2014 Conference Recap: Day 3

Miss out on this year’s Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference? Aside from sharing social media coverage and announcing winners, more winners, news, news, and more news, we’ve given you an ever so brief glimpse of what happened before the conference and over the first two days. Today, we’re wrapping up conference coverage with a peek at the final day of festivities in Tucson.

silly david

One last time, we gathered outside, poolside, to nosh on breakfast goodies while checking out the local birds scoping out their morning gruel. Voting over, Soapers’ Showcase packed up and prepared a massive soap and toiletry donation for local shelter Sr. Jose Women’s Shelter, in Tucson, which provides services to homeless women, including showers, laundry facilities, meals, clothing and personal toiletries. What a thrill to see box upon box of gorgeous soaps, shampoos, and lotions waiting to be packed up and sent off to a much-needed purpose. Of course, knowing soapmakers, we had to get one last sniff in before the boxes were taped up.

jjamie bentley

Stephenson Personal Care CEO Jamie Bentley shook the sleep out of our eyes with a knockout presentation on Why Being a Social Soapmaker is Important, sharing Stephenson’s journey to being a social soap supplier, lessons they’ve learned along the way, rules of engagement online, and just how having a social strategy can support your long term strategies.

After a quick break to snag hot coffee and tea, chat up vendors, and check winning raffle prize numbers, attendees chose between two sessions. Trademark attorney Dave Purdue presented Trademarks and Branding: Make your Mark, in which he covered the all-important trademark. Dave showed why establishing a trademark is crucial to building a brand, just how to do it, and presented case studies of branding campaigns.

Meanwhile, Shea Radiance CEO Funlayo Alabi taught attendees all about Making Sustainability a Key Part of Your Brand Story. Funlayo shared how Shea Radiance fostered long-term customer loyalty through sharing their ingredient stories and why educating your customer on the story behind the story is important to ensuring your company’s success.


After a jam-packed morning, attendees had a break for lunch before heading into the final breakout sessions of the day, repeating a series of three classes twice for attendees.

Soapmaking maven Kerri Mixon, owner of Pallas Athene, A+ Soapmaking Studio, and more, was back to teach Comprehensive Color and Scent for Soap and Cosmetics, an exhaustive look at what colors and scents are and how to use them, including neat tips to disperse colors in water and how to construct a stovetop still for distilling hydrosols and essential oils.

char exfoliants

Bathhouse Soapery owner and exfoliation buff Charlene Simon was also back, this time showing off Exfoliants in Soap. Aside from demonstrating a multi-layer, multi-exfoliant soap, Charlene shared considerations when using exfoliants, tips and tricks to get the right scrub – and the right look. Attendees had a chance to assemble their own soap exfoliant variety pack, with soap samples that included exfoliants ranging from adzuki bean powder to quinoa.

Bath Alchemy Lab CEO Erica Pence had attendees dreaming up everything from mountain streams to galaxies in her session, Create Amazing Scenery in your Soaps. Designed for both cold process and melt and pour, Erica addressed not only how to translate designs into soap, and step by step instructions for a number of scenery soaps, but how to make them efficiently and profitably.


In between sessions, we had one last chance to redeem raffle tickets, stock up on HSCG merchandise, and visit vendors. After the last session, we took a quick break before reconvening out on the Kiva Ballroom Patio for cocktails, mocktails, and one last round of networking before being whisked off the Annual Awards Dinner. Over dinner, longevity awards were given, certified soapmakers announced, Soapers’ Showcase and social media winners revealed, President’s volunteer of the year declared, and other prizes given. Conference videographer and photographer Adam Grogin had us all in stitches throughout dinner, courtesy of his candid shots, videos, and outtakes from the Learning Library filming sessions. Throughout dinner, attendees guessed at the location of the 2016 Annual Conference – revealed to be taking place in Tampa, Florida at the Saddlebrook Resort.

This year’s conference may be over, but we can’t wait to see you at the 2015 conference in Indianapolis (and don’t wait to register, we will sell out!)

2014 Conference Recap: Day 2

This week continues our summary of what happened during the 17th annual Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference, held this year at the Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona. Catch recaps of day 0 here and day 1 here. Today, we cover Day 2 of the conference.

soapconf14 random cacti

A full day of conference demands a hearty breakfast, so that’s exactly where we started Wednesday morning, with another buffet out on the pool terrace. During breakfast, intrepid soapers had another chance to take certification exams (and over 50 of them did!) and newly certified soapmakers had a chance to have their picture taken. Meanwhile, furious rounds of sniffing and serious evaluating was taking place at the Soapers’ Showcase, sponsored by long time supporter Shay & Company.


Soap whisperer, Scientific Soapmaking author and Elliot Professor of Chemistry Kevin Dunn kicked off the morning with a riveting presentation of his investigation into Protein in Handcrafted Soap, enlightening all of us as to the reactions of goat milk and silks with lye during the manufacture of soap. Finally, inquiring minds have a goat milk saponification value!

After a break with hot coffee and tea, attendees chose between two Nova Studio teacher sessions. For those not lucky enough to make the half-day seminar, Joan McCoy presented a jam-packed, concentrated version of Packaging Your Bath and Body Products, leaving everyone armed to make one of the most important choices in their businesses. The Nova Studio founder and co-owner Lori Nova taught Making Natural Perfume & Cologne 101, elucidating the fundamentals of essential oil blending as well both oil and alcohol-based perfume/colognes.

annual mtg2

Lunch time provided an opportunity for the Guild to hold an Annual Meeting for all members in attendance (and open to all members able to make it, regardless of attendance at the rest of the conference). The annual meeting was action-packed, covering elections for expiring Board of Director terms and voting on bylaw amendments. President Feleciai Favroth reviewed the launch of the beauty box program, teacher enews, Member of the Year, our new eCommerce solution partnership, as well as plans for the learning library and the Guild website. Executive Director Leigh O’Donnell covered changes in the organization, including our growth, the transition from a volunteer to employee work force, insurance price decreases, and an update on the current US legislative landscape. We capped off lunch with a presentation from Amanda Griffin and Benjamin Aaron on the Lovin’ Soap Project.

We followed that whirlwind lunch with an assortment of popcorn and other snacks along with a quick chance to visit vendors prior to launching into our final breakout sessions of the day, repeating a series of three classes twice for attendees.

kerri session

Multi-company founder and 16th generation soapmaker Kerri Mixon taught attendees how to make any soap naturally transparent using simple materials in Making Transparent Cold/Hot Process Soap as well as some of the all-important benefits of doing so.

In Testing Natural Colors in Your Cold Process Soap, Nova Studio teacher and co-owner Ruth Esteves shared her techniques for testing all types of natural colorants. Attendees walked away learning how to get the color from jar to bar successfully.

jackie LS sign

Liquid Soapmaking author Jackie Thompson continues to blaze new soapmaking trails, showing attendees both how to make thick soap gels and jellies without thickeners and taking the fear out of accurately neutralizing liquid soap in her Advanced Liquid Soapmaking sessions.


Finally, there was time for a quick dinner break before a pool party networking session generously sponsored by Essential Depot. We gnoshed on hearty appetizers and desserts while relaxing under the stars and catching up with new friends, before heading off to get a little rest before the final day of festivities!

We’ve nearly covered our conference adventures – stay tuned for a recap of #soapconf14 day 3 (and if you missed out this year, 2015 registration is open now)

2014 Conference Recap: Day 1

Today, we continue our summary of the 2014 Annual Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Conference, held May 20-22 at the Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona. Tuesday marked the official start of the 2014 Annual Conference in Tucson, Arizona. We welcomed last minute and late night travelers at an early morning registration and served breakfast for everybody out on the terrace near the pool.

leigh orientation

After a welcome and orientation by Executive Director Leigh O’Donnell and President Feleciai Favorth, Prof. Dr. Vijai K.S. Shukla took the stage and delivered a spirited opening keynote on Nature’s Gift to Soap and Cosmetics. He covered an immense breadth of material, from naturally occurring oils found around the globe to oils with amazing potential that are currently unutilized to beneficial oils to eat to why the heck butters go grainy and how to keep free fatty acids and phenols down in fats.

Heads spinning, we headed into our first break. Coffee and tea recharged our brains and attendees cut loose to check out vendors, enter soaps into the Soapers’ Showcase, and enter the raffle.

rustic escentuals

We reconvened in the ballroom, where Lucky Break President Lela Barker taught Decoding the Mystery: A Practical Guide to Product Pricing and shared all her tips and tricks to calculating true costs, which attendees blogged about here. Who knew pricing could be so much fun to learn about?

Doing all that math worked up an appetite, which we sated with a networking lunch. Attendees had a chance to meet up with other soap and cosmetic makers living in their region – and sometimes just down the street.

The Guild presented a little surprise and a coupon book post lunch and then it was back to class sessions. Author and long-time Guild supporter Marie Gale and Bathhouse Soapery maven Charlene Simon offered attendees a choice of sessions, with Marie teaching her ever-popular primer on Getting Started With Your Record-Keeping and GMP and Charlene offering up her business wisdom and how to emotionally connect with customers in From Gel Phase to Sell Phase.

charlene speaker Collage-small

Another break, with snacks, ensued, along with another chance to mingle with vendors, staff, and each other. The afternoon kicked off breakout sessions – 3 different speakers gave classes twice, giving attendees a chance to pick two topics (and possibly mourn not being able to hear the third).

Lotion Bar Café owner Holly Port presented Mastering the Bath Bomb, in which she wowed the crowd with live demonstrations of her recipe for perfect bath fizzies. Aside from sharing her technique and recipes, she also explained ingredient variations, sourcing, and how to scale up production efficiently with or without machinery.

christy rose session

In teaching Nailing New Trends: An Intro to Handmade Nail Polish, KBShimmer Bath and Body owner Christina Rose brought our first ever nail polish session to the Guild, elucidating all of us on the history, potential, key terms, and formulation challenges of nail polish. Attendees blogged about this session here.

Back Porch Soap Company CEO Marla Bosworth gave oodles of tips for formulating sugar, salt, and emulsified scrubs as well as the perfect body butter in Formulating Fantastic Body Scrubs & Whipped Butters, as blogged here.

After a whirlwind first day of sessions wrapped up, attendees had just enough time to grab a quick dinner before heading to a karaoke party generously sponsored by Veracity Insurance Solutions. A cash bar provided lubrication and copious amounts of sugar from the desserts (there was fruit, but we’re not sure any of it escaped a dip in molten chocolate) fueled feats of daring on the microphone. In addition to awarding the best singers of the night with cash awards for most outlandish, best duo, best solo, most creative and more, Veracity raffled off a year’s worth of insurance!!

Stay tuned for recaps of #soapconf14 days 2 and 3 (and if you missed out this year, 2015 registration is open now)