Growing Your Business: 6 Things to Look for When Choosing a Trade Association

When you talk to Handcrafters, you hear many positive things. Handcrafters love to help people feel beautiful, love to innovate when it comes to formulation, and especially love to educate others about their products.

One thing that the majority of Handcrafters we’ve spoken to also voice is the loneliness of the industry. Because the art of making handcrafted soap and cosmetics is still a growing industry and Handcrafters are located all over the globe, they sometimes feel disconnected or isolated.

Another common negative is the lack of insurance options, and the desire to protect their business. Handcrafters want peace of mind so that they don’t have to worry about what might happen-they want to focus on growing their business and expanding their line.

These are a few common reasons why Handcrafters seek us out, and the HSCG prides itself on being dependable, trustworthy and full of benefits for ever Handcrafter level. So today, we are going to lay out six ways you can differentiate the great trade associations from the not-so great ones so that you can get the most out of your business.

  1. What benefits does it offer? Let’s be honest; when you seek out an organization to join, you’re probably searching for something that directly benefits your business-that’s just good business sense! Take a serious look at the benefits that offered by the organization you’re considering before you join. Will you use them? Will the benefits help further your business? If one of the benefits is insurance, have you read the coverage to understand if it truly envelops your whole business? If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, keep searching. (Check out the HSCG’s benefits to get an idea of what you should be looking for)
  2. Does the organization have a good reputation? This is important. Put those Facebook stalking skills to good use and do a good ol’ fashioned search for the organization you’re considering. Do they have positive reviews, and are they recent reviews? Take a look at the content they are posting. If they post educational material on social media or on their own site, browse through it and check for obvious errors. Ultimately, you will be aligning your business with this organization, and if they are not reputable your business reputation may also take a hit.
  3. How is their customer service? This one is very important, especially if you are considering purchasing insurance through the organization. In this age of digital communication, most businesses have a Facebook page with the option to message, a listed email address and/or a chat option on their website; make sure that the organization you’re considering does too. If they have a phone listed, give them a call and ask your questions over the phone. Checking for comprehensive customer service first will help you avoid any surprises if they don’t communicate well later.
  4. How does the organization further the industry? This is a big one. Does it exist only to offer insurance, or does it provide advocacy in the changing world of legislation? Check to see if there are educational opportunities like certification programs, listed teachers and classes that you can either take advantage of, or participate in. (The HSCG’s main goal is to further the industry-check out our Legislative Advocacy and Certification Program.)
  5. Why does the organization exist? Learning the reason why the organization started in the first place will give you insight into what their goals are. If they do not exist to further the industry, keep searching.
  6. Most importantly, is the association legitimate? We want to think that when we see a company’s website or talk to a customer service representative in their office, they are honestly representing themselves-but unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Are they claiming to be a non-profit? You don’t have to take that at face value! A simple search will usually tell you if the organization is actually a registered non-profit. Take a peek at the way their organization runs, too. Do they have bylaws and policies in place? This may seem like it doesn’t affect you, but it will; official bylaws and policies mean that the organization has plans in place to keep business running fairly and ethically. (The HSCG’s Bylaws are available for public view; Members may log in and access the HSCG Policies through the Member Area.)

Final Thoughts 

Choosing an organization to join when it comes to your business doesn’t have to be the most difficult decision you’ll ever make. Take into consideration what you hope to gain from your experience and membership with them. Also take into consideration their dependability; if they promise to deliver experiences, education and services but fail to do so, look elsewhere! Your organization should be as dependable, trustworthy, and downright awesome as you are…never settle for less!

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; 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 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.


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.


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: