Fantastic Fragrances and How to Blend Them

Making soaps and cosmetics yourself is an art form made up of numerous art forms; formulating, color theory, and fragrance blending are just some of the creative components needed to make a truly standout product. The art of perfumery and fragrance blending is extensive and complex; today, we are going to cover the basics and also take a peek back into the rich history behind the human race’s fascination and love for pleasing scent combinations.

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 People have been blending scents to create olfactory experiences for thousands of years; at least 5,316 years to be exact! The world’s first recorded chemist was a perfume maker named Tapputi, a woman who is mentioned in the Cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. Between 3300-1300 BCE, perfume and perfumery was documented in the Indus Civilization, too. In fact, one of the earliest distillations of ittar (also known as attar) was mentioned in the Hindu Ayurvedic Texts (Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita). 

Between 2004 and 2005, the oldest perfumery known to date was discovered on the island of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean. This factory existed approximately 4,000 years ago, during the Bronze age; it is estimated to have covered a little over 43,000 sq-ft (4000 m2), which tells us that at this point, perfume manufacturing was on an industrial scale.

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Islamic cultures made significant contributions to the development of Western perfumery in two ways: by honing the process of extracting fragrances through steam distillation, and by introducing new raw materials. After the rise of Christianity ended the use of perfume in most of the Middle East, Muslims improved its production and kept using it in their daily routines and while practicing their religion. In Islamic culture, use of perfume and fragrance blends dates back to the 6th century.

The very first modern perfume was produced by the Hungarians in 1370, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth of Hungary and known in Europe as “Hungary Water”. In the 16th century, Catherine de’ Medici’s personal perfumer, Rene le Florentin, brought Italian refinements to the perfumery and fragrance blending process from Renaissance Italy to France; his laboratory was kept a secret, and was connected via hidden passageways to Catherine’s apartment so that no one could steal his formulas en route!

Perfume grew in popularity exponentially in France during the 17th century. Perfumed gloves fragranceblending3were extremely popular, but with a caveat; French perfumers would also create poisons disguised as perfumes to be worn by unsuspecting victims.

The 18th century was the golden era of perfume, as Louis XV came to the throne; his court was called la cour parfumée (the perfumed court). King Louis demanded a different fragrance in his presence each day. Perfume was substituted for soap and water, and by the end of the 18th century, aromatic plants were being growing in France to subsidize the rapidly expanding perfume industry.

Fast forward to modern times; perfume and fragrance blends are still sought after luxuries that have become a part of both men and women’s daily routines. Fragrance is everywhere; perfumes, soaps, cosmetics, candles, cleaning products; comforting and clean scents can elevate a person’s mood or bring back memories, and consumers love the experience a well made fragrance elicits.

 

Speaking Fragrance 

As we said in the beginning of this article, fragrance blending is a complex and extensive art form that is not mastered overnight. The best thing to do when you decide to blend your own scents is to become familiar with some of the terms and definitions you will commonly find while learning about fragrance blending and perfumery.

Note(s): Notes in fragrance blending and perfumery describe the level, intensity and vibrancy of scents detected in a blend. There are three classes of notes: top (head), middle (heart), and base notes. 

Top Note: Also referred to as a “head note”, top notes are the scent that is recognized immediately upon smelling the blend. Top notes form a consumer’s first impression, and play a key part in sales based on their appeal. Usually, top notes are described as “assertive”, “robust” or “strong”. Some examples of top notes are: lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, eucalyptus, and bergamot. 

Middle Note: Also referred to as the “heart note”, middle notes can be described as the scent that becomes apparent just as the top note is dissipating. Typically described as “well rounded” or “mellow”. Some examples of middle notes are: rose, marjoram, cinnamon, chamomile, and tea tree. 

Base Note: Base notes are best described as the scent that appears just as the middle note is disappearing. Some examples of base notes are: frankincense, cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli, and vanilla. 

Aroma: A term used to describe the sensation between taste and smell. This sensation can be invoked by scents like vanilla, chocolate or coffee. 

Cloying: A descriptive word for a smell that is excessively or “sticky” sweet. An example of this would be cotton candy fragrance oil. 

Earthy: A descriptive word for a scent that smells of freshly overturned earth, roots and a mustiness. For example, oakmoss and vetiver. 

Floral: Describes flower type scents, such as rose or lilac. 

Dry: A scent that can be described as lacking in the dewy or watery element that brings to mind crisp vegetables or fruits. A dry scent can be mineral-like or woody. 

Bitter: Describes a smell that is without sweetness and “sharp”. Not always an unpleasant quality, when utilized properly. 

Flat: A blend or scent lacking in richness and variety; can be perceived as bland. 

Forest/Woodsy: Described as an earthy or mossy scent. For example, cedar and oak. 

Fresh: A scent that energizes the person smelling it. Typically, this will nature-inspired or citrusy scents.

Herbaceous: Scents that are also frequently used in cooking and have a warm, earthy smell. For example, rosemary and basil. 

Medicinal or Camphorous: Pungent scents that have been used for the treatment of a variety of ailments. For example, eucalyptus and tea tree. 

Minty: A strong, crisp smell; usually associated with cleanliness. For example, pepperming and spearmint. 

Oriental: Warm, tangy scents. For example, patchouli and ginger. 

Fruity: Evokes the thought of fresh, ripe edible fruits. 

Citrus: A crisp, clean smell produced by citrus fruits like orange, lemon and lime. 

Spicy: Pungent notes like cinnamon and ginger that give a pleasant (or sometimes unpleasant) warm sensation. 

Sweet: Can be described as a scent that shares characteristics with a sweet taste. 

Fungal: Scents like mushrooms or mold are categorized as fungal. 

Green: A family of scents comprised of smells like fresh cut grass or a warm, live forest. 

Harmonious: In fragrance blending, harmonious indicates a blend that is well balanced and unified using amicable scents. 

Harsh: The opposite of harmonious; unbalanced, unpleasant. 

Light: Typically a non-sweet, non-cloying fragrance with a prevailing fresh note. 

Depth: This refers to the complexity and richness of the blend; full-bodied is also used to describe this sensation. 

Profile: The makeup of the blend and notes within. 

These are just some of the many terms and definitions used when blending fragrances; this is by no means the comprehensive and definitive list of all terms.

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Blending Basics 

As with any project, taking the proper safety precautions when blending fragrances is very important. Wearing gloves and goggles or glasses will ensure that you do not get the oils you are working with in your eyes; an unpleasant sensation that will take away from your blending experience for sure!

Safety: check. Now it’s time to take a look at what scents blend well together to create a harmonious, pleasant scent! Generally, oils that share a category will blend well. Here are a few examples to get you started:

Florals: Blend well with woodsy, citrusy or spicy oils (think cedar, cinnamon, orange).

Woodsy: These oils are versatile because they can really be combined with any of the categories (floral, earthy, herbaceous, minty, medicinal, spicy, oriental or citrus).

Spicy: Spicy scents blend well with floral, citrus and oriental oils, but be mindful not to overpower your blend with the spicy oils. Oriental type oils also share these matches, and the same risk of overpowering a blend; use sparingly for the best results.

Minty: Minty oils blend well with citrus, woodsy, herbaceous and earthy oils.

Now that you’ve got an idea of what oils go together, think about how you will blend them. Starting out small with a new mixture is the key to perfecting the blend; start out with drops in increments of 5 (5, 10, 15, 20, etc). Try not to exceed 20 drops total; a small scale like this will give you plenty of wiggle room to add as you like, without producing as much waste if you do not like the results. Speaking of waste, skip the carrier oils and alcohol during your formulation process to avoid wasting them if you are not happy with how your blend has turned out.

Establishing a ratio for your blends is also important. A common ratio for beginners: 30% top notes, 50% middle notes, and 20% base notes. The beauty of fragrance blending, like any other creative art form, is that there are no strict rules; this is merely a suggestion to get you started. Tweak and configure your ratio to fit your desired scent. Once you have blended your oils, let them sit for a bit; it can be tempting to use them immediately, or dislike them immediately. Instead, let them sit for a few days to allow the chemicals to truly interact and round out your blend.

Keeping Track 

Keeping your blends organized is crucial in the creative process. Keep a notebook or binder detailing the contents of each blend. Include things like the name of the supplier you received your oils and carriers from, the contents of the notes, and pros and cons of the scent. Describe what you enjoy about the scent, or what it reminds you of. Also, it is a good idea to note whether the scent changed after being left for a number of days, and if it was allowed to sit, how long this process took. Recording your recipe in detail like this will help you to revisit your best or worst blends intuitively, and either improve upon them or use them time and again with continued success.

In addition to keeping a notebook, make sure to label the bottles you are storing your blends in clearly and neatly; if the name or combination is too long, you can use numbers instead to correspond with the description in your notebook or binder to make things a bit easier. Make sure that the outside of your container is clean

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Final Thoughts 

Blending fragrances is an intense practice in patience and creativity. Mastering fragrance blending is no easy feat, and can take years to accomplish. The most important part of this process is to remember that, although there are guidelines for blending to help streamline the creative process, no two blenders employ the exact same techniques. Use your own preferences and vision for your product to determine its contents; each sense of smell is different; what smells a bit questionable to you might be someone else’s new favorite scent!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on fragrance blending basics! We’d love to hear about your favorite creations and the creative techniques you’ve used to perfect them. You can leave a comment here, or feel free to leave a comment on the Facebook post for this article!

Mind Your Manners: Social Media Etiquette for Your Business

 

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Social media; whether you love it or hate it on a personal level, its positive advertising potential is undeniable. A large majority of people, businesses, and organizations utilize at least one social media site; many take advantage of multiple platforms to get the most visibility. As with any advertising opportunity, one of the most important things to consider when you are in the public eye is your etiquette.

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“Did you see Ye Olde Shoppe’s awful response to my inquiry on their Facebook page? #Rude.”

Etiquette (or when referring to online behavior, netiquette)  is relative to the situation, but manners have changed quite a bit over the past few decades. Businesses are expected to put forth a professional and polite image at all times; even if they may think the customer is wrong. Where interactions between customer and business were primarily face to face before, now, some of your only interactions with your customers will be online. Because social media is public, this poses interesting opportunities; both the opportunity to spread the word positively about your business, and opportunity to lose dozens, if not hundreds, of current and potential buyers with a single post.

Following a few common sense rules of etiquette for your social media presence will help you to avoid situations where negative customer feedback or misunderstood posts could jeopardize your business. So, let’s talk manners!

 

Building a Positive Presence

 Before you’re ready to create your very first post, you must set up your business account on whichever social media platform(s) you have chosen. Avoid using your personaetiquette2l account to promote your business; having a separate page that your friends can choose to like and follow will be much easier down the road when others who may not be friends with you personally would like to check out your business. Once you’ve set up your business’ page, you’re not done. Resist the temptation to set a profile picture and begin posting. Set up your page completely and with all pertinent information filled out. An empty page will tell people that you are not ready to sell, are not organized, or are a spam page; all things which will deter potential customers.

Let’s Talk About Grammar

etiquette3 As a business, one of the most important things you can do on social media is make sure that you are spelling your posts correctly, using correct grammar, and utilizing proper punctuation. It is more common to write posts on our mobile devices now, and even though that’s convenient, autocorrect is not always our friend. Double and triple check your post to make sure that it reads properly. Also, avoid posting in all caps; this looks very unprofessional if used through an entire post.

 

On the subject of proper language use, let’s talk about hashtags! Hashtags are a marvelous tool that, when used properly, will allow your post to be organized with other like posts. There are a few things to remember when using hashtags, however:

-#Do #Not #Make #Your #Entire #Post #Hashtags. That wasn’t fun to read, was it? It won’t be fun for your customers either; in fact, they will most likely disregard your post completely. A proper hashtag would be: Do not make your entire post hashtags. #properhashtag #socialmediaetiquette. Easy, right?

Search your hashtag first. Recently, several large companies used hashtags to promote their product that were actually associated with serious issues such as domestic violence. Make sure that you search whatever hashtag you intend to use first so that you can avoid any social blunders when you post.

 

Consistency vs. Repetition

 In social media marketing, it is important to be consistent without become repetitive. For example, you’ve just begun selling a fantastic holiday scented soap; great! Your buyers will love to hear about this; but they will not love to hear about it over, and over, and over again via a copied and pasted post. If you have a new product or event that you’d like to promote, find inventive ways to do it. Avoid being repetitive by writing a new post each time with different wording. Is it snowing? Mention how wonderful a holiday scented soap would smell in the shower. Two weeks until Thanksgiving? Holiday scented soap makes a perfect gift for whoever is hosting your meal. By tying the item or event you’d like to market in with different posts, you will appeal to a wider audience without losing followers because of perceived spam.

Consistency is also key. Try to post once per day in order to stay relevant, but no more than three times per day (two should be your maximum goal). Try not to post too close together, or your previous post may get lost in the shuffle; posting once in the morning and once in the afternoon is a great way to get more views.  A common rule when it comes to posting on social media is the 80/20 rule: post 80% information and entertainment posts, 20% marketing posts for your business. In this aggressive era of internet marketing, those who follow your page have likely trained themselves to skip past posts aimed at marketing to them. Make your page likable and relatable by posting funny, industry related memes, thought provoking, industry related questions, and interesting, industry related news. You’ll notice there’s a common denominator there; industry related. 

 

Draw the Appropriate Line

 Let’s talk about the content of your posts. There are many things in the news now that spark differing and sometimes angry opinions; before you share that political meme or article to your business page, take a moment to consider the following;

Does this article teach my followers about my business or the industry I’m a part of?

-Is this meme relatable without making any of my followers feel targeted?

-Is this post detracting from the point of my page?

 

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Avoid giving your followers a reason to make this face at their phone.

It’s nearly impossible to please everyone, but it is possible to keep your business image separate from your personal beliefs to represent your product; this is why it is imperative to keep your business and personal pages separate. Try posting things to engage your customers; for example, try something simple like “What is your favorite fall scent?” or “What products would you like to see in the future?” Asking open ended questions will start a dialogue between you and your customers and can also give you valuable insight into your customer base. Now that you have people talking on your page, let’s move on to the next topic-replying to your customers.

 

To Reply or Not to Reply

 Have you asked an open-ended question and gotten some great feedback? Wonderful! Reply to it. Even if it’s something as simple as “Thank you for your input”, people like to know that they’ve been heard. It makes them feel appreciated for supporting your business, and let’s face it; without their input or loyalty, your business wouldn’t exist. On the flip-side, have you asked an open ended question and gotten a complaint? The uncomfortable news is, you still need to answer it. The better news is, you can decide how to do that.

If the complaint is constructive and polite, answer it publicly, and then follow up privately . If someone points out that they have waited additional days to receive product, or that a product didn’t arrive to their liking, don’t ignore it, and definitely don’t delete it. Respond honestly. “I’m so sorry that our service wasn’t up to our usual standards. Please check your inbox, we’ll be sending you a message in a few moments to get more feedback and your information! Thank you for giving us a chance to correct this.” Something along these lines will show others that you take complaints seriously, and handle them politely. Once you’ve posted this, proceed to send the person either an email or a direct message through whichever social media platform you are using. If you don’t follow up, there is a chance they will post publicly again, and the second time it might not be as polite.

If the complaint is rude, and/or uses obscene or derogatory language, remove it. You do not have to tolerate rude and abusive posts on your business’ page. In this case, it would be wise to remove the offending post and then reach out to the person directly to solve the issue.

In any communication that you have, it is important to reply quickly and professionally. Doing this shows your buyers that you truly care about their business, and it will help to build a stronger relationship; most people now would rather send a quick message than make a phone call, and making that option available and reliable is a good business practice.

Don’t Spam.

 No one likes a spammer! Don’t go to other business’ pages (unless of course you’ve been specifically asked to) and post your business information. If you find a brilliant status and you want to use it, give credit where it’s due; giving this kind of of recognition will help you to build respectful relationships with other business pages or customers. Lastly, don’t retaliate. This one can be difficult, especially if another business is taking the moral low-ground against your business on social media. Resist the urge to fight back; your customers will respect you more for not engaging in social media battles. If this is an ongoing issue and you feel it must be addressed, issue a polite, professionally worded public statement clearing up any misunderstandings about your company without name-calling or derogatory hate-speak.

 

Final Thoughts

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 Social media is an amazing tool that can help you spread the word about your business and products and can connect you with thousands of potential buyers. However, it is also important to remember that written communication such as emails, social media posts, text messages or even letters, can be easily taken out of context. Be mindful of what you post so that you can give others the best possible impression of your business!

Behind the Scenes: How Your Conference Comes to Life

It’s a changeable afternoon in Upstate New York; the kind of fall day in this area that makes everyone look a bit foolish. It’s mild, but there’s a cold breeze; the sun shines in the morning, but by early afternoon it’s pouring rain. This isn’t exactly the kind of weather that makes you think of a warm, desert atmosphere, surrounded by hundreds of your passionate, handcrafting buddies-but that’s exactly what Leigh O’Donnell, Executive Director and conference planner extraordinaire, and I are talking about on this particular day.

Leigh has a confident way about her, and when I sat down to talk to her for this interview, I knew exactly the type of answers I’d get; to the point, realistic and honest facts about the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild’s Annual Conference and the immense amount of planning that goes into it. I’ve worked with Leigh for a little over a year now, and I’ve seen her serious, jovial, busy, determined; but not shaken. Planning a conference for hundreds of people? She’s got this.

HSCG VP – Charlene Simon, Leigh O’Donnell, HSCG President – Feleciai Favroth

Leigh attended her first Annual Conference in 2004, was on the conference crew in 2005, and began planning the event in 2006; 2017 will be the 12th conference she’s planned, and you can tell; she knows the welds and rivets of this conference as if she was the captain of a very large, very exciting ship.

When I ask her what distinguishes the HSCG Annual Conference as the premier event in our industry, she says, “the level of professionalism is through the roof with this event.” She goes on to explain that “the participation of vendors, sponsors and speakers is unique because they stay through the entire event; they will interact with attendees at meals, sessions, and parties.” What she’s describing is one of the most amazing parts of this event-everyone is accessible. You may find yourself sitting next to a speaker or your favorite supplier at the Networking Lunch, a favorite for meeting new friends and making new connections. The Networking Lunch is a great example of the comprehensive experience that the HSCG is looking to offer; the point of the conference and the planning that goes into it is to create an immersive attendee experience that gives handcrafters not only the ability to be in the same room as their favorite educators and vendors, but the opportunity to reach out to them on a personal level.

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The 2016 Annual Meeting

In fact, this intensive, focused planning is what Leigh says is her favorite part about planning the conference. When I ask her what her favorite part of the organizational process is, she says “I think trying to think three dimensionally. When an attendee walks in, what will they see? What will their experience be?” she pauses for a minute, “We want them to have a successful experience and all the moving parts of the conference are planned with that goal.” If the conference is a huge machine, the attendee’s experience can be thought of as the gears that make it move. Without taking each experience personally into consideration, the conference would be just another event; and this careful planning is exactly why it’s the best and biggest of it’s kind in the world.

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A small-scale view of an enormous undertaking-volunteers will move and empty between hundreds of boxes before the event starts.

If you’ve attended one of our Annual Conferences, you know that one of the most amazing parts is the dedication and passion of the volunteers who help keep it running smoothly. I ask Leigh, what do you look for in a volunteer? “Someone who can take physical and mental abuse with a smile!” she says, laughing. “But seriously…a sense of humor, a strong work ethic, and a passion for the event. Someone who understands how rigorous the conference schedule is, and can keep smiling!”

 

Longtime Conference Volunteer Tom Koenig (Sheriff Tom) and Leigh O’Donnell

 

Now, I’ve only been to one Annual Conference myself, but I was taken aback by the friendliness and grace of the volunteers, even under pressure. Even through difficult times, the staff stayed cool and more importantly, kind. These are passionate, excited handcrafters who have given their time not only to the HSCG to help keep the conference moving, but to their peers to give them the best possible experience; that passion is at the core of what the Annual Conference is all about.

 

Many potential attendees ask the same question; How is the venue chosen? When I ask Leigh this, she says, “Cleanliness, but really, how do you feel when you walk in the door?” By putting herself in the shoes of the attendees when considering a venue, from the very beginning, the experience is faithfully planned not just around the educational and networking experiences an attendee will have, but how the environment and meeting space will make them feel. Leigh shared with me that its not all about location, although that’s important. It’s also important to the HSCG that the venue is comfortable, clean, well taken care of and lends its own positive experience to the overall event. Considerations like proximity of the meeting rooms to the exhibitor space, and the general conference area to the guest rooms are all taken into account when choosing a venue. Location does play a part in planning, however; the Annual Conference moves around the country to try to give the fairest chance to everyone that wants to attend. Because the Annual Conference has grown so much in the past 10 years (it has gone from less than 80 attendees to over 600 expected attendees in 2017), it is a challenge to find a venue that can house the event; but that hasn’t stopped the HSCG from finding amazing, engaging resorts and hotels each year! 2017’s venue is no different; the Tropicana Las Vegas is a beautiful property with an abundance of amenities, not to mention its prime location on the Vegas strip. Best of all, meeting, exhibitor and meal areas are all located in the same building and in close proximity to each other and the guest rooms, making the Tropicana Las Vegas a comprehensive experience from start to finish.

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It’s a Florida morning-sunrise at the beautiful Saddlebrook Resort (2016)

Planning an event of this size isn’t an overnight task, and when I ask Leigh when planning officially begins, she laughs. “I have a two week rule: no one is allowed to say the word ‘conference’ in front of me for two weeks after the conference. Of course, I always break that rule.” In reality, she says that the conference planning begins nearly 2 ½ years before the actual event. Venue selection is a time consuming process, and it is important to make sure that the desired dates and conference space are available; this is why Leigh chooses the venue locations so far in advance. As for the meat and potatoes of the planning, this typically starts a month or two after the previous conference ends, and the speaker selection process begins.

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Planning takes place at every level, beginning with the well-choreographed Registration process.

“If someone has a passion and a fire, it projects onto the attendees.” Leigh tells me when I ask how the speakers are chosen. She says that a few things are taken into consideration: what topics we have had in the past (so that there aren’t many if any repeats), and what credentials a speaker has. By credentials, she explains, she does not mean a degree or certifications (although this helps, too). If someone has passion and knowledge when it comes to the subject they are interested in speaking about, that will translate into a successful speaker session, and those are the speakers she loves to work with. Speakers are also considered based on referrals from fellow attendees, members and vendors; there are many factors to consider when choosing the perfect speaker, and no detail is overlooked.

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Infused water from the 2016 Conference, one of the many small meal details that was planned with an experience in mind.

Choosing pieces of the conference like the speakers and venue are obviously very important, but another important consideration when planning the conference is the cost. “The conference eats and feeds itself,” Leigh says, “As a not-for-profit, our goal is to make enough to cover the cost of the conference; we would rather come out ahead by a small margin rather than fall short.” As a trade association, it is the HSCG’s duty to keep the cost of the conference low while presenting a well-planned, innovative event to the industry. Making this event available at an attainable cost level is important to Leigh and the HSCG; it goes hand in hand with the location. Accessibility means traveling around the country and intense negotiations with venues to keep room rates low, while maintaining the type of quality that the Guild has taken pride in over the past years. The registration cost is determined by a few things; expenses for speakers and staff/volunteers, cost of printed materials and graphics, cost of the venue itself and food for the attendees. Relative to other events, the HSCG has managed to keep the cost of the annual 3  ½ day event low compared to many other large-scale gatherings; a goal that the HSCG keeps in mind when planning each event.

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Leigh’s least favorite part? “When it’s over, and there’s a whole year until another conference.”

By the time we start to wrap up our interview, it’s been 45 minutes; I get the feeling that Leigh could talk about the conference and her vision for it for hours. When I ask her what she believes the future of the conference is, she is optimistic. The HSCG Annual Conference has grown by hundreds of attendees since it first began, and the trend of additional attendees is a definite goal. The conference has been sold out each year since 2010, and is expected to sell out for 2017 once again. Leigh is realistic about this, though. “I would like to keep growth under control; if we went from say, 600 attendees right to 1000 attendees, there’s a chance of a drop in quality and we want to avoid that.” Maintaining the integrity of the conference is important, which is why the attendee limit is raised incrementally from year to year instead of exponentially. What will a large attendance mean for the locations of the conference? “I could see us settling on 3 or 4 major cities due to our size and the space needed for the event.” Leigh says. Don’t worry though, folks; she also reiterated to me that, even if the event was limited to a few standard choices, the quality of the venue would in no way suffer; the HSCG has high standards to meet.

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The 80’s Party, Tampa 2016

This year, as with past years, there are many new faces attending the conference. Attending the conference means something different to everyone, but what everyone seems to share at the conference is a sense of camaraderie. My last question to Leigh was, what is the best advice you can give to a first time attendee? “Lose your fear right away,” she says immediately. “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there-you’re not going to be disappointed.” The Annual Conference is about elevating your industry education and meeting your favorite suppliers face-to-face, sure. But it’s also about meeting and making connections with hundreds of like-minded individuals with the same passion and love for handcrafted soap and cosmetics that you have; a rare sight all in one place. Many attendees, including Leigh herself, have told us that they have made lifelong friendships that started as simply as saying “hi” to someone at their Networking Lunch table, or complimenting another attendee’s outfit at one of the incredible nighttime events at the conference. What you take from the conference personally, if you take the time to get to know your fellow attendees, will be far more valuable than any education you could receive (although that’s pretty great, too).

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Preparing for the last event of the conference-the Award’s Dinner.

Whether this is your first conference or your 10th, each conference has its own personality and experiences; there is something different for each attendee, and no two attendees have the same experience. Speakers will be there to energize and encourage you, vendors will be there to give you the tools to implement what you’ve learned, and the passionate and dedicated volunteers will be there to give you a little nudge in the right direction, just in case you get lost-but who are we kidding, getting lost in a sea of handcrafted soap and cosmetic makers doesn’t sound too bad!

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HSCG VP Charlene Simon, 2016 (and 2017!) Speaker Kevin Dunn, and volunteer Tina Roberts (in the background, being awesome)

The Premier Rate for the Annual Conference will expire on October 31st at 4pm EST; as always, you can visit http://www.soapguild.org/cart/conference/1/registration.php to sign up online, or you can reach us in person at our Saratoga Springs, New York headquarters by calling (866)900-7627, Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm EST.