Honesty in Marketing: Why Transparency is Important

Imagine walking into a store; let’s say it’s a grocery store. You’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, ready to pick up your weekly supplies. As you meander down the vitamin aisle, you stop; a bottle on the shelf reads “Drop 25 pounds in one week AND grow 4 inches taller!”.

Now, most people will pass by this very confident weight loss/height enhancing bottle, but there are some that won’t. The people that do not walk past it will spend whatever amount is on the sticker and will inevitably be disappointed when seven days have passed and not only are they still the same height, but they are also the same weight. This is an example of dishonesty in marketing, and we’re going to talk about why that’s a no-no.

Staying in the same diet pill vein, think of the diet pill industry as a whole. Typically, that industry has been riddled with bogus products that claim to offer benefits that are never delivered. At this point, it would be very difficult for consumers like you or I to trust a diet pill claim, even with medical proof to back it up.

This is exactly the same case with handcrafted soap and cosmetics!

Perhaps you have a fantastic product, a beautifully moisturizing, luxuriously lathering product that you are selling at your local farmer’s market. A few tables down, a competing handcrafter is selling exactly the same product, but they are saying it will cure eczema, treat psoriasis, and turn back your face’s clock ten years! People will buy this, hopeful people that suffer from these sometimes severe skin conditions, and they will be disappointed. The following week, they will come back and see your stand; but they won’t buy from you. It isn’t because you’ve been dishonest, but because your competitor has failed to deliver on their claims; in the eyes of a consumer, you are no different.

As an industry, the production of handcrafted soap and cosmetics has grown by leaps and bounds. Despite its growing popularity, there are still many who falsely advertise their products as curing or preventing a disease without being approved as a drug by the FDA; this is the type of marketing that must be avoided. Industry standards are not the same as herd immunity; it should not be assumed that if the majority follow the rules, others will be protected. In order to protect the integrity and quality of handcrafted soaps and cosmetics and more importantly to earn and keep the trust of the general public, it is imperative to be honest and legally compliant with your claims!

What Can I Say? 

There are many words that you can use to describe your product’s benefits without tripping and falling into FDA drug territory. For example, you can say that your product is moisturizing, since this is a way to beautify the skin. You can also say that your product is conditioning, calming, beautifying, deodorizing, hydrating, and cleansing! That is a pretty great arsenal of descriptive words that can help set reasonable and attainable expectations for your customers.

You cannot say that your product cures or prevents acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, sunburns, or provides an SPF or anti-aging benefit unless you have registered your product as a drug with the FDA. If you are making these claims with no legal grounds, you may be opening yourself up to financial disaster, leading up to and including the closure of your business.

Your product takes you precious time and effort to produce, and no curative claim is worth losing all of the blood, sweat and tears that you’ve poured into your products (hopefully not literally)! Do yourself and your fellow handcrafters a favor and check out the FDA Cosmetic guidelines, and the drug guidelines too; your industry thanks you!

Common Scents: Patchouli

Welcome back to our series, Common Scents! Common Scents is a collection of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils, and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting. This week, we’ll talk about patchouli! 

Scent is an incredible sense. A certain smell can make you remember a person or place, or can be associated with a whole group of people; kind of like the smell of patchouli! Patchouli has long been considered a “hippie” smell and is definitely the kind of aroma you either love or hate.

Patchouli or pogostermon cablin is a perennial herb that originated in Southeast Asia. Patchouli prefers tropical jungles, but will also grow in elevations up to 6,000 feet. It is a squat, bushy herb that can grow to around 2-3 feet in height, and can be found growing wild in Java and Sumatra.

Patchouli is harvested 2-3 times per year for the production of essential oil. The leaves are hand picked and the herb is fermented before the oil is extracted. Because patchouli is so easy to grow and is harvested so frequently, the price of patchouli tends to stay reasonable with a very low adulteration rate.


Patchouli has been used in traditional medicine for centuries in Asia. Countries like Malaysia, Japan and China trusted patchouli to treat ailments like eczema, dermatitis, acne, dandruff, oily scalp and other skin conditions.

Patchouli was first exported from India during the 19th century and was used in cloth to repel moths and other destructive insects. Because patchouli was so frequently used for this purpose, dishonest merchants seeking to reap the profits of oriental fabric without providing the same quality would scent their fabric with patchouli, too; this was the only way to trick customers into believing it was official!

Patchouli in Soap and Cosmetics 

Patchouli is very popular in fragrance blending, and is considered to be a base note. It is also classified as fixative, which means that it slows down the speed of evaporation for other volatile oils it is mixed with and can prolong the amount of time the aroma is released. Patchouli mixes well with vetiver, rosemary, sandalwood, lemongrass, citrus type oils, rose, frankincense and bergamot, making it a very versatile oil with a spicy aroma. This warmth lends well to incense, and patchouli is very popular as a scent for many different kinds.

Use in Aromatherapy and Medicine 

As mentioned above, patchouli has been used in traditional Asian cultures medicinally for centuries. Today, patchouli is thought to aid in the prevention of fevers, as an immune system booster, and also as a remedy for insect and snake bites. In aromatherapy, patchouli is used to restore mental and physical balance, and is thought to bring prosperity and abundance to whomever uses it.

Please note: the HSCG makes no medical claims and does not give medical advice. The FDA has not approved patchouli for use medicinally; this information is provided strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. 

Final Thoughts 

Patchouli has a very distinct smell that your customers will either snap up or pass up; blended with other warm, comforting scents, patchouli makes a great addition to any bath line!

Do you make any products with patchouli? Drop us a comment here on our blog, or on the Facebook post for this article!

Do you love fragrance blending? Check out our article titled Fantastic Fragrances and How to Blend Them, available on Cut to the Trace now! http://www.cuttothetrace.com/2016/11/fragrance-bending-how-to/

The HSCG Annual Conference: 2017 Wrap Up

Time flies when you’re having fun, and here at HSCG Headquarters, time also flies when you are knee-deep in planning a sold-out conference for 614 registered attendees!

A Conference is Born 

Planning for the 2017 Annual Conference actually began several years ago, when Executive Director and conference planning extraordinaire Leigh O’Donnell visited several sites in Las Vegas. She was on the hunt for a great venue that fit her strict standards; quality food, clean spaces and a memorable atmosphere. Eventually, Leigh chose the Tropicana and planning officially began! Newly renovated and boasting spacious meeting areas and great onsite amenities, the Tropicana became the backdrop for the HSCG’s biggest event to date.


Leigh and staff member Sara arrived on site nearly a week before the event was set to start. For several months, exhibitors, sponsors and donors sent hundreds of boxes filled with goodies to an off site unit. About five days prior to the start of the event, all of these boxes were moved to the Tropicana for sorting and unpacking; thousands of pounds of merchandise, displays, etc. would be moved in the days that followed by tireless volunteers.

This year, we were fortunate to have an incredible crew. Along with the HSCG Board which included Feleciai Favroth, Charlene Simon, Julie Koenig, Beth Byrne, Tricia Hoffman, Barb DeLosSantos and Al Gerhold, we also welcomed Jana Rife, Cheryl Mitchell, Brandy McClurg, Tom Koenig, Cindy and Manny Carrasco, Cindy Christ, Kristen Prinzing, Kelly Kuhfuss, Janete Mitchell, Sharon Ray, Kathy Lynn, Tina Roberts, Donna Pixton-Hacker, Suzanne Finley and Stephanie Falsetta. 

This year’s crew, along with previous years, worked like a well-oiled machine. Each moving part was efficient and most of all, welcoming. Volunteers moved and unpacked boxes, set up various attendee stations like the Merchandise Table, Raffle Table, Soaper’s Showcase and of course, Registration. Volunteers also offered support to our Speakers and tirelessly worked to make sure attendees had a great experience.

Enter Conference Mode 

The very first experience that attendees have at the conference is registration. We call this an experience because we refuse to just hand over a badge and send attendees on their way!

Volunteers and HSCG Staff work together at registration to make sure each attendee has the information they need to navigate the conference. Besides a name badge that included tickets to special lunches and raffle tickets to win amazing prizes, attendees also received a Goodie Bag with branded items and the Attendee Program Book.

Once attendees were welcomed at registration, they had the option to visit the Exhibitor Hall. This year, we offered the majority of the conference meals in the Exhibitor Hall to allow attendees and exhibitors even more time to network!

An Educational Wonderland 

Each year, the HSCG strives to present a diverse speaker lineup with a wide range of topics delivered by industry leading experts. This year was no exception.

The 2017 Annual Conference officially kicked off with a keynote speech by Bramble Berry CEO Anne-Marie Faiola. After an inspiring and motivational talk, attendees were able to learn how to transform their retail spaces into visually stunning masterpieces with Lori Ann Gum, before choosing from break-out sessions with Susan Barclay Nichols, Cathy McGinnis and Margaret Neff!

The next morning, Lela Barker provided great insight with her session, Battling Brand Schizophrenia, before Marie Gale, Jordan Henderson and Regina Bauscher took the stage to share great information about legal marketing, laundry soap formulation and essential oils. After the HSCG Annual Meeting, attendees could choose from one of three sessions: a beginner’s session about pet products with Melinda Wolff-Foster, how to make the most of each batch with Angela Carillo, or a session dedicated to swirling with natural colorants with Lori Chandler. To round out the day, Robert Lippman, Craig Ure and Lori Nova Endres offered valuable insight in their respective sessions about brand protection, eCommerce, and how to make money while teaching classes.

The educational steam continued into Wednesday morning, when attendees learned about saponification values with Kevin Dunn before learning the ins and outs of customer service with Charlene Simon and Leigh O’Donnell. After lunch, sessions resumed with Dieshawn Holmes, Kerri Mixon and Sharon Czekala, who spoke about starting a mobile gift boutique, making soap from ash, and creating stunning melt & pour designs. Capping off sessions were Clyde Yoshida, Amanda Gail and Kenna Cote, who spoke about color theory in soapmaking, fatty acid profiles and the secrets to being successful in a handcrafted soap business.

It is this kind of variety that means the conference is truly made for every level of handcrafted soap and cosmetic business owner; topics span formulation, legal topics and advanced methods.

Networking For Days 

Aside from expert speakers and knowledgeable exhibitors, attendees also had many opportunities to network with fellow handcrafters!

During 2017’s Networking Lunch, attendees could choose to sit in one of three sections: East Coast, Mid-West or West Coast. Because attendees were not required to sit with their geographical group, this opened up a great opportunity to network with handcrafters who they would not normally see. To keep the conversation going, each table had a set of questions that the designated table captain could use to spark discussion. At the end, a winner was chosen at each table to receive a fantastic centerpiece from Rustic Escentuals!

Face to face networking is perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of the Annual Conference. This year, we were fortunate to have over 30 exhibitors


Final Thoughts, and Looking Forward 

The HSCG has a very specific goal, one that surpasses a great venue and exciting in-conference moments. This goal is that each attendee leaves the conference feeling inspired to move their business forward, inspired to experiment with new formulation methods, and inspired to make their brand even more fantastic than it was when they arrived for registration. This goal is achieved through the hard work of incredible volunteers, the extensive knowledge of expert speakers and exhibitors, and the generosity of sponsors and donors.

Looking forward to 2018, the HSCG will be working very hard throughout the year to make sure Atlanta carries the same inspirations and “ah-ha!” moments that made 2017 truly spectacular!