Soap Guild Conference 2014

Did you know there was a guild for soapmakers? Seriously! The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild has thousands of members around the world, and 400+ of those members (and probably some non-members) have gathered in Tucson, Arizona for four days of soapy goodness.

The first thing I noticed was that there is this really weird, bright orb in the sky that seems to radiate, and make everything very hot. For someone from Ithaca, this is very strange, but not unpleasant.

Things started off with a pre-conference day of learning. I chose a class taught by Lela Barker, founder and CEO of Bella Lucce and Lucky Break Consulting.

As a business owner who wholesales to Upstate stores, I was very interested in what she had to say about hiring sales reps and working trade shows, two things I’ve never done… yet. I am, as you all know, a CEO–Chief Everything Officer. I make all the soaps and balms, I write the blog, I market, I visit stores to make sure there is enough of everything, nicely displayed, I research new formulas, I do the bookkeeping, I label, I print, I… well, if it has to do with the business, I do it. I even put together the beehives and frames!

One day, there will be an employee or two, other than my faithful dishwasher, of course.

Day two started with Dr. Vijai Shukla talking about the properties of fats and oils–a math-and-cheistry heavy talk, for sure. He made the point that what goes on your body is as important as what goes in your body–something I agree with. Why eat organic, and then use a petroleum based lip balm? Especially when you could use one from Avital’s Apiaries, with luxurious shea and cocoa butters, and local beeswax….Sorry, got carried away there! Anyhow. Lela Barker was back for a talk on wholesale pricing. Again, if you don’t run a business, this is not interesting. If you do, it is more valuable than the Hope Diamond (and presumably doesn’t come with a curse, like that gem).

After that came Good Manufacturing Processes (by author Marie Gale, who has done an invaluable service to people like me by translating the FDA web site, so that I can properly label my products for you–you wouldn’t believe the convoluted language they use… unless you’ve read an IRS booklet at some point, and then I bow in homage to you, ’cause I just can’t do that).

Next was Formulating Whipped Body Butters and Scrubs by Marla Bosworth. Now, you know that my Winter Balm is a whipped body butter, and it is my one of my most popular items. But did she give me ideas for improving it? YES!

And while Marla didn’t talk about using honey and bee products in cosmetics, I am all fired up now to make a honey body polish. I’ve wanted to, and experimented with them for ages. And now I have to do it. I must. It is now an imperative. I wish my hotel room had a kitchen.

Last of all–and this went until almost 6 pm–was Holly Port, who is the Mistress of the Bath Fizzy. This woman is da bomb. Da bath bomb, that is. I’ve never sold a bath fizzy, but I’ve made them–Avital likes tossing a little fizz into her bath now and again, so I make them for her. And I make bath salts for myself, and my achy arthritic hip.

I’m never going to make cute cupcake bath fizzies. It’s just not me–but Holly does a beautiful job. She really knows her bath bombs, and was able to make some lovely ones in front of an audience. That’s talent!

Holly Port, Queen of the Bath Fizzy

Maybe I could make some goat milk and honey bath fizzies, so you can be the queen of your tub. Hmmm. That’s an idea!

Day Two is about to start, and my day is packed again.  The trouble with learning so much so fast is I can’t wait to get home and dive in and use it!

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2 Responses to Soap Guild Conference 2014

  1. Thanks for the shoutout! Hope you’re having fun making honey scrubs!

  2. Lesli says:

    You’re welcome! As soon as I got home, I landed at a run to prepare for the Ithaca Festival. I finished up three days of selling there, and now I’m back to production, and working on that honey body polish. And some bath fizzies. Yum…

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