Meet the 2014 Board Candidates!

We have just over a month until we all gather at the sold out 2014 Annual HSCG Conference – held this year at the Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona. At every conference, we hold an Annual Meeting that is open to all members, whether attending conference or not and every year, we have a few board member seats that are up for election.

This year, while attending Central Soapers Workshop in Kansas, we were lucky enough to catch up to all five candidates for the HSCG Board of Directors. The candidates elected will serve two-year terms starting July 2014. Members will hear more about the candidates as the Annual Meeting draws closer, but we thought we’d take an opportunity to informally get to know this amazing crew.

from left: Benjamin, Holly, Tanya, Tricia, and Charlene

Holly Port of Lotion Bar Café shares that she has no bad shows, just good opportunities to network with other small business owners. That extends beyond shows – she has a long history of donating through nonprofit group Beyond Survival to a Swalizand neighborhood care point (a centralized location where orphans are able to access food, education, medicine, and other support services). Last year, she expanded her caring role by teaching soapmaking via Harvest Home to women in Missouri recovering from abuse and, of course, you may know her from her contributions to the Lovin’ Soap Project publication.  While famous for her bath fizzies, Holly has a seriously soft spot for her lotion bars. When not working, you may find her taking in nature – or just shooting for big winnings in the local bingo hall. “I see huge growth for the HSCG in the future,” Holly says, “and being leaders in the soap and cosmetic industry.”

Benjamin Aaron of Prairie Soap Company, LLC and non-profit Lovin’ Soap Project likes to be a ‘daymaker’ for his wholesale buyers and managers. We suspect he’s busy doing a lot of that lately as he and his Prairie Soap Company team work on expanding their Whole Foods Market reach nationwide. “We took the cuticle world by storm,” Benjamin shares, with Prairie Soap Company’s signature Nourishing Nail Butter, which he credits his business partner (and mom, awwwww) with creating. In addition to running the business, you’ll find him teaching soapmaking both in his Missouri store and in Haiti through the Lovin’ Soap Project. Outside of work, you’ll find Benjamin doing almost anything, as long as it’s outdoors. He envisions the HSCG serving as a catalyst for everyone in the handcrafted cosmetic supply chain. Benjamin shares, “The Guild can serve as the motivation, the inspiration and the fuel for engagement into serious earning power for its members.”

Charlene Simon is the creative genius behind both Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium and Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcake Shoppe, both located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She’s currently in love with the brand new custom blending bar at Bathhouse, which allowing customers their choice of 20 products in over 133 scents. She already has her retirement plan all figured out. “My favorite thing to do in my business is whipping the top of the soaps, watching the coconut oil melt into the warmed olive oil, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE to wrap the soaps. When I’m 80 and can’t pour 150lbs of soap anymore my plan is to be the soap wrapper for Bathhouse, similar to the door greeter at Wal-Mart.” Charlene envisions growing the HSCG as a resource to soap and cosmetic makers, both new and experienced. “The HSCG community has introduced me to better methods of manufacturing, growth through learning and, above all, limitless inspiration. Being able to work with those that share the enthusiasm of soapmaking AND superior supply vendors is invaluable to my business as a soapmaker and also to my passion for the craft.”

 Tricia Samundsen owns Scentability, LLC and Scentability & Friends, a Winsconsin storefront featuring both Scentability products and other artisanal, handmade soaps and cosmetics sourced nationwide. She relays that the time spent with the other candidates at this year’s Central Soapers Workshop convinced her to get involved with the Lovin’ Soap Project. Fully aware that we have five strong contenders for three open board positions, Tricia had a little bit of fun with it. “I bought all five of us mockingjay pins to wear at Conference…Elections Hunger Games style!” As they say, “May the odds be ever in your favor!” Joking aside, Tricia is a true advocate for small businesses and envisions building our small business vendor membership and in turn, helping those small vendors grow through the support of HSCG members. In addition, she has a passion for learning resources and a desire to build the educational resources offered through the Guild.

Tanya Rasley, owner of Baby Duck Soap Co., will soon be spreading her wings with the launch of Canard Labs, a new private label venture supplying artisanal palm-free soap loaves. It’s no surprise here; Tanya really loves making cold process soap. “It’s an addiction,” she says, “and my therapy.” Lately, you’d find her nose in a batch of Mimosa soap, a sunny orange bar with the classic mix of bubbly champagne and freshly-squeeze orange juice. When you can drag Tanya away from the soap lab, you’ll find her spending time with the boys in her life: her three-year-old son (Baby Duck himself) and husband. Tanya’s vision for the HSCG is “to keep growing the membership, spread the word about handcrafted soap and how it’s different from Dial, and to do what I can to support other soap & cosmetic crafters.”

nominees getting silly

Access the 2014 meeting agenda, proposed bylaw amendments, nominee bios, and more from this link.

We can’t wait to see you in Tucson!!

The Answer is 72

Wondering what the question is? We are working on 72 different policies to bring before the membership in our upcoming Annual Meeting, being held onsite during the 2014 Annual Conference in Tucson, Arizona (and open to every member, whether attending the conference or not).

Gustav Arthur (1902-2000) and Josephine Cooper

The last few years have been busy for the Guild. In 2011, we saw a pressing need for and hired an Executive Director to lead the organization on a full-time basis. Earlier this year, recognizing that many of our soapmaking members also produced, sold ingredients for, or were somehow intimately involved in handcrafted cosmetics, our membership decided to warmly welcome cosmetic crafters into the Guild. With the hiring of an Executive Director and the inclusion of cosmetic handcrafters into our mission, our HSCG policies are due for an overhaul.

Here’s what happening, by the numbers:

16 – new policies
15 – major revisions to old policies
19 – minor revisions to old policies
11 – cosmetic revisions (even less minor than minor) to old policies
11 – old policies that are no longer relevant recommended for deletion
5 – bylaws that require revision
6 – new policies required


After these 72, we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the fun’s not over (those astute math-oriented types among you may have noticed this adds up to more than 72). There are still half a dozen policies in the works and various bylaw revisions required to get us up to date.

Expect the 2014 Annual Meeting in Tucson to be brimming with bylaw changes that will need your votes. Of course, anything requiring a member vote will be posted by late March 2014, 60 days prior to the Annual Meeting. Have a good rest after the holidays and get your critical reading eyes ready!

What ideas do you wish we’d implement to help out cosmetic makers?