Recently my parents were traveling in New Zealand (a favorite destination of theirs) when my Dad happened upon a little soap shop in Rotorua. His interest was peaked so he ducked in to take a look around while my Mom continued shopping. Impressed by displays and product, my dad asked the owner if he could take some pictures to show his daughter, who sells soap in the states. As it happened, my dad discovered Soap Queen fans (eeeek!) in I Love Soap! When Dad told me this, I was totally flattered. He also said that it was a great store and suggested I contact the owner, James, for an interview (and hands me all the contact info). No convincing necessary, Dad! One look at the pictures he took and I became a fan of James; it’s a mutual admiration society!
I Love Soap owner James
I Love Soap specializes in cold process soaps, cake soaps, glycerin soaps and bath bombs. Their shop is big and bright, and the displays are super impressive. From their website, “James from Rotorua, New Zealand decided that there was a gap in the market for affordable, quality handcrafted soap and believed everyone should be able to afford and use, a decent non-detergent based bar of soap.” Read on to hear a little more about James and I Love Soap.
Soap Queen: Your product line is incredibly diverse. What inspires your creativity?
Food is one of my biggest inspirations for when it comes to developing my range of soaps. It’s much safer for me to make foodie soaps then the real thing or I would weigh a ton!
Soap Queen: Of all of your products, which are your favorite soaps to make (and why)?
One of my favorite soaps to make would have to be any of the cupcakes in my soap line. It’s a good show for customers to watch me make them and when they are finished they just look so cool.
Soap Queen: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What keeps you busy when you’re not making soap?
I am an welder fabricator (engineer) by trade, and that is a totally different field then soapmaking, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m also a single dad of a beautiful 7-year old girl named Talia.
Soap Queen: Do you have a favorite Bramble Berry Product? If so, which one and why?
The best Bramble Berry product would have to be the cosmetic glitters, they just makes the cupcakes look so pretty! I haven’t had a chance to try too many other Bramble Berry products, but I can’t wait to try more of them!
Thanks for the chat James! I Love Soap can be found on the web at ilovesoap.co.nz or at their retail location 279 Te Ngae Road in Rotorua, New Zealand.
I love receiving soap from Bramble Berry’s friends, customers and blog readers so I was excited when Hayley from Paintbox Soapworks recently sent me a box full of goodies to share with the team. Hayley’s soaps are absolutely adorable and she has the cutest paintbox-themed sets (you can check them out here and here). Check out her interview below and learn her number one advice for small businesses. -Anne-Marie
Tell us a little bit about yourself! When you’re not busy keeping your shop stocked with soaps, what are you up to?
I’m fortunate enough to be able to make Paintbox my full time pursuit, but in between batches & paperwork I love to cook, listen to records with my husband, read, walk in the woods, & build ridiculous LEGO contraptions with our 6-year-old son. I blog about soapmaking & food (not as often as I’d like), make jam, devour all things Tolkien, & chip away at the endless process of reviving our 1915 bungalow. In short, I do a lot! Life’s too short to waste sitting on the sidelines.
Do you have a favorite Bramble Berry Product? If so, which one and why?
My list of favorite Bramble Berry products is huge, but I wouldn’t have the success I do without the LCP Melt & Pour Base. It’s perfect for our humid climate, lathers like a dream, & is fantastic to work with. It’s converted hundreds of customers who thought they didn’t like glycerin soap. Runners up include Leather, Black Tea & Dark Rich Chocolate Fragrance Oils, Merlot Mica, & the pre-mixed oxides.
Where does your soapy inspiration come from?
I pull heavily from pop culture for my scent blends & names - rock music, literature, film, children’s books & more. I’ll get a song in my head for a few days & see what I can blend to turn it into a scent. I work a lot of my childhood memories into my blends as well, especially from our years on a little farm.
What are your top sellers?
Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground started as a limited edition for my first Halloween season, but my husband asked that I add it to the permanent collection – 3 years later, it’s far & away my best selling blend. My coconut-free hot process soaps have really taken off in the past year, & are set to grow even more in 2013.
What was your first soap?
My first soaps were tiny, single-bar batches using some perfume oils I liked but couldn’t wear. I got a pound of LCP base from Bramble Berry, plus a sample of Fresh Zucchini Flower, & fell in love!
You are quite the successful soaper, do you have any advice to those budding soapers trying to get into the business?
I am ridiculously fortunate to have a very active, passionate online community of friends who were invaluable in launching my business. They provided an instant customer base, supporting me from the moment I opened. While this isn’t something everyone can recreate, it does prove the value of alternative publicity. Social media & forums are free, wide-reaching ways to engage & inform while highlighting what makes our small businesses unique – ourselves! My best advice to budding soapers is to make the most of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest & forums, even if you think social media isn’t your thing. It may not be your comfort zone, but it’s definitely how customers find, share & discuss products. Get out there & talk about what you do & how you do it. Take polls, answer questions, make your business about more than just business. Anyone can go to the grocery store & buy soap; give your customers a reason to support YOU.
Thank you so much for your interview Hayley. The whole office loved oohing and ahhing over your soaps and we could’t get enough of your cute creations. Your branding is spot-on and we can’t wait to see what kind of soaps you are going to release in 2013.
I recently bought some amazing soap from EvieSoap’s shop on Etsy. I had a hard time choosing which bar to buy, but ultimately went with Balance, a mixture of Ocean Rain, Vetiver and Bergamot that is wonderfully calming yet fresh. Upon receiving my order, I was delighted to see a few extras tucked in! Lindsay, a mix of Sweet Meyer Lemon and Lemongrass, is earthy and sweet, and Urban Antidote is a refreshing and invigorating blend of Lavender, Rosemary and Peppermint. With such a talent for creating unique and colorful fragrance/essential oil blends and such nice extra touches with my order (including a hand written thank you note), I had to get to know the artisan behind EvieSoap!
SoapQueen: Tell us a little bit about yourself! When you’re not busy keeping your shop stocked with awesome soaps, what are you up to?
EvieSoap: I have a full-time day job as a Human Resources Business Partner for a medical device company. When I’m not at work, I spend the majority of my free time working on soap and my soap business. I’m so passionate about soap making – I wish I had more time to devote to it. I also love to spend time with my husband, David, and our belgian sheepdog, Asha.
SQ: So…why soap? What about soap keeps you dedicated to the business?
EvieSoap: I’ve had a love affair with soap for many years. Before I was a soap maker, I would spend money (more than I want to admit) on fancy expensive bars of soap – it was an indulgence for me. Then, when the economy crashed I couldn’t bring myself to continue to splurge like that, so I went back to using commercial soap. What a mistake! While the fancy, expensive brands didn’t do wonders for my skin, the commercial soap was really damaging. That’s when I started researching making my own soap. If I knew then what I know now about ingredients, the soap making process, etc. I would have started making my own soap years ago. It’s not that difficult and it’s so much better for your skin
SQ: What made you commit to creating only vegan products?
EvieSoap: There are so many wonderful plant-based ingredients available that I just don’t feel the need to use animal-based ingredients. While I’m not currently a vegan or a vegetarian, but I have tried both lifestyles at various points in my life and I have a great deal of respect for those that have that kind of commitment. I’m also passionate about protecting the environment, which includes respecting animals. The images of water, plants, and recycling are reflected in my logo.
SQ: Your soaps are so bright and colorful! Where does your color inspiration come from?
EvieSoap: Thank you! It’s kinda funny but I didn’t start out with using color at all. I was so focused on making a high quality product that color was the last thing on my mind. Once I had some recipes that I felt really good about, I started working on fragrances and then color. My husband really encouraged and inspired me to think creatively about color – in the beginning, he was my color and swirling guy. Now, when I smell a fragrance or a blend I’ve created, the colors appear in my mind and I just know what the soap is going to look like even before I make it. And I almost always name my soaps before I make them. When someone uses an EvieSoap, I want ALL of their senses or “parts” to feel pampered – touch, smell, sight. I’m also tremendously inspired by other soap artisans, the soapqueen blog, and the fabulous tutorials on soapqueentv.
SQ: It was really hard to choose which bar(s) to purchase from your Etsy shop. Which ones are your top sellers?
EvieSoap: I’ve made so many different fragrances that I have difficulty keeping track of that myself. My top sellers are “lindsay”, “clean laundry”, and “warm lawn”.
SQ: How long has EvieSoap been in business? What’s your best tidbit of advice for other small business owners?
EvieSoap: EvieSoap has been in business for about a year now. I hope to expand my product line (though soap will always be the core product) and branch out from strictly web sales into wholesale. I’m not sure if I have great advice for other small business owners. I’m learning this whole process myself. The move from hobby to business happened so quickly – I’m not sure where all of this is heading to be honest. Right now, I’m following my passion that started me down this road in the first place, so we’ll see where it takes me.
SQ: What is your favorite Bramble Berry product?
EvieSoap: I love the lotion base. I use it personally and I use it when I’m creating a new fragrance blend. It helps me create soap fragrances without having to make a whole batch of soap.
Thank you Evelyn for such a great interview. I can’t believe that EvieSoap has only been open for a year. The branding is so lovely and consistent, the bars are nicely and evenly made and the customer service was spot-on. What an inspiration!
I had a sweet, thoughtful blog comment this last week. In part, it said “I wonder at you and your energy. I’m ashamed of myself for nagging so much lately. How can you manage all those things [kids, household, business, sport and fun at weekend], all together, and apparently so perfectly?” The comment struck me because I want this blog to be a fun, inspirational place to hang out. I never want anyone to feel badly about themselves, to think that my life is magically 100% perfect or that things somehow come more easily to me than they do others. If you haven’t read the (long) story of how Bramble Berry got started, it’s here. There were floods, embezzlements, years in debt, a divorce, sleeping in the office, firings and plenty of times where I felt sorry for myself or alone. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t glamorous. And it’s still not. And obviously, glamorous was not the look I was going for in the photo below from Bramble Berry’s early years.
Bramble Berry's 4th warehouse. We moved. A lot.
This blog is designed to be a scrapbook of sorts, a happy place, a snapshot into my life at a brief glimpse in time. Yes, I still have housework to do. My husband and I sometimes disagree. My baby boy often wants me to read the same book 432 times. But, I don’t usually notice or think about it. I don’t dwell on the negative (ever). I rarely remember bad things that happen to me (my team is constantly reminding me about some drama or another that I’ve completely put out of my head). I have deliberately selective amnesia when it comes to painful past events. I view my existence as a precarious little surfing adventure: always trying to skip over the waves and turbulence in life and come out dry on the other side.
Everyone struggles. Everyone fails. Everyone has disappointment. Picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and moving forward with excitement, enthusiasm and delight is an essential key to being successful in business and in life. I’ve written blog posts in the past on dealing with disappointment (here) and keys to designing a happy life (9 part series, here). We have a fun phrase at Bramble Berry that is slightly ludicrous but we repeat it at least a few times a week. Someone pops up with “I have a problem!” and almost everyone here has it ingrained that problems are not problems. They are opportunities. So someone else will pipe up, “It’s an opportunity! How can we help!” (in a deliberately perky voice). My opinion is that you make your own life by how you feel about it. It’s easier to grin through the grimaces, assume goodwill and emotionally surf over rough patches.
The Early Bramble Berry Years
So, no, my life isn’t perfect. My actions generally fall short of my own expectations for myself (and that’s even with a team of people to help me at Bramble Berry!). But with the help of selective amnesia, surrounding myself with positive people and trying to design an attitude of gratitude and positivity, I still feel enthused about every day and thankful for the challenges that keep life interesting. And, I’m so thankful to have people to share little windows of my life with. I look at this blog like a long term friendship – I love getting to know all of you better and hope you feel the same.
There are many, many smarter people than I that have written about remaining joyful even when circumstances conspire to pull you down. Some of my current favorite books about designing your best attitude to be resilient to all life has to throw at you are: Flow, Authentic Happiness and Firestarter Sessions.
Quick! What were your top three best sellers for last year?
When the names of the products sprang to your mind, where did you get this information? Was it a gut “This product is SUPER popular! I’m always selling it and I can’t keep it in stock!” or was it from hard data and metrics? If it wasn’t from hard data and metrics, you could be leaving money on the table. A business best practice that a wise mentor once shared with me is that he makes all decisions on sales and production based on the previous year’s sales. He doesn’t base decisions on his gut. He doesn’t make decisions based on what he likes. Rather, he uses data to figure out what the customer wants and likes.
Quick! How many times have you decided to keep a product because you love it, or your Mom loves it or your Aunt Edna loves it? But really, the sales weren’t there to support it?
We’ve all been guilty of that. I kept Fresh Baked Bread fragrance oil (yes, it really was as delicious as the name makes it sound) for two years longer than the sales reports said to keep it because I loved it so very much. Unfortunately, the numbers did win out though and Fresh Baked Bread is a thing of the past. It simply wasn’t a good business decision to keep that fragrance but I overrode the cold, hard facts because I convinced myself that others would see the genius in Fresh Baked Bread if only given a chance.
At the end of your sales year, run your sales reports for everything you sold – each individual item, families of items, fragrances or however you organize your items. After you have your reports, it’s time to evaluate the numbers and make changes for the upcoming year. By now, you should have a handle on your taxes from last year, have your plan for this year for sales outlets and shows so it’s a perfect time to review your sales data for last year.
Things to do with your data:
(1) Predict sales for each month so you can accurately plan your production. Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t run out of your best seller at the same summer craft show every year? You can staff for manufacturing properly and make sure that your materials are there for your seasonal items with your sales data.
(2) Plan promotions and discounts for slower moving items to give them a fighting chance to stay in your line up. This is where you let your gut have its say. If there’s an item that’s just on the edge – soooooooo close to making it – it’s okay to give it another year and fiercely promote it. If you believe in the product, give it a chance! After all, the first lotion bars in a deodorant tube to be introduced 15 years ago? They took a while to catch on but now there a staple in many home crafters lines.
(3) Discontinue items. This is the hardest one for me to do but by keeping items that don’t sell well, you’re taking up the space for a new item that might sell great! Remember, items that are made but are not selling are the same as cash sitting there, staring at you. It’s better to make the hard cut to make way for new items than it is to keep a relationship with an item that isn’t producing the results you need it to.
If you’re not keeping track of your sales and your data, make 2012 the year that you start! Just think of how much more effective you can make your business in 2013 when you’re armed with reliable sales numbers.
The reason that seesaws have two seats is because that way there is always someone to bring you back up when you go down. – Unknown
Recently, I had the opportunity to let my inner Tarzan fly and hang out on a ropes course (that’s me in the white coat in the photo above, doing the Monkey Bars 40 feet in the air). I went with a group of people that I’ve known for a long time (some as long as ten years). They’re all business owners and part of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (a Mastermind group of sorts). The ropes course starts out easy and then gets progressively more difficult. The yellow balls in the photo below? They’re not stationary. They spin. And that wasn’t even the most difficult part of the course!
The ropes course starts out on level green and at each level, you have the opportunity to leave or go on to the next level, culminating in level black (dramatic music plays).
I started the day excited, signing my personal theme song (Spongebob Squarepants, “It’s the Best Day Ever”) and generally was chirpy cheerleader. The more challenging the course got, coupled with the temperature (brrrrrr! I was cold!), the less cheerful and confident I became. There was one horrifically scary looking ropes challenge. I watched person after person do it, growing less confident each and every time I watched someone struggle, swear and sweat their way across this particular course. I did NOT want to do it. I was cold. I was hungry. And chirpy cheerleader was nowhere to be found.
But, my group was going and it was a team thing so, I gamely kept on. This is what happened when I hit the scary part of the course. The video isn’t great (email subscribers, you can only see the video by clicking through to the blog). It doesn’t look scary anymore but at the time, in the moment, it was terrifying. Listen to my team. They’re encouraging me. They’re giving me confidence. At the end when I do make it across, a huge cheer goes up as everyone celebrates with me.
The next guy on our team went. He’s about 300 pounds and 6 foot 5″. He’s a big guy. Not scared of anything. But midway through, he had difficulties and sat down on the course. No one was sure he was going to get up. But, our team kept encouraging him, gently telling him he could keep going on. And, in time, he got back up and finished the course. He was shaking when he was done.
Our team successfully made it through! YEAH! We were all on adrenaline highs. It was an amazing feeling. Our team, moved on through the course as a unit. Then we noticed the silence. We look back. Someone else is in trouble on the ropes course obstacle that we’ve all just completed. But, no one is cheering him on. No one is telling him he can do it. His team is standing, mutely looking on. My team all yells encouragement, but we’re far away and we’re not his tribe. He quits and needs to be rescued from the middle of the course.
My big guy turns to me and says, “The only difference between me and him is that I had you guys, cheering me on and encouraging me. Where was his team?”
For everything in life, we need a support team, cheerleaders to help keep the forward momentum and remind us that we’re not alone. Do you have a tribe? A group of people who won’t let you fail? If not, start investing in others and form that support team to ensure that you’re carried forward on a wave of shared vision and shared success.
It has been a while since we’ve done a Soap Queen interview and this is one you don’t want to miss! It’s with the super sparky founder of You Smell Soap, Megan Cummins. Her packaging, design and soap concept is strong for but that’s second to her drive and desire to start up her soap business. Megan and her You Smell soaps were also featured on a popular and cut throat show, Shark Tank. Could you imagine the pressure? Check out Megan’s Shark Tank Episode on Hulu (for free). Megan has developed 3 signature fragrances for her website: Lemon Verbena, Sweet Seduction (bright, fruity with rich undertones of caramel and vanilla) and Divine (fresh and clean). Make sure to check out Megan’s website, You Smell, which just launched in the beginning of February. We’re also fans of her blog that is centered around unique design, Vintage Me Oh My. Enjoy the interview…you’re in for some inspiration!
Soap Queen: How did you get started making soap?
Megan Cummins: A few years ago when this started, I actually never had any intention of making soap. I’m a graphic designer by trade and love fragrant products. I created a line of soaps in college as a packaging project- just as something I personally loved and thought would be great as gifts for my girlfriends. Well, word got out and it was all over the web instantly and I was getting calls from shops around the world along with major international press. I was flooded with requests – but I had nothing to give them! So, as the saying goes, if dozens of shops around the world contact you professing their love for your product, you have a viable business.
You Smell is an extension of me. It’s so much more than “just a bar of soap” – it’s an experience. We have a “small shop” mentality and pride ourselves in being a brand girls can trust – having great natural ingredients, sexy packaging, and bang for your buck. Basically, this is and always will be a brand for my girlfriends – I just might not have met them all yet!
Soap Queen: What’s your favorite product to make?
Megan: The bar soap is really rewarding after it comes out of the mold, but I think the paper soap is by far the most fun. It was a major challenge since it doesn’t exist here in the US. The few offerings available overseas are pretty bad, so it was a lot of fun developing something entirely new and unheard of here in the States…not to mention, it’s just fun to use!
Megan: Well, it’s just like it sounds. It’s soap that’s paper thin. It’s about half the size of a business card and comes in a little paper packet that’s smaller than a pack of gum, so it fits nicely into a wallet or purse. Ours are deliciously fragrant, so they actually double as a little purse freshener! (I’m guilty of throwing random scented things in my purse to make it smell better from time to time). To use it, you take a sheet out with dry hands (water will make them stick together), and 1 sheet = 1 hand wash. You just use it as you would a bar of soap and it disappears while you lather. It’s great for traveling and on a date when you don’t want to smell like generic soap or an alcoholic (from sanitizers). It’s also perfect for kids who never wash long enough to kill germs; by the time it “magically” disappears, you’ve washed for the 20 seconds the CDC recommends – really though, even adults forget to wash long enough, completely defeating the purpose of washing! Even stoic businessmen have turned into little kids when they get their hands on our paper soap. How could they not? It’s just awesome.
SQ: Tell us about Kick Starter. Would you recommend it to other soapers trying to start a business?
MC: YES! There are a few things I learned that I wished I knew before hand. First off, it’s not so easy to get accepted onto the site. They’re very wary of how you ask for funds. You can’t just be asking for money to fund your company. You need to be offering something to the community. Also, don’t be discouraged if they say no. I was turned away twice before I got on to the site. Listen to their advice and try again.
Secondly, they really pushed me to not exceed 30 days, and I regret that I listened. It took a while to start generating press and it wasn’t until a couple weeks into it that I started getting a steady stream of funds. If I had done the 60 days, I’m sure I would have met my goal. Also, I should have tried to launch with fewer products to get my goal amount down. If I had done only 5K, I would be overfunded now. The “catch” is that if you don’t reach your goal, all of the pledged money is refunded. It’s sad, but luckily there’s one last thing you should know:
Regardless of whether or not you reach your goal, you can get amazing exposure from being on Kickstarter. I’ve had several major blogs post about us (even the Sundance Channel!..bizarre for soap, but cool nonetheless), News stations asked to interview me, and best of all, I had a flood of design requests and investors contact me. So, although it appears I won’t reach my goal, I was over-funded in the end and things turned out far better than I ever could have imagined, just through the exposure I received from it. And it only took me a little bit of time to set up the account – so what do you have to lose?
SQ: Do you have a favorite Bramble Berry product?
MC: I recently discovered Bramble Berry and fell in love! The products are so creative and adorable. I think the soap foods like the cupcake bath bomb and soap tarts are so much fun. The tutorials on the Soap Queen blog are what keep me coming back. They’re incredibly easy to follow, and having all of the supplies you need on the BB site make it a stress-free endeavor. I’m getting the supplies to try my hand at the ribbon candy and caramel apple soaps. Though I honestly am worried I’ll forget they’re soap.
Soap Queen: Thanks for doing the interview with us, Megan. We wish you and You Smell Soap the best of luck in the future. Your drive and darling soaps are going to take you a long way!
Maak Soap Lab is from Portland Oregon, just around the corner from Bellingham! (Well technically 4 hours down the coast, but you get my drift). We first discovered Maak when we hosted a contest with Fair Ivy (read about the contest here). We fell in love with their detailed packaging, ‘modern rustic’ look and clean website design and it’s a double bonus that they’re located in our neck of the woods, the fabulous Pacific Northwest! Check out the goodies I just bought.
The soaps arrived in a neatly packaged and in a hand stitched envelope. It looked so cute I didn’t even want to open it. I got over that pretty quickly (after I took a photo) and I ripped into it!
Don’t you love the modern packaging style? Maak found a theme and design that worked and they ran with it! I love that they consistently executed that look and feel across the entire line. Their items all fit together nicely and are clearly designed to go together.
I also bought Cedar Essential Oil just to check it out. What can I say, I’m an essential oil enthusiast. The Cedar label was on waxed muslin which made the essential oil seem all the more special.
Get your soap from MaakSoapLab.Com and catch up with them on the Maak Blog.
Have you ever been to the Bramble Berry Facebook fan page? If not, head over there right now and join the helpful, inspirational and soap enthused community. It’s a really fun place to share projects, troubleshoot recipes and get feedback on your soap related projects (from soaping fanatics). I’m on Facebook every single day as part of my job. How lucky am I? I get to connect with Bramble Berry’s customers and drool over beautiful soap projects every day. Life is good!
This brings me to the point of today’s blog post. Early one morning (while my sweet baby boy, Jamisen, was wide awake…meaning I was wide awake, too) I saw some soaps that made me do a double take. There were these incredible soap flowers and entire soap cakes with intricate detail that were too amazing to actually be soap (see pictures below). So naturally, I had to share the jaw-dropping soap with the rest of the Soap Queen blogsphere. Oh…you probably want to know who I’m talking about, right? It’s none other than NaYeon Kim from Castle Lake Studio! Three cheers if you know her from Facebook!
Courtney, who you may already know from the BB Facebook page, emailed NaYeon to see if we could feature her soap on the blog. We even tried to buy the soap (below) from NaYeon but she was such a sweetheart and wouldn’t let us pay for it. Thank you SO MUCH, NaYeon! You shouldn’t have…but we’re so glad you did! You should have seen the girls in customer service squealing over it!
Here’s what NaYeon wrote us and how she got into soapmaking!
“I moved to Washington in 2009 September. Because of my husband’s job we had lived in South Korea for a couple of years before moving here. I had always been interested in homemade soap but didn’t start actually creating my own until last year. I had come across the Soap Queen videos one day on the internet and decided to give it a try. I had watched all the videos in the series and bought a book to get me started. The first batch I made was a plain cold process soap without any colorant and scent. I was very excited with my first creation even though they were just plain bars. I then purchased a melt and pour kit from Bramble Berry for Mother’s Day. My mother-in-law really loved the soap I created as a gift which only served to encourage me more!
So that was the beginning of my soap making hobby. I started reading Soap Queen blogs and started putting great effort into creating the soaps that Anne-Marie posted. I also started watching YouTube videos of other soapmaker’s online and was inspired by their creations. This spring I was introduced to the “soap dough” creation process. I’ve been trying to challenge myself on soapmaking and it’s still on going. Bottom line is that I have fallen in love with my soap making hobby. This summer I joined the Bramble Berry Facebook fan page (a really awesome soap community) and have met so many wonderful people and have seen many beautiful, artistic soap designs. The Bramble Berry Facebook page provides lots of inspirations and I continue to learn many things from the site. English is not my first language, which is one reason why I have hesitated to open an online soap shop. Since I’ve joined this group I’ve received so much encouragement from this great community and finally I have decided to go forward. I’m so very glad that I found Bramble Berry. I appreciate their awesome service and the chance for me to experience this wonderful craft.”
Thanks again for the soap, Nayeon. We wish you the best of luck in your new soapmaking adventure and business. People are going to LOVE the soap they get from Castle Lake Studio!
Also be sure to check out her Facebook fan page, Castle Lake Studio Soap Art!
I recently purchased some calorie free pastries from Lather Unusual- soapy pastries that is. Lather Unusual is a soap company located near my beautiful home town in Seattle, Washington. Logan Niles, a former New York chef with a pastry background, makes each soap with natural and paraben free ingredients and decorates each soap by hand creating an “unusual lather” (sorry, couldn’t hold back the pun). Her soaps look and smell absolutely edible! Check out the quick fire Soap Queen interview with Logan below.
Website: Lather Unusual Website
Blog: Blather Blog
Facebook: Lather Unusual
Soap Queen: How did you get started?
Logan: I started making soap as a hobby after trying my hand at cheese making, which I really enjoyed but found to be very cost prohibitive to do as a weekly hobby, not to mention fattening! I could literally have cheese at every meal it tastes so good. Plus the yield of finished cheese is much, much lower than soap. There’s only but so much whey a family can drink…LOL…even the cats were getting tired of it!
Soap queen: Why desserts?
Logan: After being a chef for 26+ years in New York City, with a pastry background and experience in professional bakeries, it seemed a logical way to utilize skills and tools I already possessed and loved to use. My goal is to make my Soap Pastries look as realistic as possible vs. gimmicky. I’d love to really push the envelope with them and have an ultra-upscale line as well that would rival anything a classical French or Italian pastry shop could put out.
Soap Queen: You have a retail store as well; what’s been the most surprising thing about having a storefront?
Logan: Because I opted working with Lip Labz out of Toronto Canada I needed the space and validity of a store front to put two 6′ custom lip balm & lip gloss kiosks into. So along with all of the handcrafted bath products I make it’s been a necessary step. So far getting people to the shop has been the biggest challenge since we’re not right in the local mall. That’s been changing since we started hosting private events here and will expand class offerings in the Fall. I really love running the shop tough. When it comes to meeting new people I’m very social, chatty and love sharing information. The store experience, in terms of sights, aromas and unique features, is delightful and such an important part of the brand. Everyone who visits has a wonderful experience, and raves about how nice the space feels and uniqueness of the products.
Soap Queen: Your best advice for someone thinking of opening a retail store?
Logan: Don’t do it if you don’t absolutely have to. Without Lip Labz I would have chosen a less expensive artists space to create out of and focused more on online sales and shows. The overhead, even on a small shop, can be a heavy load to carry during slow periods. If you have the capital to burn while business grows, a great location and a strong business plan then it’s something to consider with the proper planning.
Soap Queen: Favorite Bramble Berry product?
Logan: Oh, that’s tough! LOL. I’m a big fan of so many of the foodie fragrance oils like Oatmeal Stout, Cherry Almond and Hot Apple Pie… I don’t think I could choose just one favorite. I love making the Soap Pastries because I get to be really creative, use all of my pastry piping tips and the reaction of customers when they see them. It’s pure joy.
Soap Queen: Thanks for your time, Logan. We adore the soap that we purchased from you! Thanks for such a sweet, fun and wonderful product.
Get your very own pastry soaps from the Lather Unusual Website and keep up with Logan on the Blather Blog!