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!

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!



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!