What’s Up at the HSCG: March 2017

2017 has and will continue to be an exciting year for the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild!

In early 2017, we were very excited to introduce a new, lower cost insurance option through Veracity Insurance Solutions. Even with a price point $100 less than the standard coverage option, this lower cost policy still covers handcrafted soap and cosmetic makers in a wide variety of situations, and has the flexibility to cover everyone from fledgling business to full grown empire.

Let’s not forget our new look! The HSCG has rebranded, with new sleek and modern logos and a fresh website. If you haven’t yet, check out www.soapguild.org; we think you’ll love the updated feel.

We also announced our first HSCG Advocacy Day, taking place in Washington DC in April. This is a great opportunity for approximately 50 handcrafted soap and cosmetic makers to discuss ongoing legislation with lawmakers, and offer their own insight into how it will affect handcrafted businesses.

As you can imagine, things are getting very busy at HSCG Headquarters in beautiful Saratoga Springs, New York; with our largest (and nearly sold out) Annual Conference just around the corner in Las Vegas and the excitement and extensive planning surrounding it, the decision was made to add an additional employee to our staff; please help us welcome Niki Cameron!

Niki grew up in a small town just north of Saratoga Springs. She loves to knit “anything and everything”, and can usually be found reading a Stephen King book (the Dark Tower is her favorite series). She has a passion for small business and customer service, and will be filling the roll of Member Services Representative. Niki will also be attending the Annual Conference in Las Vegas this year to assist Leigh and Sara with all the moving parts! Chances are, if you’ve called the office at any time in the past few weeks, you’ve already chatted with Niki a bit; she will be your go-to source for general membership, benefit, insurance and conference related questions. Welcome!

Speaking of the conference, this year is going to be the largest event that the HSCG has ever hosted! We are nearly sold out at 600 attendees, and they are in for three days of action packed networking and educational opportunities. This year, the Annual Conference will take place at the Tropicana Las Vegas, located right in the heart of the action in Las Vegas. The newly renovated space is absolutely gorgeous, with plenty of room for our incredible Exhibitors and famous Speaker Sessions.

Of course, we can’t talk about the conference without talking about the speakers! This year’s lineup has something for everyone; right out of the starting gate, attendees will be treated to an inspirational and motivation keynote speech from Bramble Berry’s Anne-Marie Faiola! She will teach attendees how to “Have the Best Day Ever, Every Day”. Then, attendees will have the option to attend a number of different sessions covering a variety of topics including formulation, label compliance and marketing. There is truly something for everyone at this event, no matter what stage of your handcrafting journey you are in!

If you haven’t registered for the Annual Conference yet, make sure to sign up as soon as you can; there are very few spots remaining, and we anticipate selling out soon! Visit https://www.soapguild.org/cart/conference.php/ to purchase your registration today.

We can’t wait to share more exciting HSCG news with you; 2017 is going to be a great year!

 

 

Common Scents: Sweet Orange

Welcome to our series, Common Scents! Common Scents is a series of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils, and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting.

In this edition of Common Scents, we will take a look at the uplifting history of sweet orange, often referred to simply as orange or orange oil. Sought out for its cheery and mellow scent, sweet orange has a large variety of uses and an extensive history, too.

History 

Ultimately, the word orange derives from a Dravidian language such as Tamil or Malayalem. Through centuries of filtering through different languages including Persian, Arabic, Italian and French, we have the current spelling.

The sweet orange is the fruit of the citrus species Citrus x sinensis, which is part of the family Rutaceae (there is also the fruit of the Citrus x aurantium, which is considered bitter orange). The sweet orange is actually a hybrid between Citrus maxima (pomelo) and Citrus reticulata (mandarin).

Although there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer available regarding where oranges grow wild, it is thought that they originated in either southeastern Asia, southern China, or northeastern India. Oranges entered written history via Chinese literature n 314 BC, and were first cultivated in China around 2500 BC. The Chinese word for orange sounds very similar to the Chinese word for “wealth”, and (along with tangerines) is associated with an abundance of happiness and prosperity in Chinese new year celebrations. The dried peel of mandarin oranges has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to treat colds, coughs and digestion/abdominal issues.

The orange was introduced to Spain (then called Andalucia), encouraging the construction of then-complex irrigation systems to help cultivate the orange orchards in the 10th century. The sweet orange specifically was unknown to most until the late 15th/early 16th century; both Italian and Portuguese traders brought the first orange trees into the Mediterranean area.

After its introduction to the Mediterranean, the orange attracted the eye of the wealthy. Private conservatories, called orangeries, were essentially orange orchards maintained by those with money and power, who considered the fruit a luxury!

The territory of the orange expanded rapidly as various expeditions brought the fruit to South America, Mexico, and Florida in the mid-1500s. Between 1700 and the early 1800s, orange trees were introduced to Arizona, San Diego, Los Angeles and Louisiana due to their popularity and edible nature. Citrus trees (including orange trees) were also planted by Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish sailors along trade routes to prevent disease.

Modern day Florida orange orchards came into existence around 1892, when farmers received seeds from New Orleans. The United States still produces a large amount of oranges today, third to Brazil and China.

Uses 

Sweet orange oil is produced using a cold press method on the peel of the orange. This oil can be used for a multitude of products, including flavoring food and drinks, and as a fragrance. Orange oil is also used in furniture polish and many other wood conditioners as well as other household cleaners. It is also commonly used in aromatherapy and as either the solo scent or as a top note in fragrance blends. A few of the uses for orange oil traditionally and commercially:

Household cleaners, furniture polish, wood conditioner

Insect repellent

Said to treat: depression, inflammation, digestive aid, skin issues

Also used as a(n): antiseptic, cancer inhibitor, detoxifier

It is important to note: these observations and claims are made by those who have used orange oil. The FDA has not approved orange oil in a medical capacity, and we are providing this information strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. The HSCG does not make medical claims nor give medical advice.

Orange Oil in Soap and Cosmetics 

We all know the smell of orange; like any citrus, it has an upbeat and cheerful scent reminiscent of summer and warm weather. Considered a top note in regards to fragrance blending, orange blends well with warm scents such as cedarwood, juniper, clove, frankincense, lavender, sandalwood, and other citrus oils. Like many oils, sweet orange oil is available in natural and synthetic form; be sure to check with your supplier to make sure you buy the desired version.

Final Thoughts 

Sweet orange oil has a long history of bringing happiness and providing a warm, pleasant scent to those who use it in perfumes, soaps, lotions, and even household cleaners. What better way to beat the winter blues than to treat your customers to a fresh, pampering product that will make them feel (and smell) as fantastic as a warm summer day!

Need a little help with fragrance blending? Check out our article, “Fantastic Fragrances and How To Blend Them”, available on the HSCG How-To Library: https://www.soapguild.org/how-to/ingredients/beginners-guide-to-fragrance-blending.php

 

Building Your Empire: The Basics of Starting a Handcrafted Business

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We probably don’t have to tell you this, but Handcrafters are a very unique group of people! When you speak to someone who makes handcrafted soap and/or cosmetics, you are talking to a creative mind that is a blend between science, art and a desire to make products that genuinely make the consumer feel good. While some Handcrafters achieve a great level of success, it is important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. If you are standing on the precipice of beginning your own business but aren’t sure whether you are ready to take the leap, keep reading!

The Testing Phase 

Before you begin to sell your product, it’s a good idea to make a number of test batches to use on your own or give to a small group of family members or close friends. Give yourself some time to perfect your recipe and be patient; sometimes, finding the recipe that will set you apart might be hiding behind a few recipes that weren’t quite right.

Nailing down a recipe that you love can be frustrating, and formulation can be difficult when you are first starting out. Make sure to check out the resources at the bottom of this article to help you along your way!

The Product Line 

Once you have honed in on a recipe, it’s time to set your sights on a reasonable product line. To do this, it is a good idea to do a little research about what scents are the most popular and mix in a few of your own creations. Aldreamstime_xl_19300074though making a simply lavender scented soap or lotion can seem too basic when you are trying to make ripples in the big handcrafter pond, these are products that customers love. Be creative with your colorants and additives, and those basic tried-and-true scents will fly off the shelves.

Equipment and Ingredients 

Making products to sell versus making products as a hobby means that your production capabilities will need to expand. Buying or making additional molds, investing in quality immersion blenders, bulk colorants and scents, purchasing drying racks and bulk packaging are all considerations that you should figure into your startup costs. Although there are many things that you can purchase and upgrade as you go, it is important to have the basics purchased and ready to use as needed.

The uncertainty of starting your own business might tempt you to buy lower quality equipment in the beginning, but investing in high quality supplies from the start will help you turn out the kind of high quality products that your customers will love.

Valuing Your Product 

You’ve likely gone to a farmer’s market or craft fair and seen handmade products for sale, and if you are trying to get into the same venues it can be appealing to set your prices lower so that customers will be drawn to your table. Be very careful doing this! Do not undersell your own time and investment for the sole reason of beating your competition’s pricing. This is a dangerous way to potentially sink your business before it has a chance to swim; instead of focusing on the prices of other Handcrafters, focus on making a quality product that is truly worth whatever price you choose to charge. You can do this by using reputable suppliers for your ingredients, making sure to follow good manufacturing practices, and providing education about your products; nothing beats good customer service.

Labeling Your Products 

Following proper labeling regulations, federal and state guidelines is absolutely crucial to building a reputable and legal business. The last thing you need as a hard-working entrepreneur is to run into legal issues because of improperly labeled or misrepresented products! Luckily, there are resources available to help you understand labeling guidelines. The HSCG offers an article in our How-To Library written by labeling and good manufacturing practice pro Marie Gale; Marie also has a treasure trove of useful information on her own site-make sure to check out the links at the end of this article for more information.

Branding 

Let’s touch on branding for a moment. What will make your business recognizable? What visually will set you products apart? Having complimentary packaging and a relatively easy to spell and pronounce brand name will make your products stand out before your customer ever lays a hand on them. Stick to easy to read fonts, make sure that everything is spelled correctly on your signage and labels, and use only high quality images for any artwork you’ll be displaying on both. There is immeasurable value in a cohesive label and brand!

Insurance and Membership 

There are different options for insurance, but whether you choose to be protected by the HSCG’s policy or a different company, make sure you are protected. This is so very important! Carrying insurance means the difference between losing everything to a lawsuit, or bouncing back. Peace of mind is invaluable, to both you and your customers. At the HSCG, we offer insurance coverage for every budget and business level through Veracity Insurance Solutions (U.dreamstime_xl_6168250S) or Steer Insurance (Canada). This insurance will cover you in a wide variety of circumstances. For example, say you are set up at a craft fair and the place is crowded! You’ve got a fantastic new tablecloth on your table and your setup is beautiful. Along comes a customer, peering in to take a look at your amazing products when suddenly, her shoe catches on your tablecloth and she trips right into your display. Now, she wants to sue you because your tablecloth was a tripping hazard. At this particular moment, it doesn’t matter whether she is right or wrong; all that matters is the insurance policy you bought or decided you didn’t need because your business was not big enough, or you only planned to sell at a handful of craft fairs during the year. It only takes one moment to bring down a business; do not let the size of your operation or the frequency of your sales dissuade you from purchasing a policy that could protect you from disastrous legal consequences later on.

Specifically in regards to the HSCG, insurance comes at a significant discount if you are a current member. Memberships start at $140.00 per year and have many, many benefits! Supplier discounts, shipping discounts, optional personal insurance and an annual conference that is the biggest and most vibrant of it’s kind are only a handful of the fantastic benefits at your fingertips with a membership. Joining the HSCG community gives you resources beyond discounts; the ability to network with fellow Handcrafters via our Member’s Only Facebook Discussion Group is a great way to keep up with industry trends and get real-world advice from those with the same passion as you.

What to Expect When You’re Entrepreneuring 

First and foremost, do not expect that you will turn a profit immediately. Starting a business with the expectation of immediately making money will lead you to disappointment. Start your business because you truly love your craft and as cliché as it may sound, the money will follow. Passion and genuine creativity are like the frosting on a quality cake; it is the first thing people will see when they look at and use your products, and it will be the first thing they remember when they decide to buy your products again.

Final Thoughts 

Starting a handmade business is a challenge, but there are many resources available to help you through each step. It is normal to feel overwhelmed, but stay the course. Hard work and determination will help you make a standout product and build your entrepreneurial empire.

For helpful tips and information regarding regulations, check out the links below:

HSCG Radio: https://www.soapguild.org/how-to/radio.php (for podcasts you can listen to on the go!)

HSCG How-To Library: https://www.soapguild.org/how-to/ (an ever-growing resource for the beginner and experienced handcrafter)

State Regulations: http://www.mariegale.com/state-agencies/ (a comprehensive listing of available online resources state-to-state)

HSCG Insurance FAQ: https://www.soapguild.org/insurance/insurance-faq.php

HSCG Insurance Comparison Chart: https://www.soapguild.org/insurance/compare.php

HSCG Membership Overview: https://www.soapguild.org/membership/