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So You Want to Start a Soap Business?

So, you've decided to take the plunge and start a soap business, eh? First of all, let me congratulate you on joining this awesome group of weirdos we call "professional soap artists"! It's a wonderful place to be! Before you start ordering fragrance oils and exotic butters like crazy, let me share a few tips with you to help smooth this bumpy road of growing a business. As a disclaimer, I don't think of myself as being very versed in the way corporate America is run, nor how to create a giant company with 50+ employees. If your dream is to conquer the world with bubbles and build an empire, this post probably isn't for you. But, if you're starting small, planning to sell out of your home, and need just a few pointers, try reading this wee post and see if you're ready to begin!

1. Experience
I advise soap makers to create soap for about a year before considering taking the leap into the business side of it. You really do need quite a bit of time to really get the hang of the craft before you're confident enough to sell what you make. After all, soap making is an art, and like any form of art, requires skill that can only be acquired through experience. In that first year, get comfortable with different methods of soap making, try new recipes, take notes about how fragrances and temperatures acted, observe the fluctuations of temperature while the raw soap is in the mold, etc.

2. Passion
If you think selling soap is your destiny, you better bloody love it and I mean LOVE it. This is an art, a passion, but it's about to become your job. You will have customers, real live people, that rely on you to process orders, update your inventory, keep them informed, and post regularly on social media. Your batches, be them big or small, will cost you, and often the the price of one batch can't be taken lightly, even for bigger businesses. There will be so many things you, as a business owner, will be required to do that do not involve actually putting lye water into oils and stirring, so you better really like that part, otherwise the rest of it will seem an overwhelming mess.

3. Marketplace
Once you've decided to sell your soap, you're going to need to sell it somewhere. There are loads of options from Facebook Webstores, to Etsy, to Store Envy, to local farmer's markets, to your own website, to boutiques across the world, etc. When picking where to sell, consider your personal location, whether or not you are willing to ship, both internationally or just in your country, the extras you would need to purchase/make if you take your product to fairs and markets, if you like to interact with real humans ;), and the time it takes to set up a webstore. Selling at craft shows and selling online are two completely different fields, and who knows, you may want to do both!

4. Recipe
I advise that you create a basic recipe you like and have used multiple times for the first 15+ soaps you create for your customers. Make sure the recipe is versatile and easy to use because at this point in your soap journey, you probably won't have loads of extra cash lying about if your bath flops three times in a row. Also, by having an easy to work with recipe, it's easy to add fun things like calendula, lavender, clays, milks, sugar, salt, etc. and see the effect it will have on your colors and finished bar.

5. Moral Support
Having an encouraging group of people who cheer you on is an absolute necessity. These cool kids don't necessarily have to be related to you (because let's face it, your relatives have already figured out you're nutters by now) but they should be like-minded and ready to give you a pep talk when you're on the floor in tears because you dumped a whole jar of mica out. Join a couple of Facebook groups too!
6. Packaging
Professional and pretty packaging is an essential right from the very beginning. Your soap may be gorgeous, but if your packaging is sloppy, it ruins the effect. Handmade bath and beauty products are often given as gifts and you want your soaps to live up to that standard. Think about what you would like to receive and ALWAYS include ingredients! 

7. Branding
This is another biggie from the very get go! Get yourself a logo, for goodness sake. Pick out a name that expresses YOU. Design some labels that really catch a person's eye. Print them on label paper that won't run or bleed if wet. Include all of your business information. Do I need to do a set of branding posts? I feel like I do. ;) This is an essential because (especially online) your customers and loyal followers will need something to quickly identify you with!

8. Organize
Essential. An absolute essential. Write down everything you have ever bought for your business. EVERYTHING. Gas you spent driving to the store, those big fat paper clips to hold the sides of your silicone liners to the mold, discounts given by your suppliers, I mean everything. You'll thank me later and it will save you so much time and money in the end. I highly recommend Soap Maker 3 and if you're more dedicated than I am, you'll utilize the poo out of that sucker. It makes your job as soap secretary a piece of cake!

9. Space
This is also a big one. When you sell soap, you have to keep it somewhere. Make sure this place is very DRY and somewhere out of reach. Pets and children (though I adore both) can really be a nuisance when it comes to oils, micas, or even soap bars so if you have to get a locking cabinet to keep their little paws out, I highly recommend you do so. Also, remember that having a lot of inventory will help you sell. This is something to consider before you even start. Do you have room for this profession? Hopefully, you outgrow your space and have to move somewhere even bigger :D but here at the beginning, make sure you at least have enough for the amount of supplies you'll be acquiring. 

10. Fun
Yeah, it's corny, but by gum if it isn't an essential. Remember, you're doing this because you love it, so keep on loving it! Laugh off the glitter spill, learn from the flopped batches, share and show off your creations to your friends and supporters, and just have fun. Soap is fun.

I hope some (if not all) of these tips assist you in starting your own soap business! If you'd like to see more business help posts, just let this gal know and I'm on it like a duck on a June bug!

xoxo, Katie

5 Tips to Maintain Creativity

We all have those days where we wake up, stretch, sit up, look in the mirror and say

".......Nope. This just ain't happening today."

No inspiration. None. You have things to create, but all those innovative thoughts are just gone. This can be a really big problem, especially if you're an artist. It doesn't matter what type of creator you are, we ALL have this problem. Author's call it writer's block, Others call it a dry spell. But the fact remains that this lack of inspiration, be it a gradual or very sudden, get's in the way of business, both figuratively and literally.

So, what do you do when this happens? I personally struggle with lack of inspiration a LOT. I know, I know, it's crazy but just between you and me, one of my greatest faults is loosing interest quickly and not staying focused. This isn't an option for me in my job so I spent a good deal of time figuring out how to limit the amount of time those uninspired moments last and what to do when they show up. Here's a few of my tips. :D

1. Keep a Sleeping Schedule
Now, you're either reading that and thinking "Um..what?" or "Well, duh." and I get it, it's a pretty common piece of advice to give but seriously. It works. Whenever I stay up until 12 for three nights in a row and wake up at six in the morning, I'm pretty much guaranteed to wake up on day four and feel like a sack of potatoes. This also happens if I don't maintain a very consistent sleep schedule. Your body gets into a groove, a cycle rather, and making it a healthy one helps your little brain to process things better. Of course, I'll add that I know there are people out there that cannot possibly get 9 hours of straight sleep (enter nursing babies or the night shift here) but for you guys, I would say start out earlier. You may not get that much uninterrupted sleep, but trying to get a good eight hours total would be stellar! There's many a test that supports my claim here so feel free to check them out on the Google.

2. Drink Enough Water
Yeah, that's right. Water. Hydration. You know, that stuff the healthy people are always stressing? It actually does work. I'm just going to throw out there that I'm not a super fit, health nut who spends a lot of time in the gym. I HATE working out and God knows my favorite food category is desserts. Drinking the amount of water recommended for my body weight is nothing short of a chore and I'll be the first to admit it, but just like any other chore, the payoff is worth the work. When I stay hydrated, I'm more energized to do what I need to do and my imagination tends to soar higher. So drink the stupid water, you'll thank me later. ;)

3. Remove Unnecessary Stress
This is really really key for keeping your inspiration strong and constant. Stress, anxiety, and depression take a toll on your body and tend to kill creativity. You know that load of laundry you're putting off? Or that phone call about insurance you've been meaning to make? Or that fight with your BFF about whether or not her shoes look tacky that you really should try to kiss and makeup about? (You're right, by the way, they DO look tacky.) Those are the types of things I'm talking about. It's really hard to get in the creative groove when you KNOW there are other things that need doing or fixing, even if they're very minor.

4. Spend Time Viewing Different Mediums of Art
This is a BIG one and something I especially recommend if you are a newbie soap maker. Be sure to look at other things BESIDES soap that get your imagination clicking. In fact, I've been known to tell people not to look at other people's soap at ALL until you start getting good at transferring your own thoughts into soap bar form because even if you have no intention at all to copy someone else's work, you'd be surprised how easy it is to do unintentionally after looking at their designs too long. SO, look at pictures of nature. Look at videos of cake decorating. Go to an antique shop or a museum. Look through a fashion magazine. You'd be surprised how many colors, patterns, designs, and ideas you can transfer into a caustic batter, let me tell ya. ;)

5. Clean Your Work Area
Ahem. This is listed as number five but that is not because it's the least important. Messy work spaces make your entire brain feel chaotic and sad. And if they don't....well...you have bigger fish to fry. "Clean" doesn't mean it has to be perfection! In my studio, there are areas that I like to call an organized disaster, a good example being my embed mold collection. I have 50+ plus embed molds and their designated area is the bottom shelf. Are they completely set up all beautiful and in a row from biggest to smallest? Heck no. They're thrown down there helter skelter and I have to dig to find the one I need BUT they are all clean. They are all THERE. And I continue to put them back where they go. Maintaining a relatively organized work space is going to help you feel capable and enabled, thus leaving plenty of room for your head space to cook up awesome ideas.

Bam. Five ways to get your little creative groove on. Now go forth and be inspired!


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