This Guild is YOU

The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild is a trade association, but have you ever wondered exactly what it means to be part of the Guild?  We thought Executive Director Leigh O’Donnell gave a pretty amazing definition in her final President’s Report at the 2012 HSMG Annual Meeting.

Family Group

Photo by Flickr member anyjazz65. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Here’s how Leigh explained the Guild to the members present:

The definition of a “Guild” is:

guild (noun)

  1. An organization of persons with related interests, goals, etc., especially formed for mutual aid or protection.
  2. Any of various medieval associations, as of merchants or artisans, organized to maintain standards and to protect the interests of its members, and that sometimes constituted a local governing body.

“Protection” makes me think of organized crime and we are certainly not a “medieval” association but these definitions really do get to the basis of what the HSMG is.

The HSMG was started in 1998 by a group of women that loved soapmaking, had small businesses and wanted an organization that would represent them on a larger scale.  From those small beginnings we have grown to over 1,600 members, with members in all 50 states and in 29 countries.  Just to name a few: Canada, Mexico, Norway, Australia, Ireland, Taiwan, El Salvador, Guatemala, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Trinidad and Tobago.

We are the ONLY non-profit trade association for handcrafted soapmakers.

The “Guild” isn’t one person, it isn’t the Board of Directors, it isn’t the people that attend the Annual Conference.  It is ALL of the over 1,600 members, it is the group, it is the people in leadership, the people who are vocal and in the spotlight and the people who are not.  It is the member who joined in 1998 and is still with us and the member that joined yesterday.  It is all of us, collectively.  This is so important because it is our diversity, individual strengths and experiences that make up the backbone of the association.

We couldn’t have said it better.  What does the Guild mean to you?

This Store’s For You

Do you sell your soap?  Are you trying to expand your reach?  Do you have a website yet?  The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild has partnered with HSMG member The Template Place to bring you Soap Guild Stores, a fully customizable webstore available expressly for HSMG members.  The Soap Guild Stores combine all member webstores into a marketplace that assists consumers in purchasing high quality handcrafted soap and bath and body products.

But I’m not an html wizard! No worries, this does not require any computer sorcery.  If you don’t already have an existing website or shopping cart, this is a fast and easy way to establish an online presence.   We take care of the set-up; you get to personalize the site (uploading photos of your creations, entering descriptions, describing store policies, etc).

Nice, but I already have a website. Perfect, help drive more traffic your way.  You can use the Soap Guild Store as a brochure site directing visitors to your primary site (like A+ Soapmaking Studio’s site).  They have been designed to be well indexed by Google, so this is a great way to extend your reach and help people find your website.

What about fees? Simple.  HSMG and the Soap Guild Stores charge no fees to maintain a store, list a product or to sell a product (of course, you still have to pay merchant fees to your payment processor).

Okay, so how does this work? Also simple.  Send your contact information and a few details (see full list here) to the administrative office.  We’ll do the coding dirty work to set your page up.  Once it’s ready, we’ll send you your site name and user manual.  From there, you’re ready to start customizing your store and open it up to the public.  It’s as easy as logging in and uploading photos and text.

What can I do with these stores? Quite a bit!  Aside from taking orders and selling products, you have control over what types of payment you accept.  You can set up the site to accept Paypal and personal checks.  You can split your product offerings into groups or categories to help visitors find just what they’re looking for, whether it be bath soaks, gift sets, or products specifically for pooches.  From the admin page, you can manage orders and customers can view their order (and order updates).  Shipping can be set by weight or by the total cost of items in the shopper’s cart.  You can put products on sale and set up tax to be charged as needed.  You can link all your social media accounts to your site, so that customers can catch up with you on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc.  The Soap Guild Stores are powered by google search and include several different search options, so visitors can easily find just what they are seeking.

And of course, once you sign up for a webstore, sign up for analytics so that you can monitor the traffic on your site.

Your fee-free store out on the Soap Guild Stores site is waiting for you.  “Sign up for yours today” HSMG President Cathleen Timberlake says, “and start customizing to be ready for the busy holiday season.”

Soap + Mold: Happily Ever After

She’d been salivating over it for months (years, maybe?) and finally, it was here. No more odd-sized bars cut from shoe box molds.  No more fighting with freezer paper or struggling to precisely line makeshift molds.  She dove into the newly delivered box and unwrapped a brand-new silicone lined mold.  Admiring its fine, shiny, perfectly square edges, panic set in…

How much soap would fit in this bright, shiny new mold?

Soap in Mold

Photo by Flickr member Judi Cox. Used under a Creative Commons License.

If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, you’re not alone.  Figuring out how much soap will fit in a mold, like Marie Gale might say, is not complicated, but it is very detailed.

Now, you can easily use an online calculator (here, here, here)  to size your soap recipe to your mold, but just in case you desperately need to make soap when the power’s out, here’s an explanation behind the math.

In order to figure out how much soap will fit your mold, you first need to figure out the volume of your new mold.  Assuming your beautiful, shiny new mold is a rectangle (or a square, which is technically also a rectangle), this is easy.  Measure the inside length, width, and height of your mold in inches.  Below, we’ve made up some numbers so that you can follow the calculations.

Step 1: measure inside dimensions of mold >>

Inner length of mold, in inches 10 in

Inner width of mold, in inches 3.625 in

Inner height of mold, in inches 2.25 in

Multiply those numbers.  This gives you the volume in cubic inches.

Step 2: Calculate volume >> Length x width x height =  81.56 in3

Unfortunately, I don’t know many soapmakers working in cubic inches, so let’s convert cubic inches to ounces.  One cubic inch equals 0.554113 ounces, so we can multiply the volume by 0.554 to convert from inches to ounces.

Step 3: Convert volume to ounces >>  81.56 in3 x 0.554 =  45.2 oz

You’re almost there.  You have volume in the correct units, however, you need to convert from volume to weight (ounces are tricky that way).  We know that one volumetric ounce of oil does not weigh one ounce.  For many vegetable oils, one ounce of oil at room temperature will only weigh 0.9 ounces.  (This is referred to as specific gravity and yes, this number is a gross generalization.)

Step 4: Convert volume to weight >  45.2 oz x 0.9 =  40 oz

Congratulations, you’ve estimated the total soap volume that will fit into your mold. (Insert a happy soaper dance here, along with a fist pump of soapmaking victory, if you like.)

If you are making a cold or hot process soap and want to estimate just how much oil to use, Member David Fisher has an easy to follow guide.

Have you ever made way too much or too little soap to fill a mold?