Introducing our Maker of the Month series! We're constantly inspired by the DIY bath and body community, so we want to showcase their talent here. We'll be featuring a different business owner or hobbyist each month. Learn more about how they got started creating, what inspires their work, and their advice for fellow makers. If you want a chance to be featured, share your photos with #BrambleOn!
You can spot products made by Melanie with Home Brewed Soaps right away. She started crafting because she wanted to give people meaningful handmade gifts, and she now specializes in all-natural wedding favors like soap and bath salts. They're made with beer, coffee, and tea and they have a beautiful rustic look with matching packaging. Get to know Melanie below!
How long have you been making bath and body products, and how did you get started? How long have you been selling your products?
I have been making bath and body products for 12 years now. I started making soap back in 2008. I was shopping for Christmas gifts that year and I just stopped and said, "What am I doing? I want to gift meaningful gifts that people will actually want and find useful." I purchased a book and the necessary equipment and ingredients, and started making soaps out of a Crock-Pot on my kitchen counter. I gifted the soaps and they were a hit! I am a creative entrepreneur at heart, so whenever I make something that I love, the thought always crosses my mind on whether or not I could sell it. I opened my Etsy store in 2010 and at that point it was more of a hobby. I was working as a waitress/bartender as my main source of income. I mostly sold on Etsy and at craft fairs.
How did you get started making wedding favors?
My original soap recipe was made with distilled water, lye, and vegetable oils. I introduced home brewed beer to my soap recipes back in 2013. I wanted to make soap that stood out from the crowd, soap that was rustically appealing with a real natural look and feel, but that was creamy and luxurious also, and so beer plays an important role in this. My best friend got married in 2015 and they wanted beer soap favors for their wedding, so they asked me if I could make them. They were such a hit at the wedding that it seemed like a no brainer to list them on Etsy. They took off like wildfire, and in 2016 I was able to leave my job in the service industry to focus full-time on my growing business.
What are your favorite favors to create? Any tips for makers who want to give it a try?
I have now added coffee soap favors and tea soap favors, along with my beer soap favors to add a nice variety to choose from. I am a big coffee fan, so I love creating my coffee scrub soap favors as I just love the aroma while I am making it and I love the finished product. The labeling at times can be challenging when you have an order of 300 mini bars or so to wrap, but it is always fun to see what customers come up with for their sayings to go on their soaps! If you are wanting to make soap favors, first figure out the size you want the soaps and order a soap cutter! I was at first cutting my soap favors by hand and I don't even know how I was doing that! I now have some really wonderful mini soap cutters that I purchased on Etsy and they have been so beneficial and necessary for my process.
What do you love most about making bath and body products?
What I love most about making bath and body products is that it allows me my creative outlet that I crave. I love to make things and to work with my hands. I love the process of making soap and the feeling of accomplishment when you make products that people love and want. I also really love that bath and body product creation is so versatile in that you can make so many different products with the same ingredients on hand. I love creating products that I can feel good about and that make people feel good.
What inspires you to create?
I am inspired by my customers to keep creating and keep improving. I love getting emails or reviews about how much my products have helped someone in some way and it just fuels me to keep growing. I am inspired by life and simplicity and all things natural, and my mind is always spinning on thoughts of creation, of what I can make next. My daughter gives me the driving force to continue to push through on those hard days and to keep going when life and business can become overwhelming.
Who’s another maker you admire? What do you love about their work?
A Wild Soap Bar! I love their unique style, branding, and beautiful soaps. They are colorful but rustic at the same time. The brand just feels very natural and raw. Love it!
Have you experienced a fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
I haven't necessarily experienced a fail, but rather a setback. One of my biggest challenges about being a maker is that I lose my focus. I get so excited about making products and wanting to make this and that, and then I find myself stretched too thin and off the course I was on. I work through this now by setting clear daily, monthly, and yearly goals by writing down my daily tasks and sticking to them. I try not to overbook myself for the day and only write down what is practical and what I know I can accomplish. I have learned that it's okay to take breaks, and it's okay to not have it all figured out. Just keep your eye on your goals, believe in yourself, and just keep going.
What plans do you have for your business moving forward?
90% of my sales are currently through Etsy and my website, and I am looking to expand further and not have all of my eggs in one basket. I am working on new packaging for my soaps and have plans to move into wholesale both locally and nationally. I also plan to market my small favor soaps to local bed and breakfasts, inns, and guest houses as an alternative zero waste, natural guest soap to replace the chemical toxic guest soaps! I also often daydream of having a physical store, maybe one day!
Melanie's top Bramble Berry picks
- Activated charcoal - I love working with this charcoal, it mixes well and makes beautiful soap!
- Organic cocoa butter wafers - Love having these wafers on hand for my body butters.
- Dried lavender - I love using this dried lavender in my CBD bath bombs!
- Eucalyptus essential oil - This oil smells amazing!