Spotlight – Leigh O’Donnell, Vice-President, HSMG

Leigh O'DonnellWith all of us living so far away from one another, and in a day and age when it’s difficult for everyone to make it out to the Annual Conference, this blog is a great way to learn more about the Guild, its leadership team, and members. Speaking of the Annual Conference, today’s spotlight focuses on Leigh O’Donnell, HSMG Vice President, and Chairman of the Conference Committee.

Leigh has been a member of the Guild since 2004, and was appointed to the Board of Directors in November 2005 to fill the remainder of a term vacated due to another Board member’s resignation. After working as a member of the ground crew for the 2005 Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, Leigh decided to become more involved with HSMG planning, and has served as Chairman for the last three conferences, and for the 2009 conference as well. (As a side note, if you have yet to attend the Conference, I highly recommend it. It is one of the best, most highly executed and well run events for soapmakers to experience, anywhere.)

Leigh has been a small business owner since 1998. In 2002, she started her own soapmaking company – Adirondack Soapworks.

Currently, Leigh focuses more of her time and energy in the area of event planning. Like most of us, she stays motivated by knowing that she gets to be in control of her schedule and her destiny, and that running her own business allows her to be available to her children and family, and gives her the autonomy to make changes to her business that she finds necessary at any given time.

The secrets to Leigh’s success as a business owner are:

  • The ability to thrive in stressful situations
  • Knowing that each decision she makes will affect every other decision
  • Never let them see you sweat – Leigh presents a sense of to calm to her customers even when she’s not

I happen to agree with Leigh that the biggest challenge we face today as soapmakers is the economy. Leigh believes the best way to handle this is to make smart business decisions and to increase the exposure of your business. If you want to succeed, you need to make business planning and branding a priority.

Along with all of her responsibilities at the Guild, Leigh is a very well-rounded person. Before she became a soapmaker, Leigh traveled the world on ocean-going oil tankers as a licensed Third Mate with the U.S. Coast Guard. As if that wasn’t enough adventure for her, Leigh’s love for martial arts led her to earn a Second Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. Instilling a love of nature and outdoor activities in her two children is also very important to Leigh… she and her husband of 15 years live in beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY.

In May 2008, Leigh was re-elected to serve an additional two-year term as Vice President of the Guild. You may contact her at:

Melissa Romano, HSMG Program and Services Volunteer

DC News Coverage of FDA Globalization Act

On September 19th, CBS Affiliate WUSA Channel 9 News in Washington DC aired this segment featuring the FDA Globalization Act and the far-reaching effects it might have.

The initial contact was made by Jamila White of j blossom, member of the Indie Beauty Network and speaker at the HSMG 2008 and 2009 Conferences. Both Jamilla and Donna Maria Coles Johnson of the Indie Beauty Network are interviewed.

When you watch the video, you can see a picture of Donna Maria Coles Johnson, Lela Barker of Bella Lucce and Kayla Fioravanti of Essential Wholesale, taken by Anne-Marie Faiola of Bramblebery, in Senator Kerry’s office when they went to Washington to meet with legislators about the FDA Globalization Act.

As you can see from the video, this is a newsworthy event that is happening. The fact that the FDA Globalization Act has the possibility of disastrously affecting thousands of small business owners (us included) is gradually getting on the radar. If you haven’t already, write to your legislators, local and regional newspapers and anyone else you can think of! If you don’t know what to say, see the FDA Globalization pages on the HSMG Website.

The more attention to the matter, the more grassroots movement, the more likely it is that the bill will be changed to at least exempt micro and small businesses, including handcrafted soapmakers and cosmetics manufacturers. Together we CAN make a difference.

We’re also very proud that Donna Maria, Lela Barker, Jamila White and Kayla Fioravanti are all scheduled to be speakers at our 2009 conference!

Marie Gale, HSMG President

Additional Insurance Available

As most know, product and general liability insurance is included as a member benefit for soapmaker members located in the United States. The basic insurance includes $1M in liability insurance and $5,000 in property insurance. For those who needed more liability insurance to satisfy wholesale accounts or craft shows and fairs, an optional increase to $2M is available during the signup process.

Now there is increased coverage available for those who might need it!

Professional Liability Insurance, for those who teach or speak as professionals can now be covered. This is an addition endorsement to the basic policy and covers things like a student following the directions you give them and being damaged. The cost for the endorsement is $135 per year.

Additional Property Coverage is also available. The basic $5,000 property coverage comes with the standard policy, but the level can be increased to $10,000 (additional $65), $20,000 (additional $115) or $30,000 (additional $175). Those amounts can be added to the basic policy with just a phone call. More property insurance coverage is also available, but requires a slightly different process and there are some limitations.

For more information on the insurance coverage, see the Insurance FAQ at the HSMG Website.

To request additional insurance, contact Stratus Insurance, (866) 395-1308.

Marie Gale, HSMG President