HSCG Member Spotlight: Master Certification Recipients

HSCG Master Certified Soapmakers

Are you exited? Because WE’RE excited! I must say that I do love the fresh smell of ambition in the morning…

For those who may not know, one of the many Member Benefits of the HSCG is the opportunity to partake in the Certification Program.

 Long story short,  there are  3 levels of certification: Basic, Advanced, and Master.  Each available in either the CP/HP -or- the MP category, and each a bit more difficult/involved than the last (and no, you can’t just skip ahead & start at the Master level. You are required to start at the bottom, and pass you way up!)

The Master Certification level is the third and final level of Certification that an HSCG Member can achieve.

Comprised of 4 separate parts & allowed up to 2 years to complete it, this test is not for the faint of heart, people.  Just think of it as the SAT’s of HSCG soapmaking certification.  The Master level was implemented in 2012 to further evaluate the knowledge & experience of the soapmaker, along with their ability to research & investigate new areas, & expand the awareness of the handcrafted soapmaking community.  

If you were able to join us in Indianapolis, IN this past April for the annual conference, then you had the pleasure of helping us congratulate the very first 2 HSCG members ever to be awarded the HSCG Master Certification: Anne-Marie Faiola of Bramble Berry Inc., & Jackie Thompson of Gaily Rebecca Soaps!

HSCG President Feleciai Favroth presents Anne-Marie Faiola with her Master Certification award at the 2015 HSCG Conference.

“Completing the master certification has brought me the confidence in knowing that Bramble Berry and I can complete even the most daunting of soap challenges. We also gained much applicable knowledge in regards to lye production and transparent/melt and pour soap production.” ~ A.M. Faiola 

Having started making soap when she was 16 years old, it’s no surprise that this evolved entrepreneur was one of the first to complete this process.  However even with so much experience & success, when asked if she learned anything new that she might not have otherwise known before deciding to take the Master Certification, Anne-Marie gladly shed some light:

          “…There were many things! To name a few: the history of lye production, the chemistry of melt and pour and what the components do, how cream soap differs from something like bath whip, as well as the production methods for these items that could be applied to house made items at Bramble Berry.”

HSCG President Feleciai Favroth presents Jackie Thompson with her Master Certification award at the 2015 HSCG Conference.

Jackie Thompson, most well known for her adventures & experiments with liquid soapmaking,  was also kind enough to answer a few post-certification questions for us!  When asked about the process as a whole & whether or not she would recommend it to another soapmaker member, her answer was resoundingly positive:

“Of course I would recommend and have recommended other soapmakers complete the Master Certification! If nothing else the Master Certification creates a feeling of accomplishment as well as the understanding there is still so much more to learn.  It also gives the soapmaker a chance to understand the avenue of expertise they are especially equipped to focus in their soapmaking journey…beneficial for the soapmaker as well as the soapmaking community.”

(To read the entire Q&A with these lovely ladies, click here!)

So what are YOUR thoughts? Are YOU an HSCG Certified Member? What do you feel that you got out of the Certification process? We want to know! Drop us a line in the comments below to share your Certification story!

Get Certified at Conference!

See that? That’s the fist pump of glory, which you may be doing upon gaining one certification (or several, because you got it like that) at this year’s conference. That’s right, this year is the year you’re going to throw down and show off your soapmaking virtuosity, all while communing with 400 of us for 3 days in the sun (or conference rooms, from which we may or may not just peer out at the sun, but really, you’ll be too busy to notice and any way, outdoor temperatures in Tucson in May may not be your bag) at the lovely Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona.

this could be you, minus perhaps the fancy dress

Annual conferences are the perfect place to get certified. We provide the testing location and a proctor – you only have to bring yourself and your great big brain. Have some questions about the logistics of certification at the conference? Well, my friends, you have come to the right post. Without further ado:

What do I need to do when I check in at the conference?
Find the Certification table (usually near the Exhibitor Area, but we can help steer you in the right direction when you check in) and submit your soap samples and required documentation as soon as humanly possible.

How soon do I need to make soap?
Yesterday! No, we kid – continue to breathe. You’ve probably already been perfecting your recipe, but you likely want to give yourself a good 6 weeks to cure your hot and cold process soaps and a month to perfect your melt and pour designs. We have a little less than 11 weeks until conference, so no time like the present to get cracking on those soap samples.

Can I sign up for certification at the conference?
Totally (but it will cost you more). Save yourself some change (so you can win it all in the raffle) and register for certification here on the website before the conference.

taking a certification test is not as scary as this looks

When can I take the tests?
We have two slots for certification testing: Monday, May 19, at 6:00pm and Wednesday, May 21 at 7:00am.

Can I take multiple certification tests?
Absolutely! Members often take both the Basic Melt and Pour and Cold Process/Hot Process certification tests at the same time.

I want to take a basic and an advanced certification test.
Go for it! You have to pass the basic before you take next level test, so plan to take your basic exam on Monday evening and your advanced exam Wednesday morning (unless, of course you’re taking a basic MP and an advanced CP and you have already obtained a basic CP certification – in this case, you’re welcome to take both tests during the same time slot, if you like, all Rambo-style).

Does anybody really take a test at 7:00 am?
You betcha. Just remember that Tuesday night when you are boogie-ing down at the special evening events. Certified soapmakers need their beauty scientific rest.

if your ancestors took a soapmaking certification test, it may have looked like this

How long do I have to take the tests?
You have 1 hour to complete each test.

What should I bring with me?
Bring a pen or pencil. Unless you have a great fondness for long division, bring a simple calculator (adds, divides, multiplies, subtracts, but is not a scientific graphing or programmable calculator). For both Melt and Pour and Cold Process/Hot Process advanced tests, don’t forget that you need to bring soap samples as specificed in your certification requirement documents.

But wait, I have more questions…what if? Will I need? What about? Can I?
First, breathe. Then ask away – here or anywhere you see us online. Don’t worry, our friendly Certification Chair, Barb De Los Santos is here to help. Contact her through certification@soapguild.org and have all of your burning questions answered before test day.

Most importantly, make sure to check out the website sections dedicated to certification. It’s truly a pot of gold at the end (err, beginning?) of the studying rainbow (it wasn’t good, but we went there). You’ll find loads of information regarding each test, requirements, and practice exams to build your confidence. Be an informed test taker and boldly go where all the certified soapmakers go!

Best of luck to all of our certification hopefuls! Happy studying and see you in Tucson!

5 Benefits of Certification

Have you been considering certification with the HSCG? Wondering why one would be certified? Check out what a few of our members have to say about how certification has helped their businesses:


“Certification Badges are a great way to add credibility to your business cards, web site, LinkedIn profile and Facebook page. It gives a professional touch to all your marketing efforts.

Certification shows that you take your work seriously, that you are dedicated to the profession and that you care about the quality and safety of the products you create.

Certification raises you above the crowd at craft shows and fairs. People are more willing to buy from a certified soapmaker than one who isn’t.”

— Sharon C., The Great Lakes Natural Soap Co.

Tami at Grow America

“I am grateful for the certification process available through the HSCG as it helps differentiate me from other soap makers/soap teachers who have not gone through the certification process. Certification demonstrates that I seek to be knowledgeable about my industry enough to seek out and complete certification.”

— Tami T., Beehive Soap and Body Care.


Customers are pleased to see that I am certified and they express how it gives them added confidence in buying from me that my products are safe and of good quality”

— Beth B., Soap and Garden


“We tell almost everyone that we are both Advanced Certified.  It does give them more confidence in buying our products.”

— Lauri I., SACS and Co.


“Here’s a personal story:  My daughter is applying for a seizure alert and behavioral interruption dog for my grandson with special needs. One of the requirements is public awareness through fundraising a portion of the dog’s expense. All fundraisers must be approved through the association and their guidelines are very stringent. In applying for fundraising through selling gift sets of our handcrafted soap, being an advanced certified soapmaking member of the HSCG with liability insurance gave us the credentials we needed to get our foot in the door.”

— Jackie T.

From getting your foot in the door to impressing the pants off your customers, sounds pretty good, right? Log in and learn more about certification, plan to be certified at the 2014 Annual Conference, or arrange a proctored or group exam. Certified members, log in and retrieve your Certified Soapmaker badge.

How has certification helped your business?