Behind the Scenes of Meet Your Makers Showdown

Nov. 27th was a very special day for four soap makers here in the US. It was the premiere of a new discovery+ show called Meet Your Makers Showdown. 

People from all over the country test their creativity for a chance to win $10,000. Each episode features a different craft, like candle making, stained glass, and fluid art.

And luckily for us, our CEO and founder Anne-Marie was chosen to be a guest judge on the soap episode! She was in good company - LeAnn Rimes and Mark Montano were judges, and Chrissy Metz was the host. 

meet your makers showdown judges | bramble berry

Image courtesy of discovery+

Anne-Marie said filming was a blast because everyone truly enjoyed working together. She also loved getting to know the other judges - they talked about all things life, family, and work.

"And yes, LeAnn and Chrissy did sing; they pretty frequently burst out into spontaneous song and they both have such beautiful voices that it helped keep the long days feeling short," she said.

That camaraderie has continued after the premiere too. Anne-Marie has been talking with the contestants about their experience on the show, including how they felt about seeing themselves on screen.

"Watching the show for the first time was surreal; when I popped out on screen the first time, my daughter exclaimed, loudly, while pointing, 'Hey! That’s my mom!'" Anne-Marie said. "That was the most rewarding - to hear her pride felt amazing. I was really happy with how the show came out and I am hoping there’s a season two! =)"

meet your makers showdown contestants | bramble berry

From left to right - Roxanne, Baz, LeAnn, Chrissy, Anne-Marie, Mark, Robyn. Image courtesy of discovery+

Learn more about each contestant below!

Winner - Roxanne with Caprica Soapery

Roxanne wowed the judges with her creativity, precision, and excellent time management skills.

"Roxanne’s soap stood out because of the variety of techniques, the cohesion of the collection design, and the flawless execution," Anne-Marie said.

How long have you been making soap, and how did you get started? 
I started making soap in 2017, after being introduced to it by one of my dearest friends and "heart sister," Whitney of Cheeky Goat Soapery. She raises Nigerian Dwarf goats, and I had made my first few loaves of goat milk soap when I was visiting her. I really fell in love with it, as it was this sort of perfect marriage of art and science, almost like baking met chemistry. I've got a very strong background in the sciences, and the entire process of soap making just sort of made sense to me. When I went back home to Seattle I spent way too much money (mostly at Bramble Berry!) and started my own LLC later that year. 

What’s your favorite Bramble Berry product?
Bramble Berry has so many wonderful products, and as I'm so close to the main warehouse, I order from you a lot! I think the fragrance collections are my most favorite products - I don't know if I could pick just one - maybe Energy? I love those bright crisp citrus notes, especially when they aren't too sweet.

orca soap by caprica soapery | bramble berry

Orca whale soaps

What was your reaction when you were first contacted for the show? How did you get prepared?
Honestly, when I found out I had been cast in the show I was completely shocked. I had submitted my audition video and application in the fall of the previous year, and honestly hadn't thought much about it until then. I'd received a few emails with status updates on the casting process, but really didn't think there was any way I would be cast. There are so many absolutely amazing soap makers out there - I didn't think I stood a chance! When that call came in I was really excited, and looking forward to trying to do my best and make all the other artists I know proud. When I found out I was cast, I'd actually been on a bit of a soaping hiatus because of work and my personal life, it had been about 5 months since I'd last made soap. I made a few practice loaves to knock the dust off, but we really didn't have much time to prepare. 

What was your favorite part of the filming process?
I can tell you my least favorite part! Those early mornings! I don't know how entertainment professionals do it - those days are long! All kidding aside though, it would be hard to pick my favorite part. The entire process was really wonderful. The production team and filming crew made us feel so special and welcome, and meeting our host and judges was absolutely amazing. Being able to meet Chrissy Metz, LeAnn Rimes, Mark Montano, and of course Bramble Berry's very own celebrity Anne-Marie was really truly wonderful. It was really exciting to be a part of the "behind the scenes" of how these shows are made, and I was actually a little surprised at just how real everything is - nothing was staged, we weren't coached or coaxed, the competition and footage you are watching was real, we were working our buns off trying to make the best soap we could and vying for the title of Maker Champion! I didn't expect to win - the competition was tough and I was up against some very talented makers.

What was it like watching the show for the first time?
Watching the show for the first time was sort of surreal. We didn't get any special treatment (bummer!) and had to wait for it to air on TV just like everyone else. It aired over the Thanksgiving weekend so I was actually back in Florida visiting the same friend who got me started soaping, Whitney, so it was really wonderful to get to share that experience with her. She has been such an endless cheerleader, mentor, and unwavering pillar of support in my business and honestly, in the rest of my life too. We were stuffed on Thanksgiving leftovers and got cozy on the couch with a big blanket and watched it together. It was really fun, we actually watched it twice!

night sky soap by caprica soapery | bramble berry

Winter sky soap

Do you have any post-show plans for your business?
Caprica Soapery is a hobby business for me, so balancing it with my career has been a little bit challenging now that the show has aired and I've gained a little bit of recognition. My full-time job is as an assistant director of a robust cancer research program at the University of Washington here in Seattle, where we treat cancer patients who have been diagnosed with sarcomas. Caprica really formed as a means for me to have a little bit of "art therapy" and to unwind after a long day. My day job is really strict, stressful, and regimented, so it's really nice to come home, make a mess, and end up with a really lovely product at the end of it, too. I'd like to be able to get myself into a routine schedule with the business and releases, and maybe expand my product line a little bit. I just recently added Whipped Sugar Scrubs to my product line, and developing a new product was really rewarding. I also really love sharing photos and videos of what I create, and my goal for 2022 is to start a video tutorial series where I address all the tips, tricks, and processes that I wish I'd known about when I got started, or that I picked up along the way. It's been amazing seeing my platform grow even in this short time, and I look forward to riding this wave and making the most of where it takes me!

Anything else you’d like to add?
I'd really like to thank all the wonderful other soap makers who have supported me along the way. Of course, Whitney, none of this would have ever happened without her - so I'm not kidding when I say I owe her almost everything, but also Bee Iyata of Sorcery Soap, Lisa Cunningham of I Dream In Soap, Amy Warden of the Soap Challenge Club, Michelle Lindberg of Mosaic Garden Soapworks, Jenny Kimberlin Huffman of Lord Bentley Bluebeard - and I'm sure so many more I'm forgetting to mention - you guys have totally been my cheering squad and support team, and helped me every step of the way! I credit my fellow makers with everything I've learned, and with giving me the tools and skills I needed to bring my best to this competition! And of course also my mom, who somehow has managed to replace all of her Clinique products with my handmade soap! Thank you! 

Baz with Dirty Unicorn

How long have you been making soap, and how did you get started? 
In the grand scheme of things, I’m very much an infant in the industry, having only been making soap for about a year and a half at this point. At time of filming, I was just barely at 9 months!

Soap making, and indeed the Dirty Unicorn as a whole, was a pandemic pivot for me. Prior to then, I was a professional travel agent and in fact had just gone full time with it in October 2019, a scant few months before the travel industry pretty much shut down entirely. During the isolation phase, YouTube randomly served up a video from Katie Carson of Royalty Soaps, which then in turn lead me to the Soap Queen. Out of sheer boredom and a bit of intellectual and artistic curiosity, I ordered some very basic supplies and poured my first 3 pound loaf.  A few weeks later, I had 30-50 pounds of soap curing in every corner of my home and was rapidly realizing that I had some pretty strong opinions about body care and was weirdly passionate about this craft that I had no idea even really existed!

What’s your favorite Bramble Berry product?
I have a couple of favorite Bramble Berry products but my top slot is a tie between two. One I use nearly every single day in my business: the 5 lb. Mold with Sliding Bottom and silicone liner. I have a few and could probably use several more! The other is only for special applications but I covet the moments I get to use it: Fine Gold EcoGlitter. As the Dirty Unicorn, I have used QUITE a few glitters in my days, but no other gold is as rich, as luxe or as deliciously sparkly as that!

dirty unicorn market display | bramble berry

Market display

What was your reaction when you were first contacted for the show? How did you get prepared?
To be completely honest, I thought I was getting scammed! In my mind there was NO WAY a television producer would be contacting me about appearing on a crafting competition show for soap making. I’m barely getting started after all! But after a few minutes on the phone with Jill I was ready to go! Though I did spend the next few months repeatedly asking myself, “What even is my life right now?"

Preparation was chaotic to say the least. We only had a couple of days to prepare and submit our entries and since the first round was melt and pour (which I’d previously only used in our Soapy Scrubbies), I had to spend hours online reading, watching, and learning everything I could about the material. At the same time, I was teaching my husband how to make both cold process and hot process soap in general and our current product line, so he could step in and run the business while I was away for the filming. I think the first time I really slept in the weeks between getting the official casting call and packing my supplies was on the plane to Los Angeles.

What was your favorite part of the filming process?
Of the filming itself: My favorite part was seeing up close all the behind the scenes stuff that goes into making television magic and watching the producers take all of these little pieces and getting them together and making them function. Since we filmed our episode first, they were still working through bugs in the process. It was truly fascinating.

Of the whole experience: Getting to meet and get to know so many incredible people. From the producers and PAs to the other competitors to the judges, I learned so much from each of them and had some genuine, memorable moments with people that I’d never thought I’d meet, much less have real heartfelt conversations with. I still keep in touch with and have even become friends with many of them over the past few months.  

hot summer night soap by dirty unicorn | bramble berry

Hot Summer Night soap

What was it like watching the show for the first time?
Very surprising! They had a lot of footage to work with, from some really good drama to very sweet heartwarming moments, and we had no idea what the vibe of the production was going to be. While there were some things I really wish survived the edit, the final product is just amazing and I could not be happier. It's easily one of the best produced craft competition shows around. 
Do you have any post-show plans for your business?
Yes, lots! 

Clearly I’m going to need to step up my social media game after this, and I’m getting those processes in place now that I don’t have to worry about accidentally letting something slip.

But we have some pretty big plans for the company. Step two was bringing my husband on board full time and now that that’s done, we’re pushing growth to open a full store front in our home base Woodstock, GA. Ultimately, we want a Dirty Unicorn Empire but we’re taking it one step at a time! (And I wouldn’t say no to working with another show or three either!) 

Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes! Three if I may:
1. Never be afraid to experiment and change gears in your life, you never know when you’re going to find your groove!
2. Never pass up a chance to hear Anne-Marie sing Little Mermaid songs.
And 3. Get Clean… but Stay Dirty!

Robyn with Scandalous Soap and Bath Fizz and Foam

How long have you been making soap, and how did you get started? 
I have been making soap for about 12 years. I learned when I was living in Alaska and discovered how much it was to get my favorite handmade cosmetics shipped there. I didn't really view soap as an art form until 2017 when I injured my shoulder and couldn't paint. Soap was something I could still make, and of course I watched a bunch of Soap Queen TV and thought, "I could do that!"

What’s your favorite Bramble Berry product? 
I would have to say that I really love the silicone molds from Bramble Berry. They are so sturdy and well made. Holding one, you know without a doubt they will last you a long time! I also have to say that your customer service is amazing. I've only ever had a few mishaps on orders, but you guys went out of your way to make it right. As a small business owner, I feel like that is peak customer recovery and definitely won my loyalty.

big bend soap by scandalous soap | bramble berry

Big Bend soap

What was your reaction when you were first contacted for the show? How did you get prepared?
I was actually completely floored that they would have chosen me. I know some of the other soapers who said they applied, so the producers had a very deep pool of talented soapers to choose from. The fact that they chose me was so humbling I almost couldn't believe it! 

To prepare, well that's kind of interesting actually. We had to submit design ideas within 2 weeks of flying out, but the day we did our first group Zoom call to talk about the show and what would be required of us - I had emergency surgery that morning! It was nothing major, but I was still loopy from anesthesia! I had my husband sit just off screen in case I either zoned out, fell asleep, or completely forgot what was said. It's funny to think about how dazed I must have looked! 

With 2 weeks until the show, I started trying to pool ideas from my technical wheelhouse. I wanted to focus on my strengths, which are use of color and skillful manipulation of trace. I drew out designs I thought might be interesting for the show, then had to test if I could actually achieve that design within a set amount of time. There are amazing designs that take days, or multiple sessions to create, so I had to set realistic expectations for myself.

For the last week leading up to the show, I made all my soap dough, had custom stamps made, and practiced making 3 loaves of soap within the timeframe we were told we'd have. I knew I would give myself 3 hours to create my most advanced soap, which ended up being the canyon soap. The other 2 soaps would need to be made simultaneously in a 2 hour window, so I also practiced making 2 batches at a time. I knew it would be a close call, but after 9 practice loaves I was sure I could manage it.

We also had all kinds of practical considerations. We had to have our wardrobe approved (hey, you try finding long sleeved tops in the middle of summer in Texas!) We had to have a negative COVID test before flying out and we had to go through a mandatory COVID safety training. We had to make sure everything would fit in our bags - which isn't easy when you're debating between a pair of shoes and a pound of soap dough! There were so many things to take into consideration that those two weeks just flew by and the next thing I knew I was boarding a plane!

What was your favorite part of the filming process?
I love learning how things work, so for me it was fascinating to see all the ins and outs of what goes on behind the scenes. Seeing the A/V crew watching the monitors, knowing how many cameras are actually going at one time, realizing that they have hours and hours of footage and what a challenge it must be to create a cohesive story - that was all really interesting to me!

I also loved the people aspect of it! Meeting the other contestants, talking to the crew, the producers, the judges! It was really neat to hear everyone's stories and to see how excited we all were to be there and create something really unique, all the while knowing how estatic every soaper on the planet would be to finally see soap in the spotlight! It was like we were preparing a surprise party for the entire handmade soap industry! So much fun!

fire walk with me bath bombs by scandalous soap | bramble berry

Fire Walk with Me bath bombs

What was it like watching the show for the first time?
Watching it for the first time was amazing. You never know how the final cut will come together, and technically your contract allows them to edit anything you say. You always hear horror stories about someone being completely misrepresented in an interview or on TV, and while I was pretty sure I trusted the producers, there was still that anxiety. 

Which is why I was so happy to see what a fantastic job they did. They brought an honest and accurate representation of handcrafted soap - for example, they didn't shy away from the fact that we use lye, which I think so many people try to gloss over! And they really drew the watcher into the lives of the contestants! I know I personally became invested in who the other makers were. We went through a crazy experience together, and we still message each other and check in on a regular basis. Seeing us each get screen time and having our personalities come through was such a joyful moment. 

Do you have any post-show plans for your business?
When I applied for the show I was still making a ton of soap, but had gradually begun focusing more and more on bath bombs. Although my company was called Scandalous Soap Co, 80% of my sales were bath bombs. During 2020, I started teaching other makers how to create and decorate bath bombs and bubble bars with Amanda Aaron from Lovin' Soap. We continued to work on our own individual businesses until it became obvious (at least for me) that our "side hustle," Bath Fizz and Foam, had completely exploded and deserved more focus.

So being called up and told, "Hey we want you to go on TV and make soap," it was exciting, but also a little confusing for me. Like, hello universe, what's going on, I thought this was the direction I was headed and now you're throwing me for a loop. I actually struggled after the show trying to maintain the daily grind of packing and shipping individual orders, knowing that the show would air and people would want to place orders - but also knowing that my passion is teaching! You might have even noticed it on the show! I just couldn't help myself! Teachers gotta teach!

After I took some time this summer to really look at the whole picture, I realized that I'd rather teach 1 person to succeed at our craft than sell 1,000 bars of soap - sort of the soapers version of "teach a man to fish..." With Bath Fizz and Foam, I get to experience the joy of seeing other makers succeed everyday! So while I do still have a local store that sells my products, my plans for the future are to continue down the path of teaching! To keep creating content, drawing makers into the world of color, demystifying bath bombs, writing e-books and maybe even a printed book soon! Creativity isn't limited to a select few - it's inside all of us just waiting to be accessed.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I think a really important thing about this show was seeing how different all of us soapers were in our approach to the entire process. Although I'm a very creative person, I like to be really prepared for any situation. Being prepared means knowing things might not go the way you planned and being OK with that! 

I can't say that I loved not winning, but it actually created a really fantastic moment for me with my kids. My son came home really upset that he had lost a competition at school, and I was able to say, "Hey man, I just lost on TV and I'm OK!" I think that so many makers get stuck in this idea that they have to succeed to win. So much of what I know about soaping came from failing! So go for it, don't be afraid to take those leaps and embrace the failures or flaws when they happen! It will make you a better creator if you let it! That's how you turn any situation into a win. 

Kenny with Royal Apple Berry

How long have you been making soap, and how did you get started? 
I’ve been making soap for 8 years now.

I got started by one day stepping into Lush and falling in love with their products, but quickly learned their products would put me in the poor house If I continued purchasing from them at the time, so I decided to try my hand at making my own bath bombs. Of course my first set turned into a science experiment gone wrong. What I mean by that is, I added all of my ingredients to make a batch of bath bombs into a bowl, then added way too much water, and we all know what happens next! They fizzed all over the place and I panicked and tossed them into the freezer (don’t know why I thought that would work), and when I opened it, there had been an eruption of mixture all over my freezer, and it froze rock solid. Eventually I got the hang of it and then decided I wanted to make soap once I stumbled across a few soap making channels (Bramble Berry being one of them) on YouTube. It quickly became an addiction and I couldn’t stop making them, and the rest is history.

swirl soap by royal apple berry | bramble berry

Swirl soap

What’s your favorite Bramble Berry product? 
Apple Sage Fragrance Oil was hands-down my favorite Bramble Berry product, but you all keep releasing so many new and amazing scents, I believe Ray of Sunshine Fragrance Oil has stepped in and knocked Apple Sage off its throne.

What was your reaction when you were first contacted for the show? How did you get prepared?
My reaction when I was first contacted for the show was instant disbelief. I get so many scam emails and DMs from fake companies, I just figured this was one of them. But then the DM mentioned my sweet soap sister, Leila, owner and creator of The Mad Soaper, and after confirming things with her, shock instantly set in.

To prepare myself for the show, I talked myself out of doing the show multiple times, then yelled at myself to stop being ridiculous, it’s great exposure for Royal Apple Berry. Once I was done with that phase, I began researching ideas for the theme, of course I changed that 12 million times until I yelled at myself again, "GIRL GET YOUR LIFE!!" I actually said this out loud! Once I passed that phase, I began making practice soaps for the showdown, while trying to keep my nerves in check.

What was your favorite part of the filming process?
My favorite part of the filming process is seeing how everything works behind the scenes. All of the production team, the lights, the camera, it was a very cool experience.

What was it like watching the show for the first time?
Watching the show for the first time was just as nerve-wracking as going on the show to film it. My family wanted to have a watch party, and I told them, "Absolutely not!" I wasn’t sure I was going to watch it myself, but after sitting down and clicking the play button, I realized I’d been fretting for nothing, and really enjoyed seeing how it all came together.

watermelon sorbet soap | bramble berry

Watermelon Sorbet soap

Do you have any post-show plans for your business?
My post plans for my business after the show is to continue to make beautiful soaps, outdo myself from the soaps I’ve made in past, and turn Royal Apple Berry into my dream career.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Eight years ago, I never would have imagined that my love for artisan soaps would open so many doors for Royal Apple Berry. We as makers, no matter what medium, are our own worst critics, and running a small business is filled with self-doubt, imposter syndrome, and sometimes loads of hard work with very little reward. But I say all of this to let anyone know, no matter how difficult it can be, keep at it, don’t give up. You never know what doors are waiting to open with your name on it.


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