A Million Little Pieces (of Soap)

Have you ever found yourself cursing over unevenly cut soap samples? Ingenious soapmaker member Leanne Laboy has just the trick. Looking for a way to manage the different soap weights she needed to cut, inspiration struck her from the shelves of a kitchen store.

cut samples

Leanne found that a wire cutter used to shave off slices of butter “can cut straight down a standing bar of soap like a mini tank” and is the “perfect size for customers to try”. This particular butter cutting device has wires 0.6 cm wide and will cut samples approximately 1/3 to 1/2 oz (8-14 grams) in weight (a little lighter, of course, after a cure). It’s also less than $10 and fairly compact, making this an invaluable tool to add to your arsenal. Check out this GIF of the cutter in action:


After sharing this tip, we sat down to find out a little bit more about Leanne. Having stumbled into soapmaking well over a decade ago as a crazy, last-ditch attempt to treat severe dermatitis, she quickly fell in love with the process. Leanne relates, “I was enjoying having normal skin, wonderful smelling soaps and not just DOVE, and having cuticles again!”

She never intended to go into business, but “I started selling when my stash reached about 700 bars and my husband told me, ‘Leanne, we got a little problem here’”.

Today, she offers a wide range of skin-friendly treats including lotion sticks, lip balms, soaps (for vegans, sensitive skin, shaving, and much more) as well as accoutrements like travel-friendly crocheted soap savers and handcrafted soap dishes through Leanne’s Homemade Natural Soap. Find out about her upcoming craft fairs and make special requests through her facebook page.

Thanks for sharing this awesome tip, Leanne! Your turn: what kitchen item have you appropriated for soapmaking?

Board Welcomes New Member Lauri Isle

The HSCG Board of Directors started a new term on July 1st, welcoming Lauri Isle on board. Lauri was elected to the Board of Directors at this year’s conference in Raleigh to serve a two year term ending in 2015. To give Lauri a proper welcome, we thought we’d share a little bit more about her business and her HSCG work.

2013to2014 Board of Directors

Lauri is chairing the Programs and Services committee and serving as Treasurer for the Guild. The Programs and Services committee endeavors to bring new benefits to members and, under Lauri’s direction, is currently hard at work on securing a packaging discount.

Lauri has been a member of the HSCG since 2010, attending her first conference in Palm Springs in 2009. She has attended each one since, serving as the Speaker Coordinator in 2013. She is one half of the brains behind SACS & Co, a soap, candle, and personal care company situated in Winona Lake, Indiana.

Lauri sidewalk art love

Lauri has a novel and extremely efficient approach to her commute. To save time during the week, she stays above the shop she and her sister own, making the hour-long commute home on the weekend. If you stopped by the shop recently, you may have caught a whiff of yuzu from a batch of dead sea salt spa bars Lauri had in production.

The way Lauri tells it, SACS & Co was an accidental business venture. “We made Christmas presents one year and put the name on them and the next thing we knew, we were getting orders.” While both sisters have advanced certifications in CP/HP and MP soapmaking and are juried members of the Indiana Artisans program, they take a divide and conquer approach to the soapmaking. Lauri crafts most of the melt and pour soaps while sister Marta makes most of the cold process soaps.


So, just what does SACS & Co stand for? In this case, it’s a multi-purpose acronym, standing for Sisters and Children or Soap and Candles. However you slice it, we’re happy that Lauri stumbled into business and the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics Guild. Lauri loves getting to meet members, so do drop by and give her a warm welcome.

Stay tuned for updates from Lauri and the Programs and Services Committee. We can’t wait to see where she leads us!

Conference Coverage: Again, from the top!

Today, we are exciting to announce the release of our official 2013 HSCG conference video. Produced by videographer Adam Grogin of Monster Productions, this video will give you a flavor of what our annual conferences are all about. (If you’re reading this from a reader, you can check out this video and past conference videos here.)

Hungry for more? We’ve collected coverage of this year’s conference – it’s been great fun to hear your thoughts and read your reviews of the conference. Here, for your reading pleasure, is a re-cap of the conference with links to posts and video from around the web.

Pre-conference/Half-Day seminars:

–        Attendees get excited, get very excited, get packed, and prepare for arrival.

–        We offered 3 different half-day sessions from 3 amazing teachers for attendees who wanted a more in-depth look at several special topics.

–        Marla Bosworth, pictured below with some of her students, gave valuable insights into the retailer mind (among other things, many, many other things) in her wholesaling session

half day session group shot 3 

–        Meanwhile, Marie Gale was busily making good manufacturing practices an easily digestible concept. Her students left, fear vanquished, with a step-by-step plan to start implementing Good Manufacturing Practices.

–        Students in Jackie Thompson’s class were the first to hear about novel new liquid soap production mechanisms. Jackie shared some hard-won secrets to the production of liquid soap. This class even got a hand in on the action, as seen here.

LS session scoop too

–        Later that evening, we held an informal welcome reception with mountains of treats, both savory and sweet, for attendees who had already checked in.

Day 1 Events:

–        Powerhouse speaker Ann Evanston brought the boom BOOM POW in her keynote, teaching us all about being warrior-preneurs and how to discover our real edge in business.

–        Back Porch Soap CEO and Founder Marla Bosworth shared formulating tips for natural shampoos while her assistant Angela Carillo of Alegna Soap whipped up a demonstration batch.


–        We grouped attendees by state and region for a new twist on the networking lunch, giving attendees, speakers, and vendors a chance to mingle informally over a hearty meal.


–        The Soap Queen highlighted some of the Soaper’s Showcase entries.

–        Michele gives a preview of the exhibitor area. Lucky Break Consulting, one of our exhibitors, was not kidding when they said mondo red balloons.


–        Marie Gale, HSCG webmaster and author, among many other talents, taught search engine optimization fundamentals, sharing tips and tricks to get attendee websites found  (happily snapped up by Soap Queen guest blogger Michele Lang of Tierra Verde Soaps).

–        Alabu Skin Care President and CEO Dean Mayes shared production solutions, with specific examples that he developed for use during Alabu’s start-up.

–        Joanna Schmidt, Absolute Soap co-owner and Soapers’ Retreat founder, taught some truly hassle-free milk soapmaking (as she recounted here and as reviewed here by Soap Queen guest blogger Jean Horn of SoapArt).


–        Lovin’ Soap blogger and teacher Amanda Griffin shared the secret of peacock swirling, a paper marbling technique applied to soap (recapped by Soap Queen guest blogger Jean Horn here).

–        Marie Gale made another appearance to teach her highly demanded class on product labeling (check out the book here, which supplies last, in the HSCG store).

–        We competed in a giant game show in the Quest for the Best Game Show Night sponsored by Wholesale Supplies Plus (touched on in a post by Robin Hasty of Bird Bath Essentials), culminating in gift certificates to Wholesales Supplies Plus for the winners.

Day 2 Events:

–        In a rollicking introduction by Vice President (now President) Feleciai Favroth, resident guild chemist Kevin Dunn was dubbed Dr. McSoapy. Kevin focused his scientific gaze on the true implications of lye discounts and superfatting (more takes on his session here  and here).


–        Stephenson CEO Jamie Bentley shared his company’s history, evolution, and the challenges all businesses face in The Soap Opera: 150 Years of Making Soap.

–        Rob Brown, Lebermuth President, covered natural, somewhat natural, is-that-still-natural, not-so-natural and synthetic fragrances in a fragrant and highly informative myth-busting session.

–        HSCG members took care of business at the Annual Meeting, learning the current state of the association, getting up to date on Guild activities, and voting with spatulas, of course.


–        Sirona Springs and Nova Studio co-owner Ruth Esteves demonstrated Soap Cupcakes and decorative soap frosting techniques (check out Jean’s recap here, Ruth’s blog post on it, and even more luscious cupcake pictures from Ruth).

–        Amanda Griffin taught how to make your own silicone molds (shared here by Michele).

–        Otion manager and swirling ninja Kathryn Hackney came with lots of soap to share in her Advanced Colorants class (and shared her teaching and conference experiences here).

–        We had more (soap-less) fun with molds than should be possible at Essential Depot’s English Village Fete, including a full country-style spread for dinner, drinks, and some wildly popular competitions. We walked away with bellies full and arms full of prizes.



Day 3 Events:

–        From organic to non-GMO, Oh Oh Organics’ Gay Timmons took us on an adventure exploring the standards, certifiers, and all the pros and cons of certifications.

–        Practicing intellectual property lawyer Bryan Baer taught us Trademark Strategies, including how to make our brands distinctive and protect them in the marketplace.

–        16th generation soapmaker and multi-business owner Kerri Mixon explained the chemistry of fatty acids and oils to empower soapmakers to create truly unique recipes in an epic two-part series (and Jennifer Hofmann of Jennifer’s Handmade Soap  loved it).

–        Watch out for the flying monkeys! Salus owners Jerell and Elisa Klaver shared their retail realities and gave loads of advice on all the things to consider when opening a store.

–        Cosmetic scientist and multi-company CEO Allison Kontur clarified the distinctions between private label and contract manufacturing and thoroughly demystified private labeling.

–        Mossy Creek Soap & Studio owner Michelle Rhoades showed us the ins and outs of using the Soapmaker program and gave us visions of just how efficient we could be.

–        To tie everything up, we had one more night filled with winning. We handed out lots of awards, including Soaper’s Showcase, longevity, certifications (Jennifer did – did you?), President’s volunteer of the year, social media, vendor and the final grand raffle prizes. We wished departing President Cathleen Timberlake a fond farewell and we announced the 2015 Conference location (Indianapolis, Indiana!).


Post Conference:

–        It may have passed in a blur, but Pam of bytheSEAsoap does her best to keep it all straight and share her Soaper’s Showcase experience.


–        Kelly of Soapalooza shares the fun and how she made a Cinderella exit.

–        Jennifer’s loving the special events, while Joanna’s just feeling the love.

–        Bonnie at Good Earth Spa dishes on the conference and all of the goodies for attendees.

–        Angela was thankful to have the opportunity; Rosie of Mrs. King’s Quilts ‘n Things tries to convince you to go and Michele agrees.

If this has you salivating, we’re halfway to selling out our 2014 conference, happening May 20-22 at the Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson. Registration is open now, with early-early bird pricing available through the end of November and financing available via PayPal.

Thanks for everyone who made this year’s conference a rollicking good time – hope to see you next May in Tucson for the 2014 Annual Conference!