Grapefruit Fragrance Oil. And I also recently discovered the delectable Coconut Cream Fragrance Oil and sublime Wildflower Honey Fragrance Oil. (I feel so disloyal to my other favourites to leave them out!)

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    That is funny, because usually when I am asked that question, the answer I give is that I make handmade soap! I also love foraging for wild medicinal plants, and I tend to remember the Latin names for many things – animal, vegetable and mineral.

    10394039_722554544505781_8955196595817820705_nLisa’s beautiful rainbow soap. Each layer looks fantastic!

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    I really enjoy photography, to the extent that good photography can be done with an iPhone. I love to visit beautiful wild places, swim in the ocean, and spend as much time as I can in the country as a silent refuge from my city lifestyle.

    What is your number one soaping tip?
    Above all else, keep notes!

    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    Oh, the honey soap separation craters I have seen! I learned to rebatch using my microwave, to not let the soap get quite so hot, and go a bit lighter on the amount of honey I add to the soap.

    10676401_722042127890356_2609922912838249167_nKangaroo Apple Soap Studio’s gorgeous Rosehip & Jasmine Coconut Oil Soap. 

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    I love the alchemical nature of making soap. It is art, chemistry, magic and therapy all rolled into one. Nobody that has ever had a visit from the soap gremlins can argue there is no magic involved! I also love how handmade soap is such a beautiful luxury product, can be so environmentally sound, and can actually be made from stuff in my kitchen.

    Find Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio
    On Facebook 

    The post Interview with Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Interview with Kevin of Devinely Designed


    Kevin of Devinely Designed creates beautiful soap and shares his creations via his YouTube channel, Devinely Designed. With over 100 videos, Kevin has made a name for himself in the community for providing creative and educational soap making videos. From a Dandelion Zebra Swirl Tutorial to his first experience making liquid soap, Kevin’s videos are fun and thoughtful. Read on to learn more about Kevin and his soapy business, along with his tips for creating YouTube videos. -A.M.

    1264779_563842147002784_723216881_oA collection of Kevin’s cold process soap.

    How long have you been soaping for, and how did you get started?
    I’ve only been soaping for a little over two years. I was just surfing the net one day and somehow landed on watching a YouTube video of making homemade soap…and I was completely hooked from that moment on.

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    I think I would give two pieces of advice: One, be clear about your goals – are you a hobbyist who wants to sell a little to support your soapy addiction (like me), or are you planning to make this a second or even a primary income? Those are very different things and need different kinds of approaches. Included with that one is deciding if you really want a business at all. If turning the hobby you love into a business makes you hate it, then think long and hard before you make that leap.

    Second, I would say be prepared to work hard and probably not see big (if any) returns for at least a year or two. Even a small business can be a lot of work, and there’s so much to learn. You can’t just open a web store an expect tons of orders. In addition to learning how to source all of your materials and organizing your work space, planning packaging and shipping, figuring out profits and losses, learning tax rules you’ll need to learn to market yourself and your product. You have to be diligent if you want to achieve those goals.

    887016_571577806229218_1336842782_oKevin’s “Peppermint & Chamomile” soap. Click here to watch the video tutorial!

    What is your favorite type of product to make?
    Cold process soap. As I said, I was hooked the first time I saw it and it’s still my favorite, although a luxurious emulsified sugar scrub is a close second.

    What inspires you to create?
    So many things! Art, music, color, fragrance, my two cats! I love the creative process of imagining how some inspiration might translate to soap. Fellow soapers inspire me all the time as well, watching videos or seeing posts of gorgeous soaps always gets me itching to get in the soap kitchen.

    What’s your favorite thing about making videos?
    I think it boils down to being able to be a teacher on videos. When I was in school I thought about becoming a teacher and I have always enjoyed learning myself. Videos let you be both student and teacher. An added bonus is connecting with fellow soapers and getting to chat over e-mail about soap related things – no one gets as excited about talking about a new mica or fragrance than a fellow soaper. And, my non soap friends just think I’m a soap nerd, so they don’t really get it.

    1421258_571575709562761_109353626_oKevin’s “Roses in the Cow Pasture” soap. Click here to see a video of this soap being made!

    What advice do you have for people who want to upload their soapy videos on YouTube?
    Don’t forget about the basics. You can make the most gorgeous soap in the world but if it’s in total shadow it won’t make a difference. You don’t need a fancy setup, but have good lighting, good sound and frame your shot so the viewer can clearly see what you are doing. My other piece of advice would be to relax, be yourself and try to have a little fun.

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    My last name is Devine, so “Devinely Designed” is just a play on that. I also liked that it wasn’t soap specific. I do other types of crafty things, so I could apply it to other things as well.

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    The 12 Bar Square Silicone Mold. It was the first “real” soap mold I used and I still use it today. I love the size of the bars and how easily and perfectly smooth the soap comes out. If I can have an honorable mention, I would also say Energy Fragrance Oil, which might be my all-time favorite fragrance.

    1504475_595104870543178_171733578_oKevin’s Black Raspberry Vanilla Soap.

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I’m a nurse in “real” life, I used to be an ER nurse, now I do consulting for a technology company.

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests? 
    I’ve been a crafty person all my life, so I like all kinds of crafting. Paper crafting, card making and mixed media are probably my other favorites.

    What is your number one soaping tip? 
    Be prepared, and when things go wrong (and they will from time to time) stay calm.


    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    Oh my yes! I say embrace your failures, that’s how you learn. You can see a few of my fails in my videos and people tell me all the time how they appreciate seeing them and how it helps them get a sense of really making soap. One time I was making a round soap in a PVC mold. I had two of the molds nearby but had only prepped one. When I poured my soap I poured it in the one without the end cap on it and had soap go everywhere. That’s the day I learned to only keep the mold I’m using in my soaping area.

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    I think what draws me is the combination of art and science. There’s always new things to learn and a great opportunity for creative expression.

    Find Divinely Designed
    On The Web
    On YouTube

    The post Interview with Kevin of Devinely Designed appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Guest Post: A Cleanse That Started a Business


    Several months ago, I received a lovely email from Patti Flynn. Patti participated in the “Crazy Sexy Vegan Cleanse,” that I coordinated in 2012, which involved no meat, sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol or coffee. During this cleanse, Patti discovered lacto-fermentation of vegetables. This discovery soon developed into a hobby, which has now turned into a business! I was so inspired by Patti’s story, that I asked her to share it. Read on to learn how Patti went from participating in a cleanse, to developing a new business venture. – A.M. 

    I have been making soap since since early 2001 and I started my soap company in December, 2001. In my previous life, I was a vastly unhappy chef; I loved the actual cooking, but found everything else about restaurants detestable: the hours, the customers, the pay, the other staff, and the owners. You might say I was an absolute curmudgeon, born to work for myself! The stress levels were constantly insanely high and the remuneration, paltry. However, the skills translated amazingly well into a soap making business. After a time, I was grateful for my years slaving away over a hot stove….they were excellent training for the next 13 years of slaving away over a hot soap cauldron.


    Picklish jars, filled with fermented carrots, ready for sale.

     I considered myself very lucky to get away from the food industry at all. So, it is with some surprise that I find myself launching a sideline at present, that definitely involves food. Anyone, after listening to me rant about the injustices and indignities of the hospitality industry, might ask themselves what on earth I am doing, taking up my knives again after so many glorious years of comparative rest. It is a very short story:

    In late 2011, Anne Marie threw a suggestion out into a soap making forum. The idea was simple: she was getting psyched up to do a cleanse/detox for 21 days and it involved no dairy, no gluten, no booze, no coffee, no sugar, and no meat. Basically, a lot of raw fruit, vegetables, nuts and water. This sounded very attractive , healthy and wholesome, so a bunch of us signed up immediately and agreed to post on our progress. I announced to my long-suffering husband that we would be living on raw vegan food for a time and that I would make it as delicious as possible. He was in.


    Fresh vegetables fermenting away!

    And so, we all commenced. There was a lot of swapping of ideas and recipes. I started reading a lot of raw vegan blogs. We started to feel pretty amazing, so we kept on going….for six months. Somewhere in that time, I realized kimchi and sauerkraut were raw food. We bought some and added it enthusiastically to our food. I began reading more and more about the benefits of lacto-fermented foods and how the lacking they are in the modern western diet. Apart from homemade yogurt, I wouldn’t have known a probiotic if it jumped up and bit me.

    Spiced fermented beetroot with homemade yogurt and fresh coriander. Yum!

    So I began to experiment with fermenting vegetables. I read Sandor Katz’ excellent books: Wild Fermentation and the Art of Fermentation, plus a dozen more by other authors. Within two years we were eating a serving of ferments every day, brewing kombucha and jun, and I was fermenting everything I could think of. The sour, salty, complex, original flavours were a revelation to us, and moreover, to all the friends and family upon whom I foisted samples.

    In May this year, I was in Kyoto with my mother. We walked the length of the fabulous Nishiki market, looking at the incredible array of traditional foods, including PILES of naturally fermented vegetables and condiments. Suddenly it hit me: there really wasn’t anything like this commercially available in Australia, so why shouldn’t I start a business? I was resolved at once and telephoned my husband that very evening to let him know he should clear his schedule and drag out his kitchen knives, because soon we would be chopping tonnes of raw vegetables!


    The debris from a batch of fermented chili sauce.

     Upon my return, I got to work. A business name: Picklish. Graphic design. Labels. A bazillion jar samples….my ferments are going out in solid american-made glass, thankyouverymuch. No plastic here! I had to obtain a food licence which meant I needed to do a food safety supervisor course, which meant brushing up on some old skills. Fortunately I live in the middle of an amazingly diverse farming community, so the raw materials are local, abundant, top quality, and well priced.


    Out of the blue, one of my very good soap customers offered to distribute for me. This was a stroke of fantastic fortune; they are a large and reputable certified organic and bio-dynamic dairy producer, with a national supply chain in place. As Picklish is a living raw food, it requires refrigeration from me to the end consumer, so having this amazing dairy network has really made it all possible. I’m currently in a very soft launch phase, with a hard launch planned for early 2015. After the first week, it was painfully obvious that I had woefully under-calculated and needed a lot more volume. So, I have fermentation crocks being made in Poland, as we speak.

    Fermented veggies ready to be consumed.

    The whole thing has been a surprising turn of events and it all started really because of Anne Marie’s proposal. In hindsight, I can definitely say that was the trigger. So as I delivered my first order in early November, I thought of Anne Marie and sent her a note to say: this is what you have done! In the meantime, I continue to throw the soap pots around. But really, who knows what will happen next? I suppose we could always ask Anne Marie!

    I love Patti’s story, because it demonstrates that you can find new hobbies, passions and even business opportunities in unexpected places!

    The post Guest Post: A Cleanse That Started a Business appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Top Soapy Business Advice from 2014


    The soaping community is full of creative and savvy business owners who are full of experience and  know-how. A few of these soapers have been featured on the blog, and where asked to give beginning soapers a piece of advice. In 2014, our interviewees had fantastic tips for beginning soapers looking to start a business. If you’re looking for even more business tips, check out the business category of the blog!


    From remembering to have fun, from taking copious soap making notes, each piece of advice was thoughtful and powerful! If you’re looking for some business guidance or motivation, check out the counsel from fellow small business owners below. Then, click through to read the entire interview.

    “My biggest piece of advice would be to get “legal.” And, yes, it does cost money to get “legal.” Get all of your appropriate licenses and permits and register your business. Get insurance! Take time to keep good records — yes, I know this is the not-so-fun part about making soap! I am here to tell you that 90% of my time is spent doing paperwork, packaging orders, communicating with customers, and marketing my products. Making soap is the easy part!”Rachel from The Daily Scrub

    “Lots of research. Starting a business is quite a learning experience. You will make mistakes, which is okay as long as you learn from them.  Also, find a mentor that will support you and be a wonderful sounding board. People appreciate creative products and will keep coming back for more.” – Erin & Kirsten from Kensico Soap Bar

    JosiesBeautyBoutiqueInside Josie’s store, located in Grants Pass, Oregon.

    “The most important thing that has helped me since opening: find out the hours that people get off work in your surrounding area. We found out our 1st week being open that we closed at the same time everyone else was closing. Well…that doesn’t work well for customers to shop your store when they leave their workplace and see you have closed up also.”Josie from Josie’s Beauty Boutique 

    “My only advise as I enter this is just to “go for it”.  I am having so much fun and am so excited by what I am doing that I am almost giddy!  You must love what you are doing and try to find something unique to offer.”Janelle of Jangle Soapworks

    “Start small and celebrate your successes and learn from mistakes and don’t consider them failures. Be thankful that you caught the oopsie because it could have been so much worse. Be sure to price your products correctly if you are actually trying to have a business and not a hobby (this has been difficult for me, but it is so vital). Most importantly, love what you do because it shows. Being able to connect with your customer makes all the difference in the world.” – Jill of Calise Soapworks

    LakehurstFarmsStunning cold process soap, made by Jodi of Lakehurst Farms.

    “Make sure you’re having fun! It’s quite hard to make money selling soap, you have to put in a tremendous amount of time. So I think the most important thing is to enjoy what you’re doing. A lot of my soap and other handmade products end up being gifts.” Jodi of Lakehurst Farms

     “Do what you feel comfortable with and find a niche within the market. Don’t do what everyone else does. Do what you feel you want to do and have fun doing it. Experiment all the time. Doing so not only keeps you fresh and creative, but you learn so much while you’re doing it even if it wasn’t a 100% success.” Kristen of The Silk Soap Company

    “The advice that I would give soapers just starting out is to take your time. Learn all you can about the soap making process before you start. I was nervous about using lye for the first time because it is dangerous if not handled properly.” – Jessica from BellaBrice Body Care

    DSC_1894Handmade in Florida’s gorgeous soap, ready to sell!

    “Believe in your product and in yourself! You can do this! Yes, it’s always a bit scary when you’re putting yourself out there, but you’ll never know unless you try!” Zahida of Handmade in Florida

    “Have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to try new things and be creative.” – Donovan from Toil and Trouble

    katiesoapCold process soap, full of chunky embeds and flair, by Katie of Royalty Soaps.

    “There are a few things I wish someone would have told me when I first started. First of all, write down EVERYTHING you purchase for soap from the very beginning. Get into the habit of having this list up to date and detailed. Having this has helped me so much when comparing prices for supplies and charting my growth. Also, use high quality ingredients (like the ones at Bramble Berry) for every product.” – Katie of Royalty Soaps

    If you’re looking for more soapy business advice, check out these informative posts below!

    businesscollageTop row: Fundraiser Kit + Craft Show Tips Galore, Where to Sell Products: Online, Markets & Online 
    Bottom row: Pricing Your Products, 5 Tips to Take Soaping from Hobby to Business

    If you are a small business owner, what advice do you have for soapers just starting out? Or, if you are new to soaping, what is the best piece of advice you have received?

    The post Top Soapy Business Advice from 2014 appeared first on Soap Queen.