Grow America: Compete for Cash

If you’re a US-based maker over the age of 18 (sorry to our international and teen members!) with a fantastic idea, check out Grow America’s latest competition, which opened this week.  With a few simple clicks, you could be in the running for their top prize of $20,000, to be awarded by the end of February.

Grow America is a one year old business with an intriguing mission – create jobs in the US by helping thousands of entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses.  Member Tami Thornton, owner of Beehive Soap and Body Care, had the opportunity to participate in a pilot competition last spring in Utah.

Despite the disadvantage of being in a very mature, crowded market segment, Tami made it into the final round of 100 competitors chosen after three rounds of competition. “Participating was a great opportunity,” says Tami, “forcing me to re-work my business plan, create a short video, and pitch my business live in two minutes to a group of judges and investors.”

This time around, the competition is even more streamlined, requiring product pictures, samples, and a video.  Read about the details here and prepare to rally your supporters to vote for your entry.

Even if you don’t enter the competition, check out the free business resources available on the Grow America site:

If you enter, let us know so we can support you.  Go, soapmakers, go!

Soaping Superstars: Beauty in Haiti

It all started with Google.  No, really.

Marla Bosworth, CEO and Founder of Back Porch Soap Company, and Amanda Griffin, the brains behind Lovin’ Soap, both HSMG members and speakers at our 2013 conference, recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Haiti.

There, they taught two dozen women from OFEDA (Organisation des Femmes Devouees en Action), a group formed after the 2010 earthquake, the basics of soapmaking and making natural body care products.

Over a period of just six days, Marla and Amanda traveled to the site, spent two days sourcing local ingredients, and held two full days of workshops, including classes on how to make soap, sugar scrubs, and hair and body oils.

What brought them there?  Google.

Human rights photographer Paula Allen had been working with the 200-woman strong organization on a greeting card business, when they expressed a desire to make soap.  Not having any experience in the area, she turned to Google, where she found Marla, who turned to the soapmaking community for help and found Amanda ready and willing to take on an ambitious project.

Between Marla and Amanda’s thorough planning and their support team (a local driver, Paula, and translators Louis, Rodny and Angie), their first international project went off without a hitch, despite the lack of electricity, running water, and language differences.

The biggest surprise, report both women, is that they fell in love in Haiti and can’t wait until April, when they will return to teach more advanced business topics including production and distribution to help the group launch their new soap business.

Marla shares, “These women are amazingly powerful and underestimated by many. Some of them owned businesses prior to the earthquake of 2010. They have nothing now besides each other. They live in tent camps and have hard lives.  Some have been gang raped. Their stories are heart wrenching.  We feel strongly that we were brought here to help them improve the quality of their lives – both for them and for their children.

I’m asking our local soapmaking community to support these women by donating at our fundraising site at through January 31, 2013. As little as $10 can make a difference!

In February, you can find more about our project at our new website:

We couldn’t be more proud of these two amazing soapmakers.  Let’s make sure they can continue this project.  Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Spread the word (twitter, facebook, even good ole’ word of mouth!)

Spotlight: Lebermuth

The Lebermuth Company has been part of the HSMG for over a decade and in business for over ten decades.  Lebermuth, which stocks a wide array of both fragrant and essential oils, is based in Mishawaka, Indiana, an area in the midwestern US commonly referred to as Michiana.  Current President Rob Brown’s great grandfather started the company while trading produce from his family farm, switching his focus from produce to peppermint essential oils after being introduced to it by another trader.

Lebermuth has come a long way from those humble beginnings trading peppermint oil, distilling a total of approximately 200,000 pounds of essential oils last year.  While mint essential oils are still, ahem, essential to the company, orange essential oils make up a significant portion of what they distill today.

Recently, we caught up with Lebermuth to get the scoop on scent trends.  Lebermuth shared that their most popular essential oils for soaps in 2012 were eucalyptus 80/85, tea tree, and lemongrass.  In the fragrance realm, lighthearted gourmand scents stole the show, with mango madness, bubblegum, and vanilla cream taking top honors.

What does the future bring?  Industry-wide, we have a lot to look forward to in 2013. Says Marketing Director Tiffany Smith, “The fragrance world will take a cue from the past with a twist.”  Look for very modern florals featuring rose, jasmine, and peony mixed with more exotic scents.  Citrus and woody notes will be key features in masculine fragrances and “finally, destination and city scents are becoming very trendy”.

If you’re looking for some color inspiration to go with those fragrances, Lebermuth has ideas for you there, too!  Expect to see colors ranging from nudes to hot pink for feminine fragrances, while blues, blacks, greens, reds, oranges, and white or translucent colors will grace masculine fragrances.  (Are you seeing some killer layering ideas here?)  Finally, pair destination scents with “night time themes such as seductive purples and intense reds.”

Get some help distilling those ideas into a singular soapy vision over at Lebermuth’s Facebook page, which, shares Tiffany, “has become exceedingly popular this year.  We have loved getting to know our customers and friends through this great social media outlet.  Look for more great industry education, product information and fun from the Lebermuth staff on Facebook in 2013!”

Thank you to the Lebermuth team for sharing your insights.  We can’t wait to see what innovative combinations soapmakers devise this year!

Your turn: What’s in your forecast for this year?  Are you trying out new scents in your 2013 line?