There's no denying it - we're getting closer to seeing snow here, and some places have already seen it. It's almost to retire the flip flops, unless they're these adorable little soaps from Sea Blossom. The plumeria-scented soap bars go for $6 a pop.
I've been lucky enough to have some amazingly patient people working with me! As a thank you for waiting for my busy little butt to get back to you, I present the MASHUP! I'm repaying the favor to the lovelies with little mini editorials - hope all you readers find these as delightful as their wonderful owners clearly are! (PS - these guys didn't know I did this or request it - this coverage is a special thank you!)
BOBE (BEYOND ORDINARY BATH ESSENTIALS) | An unusual amount of stress has certainly made bubble baths more frequent in the past few weeks, and I'd love to have bobe's Bath Mousse in Cotton Candy, Cupcake, Frosted Sugar Cookie, or Va Va Vanilla near the tub with me! (Like most women, crunch time tends to bring out the sweet tooth in me!) Grab a 4 ounce size for $8.00 Canadian. Now until October 31, stock up at bobe with a 15% off coupon code through Blue Monday! Use code "Blue15".
SW BODYWORKS | Also undoubtedly heading to the tub with me would be SW Bodyworks' absolutely yummy-sounding Bath Salts. With 8 ounces of "AHHHHHHH" for $8.00, there's really no reason not to. Now until October 31, stock up at SW Bodyworks with a 20% off coupon code through Blue Monday! Use code "211075105".
ACCESSORY BUG | It's th at time of the year again - the holidays are quickly approaching! What better way to celebrate the glitz and glamour of the season than with gold and bling - on a clutch! Yeah, I knew you couldn't think of anything better. Now until October 31, stock up at Accessory Bug with a 10% off coupon code! Use code "spooky".
MINGI EARRINGS | It's not only earrings of course - I actually LOVE this Fresh Necklace! It's a great, fun twist on the classic cluster necklace. Now until December 31, stock up at Mingi Earrings with a 10% off coupon code! Use code "Fan907"
So, by my own admission, I've been slowing up on the posts - but I'm very excited to tell you about what I've been dedicating my weekends and weeknights to in a little more detail. I am happy to officially announce that Warehouse District, my baby project, is beginning to take concrete shape. I am estimating the official opening of the Etsy shop to be in approximately two weeks, opening with a smaller line that will be gradually added to. We'll be featuring products in home and body fragrance, but I don't want to give too much away.
Keep checking back to see when it launches - Try This at Home readers will get a special surprise with their purchase for the opening week!
For most, there's nothing better than a wonderful warm, relaxing bath. For the creative, there's always an added bonus knowing you made the soap. Or the bubbles and bath salts. Heck, you even made the lotion you're going to use after you come out! Does that sound like it should be you? Here's the goods to get you into crafting Bath and Body product.
Suppliers - Multiple Bath & Body Areas
Bramble Berry: supplies for making soap, lip balm, lotions, bath salts, and more. Includes molds, colorant, exfolians, fragrances, and more. Just starting out and don't know what to do? They also offer kits.
Wellington Fragrance Company: despite their name, Wellington stocks various bases (including body gel, liquid hand soap, bubble bath, lotion, shampoo and conditioner bases), molds, flavor oils, and salts. Not surprisingly, they also stock fragrances (what a shock!).
Save on Scents: I love these guys. While they originally primarily fragrance oils (their selection is great, they've started to expant their collection to packaging (vials, bottles, rollons, and more), melt and pour soap bases, colorants, and a variety of other bases including shower gel, lip balm, scrub, lotion, and other various bases.
Sweet Cakes: if you're looking into bath and body as a business opportunity, Sweet Cakes offers bulk supplies for melt and pour soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion bases. They also supply packaging, lip balm bases and flavor oils, and a wide variety of fragrance and essential oils. Want to test out the scents? They also offer themed 1 ounce fragrance sampler packs.
Wholesale Supplies Plus: offering molds, fragrances, various bases, and packaging, WSP has a good selection that covers all of bath and body crafting. There's a particularly good selection of melt and pour bases to suit anyone's personal preference.
Suppliers - Soapmaking Exclusive
Creation Herbal: offering essential oils and soapmaking ingredients, Creation Herbal also offers organic alternatives for those crafting for that market. If you're interested in doing a more advanced soapmaking process than simple melt and pour, they have beginner recipe kits complete with all necessary ingredients and a step-by-step book to help you through it.
Suppliers - Fragrance Exclusive
Scent It: various fragrance oils available in various sizes, including sample sizes if you'd like to experiment before you buy a bulk size.
Suppliers - Packaging Exclusive
SKS Bottle: a really, really great variety of packaging options for bath and body products. I've used them before while I was in school developing a fictious bath and body line for a packaging class - and I'd use them again.
Books - Soapmaking
The Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch: featuring recipes and techniques, this book helps inspire new ways of making your soaps unique. Probably the best feature of all, Cavitch also offers insight on soapmaking for profit, including the hardest part for all of us - understanding the government's rules and requirements!
The Natural Soap Book by Susan Miller Cavitch: also by Ms. Cavitch, this book features soap recipes in the cold process method using all-natural ingredients. In addition to the recipes, Cavitch also discusses ideas for creative packaging and presentation.
Melt and Pour Soapmaking by Marie Browning: through great imagery and easy to follow directions, this book will help you make your melt and pour soaps even more unique with discussions on fragrance, additives, colorants, embossing, embedding and more. Though the title would suggest it's only a book about melt and pour, there are also recipes included on hand milled soaps, bath salts, bubble baths, massage oils, and bath powders.
Making Natural Liquid Soaps by Catherine Failor: in addition to all-natural recipes for shampoos, bath and shower gels, and bubble baths, this book gives insight into the chemistry behind bath and body product, and how to use different hard fats and soft oils to the best advantage. There's also information included about how to formulate your own blends, and addresses basic techniques that everyone can follow.
Today's interview features Debbie Chialtas, the soapmaking gal behind San Diego, California-based Soapylove Glycerin Soaps. Fun, fresh, and often wildly unexpected, Soapylove has become an important must-watch craft business in the bath and body world.
So, tell us a little bit about your business. I’m a
naturally creative person whose original inspiration was in fashion
design. For the last 10 years I have worn many hats in the apparel
business but a little over 2 years ago found new creative energy
when I started experimenting with glycerin “melt and pour”
soap. Thanks completely to Etsy, Soapylove has evolved very
naturally and I hope to one day make it my new full time job!
What made you pick up soapmaking in the first place? Where did you learn your techniques? What started it
all was my first pregnancy. I wanted to save money by making my own
cocoa butter lotion. I took a class on homemade bath and beauty
products and rediscovered glycerin soapmaking. I had abandoned it
several years before when I tried to make an oatmeal soap and
accidentally set the oats on fire in my oven - oops! I learned the
basic techniques from books, but mostly made it up as I went along.
What motivated you to make Soapylove into a business rather than a hobby? Probably like most
people, I wanted to make more than I could use. I stumbled upon
Etsy, which was the perfect venue for selling my soaps. What was your strategy for promoting yourself once you decided to start it up, and was it effective? My
promotion strategy was list, list, list until I sold something.
Also, I wasn’t afraid to ask bloggers to write about my soaps!
I think both were (and are) very effective.
What was the hardest part about getting your business started, and why? The hardest thing
was learning that what I think people will love is not necessarily
the case. And also accepting that there are busy and very slow
times in any business, and that I need to be patient and not get
bummed out when it’s slow.
What were some of the lessons you've learned along the way? Is there anything you'd wished you'd known or thought of before taking the plunge? I’ve
learned that in order to grown a business, you need to develop what
makes you unique. See what items people like best and expand on
that. But also keep pushing yourself creatively to keep things
fresh and exciting. [As for anything I'd wished I'd known,] not really. Every experience is a learning
Is there any particular advice you'd give someone interested in starting a crafting business, online or off? Yes, if you feel
like you’re not selling as much as you should, keep
experimenting with selling venues. You just need to find your
customer! It’s a big world and there are lots of people who
will love your stuff. It’s up to you to find them!
On to your process. Soapmaking has a lot of components to it - color, scent, and you also
play with opacity, suspended pieces, layering, different shapes, and
other elements. What kind of process have you developed to put these
puzzle pieces together into a design? Do you keep a record of your ideas for
future reference? I don’t have
a process, really. It just depends on what I’m inspired by.
I usually make a lot of soap at once. If I get a few hours
undisturbed, I’ll try a few things that have been on my mind.
I do keep a sketch book for ideas, and post virtually every soap I
make on Flickr, which is like my portfolio.
Are there any other designers in the independent design and craft community that you look to for inspiration or whose work you really admire? I find other
crafters extremely inspiring, but I just pick up bits from each one.
I respect people’s work, and always ask permission first if
I’m going to really duplicate something.
Are there any influences outside of the crafts community that has impacted your work? The cake
decorators on Food Network. I love those cake contests!
Your signature pieces are the Soapsicles, but your assortment as a whole are always unique and innovative. How did the Soapsicles, and your other ideas, develop into a final product? I think I saw a Soapsicle online and decided to try one. I had a set of molds from
years ago. It is so gratifying to pull a new Soapsicle from the
mold and see how it came out! My bars are still mostly for fun. I
rarely wholesale them because they’re so time consuming to
Soapmaking seems to have an infinite amount of mediums associated with it, and you chose to work exclusively with glycerin. How did you come to that decision? Glycerin soap has
so many creative possibilities that it was the only way for me to
About the online crafts community: what's your favorite part about being a member? The world wide
exposure is my favorite. It’s so interesting to see that
Australians and people in the UK seem to like my soaps the best.
Without the internet, I would never know that!
Are there any sites or people that you think are really impacting the popularity of the community? Yes – I
think the indie craft shows are introducing the community to many
folks outside of the indie culture. Etsy has also been phenomenal.
Last question: any thoughts on how the community could improve itself? I would love to
see more acceptance within the community regarding “artists”
versus “crafters” or “indie businesses” versus
“small businesses.” We all have one thing in common:
we’re creative people who want to pursue our passions. So
let’s all just “feel the love!”
Thank you, Debbie, for your time and thoughtful insight. For more information on Debbie and her work on Soapylove, visit its primary site or its shop on Etsy.
When you live in Minnesota, you're pretty happy to hear that the infamous Phil did not see his shadow (it's going to be a high of -2 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend, folks, we're getting desperate!). So, in celebration of an early spring, I decided to feature this floral soap from Squeaky Queen called Rainflower. At $6 a pop, it's beautifully packaged with a ribbon and silk flower (it looks like a hydrangea, which could be a little misleading since it smells like hyacinth and rain - but it's all the more endearing to me because it reminds me of Spring with my grandparents) on top. If I can't look forward to a quick blast of warm weather, at least I can look forward to a warm bath, right?
Even a Valentine's Day Scrooge like myself can't resist these adorable little Sweet Heart Soaps from SoapyLove. Shaped like little scalloped hearts, these layered soaps smell like Dark Chocolate with brown hearts and polka dots coming through a pink later. They're $2 each and are only available on SoapyLove's Etsy store.
It's all my fault really. If I hadn't been an absolute idiot and washed my new favorite lip balm (Butterscotch by Beccalights, $2.50) with my laundry (thus rendering several shirts and pants useless as well as my lip balm - talk about adding insult to injury!), I wouldn't be in this situation.
Beccalights is on break until the 22nd of January, so I'll just have to resort to some samples of a random brand I was given at work, but it all pales by comparison. No, really. I have a habit of pursing my lips a lot from back in the day when my angsty teenage self had braces, and my habit gets worse using this lip balm (yes, that's a compliment!). I'm not sure if it's the olive oil or the sweet almond oil that does it, but my lips roll off each other. They're slick and smooth and not disgustingly waxy like your average pharmacy brand. It's been working, too, because my lips haven't chapped at all since I started using it. For a person who's anal about avoiding dry lips and skin at all costs, it was definitely two and a half bucks well spent, and will be well spent again. I just wish she'd come up with more flavors!