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  • Interview with Kevin of Devinely Designed

    3/3/2015

    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.

    collage

    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

    1/21/2015

    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.

    Jars

    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.

    fermentation

    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.
    bettrootyogurt

    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!

    chilisaucedebris

    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.
    earlyexperiments

    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

    1/19/2015

    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!

    MainImage

    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.

  • Jabbering with Jodi of Lakehurst Farms

    12/8/2014

    Jodi from Lakehurst Farms creates both melt and pour and cold process soap that is full of color, creative embeds and beautiful swirls. Just one look at Jodi’s soap, and you can see Jodi has a keen eye for design. Jodi’s sister Renee also creates soap, specializing in melt and pour. Together, they are quite the dynamic soaping duo! Read on to hear Jodi’s great soaping advice, along with what inspires her to create such show-stopping soap.

    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    I’ve been soaping for almost two years. One day while perusing a goat supply catalogue I happened past the soaping section. I took one look at the molds and the bottles of FO and it was love at first sight.

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    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.

    Renee’s soap on the curing rack, cold process made by Jodi.

    You make both cold process and melt and pour soap. What do you like about each soaping method? Do you find one more challenging than the other?
    My all-time favorite thing to make, hands down, cold process soap! I love choosing my oils, extracts and additives. Mixing micas is like a natural mood brightener. I dare you to try and be cranky while mixing micas. Melt and pour has its perks too. I love working with clear bases. You can’t get that kind of color pop in any other soap medium. Plus those crisp, clean lines are hard to beat. A lot of the gorgeous melt and pour soaps on our site are done by my sister Renee. She’s got me beat in the M&P department!
    DSCN6810

    Your cold process soap is full of challenging and beautiful techniques, including swirls and embeds. Do you have a favorite soaping technique?
    It’s so hard to pick a favorite technique, I’m pretty infatuated with top swirling at the moment, that and cutting up swirled loaves to make embeds with. It takes two pours but it’s by far one of my favorite soaping processes. I’m always happy with the results.
    DSCN6838

     What inspires you to create?
    I’m inspired by odd things. My daughter’s Sippy cup has this off set circle on it and I’ve made two loves based on that design. I also had a box of paper cups with a lovely vine design that inspired a hand carved soap series. Another big source of inspiration for me are things like birds and flowers, natural landscapes. Quite often my loaves are inspired by just playing with my micas!

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    The property I live on has been named Lakehurst since it was my grandfather’s. So when I started my little hobby farm it seemed like a natural choice. 

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    I’m not sure I can pick just one product, my husband bought me your amazing cutter for mother’s day. I don’t think I could live without it, that or Energy Fragrance Oil. It just such an amazing FO. So bright and fresh plus it’s such a gentleman to soap with!

    Soap made by Jodi and Renee of Lakehurst Farms.

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I LOVE animals! I keep goats and chickens, I recently started keeping bees. Before I had my daughter I did tons of animal rehabilitation. I’ve hand raised, birds, mice, raccoons, skunks and squirrels.

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    I’m a crafting addict. If it’s a craft I’ve tried it. Lately I’m learning to make candles and I’m about to try translating my top swirling into acrylic painting. We’ll see how all that goes…..
    Aviary Photo_130597933368510365

    What is your number one soaping tip?
    Don’t be afraid to ride the thin trace train. I don’t usually go past a good emulsification until I’ve colored and scented everything. By the time I’m done with all of that business the soaps usually at a light trace which is perfect for all those fun swirly results we want.

    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    I’ve been plagued for nearly two years by the curse of the lemon chamomile. Every lemon chamomile soap I’ve made has been terribly ugly. They smell gorgeous but have all been well….visually challenged. This was really discouraging and it happened so many times, I almost gave up on the ideal. About two weeks ago I finally nailed a lemon chamomile. Sweet victory was mine. I think struggling makes us better, no question. We learn from our failures, push through and try again!

    DSCN6769

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    Getting to customize my own products is so much fun, choosing your favorite oils, additives and scents. I thinks it’s a healthier product as well. You never go wrong when you use less chemicals on your family’s skin. I just need to come up with a good everyday shampoo and conditioner!

    Find Lakehurst Farms
    Facebook
    Etsy

    The post Jabbering with Jodi of Lakehurst Farms appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • From Online to In-Store: Josie’s Beauty Boutique

    10/22/2014

    I have enjoyed seeing Josie’s beautiful soap on the Bramble Berry Facebook page for some time. Right away, Josie showed immense talent and an eye for design. Josie began selling her soap on Ebay, and several weeks ago opened a brick and mortar store, Josie’s Beauty Boutique, in Grants Pass, Oregon. Josie creates both melt and pour and cold process soap, as well as body butters and lotions. Josie specializes in colorful, feminine designs including her gorgeous soap cupcakes. Read more about Josie’s soapy journey, including her tips for opening a store in the interview below! -A.M. 

    Josie in her store, Josie’s Beauty Boutique, located in Grants Pass, Oregon.


    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    I have been making soap for 11 months, I made my first soap November 14th 2013. I had an Ebay store and was tired of having a middle man to purchase my beauty products from. A lady that worked at my post office wanted to know if I would buy her soap and sell it for her on my ebay store, again was having the middle man and not making any real profit. So I decided to see what soap making was all about, never really thinking it would go anywhere. I actually watched all the soap video’s that Anne-Marie made on soap making, over and over and over again. ;-)

    I started researching more on the internet and purchased Soap Crafting by Anne-Marie. The next thing I knew I had Anne Marie in the kitchen with me when I made my first loaf of soap by way of my lap top :). I set my computer on the counter, turned on her video and went step by step with her. When I was done I thought “WOW that was so fun, and nerve racking at the same time.” I made melt and pour for about 2 months before I started tackling cold process soap.

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses? 
    I have only been open for 7 weeks, but I would say to believe in yourself. If you are starting your own business and putting out a good product and it has been received well from the public already, then just believe in yourself! Look straight ahead and don’t let negative comments get in your way, tell yourself that you can do this. On the other hand, be open minded to suggestions that come from those who care about you. Even though you think you have it all together, you may not see what others see, so be a good listener to those who care about you.

    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. So we are open until 6:00 PM every night all week because we found out that everybody gets off work around 5:00 PM. So even though I am staying open another hour longer, it has been well worth it. After all, the customers are the reason I opened my shop in the first place. So that has been key for me.

    What have you learned from your first month of having a store?
    I have learned people really like how I try to be as chemical free with my product lines. I didn’t know there were so many people that felt like me about chemicals in products. Just about every person that comes in is overly happy when I tell them that I try to go as chemical free as I possibly can.

    I learned it’s really good to be diverse with my products. Not everyone likes heavily fragranced items. I learned this before going into the shop. So I decided that I would always have fragranced and unscented items. Because some people can’t handle fragrances, but can handle essential oils or some do not like anything fragrance at all. Even though my soapy cupcakes are adorable along with my pies and cakes, not everyone wants that. So I make my soap loaves scented and unscented, some with herbs and spices in them and some with chocolate, cherry, and coconut cream fragrance inside.

    Before you open, make sure you have a little something for everyone, from the very natural bars of soap to the “WOW! What the heck? Is that soap?” I get that all the time. People say, “What the heck?? Is that really soap?” Haha, it is so funny. Its a kick. It takes lot of preparation getting a diversity but you will find it’s well worth it because everyone is so different. Their wants and needs are different. Williness to do special orders for people will also help increase your sales and your customers feel special too.

    What is your favorite type of product to make?
    My body lotions are one of my favorite products to create. But I think my #1 most favorite is my soapy cupcakes. They are tricky and challenging for me because most of the time I like doing 3 to 4 different colors when piping. I always seem to learn something new when making them. Plus the “WOW” factor in my shop when people see them is so hilarious. What I hear everyday is, “It looks so good I want to eat it!”

    What inspires you to create?
    My imagination is what inspires me, wanting to share all the designs that I have stored in my head that people have not seen yet. I have so many ideas that I have not yet created. I lay awake sometimes at night dreaming up my next soapy cupcake. Then sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to make until I get into the kitchen and start. I also switch gears right in the middle and change the whole thing into a completely different design than what I started out doing.

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    Oh boy, that is a loaded question. Ok ALL!! Hahaha. I mean that. I have shopped with Bramble Berry from the very beginning.  The fragrance lines are out of this world. When people come into my shop and try my tester lotions & body butters or smell my bath salts… they are really wowed by the fact that they smell so outrageously good. And the fragrances last and last.

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I let my hair go completely gray last year. I cut off all my hair which was down to the middle of my back (I had like 3 different colors in it always). I got tired of doing my hair all the time and decided to let my gray hair take over. I use purple shampoos on my hair to keep the yellowing away, but I don’t like all the chemicals that are in the shampoos. So I made a shampoo bar that is violet in color, and I use it in-between the Dark purple shampoo I get from the beauty supply, so I am doing something good for my hair in-between.

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    In the spring/summer here in Oregon, my awesome husband Dale (who by the way has supported me in this from the very beginning, when I told him in our front room one night, “Dale, I’m going to start making soap”). Anyway, Dale and I love to go boating. We have a large bright yellow pontoon boat that we named Cove Hoppin, because that is what we do when we go the endless amount of lakes in our area. We are fully stocked on board to spend days out on the water. It is something we look forward to every year.

    What is your number one soaping tip? 
    This tip would be for those who are making melt & pour soaps. If you are doing layers in your design, don’t forget to spray your layers with alcohol each time before you pour your next layer. If you are placing embeds into your soap, spray with alcohol also along with the layer you are placing them in or on. I use to forget to do that sometimes and end up with peeled layers separating. When you are going through all the time and effort to do layers it pays to spray, spray, spray! Be careful not to have your soap pour through the next layer, so pour into a large spoon and let that spill over on to the soap layer.

    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    This would be my soapy cupcakes. Not too long ago I was making cupcakes and I didn’t let the soap batter set up enough for the pipe. I started  piping about 6 to 8 cupcakes. Everything seemed to be going along fine, or so I thought.  I looked back at my cupcakes I had finished, and the cupcakes I piped were all leaning. When I tried to touch them they were in a very melted like state. I did not wait for the batter to thicken up enough.

    So what I did was I took a large spoon, and scooped all the tops off of them and put it back into the bowl I started with.  I took my stick blender to it again, but that wasn’t helping which I know it can, but not this time. Well I didn’t have any fragrance in this part of the batter at all. I wanted a white topping and didn’t want to use vanilla stabilizer in this recipe, so  I grabbed some of my Bramble Berry Cherry Almond Fragrance Oil that was in the bottom of the cupcakes and poured it into the batter.

    It started getting thicker right away, yay! Saved! I knew this fragrance oil would make it accelerate. I was able to put it back into my piping bag and pipe away without any more problems. Some of the paprika bottom got mixed into the topping when I used the large spoon to scoop the tops off, so instead of white topping I ended up with a very light peach like color. They smelled great and wash wonderful. Sometimes when you are in the moment and you don’t have time to figure out what the heck you’re going to do, you just have to do something quick!

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    I just love everything about it. Everyone tells me, “Josie you finally found your nitch.” I would have to agree. What I love is seeing the lil’ soapy treasures when they are finished. Its so gratifying. And when someone uses one of my bars of soap and loves it. Oh man, it is just so fun for me to know that I have made someone happy with something I have created.

    Find Josie’s Beauty Boutique
    Facebook
    YouTube
    Pinterest
    Twitter
    Ebay

    The post From Online to In-Store: Josie’s Beauty Boutique appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Turning Gifts into a Business

    10/8/2014

    Jessica started soaping during the holidays to make Christmas gifts for family and friends. This sparked a passion and, an idea and her gifts turned into her company Bellabrice Body Care and has been creating beautiful soaps every since. You never know when a new found passion will emerge! Read on to learn more about Jessica, her business tips and what inspires her to create gorgeous soapy creations.


    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    I have been soaping for about 9 years now. I was a stay at home mom with two little kids and a tight budget. I could not afford to buy everyone in my family a Christmas gift so I thought about making something. I went to the library and checked out a few soap making books and read them all.

    Soap making fascinated me and when I finally made my first batch of cold process soap, I was hooked! I loved the smell of the soap batter, the process and all the creative ways to make it. I gave away a lot of soap and people wanted more so I decided to make it a business.

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product?
    I just love Bramble Berry and choosing just one of my favorite products is difficult. If I had to choose something it would be Bramble Berry Fragrance Oils! They smell so good and really give my products a professional touch.

    My favorites right now are Yuzu and Energy. Just about all of my soap making supplies come from Bramble Berry; I love the high quality products and  friendly customer service I get from the company.

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    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.

    I recommend that new soapers watch You Tube videos about soapmaking, especially Anne-Marie’s how-to videos at Soap Queen TV. Once you understand the process and know the safety precautions, soapmaking is a fun and rewarding craft. There is just something special about using a useful product like soap and knowing that you made it!

    What is your favorite type of product to make?
    Right now I am trying to make every type of soap there is. I’ve made cold process soap, hot process soap, liquid soap and melt and pour soap. I like to try  to make everything just to get a feel for it and to say I’ve done it. My favorite type of  product to make is the faux funnel pour technique in cold process soap. I like using different colors and fragrances to make a unique soap.

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    My business name comes from a nickname my mom called me when I was little. I thought it would be a fun and personal name to my business.

    What inspires you to create?
    I am inspired to create by looking at other soap makers products on Facebook, Pinterest, and soapmaking blogs. I really admire the creativity of my fellow soapmakers and I am continually inspired by their work. When I started out, I had doubts about my ability to create beautiful soaps like the ones I have seen so many others make. My confidence was boosted by following the Soap Queen blog, Soap Queen You Tube videos and making many of the projects Anne-Marie created.

    My biggest inspiration is Anne-Marie — we are about the same age and I am in awe of what she has done with Bramble Berry, her blog, you tube channel, and her strong work ethic. My goal is to be a soapmaker like her: I want to make beautiful products, give back to the community and run a successful company.

    Find BellaBrice Body Care:
    On Facebook
    On Etsy
    On the Web

    The post Turning Gifts into a Business appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Chatting with Zahida of Handmade in Florida

    9/24/2014

    Zahida of Handmade in Florida creates stunning cold process soap featuring signature swirls and gorgeous colors. With numerous soap challenge wins under her belt, Zahida has popularized several soaping techniques including the “Butterfly Swirl.” Her passion for creating and eye for design shines through in her blog and YouTube videos.
    Before diving into soap, Zahida worked in corporate management and was an active member of the aviation industry, serving on several boards including the Pass Bureau Association. Zahida took a break from the corporate world after the birth of her son, and began soaping shortly after. Read on to learn more about Zahida, her business, and what inspires her to create such gorgeous soap!

    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    Like many soapers, I made my first batch out of necessity seven years ago. I had just given birth to my son and as an uber-cautious-first-time-mom, my hands were cracked and painful due to so much washing. I had gone through countless “gentle” soaps and lotions and nothing helped…infact, it got worse. My husband and I decided to try making our own lavender soap. Fortunately, it turned out great and helped my skin tremendously! I soon whipped up some hand cream and have been hooked on handmade body care since!

    Sweet Fig Cold Process Soap

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    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!

    What is your favorite type of product to make?

    Cold process soap, hands down! I love everything about making cp soap (with the exception of cleanup and waiting). I love playing with the oils and butters, fragrances and colors…each batch of soap is an adventure.
    What inspires you to create?
    People, places, colors, scents, nature, art…pretty much everything!

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    It’s kind of funny…I was looking for a name that would allow for creative freedom and I live in Florida…thus, “Handmade in Florida”. It’s about as generic as it gets!

    Secret Feather Swirl Cold Process Soap

    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    I love everything from Bramble Berry! If I had to pick just one thing that I could not live without, it would have to be your heat resistant plastic pouches! I love using them to masterbatch my oils, they are so convenient!
    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I started my first business at the age of 14. It was in the early 90’s when handpainted t-shirts were “the thing” lol. I painted every day after school and soon had several wholesale accounts that kept me busy until college! At one point, my mom, dad and sisters were even helping to paint t-shirts!

    Pumpkin Spiced Chai Cold Process Soap

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    In addition to soap making, I enjoy watercolor painting, photography, sewing and baking.

    What is your number one soaping tip? (Could pertain to oils, trace, molds, colorants, fragrance…anything!)
    I like soaping cool (room temp)….I find that it gives me the most time to play with my soap :)

    Romeo and Juliet Cold Process Soap

    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    Oh my goodness, my very first soap was an adventure! My husband and I were suited up to the max and the soap making session was so stressful that I didn’t think I’d ever make soap again! Luckily, I loved the soap and just had to make it again (without the hazmat gear)! Unless I’m working with some crazy expensive and/or rare ingredient, I just go with the flow…if it turns out, great! If not, lesson learned!

    In the Pot Swirl Coffee Soap

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    I love that I can create a variety of ultra luxurious and skin loving products that would typically be out of my price range…if even available!

    Find Handmade in Florida
    On the Web

    Blog
    Facebook
    YouTube

    The post Chatting with Zahida of Handmade in Florida appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • A Young Entrepreneur with a Cause

    9/3/2014

    Soap making is not only fun, it can have a dramatic impact on lives. After falling on tough times, Casey started teaching her son Donovan how to make melt and pour soap. Donovan fell in love with the craft, and quickly began selling his creations at a local farmers market in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and on Etsy. Donovan is currently looking into selling his soap at local stores, and was chosen as a featured artist in the upcoming issue of Albuquerque Magazine.

    Donovan donates half of the profits from his soap to the program that helped him and his mother get back on their feet, the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico. Donovan’s fun melt and pour creations include Mac and Cheese Soap, Ice Cream Soap, and Millennium Ship Soap. Read on to learn more about Donovan and Casey’s inspiring story!


    How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?
    I have been soaping for 2 almost 3 years. I started by watching my mom soap and then she started teaching me as part of my homeschooling for math and science lessons.

    Casey Smith (Donovan’s Mom): Donovan & I were homeless 3 years ago. Prior to being homeless I soaped and did cake decorating as a hobby. Once we were out of the shelter and had our own apartment I went back to soaping. I also decided to homeschool Donovan since it would mean he would be going to his 5th school in 2 years because of homelessness. Soaping was a fun way to incorporate math, science, art in and now that he has his own business he is learning entrepreneurial skills, how to spend and save money, and how to give back.

    Donovan donates 50% of his Pie Soap sales to the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico. It was through their housing program we were able to get out of the shelter and back on our feet. Donovan now is able to help other families fight homelessness by donating. He will also be donating about 300 soaps to the Stand Down Albuquerque in October…which helps homeless veterans here. I am a disabled Navy Veteran.

    What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?
    Have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to try new things and be creative.

    What is your favorite type of product to make?
    Deodorant because it helps people, its fun to make and easy.

    What inspires you to create?
    Knowing I can help other people by making soap.

    How did you come up with the name for your business?
    Its a line from Shakespeare and I like to read. My mom and I came up with different business names and then sent those to my big brother to chose which one. He chose Toil and Trouble from them.
    What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
    The fragrances. My favorite scent right now is Chipotle Caramel because it smells really unique. I also like Lemon Cake and Coconut Citrus Sorbet Fragrance Oil. The Aloe Vera Melt and Pour is great also….customers really like my popsicles made with it.

    Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
    I learned Spanish last year when we lived in Puerto Rico and Ecuador for the year. I am now learning Thai and French.
    Donovan’s Mom: As part of homeschooling and just trying to make up for being homeless I took a ‘world-schooling’ year for him. We lived in Puerto Rico for half the year and then in Ecuador for the next half. He was able to fully immerse in learning the Spanish language, learn history first hand, he actually visited the Inca Ruins Ingapirca in Ecuador vs sitting in a classroom for a day. We are saving up now to go on his dream trip to Paris so he can draw under the Eiffel Tower…fingers crossed!

    What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
    Reading…I read 150 books one summer. I love to draw and hope to be an artist in Paris when I grow up. I love music.

    What is your number one soaping tip? 
    Try to be unique with your soaps. Mix colors and fragrances to make them unique.

    Have you ever experienced a horrible soapy fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
    Yes, my first popsicle soap was crazy looking. It was a Spiced Pear Popsicle. I think I added extra oil or too much fragrance but it had holes and lumps and was crumbly. I learned that less is more and its ok to make mistakes.

    What do you love most about creating bath and body products?
    I like trying new things and surprising people with new items. Its fun to trick people…when they realize that its not food but soap it is pretty funny.

    Incredibly inspired by Donovan and Casey’s story, Bramble Berry Soap Making Supplies and Soap Queen are happy to make a donation to the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico. If you would like to make a donation, click here.

    Find Toil and Trouble:
    On Etsy
    On Facebook

    The post A Young Entrepreneur with a Cause appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Sudsing up with London Suds

    5/7/2014

    There are too few male soap artists, but maybe the work of today’s soapy spotlight interview will change that. James Troia began soaping in 2013 after purchasing a $9 bar of soap that quickly fell apart. Determined to make something better, he started London Suds and hasn’t stopped soaping since. Read on to learn more about James, his soapy business, and how he has embraced social media to his advantage.

    Soap Queen: How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?

    Not long, only for about 8 months (although it feels like 8 awesome years!), and it all started with my partner and I buying a bar of chocolate-scented soap from a store in Idyllwild, California for $9. The bar of soap was stunning and smelled great but unfortunately broke apart after a single week’s worth of use.

    I’m a bit of a problem solver and this got me to thinking why did the soap break up, and more importantly, how would one go about making it better. With research and a starter soap making kit that my partner surprised me with, I started creating soaps that lasted and worked for us.

    Soap Queen: How did you come up with the name for your business?

    I’m originally from the UK, so I wanted to tie that in with something ‘soapy’, and I found myself having issues deciding on something short, memorable and also original, but a brainstorming session with my partner and we finally settled on London Suds.

    Soap Queen: What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?

    To have fun! I think one of the biggest mistakes people do when starting any business is expecting too much too soon, it takes time to build a business, so don’t put lots of pressure on yourself, but still set yourself realistic goals. Also, celebrate your mistakes! Many of the soaps I happen to sell were soaps that I had intended to be one way but came out entirely different. Also, be prepared to make Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram your new best friends!

    Soap Queen: What is your favorite type of product to make?

    I would have to say my favorite is combination soaps, and when I say combination, I mean those made with different kinds of soap bases. I make a few soaps that are made with Olive Oil and Goats Milk and they are made in such a way that no two soaps look the same, the customer is always getting a one of a kind.

    Soap Queen: What inspires you to create?

    After having the opportunity to compare commercial soap to those that are hand made, I realized that I wanted to share with friends the health and skin benefits I found with hand made. It’s allowed me to put together ingredients with various beneficial properties that can appeal to those I care about.

    Soap Queen: What is your favorite Bramble Berry product?

    This is a tough one, because everything is amazing but I would have to say your Dragons Blood Fragrance. I didn’t actually buy it as it came as a free sample with my first ever order, and it was love at first whiff! I have customers that come back time and time again to buy my Dragons Blood soaps, it will always be for sale at London Suds.

    Find London Suds:
    On Etsy
    On Facebook
    On Instagram
    On Tumblr
    On Twitter

    The post Sudsing up with London Suds appeared first on Soap Queen.

  • Interview with a “Jill of all Trades”

    4/2/2014

    Mom, soaper and self-proclaimed “Jill of all Trades,” Jill Keck of Calise Soapworks is a soapmaker that stands out. She uses bright colors, adventurous techniques and skin-nourishing ingredients to craft one-of-a-kind soaps. After being continually frustrated by “gentle” products that still left her daughter’s skin dry, she took matters into her own hands and started making her own products.

    Six years later, Jill has a successful Etsy shop, a large Facebook page community and she has become a fixture of the local farmer’s market scene in her hometown of Newport, Oregon. Read on to find our how her Calise Soapworks & Such grew from a small operation to a full-fledged business.

    Soap Queen: How long have you been soaping for and how did you get started?

    I’ve been soaping for about 6 years. I made my first batch of soap to try and help my family. My oldest daughter’s skin was continually dry. I kept purchasing all sorts of “natural” products and nothing seemed to be working. My best friend had made soap, and it got me thinking that I could try my hand at it, too. I really liked the idea of knowing exactly what was going into my soap and onto my daughter’s skin. After my first batch, I was hooked!

    Soap Queen: What inspires you to create?

    I create because it makes me happy and I love choosing the amazing ingredients that go into my products. I also get a lot of enjoyment out of making products my customers love and use (and not just look at). Creating a product that is high quality, yet visually appealing, motivates me. No matter what, the Happy Factor has to be there!

    Soap Queen: What is your favorite type of product to make?

    I love making something new and having it come out the way I envisioned (which doesn’t always happen)! I’m an artistic and creative person, so I guess the planning and creating of a visually interesting cold process loaf is one of my favorite things to do.

    Figuring out how to color, scent and pour layers while factoring in soap thickness and how the soap will react to the fragrance and colorant is such a fun challenge. Waiting to unmold and cut the soap can be a nail biter because I never completely know if I’ll end up with a giant smile or a puzzled look on my face once I cut my soap. Figuring out what went wrong and problem solving to correct the next batch is also half the fun, at least sometimes. :)

    Soap Queen: What sort of advice would you give to those soapers just starting their businesses?

    Try, try again and don’t give up if it’s something you really want. It is important to find your niche and have a product you’ve tested and believe in. Research into smart business practices (the Business Musings section on the blog is a great place to start). Creating a product is only half the battle. Figuring out labeling, packaging, selling venues, business registration and insurance is a huge component in creating a business. I’m learning a lot about myself during this journey. Balancing family and work is vital (and often difficult because I usually lack an “off” button).

    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.

    Soap Queen: How did you come up with the name for your business?

    Calise Soapworks & Such was inspired by my daughters, Camille & Elise. The “& Such” part is because I never know what great product idea is around the corner! I hope that Baby #3 won’t mind he’s not included in my business name (Note: Baby #3, Davin, was born December 23, 2013).

    Soap Queen: Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself.

    Oh, geez! I guess I’ve had more jobs than most people I’ve known (a Jill of all trades). I think that goes along with my desire to learn and soak up life. Some past interesting occupations have been: office manager for a general contractor, elementary school teacher, veterinarian technician, car sales person, restaurant manager… There has always been rhyme behind my reason. I appreciate all of my experiences because each field has taught me skills that I’m currently using in some form or another.

    Soap Queen: What is your favorite Bramble Berry product?

    Oh gosh, picking one product is so difficult! I love how Bramble Berry tests their products, so someone is always there if I have a question. If I have to pick just one product, I think I will choose your fragrances because it is a broad category! I use both essential oils and fragrance oils. I like knowing your fragrance oils are tested in cold process soap, so I have a good idea of how a fragrance will react even before I use it after reading Bramble Berry’s notes and customer reviews. Your fragrance oil calculator is super handy in determining how much fragrance oil I need to use in a batch of soap (or lotion).

    Bonus: Check out our Web Specials and scoop up this month’s on-sale fragrances. Baby Rose, Rain Cybilla, Rosehip Jasmine and Tobacco & Bay Leaf are all on sale.

    Find Calise Soapworks & Such:

    On the web
    On Etsy
    On Facebook
    On Blogspot

    The post Interview with a “Jill of all Trades” appeared first on Soap Queen.