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!

2013 Winners Circle

The 16th HSCG conference is over; we’ve packed our crates, boxes, and bags and traveled back home, but the sights and smells of the Soapers’ Showcase linger on. Every year, we hold a contest known as Soapers’ Showcase. Conference attendees are invited to enter up to 3 soaps in various categories. Attendees vote on their favorites, with winners and a special ‘Best in Show’ awarded at the final evening’s award dinner.

soaper showcase2

This year, we had 175 entries from soapmakers in 12 countries. Attendees sniffed, sniffed, and sniffed some more (and then realized they had finally exited the ‘best scent’ category and tried not to sniff any more soaps). It was a fierce battle to see which soaps would reign victorious.

Win or lose, at the end of the day, showcase entrants donated their creations to local charity Women’s Center of Wake County. Along with the Soapers’ Showcase entries, conference attendees brought soaps to donate. At conference end, we donated over 400 pounds of soap to the Women’s Center! Next year, we’re aiming to donate 500 pounds of soap and toiletries. With your enthusiastic early registrations for the 2014 conference at the lovely Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, we’re sure to blow that goal out of the water!


Without futher ado, here are this year’s winners:

Best Appearance, Melt and Pour: Pam Leis of by the SEA soap

2013 Best Appearance MP

Best Appearance, Cold Process/Hot Process: Joan Broughton of Joan’s Garden

2013 Best Appearance CP

Best Scent, Melt and Pour: Michelle Harps of Summer Kitchen Soaps

2013 Best Scent MP

Best Scent, Cold Process/Hot Process: Cindy Heinemann of Misty Mountain Soap Co.

2013 Best Scent CP

Best Packaging: Yuli Guo of Yulimade

2013 Best Packaging

Something Different: Misty Fields of Masterpiece Bath & Candle

2013 Something Different

And finally, the category you were all waiting for, our Best in Show. Drumroll, please…..

Our 2013 Best of Show: Joan Broughton of Joan’s Garden

2013 Best Appearance CP

Thank you to all of our fabulous entries and judges. We hear a few of you are already preparing for next year’s competition in Tucson (hint: it’s never too early).

Did you pick any of the winners? (Or are you busy plotting your winning entry for 2014?)

Conference Highlights: 2013 Longevity Awards

Every year at the Annual Conference, we celebrate members who have been with us for half a decade or more. (If you’re in the handcrafted cosmetic industry and you’re not a member, hello, why not?! Check out more about membership here.)

Anyway, this cake is great. It's so delicious and moist.

This year, at our 2013 conference in Raleigh, we sent a great, big cheer to the following members celebrating their 5 year anniversary with the guild:

Connie Dubois

Carmen O’Dell

Angelene Bonner

Maria Gelnett

Cindy Heinemann

Stephanie Dockter

Pamela Ernst

Donna Pixton-Hacker

Feleciai Favroth

Kimberly McCarty

Susan Jack

We also took a moment to recognize the members who have been with us 10 years. A decade ago, the HSCG was still the HSMG. We had less than half the membership we have today and the annual conference was held in a much smaller venue in Tucson (how do you like that trip in the wayback machine?). Congratulations to our 10-year veterans for seeing us through thick and thin, the addition of many benefits, and lots and lots of growth:

Julia Bundy

Kerri Mixon

Wanda Gillen

Are you a member yet??  HSCG membership is open to companies handcrafting soaps and cosmetics as well as private labelers and suppliers of the industry. Check out some of the benefits of being a member of the HSCG; we could be celebrating your anniversary a decade from now!

Psst…we’ve filled 57 slots for the 2014 conference, to be held at the Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson. Don’t be left in the cold; sign up now!