HSMG Members Exhibit at the Orlando Gift Show!

Orlando Show

They are having a blast and the reports are good!

As you may know, the HSMG was offered a booth at both the Orlando and Las Vegas Gift Shows in 2011run by Wholesale Crafts and the American Craft Retailers Expo.  We selected 3 soapmakers to participate with us and exhibit their wares for the Orlando show.  The Orlando, FL Show is currently running.

Members Julie Koenig kreativekraftwerks, Candy Sweeney Nakee’ Natural and Deb Richards Big Fat Soap Co give us their report:

This is an awesome show. Very well organized, staff are very accommodating. Very pleased with the wide array of handcrafted products. Buyer traffic was steady yesterday. We distributed many HSMG soap brochures with our booth number and websites listed on the back. Five orders were written from our booth today and we hopefully made more contacts for more sales tomorrow. Many, many pamphlets were handed out today. The Guild is invited back again next year.  Cold front going through Florida with lows in the 30s at night but it still beats the below zero temps in the Midwest which is where we are all from. Candy (Michigan) will be the referee today while the Packers (Julie) play the Bears (Deb). The Guild couldn’t have planned that any better! ;-). We are so thankful to the Guild for this opportunity. Three strangers are now friends and have been sharing many business ideas, experiences, etc. We have realized we have much more than just soap in common!!

This is a wonderful opportunity for the selected members to exhibit products in a major gift show without taking on the booth fee themselves.

Business Focus: 10 Activities For Your Business During Post Holiday Production Slow Downs

Now that we’ve successfully made it through the holidays and into the new year, many soapmakers now have a brief slow-down in orders, which is the perfect time to  work on other business activities that tend to take a back burner during the holiday rush.  Before the Valentine’s and spring orders tart to kick in, here are 10 suggestions for your business to focus on:

  1. Review your business and marketing plans: Business and marketing plans are living documents. While things are quiet, review the plans to make sure they still accurately reflect your business direction.
  2. Update your mailing list: Add those new contacts that you’ve been collecting, but haven’t made it into your database
  3. Create your tentative show calendar: Block out dates of shows and application deadlines
  4. Prepare for seasonal events: Create a schedule of when supplies must be ordered and production windows to prepare for seasonal products.
  5. Check your supplies: Do you need to order business cards, labels, oils, fragrances, or other supplies that you use in your business?
  6. Do a complete inventory: After the the holidays, it is easy to lose track of what products need replenishing. When production slows down, it is an ideal time to inventory what you have in stock.
  7. During slow times offer  specials: Make your valued customers feel appreciated by offering them an exclusive special. Its a great reason to keep in touch with customers and boost sales.
  8. Send a newsletter out to your customers: Feature news about your products, tips, post-holiday specials, and anything else that helps them feel connected to your business.
  9. Develop new products: This is the ideal time to refresh your product offering or experiment with  new fragrances.
  10. Have fun and remember to celebrate your products and soapmaking creativity!

Business Focus articles are written by Monique Hodgkinson, a member of the HSMG’s Social Media Committee. For over five years she successfully marketed her handcrafted soap at small regional and large wholesale shows across the country.When not making soap, Monique spends her time as a marketing consultant serving small and medium sized businesses.

WASHINGTON UPDATE: What to Expect in the 112th Congress?


As Capitol Hill prepares to close the chapter on the 111th Congress and convene a new session this month, we want to take a moment to evaluate and provide an overview of the changes that The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild and its members can expect in the 112th Congress.

President Obama will be evaluating his options on how to work with a newly elected and emboldened Republican majority in the House of Representatives and a slim Democratic Majority in the Senate.  Republicans rendered meaningful gains in both Chambers of Congress with an increase of 63 seats in the House and 6 seats in the Senate.

Fresh off big gains across the country, Republican leadership has pledged a responsibility to listen to voters and support a legislative agenda that reflects the perceived mandate they received on November 2nd.  Topping their priority list is repealing sections of the recently passed health care law, limiting increases to federal agencies and programs, and the extension of tax breaks for individuals and small businesses.

Unlike the 111th Congress, the federal government will be divided among political parties, with the Democrats controlling the Senate and White House and the Republicans controlling the House of Representatives. All legislation signed into law during this 112th Congress will result from a compromise between parties, as opposed to the previous session in which the Democrats dominated the agenda. We can expect the parties to reach compromise on certain economic issues involving measures friendly to small business and additional tax relief. We can also expect legislation on education, trade, and transportation and infrastructure.

What does all this mean for the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild and its members?  It means that the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 will have to be reintroduced in 2011 to a much less friendly audience who will in all likelihood be more business friendly and opposed to imposing burdensome regulations on small business.

As the new Congress begins to organize, we will be tracking the committee assignments of newly elected Members of Congress and look to seek their support in opposition to the Safe Cosmetics Act as it currently stands.  To that end, we have already had several discussions with current Members of Congress and their staff regarding our concerns and we plan to schedule meetings with lawmakers in January to further state our position on how harmful this legislation would be to soapmakers across the country.

During this time of political transition, it is important to have advocates on the ground monitoring the political climate in Washington and how it can impact your industry.  We are very excited to be a part of the HSMG team and look forward to delivering your message to the decision-makers in our nation’s Capital.

Lastly, for those of you looking to get involved, rest assured that a sample letter to your Member of Congress is being drafted so you can express your concerns regarding the Safe Cosmetics Act and the impacts it will have on your business.  This is important as it will allow us to express our opinions collectively to many Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Mary Anne Walsh & Rick Limardo

Roetzel & Andress