What’s New?

I stopped into Mama Goose the other day. I see you guys have bought all the Oatmeal & Raw Honey bath fizzies again. Do let me, or Mama Goose, know if there’s another type you’d like to try for yourself or your Littles. Chamomile? Unscented? Just for fun, I’ve decided to start making the fizzies in different, fun shapes. Be on the lookout for that!

There are other changes coming up, too. Here’s the quick news:

Old size in front, new size in back. More soap!

The soap in front was made with my 5 lb loaf molds–it’s about 3.25 inches by 2.25 inches, and an inch thick, and weighs in at 4.5 oz. The soap behind it is 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches, and also an inch thick. That means the new soaps are over 10% larger than the old ones, coming in around 5 oz. And, by the way, I’m not raising prices. (You wondered, right?) The new size applies to my most popular soaps: Lavender, Kitchen Hands, Cold Snap, Haiku, and Dead Sea Spa, among others.

Favorite salt soaps, like Malka and Morning Mint, are made in a slab mold; I’ll be pouring those a bit thicker to keep up, so they’ll be 5 oz plus, too.

The exception will be specialty soaps, like Psychedelic, above. I need to use the loaf mold to make those cool swirls (at least for now… give me time!), so those will still be around 4.3-4.5 ounces.

Next time you’re at the store, notice the label weights. The price of my soap per pound will go down a bit, but they’ll still be as wonderful as ever!

Now for the details of interest mostly to soapers (but I love letting my fans peek behind the curtain!):

If you buy my soaps regularly, you know that the label says “4 oz.” In fact, most are well over that, closer to 4.5 oz. I use a slightly lower weight to be careful, though: as soap cures, it dries out, and how much moisture it retains changes with the weather. So all of my soaps are at least 4 oz, but nearly always more.

My usual molds have been the old faithful wooden loaf-type molds from Bramble Berry.

They produce a 5 lb. “loaf” of soap that looks like this:

5 lbs of Ithaca is so... Psychedelic!
5 lbs of Ithaca is so… Psychedelic!

Pretty, n’est ce pas? Depending on how full those loaf molds are, the soaps are about 3.25 inches wide by about 2.25 tall. The cutter cuts all my soaps 1 inch, exactly. It’s a nice-sized bar that fits your hand well, and lasts in the shower.

But alas, as business has grown, making soap 5 or 10 or even 20 lb. at a time is a bit slow. Now, as I posted before, I have these, two 25 lb. molds with a wire cutter from For Crafts Sake. I received them in January, and the first few batches of soap I made with them are now fully cured, so I know the final weights and sizes.

My new 25 lb molds and cutter from For Crafts Sake

Each tower of soap makes 8 loaves that max out around 3.5 lb. each (the 25 lb. molds in fact hold closer to 27 or 28). So in about the same time as a 5 or 10 lb. batch of soap, I can now make over 50.

25 lbs or so of lavender soap, with one loaf cut out

This is a big deal. When I think back to starting with a little 2 lb. mold a few years ago (thinking that was a lot), and then moving to 5 lb., and wondering if I’d be able to handle a batch that big. Then I bought some 10 lb. slab molds (which are still my standard for salt bars), and I put off making my first batch for weeks, because I was intimidated by scaling to such a huge batch.

Well, now I’ve made 50 lb. or a bit more at a time. And yes, the possibility of something going wrong is there, and it can be scary. After all, if I mess up a 2 lb. batch, I haven’t lost much. But 50+ lb. of oils, color, essential oils, etc? Ouch. That’s money. It means that having good processes in place is more necessary than ever.

That’s the risk every business takes when scaling up: what worked at 2 lb. may not work at 52 lb.

2014 was really a year to invest: I renovated my workshop in March 2014, then again a bit more in February 2015 so that I have the space, shelving, easy-to-clean floor, and stainless tables that make working a pleasure. I’ve invested in larger equipment, like my a dish washer, 20 qt mixer, molds, and 12 inch stick blender. I’ve started buying my oils by the pallet (a huge load is coming Tuesday, as a matter of fact). Two more pieces of equipment are coming this week: I’m replacing the decades-old dehumidifier that keeps my workshop humidity down (dry air helps soaps cure faster and keeps bath fizzies from premature fizzification), and I’m investing in a water distiller, so that I don’t have to lug gallons home from the store anymore to make the clearest, loveliest liquid soap ever (minerals in tap water cloud it–an aesthetic issue, but still!).

Like its namesake, Avital’s is growing–and improving!

Comments

  1. Christian says

    Hurray for growth! I don’t make CP soap, but I’m so fascinated by the science and artistry.

    • Lesli says

      And hooray for good processes, right? I’m beginning to think that growth and good process are the key to everything in life. 🙂

  2. Wow. I can’t imagine making that much soap at once. 6 lb. at a time is my max right now. Good for you! It’s encouraging to see your success!

  3. So awesome to see how your business has grown. I love hearing about some of the evolutionary details. Thanks for sharing the inspiration!

    • Lesli says

      Thanks very much! It’s quite a learning journey, and the change and growth keeps it fresh and exciting.

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