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!

2014 Conference Recap: Day 3

Miss out on this year’s Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference? Aside from sharing social media coverage and announcing winners, more winners, news, news, and more news, we’ve given you an ever so brief glimpse of what happened before the conference and over the first two days. Today, we’re wrapping up conference coverage with a peek at the final day of festivities in Tucson.

silly david

One last time, we gathered outside, poolside, to nosh on breakfast goodies while checking out the local birds scoping out their morning gruel. Voting over, Soapers’ Showcase packed up and prepared a massive soap and toiletry donation for local shelter Sr. Jose Women’s Shelter, in Tucson, which provides services to homeless women, including showers, laundry facilities, meals, clothing and personal toiletries. What a thrill to see box upon box of gorgeous soaps, shampoos, and lotions waiting to be packed up and sent off to a much-needed purpose. Of course, knowing soapmakers, we had to get one last sniff in before the boxes were taped up.

jjamie bentley

Stephenson Personal Care CEO Jamie Bentley shook the sleep out of our eyes with a knockout presentation on Why Being a Social Soapmaker is Important, sharing Stephenson’s journey to being a social soap supplier, lessons they’ve learned along the way, rules of engagement online, and just how having a social strategy can support your long term strategies.

After a quick break to snag hot coffee and tea, chat up vendors, and check winning raffle prize numbers, attendees chose between two sessions. Trademark attorney Dave Purdue presented Trademarks and Branding: Make your Mark, in which he covered the all-important trademark. Dave showed why establishing a trademark is crucial to building a brand, just how to do it, and presented case studies of branding campaigns.

Meanwhile, Shea Radiance CEO Funlayo Alabi taught attendees all about Making Sustainability a Key Part of Your Brand Story. Funlayo shared how Shea Radiance fostered long-term customer loyalty through sharing their ingredient stories and why educating your customer on the story behind the story is important to ensuring your company’s success.


After a jam-packed morning, attendees had a break for lunch before heading into the final breakout sessions of the day, repeating a series of three classes twice for attendees.

Soapmaking maven Kerri Mixon, owner of Pallas Athene, A+ Soapmaking Studio, and more, was back to teach Comprehensive Color and Scent for Soap and Cosmetics, an exhaustive look at what colors and scents are and how to use them, including neat tips to disperse colors in water and how to construct a stovetop still for distilling hydrosols and essential oils.

char exfoliants

Bathhouse Soapery owner and exfoliation buff Charlene Simon was also back, this time showing off Exfoliants in Soap. Aside from demonstrating a multi-layer, multi-exfoliant soap, Charlene shared considerations when using exfoliants, tips and tricks to get the right scrub – and the right look. Attendees had a chance to assemble their own soap exfoliant variety pack, with soap samples that included exfoliants ranging from adzuki bean powder to quinoa.

Bath Alchemy Lab CEO Erica Pence had attendees dreaming up everything from mountain streams to galaxies in her session, Create Amazing Scenery in your Soaps. Designed for both cold process and melt and pour, Erica addressed not only how to translate designs into soap, and step by step instructions for a number of scenery soaps, but how to make them efficiently and profitably.


In between sessions, we had one last chance to redeem raffle tickets, stock up on HSCG merchandise, and visit vendors. After the last session, we took a quick break before reconvening out on the Kiva Ballroom Patio for cocktails, mocktails, and one last round of networking before being whisked off the Annual Awards Dinner. Over dinner, longevity awards were given, certified soapmakers announced, Soapers’ Showcase and social media winners revealed, President’s volunteer of the year declared, and other prizes given. Conference videographer and photographer Adam Grogin had us all in stitches throughout dinner, courtesy of his candid shots, videos, and outtakes from the Learning Library filming sessions. Throughout dinner, attendees guessed at the location of the 2016 Annual Conference – revealed to be taking place in Tampa, Florida at the Saddlebrook Resort.

This year’s conference may be over, but we can’t wait to see you at the 2015 conference in Indianapolis (and don’t wait to register, we will sell out!)

2014 Conference Recap: Day 2

This week continues our summary of what happened during the 17th annual Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference, held this year at the Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona. Catch recaps of day 0 here and day 1 here. Today, we cover Day 2 of the conference.

soapconf14 random cacti

A full day of conference demands a hearty breakfast, so that’s exactly where we started Wednesday morning, with another buffet out on the pool terrace. During breakfast, intrepid soapers had another chance to take certification exams (and over 50 of them did!) and newly certified soapmakers had a chance to have their picture taken. Meanwhile, furious rounds of sniffing and serious evaluating was taking place at the Soapers’ Showcase, sponsored by long time supporter Shay & Company.


Soap whisperer, Scientific Soapmaking author and Elliot Professor of Chemistry Kevin Dunn kicked off the morning with a riveting presentation of his investigation into Protein in Handcrafted Soap, enlightening all of us as to the reactions of goat milk and silks with lye during the manufacture of soap. Finally, inquiring minds have a goat milk saponification value!

After a break with hot coffee and tea, attendees chose between two Nova Studio teacher sessions. For those not lucky enough to make the half-day seminar, Joan McCoy presented a jam-packed, concentrated version of Packaging Your Bath and Body Products, leaving everyone armed to make one of the most important choices in their businesses. The Nova Studio founder and co-owner Lori Nova taught Making Natural Perfume & Cologne 101, elucidating the fundamentals of essential oil blending as well both oil and alcohol-based perfume/colognes.

annual mtg2

Lunch time provided an opportunity for the Guild to hold an Annual Meeting for all members in attendance (and open to all members able to make it, regardless of attendance at the rest of the conference). The annual meeting was action-packed, covering elections for expiring Board of Director terms and voting on bylaw amendments. President Feleciai Favroth reviewed the launch of the beauty box program, teacher enews, Member of the Year, our new eCommerce solution partnership, as well as plans for the learning library and the Guild website. Executive Director Leigh O’Donnell covered changes in the organization, including our growth, the transition from a volunteer to employee work force, insurance price decreases, and an update on the current US legislative landscape. We capped off lunch with a presentation from Amanda Griffin and Benjamin Aaron on the Lovin’ Soap Project.

We followed that whirlwind lunch with an assortment of popcorn and other snacks along with a quick chance to visit vendors prior to launching into our final breakout sessions of the day, repeating a series of three classes twice for attendees.

kerri session

Multi-company founder and 16th generation soapmaker Kerri Mixon taught attendees how to make any soap naturally transparent using simple materials in Making Transparent Cold/Hot Process Soap as well as some of the all-important benefits of doing so.

In Testing Natural Colors in Your Cold Process Soap, Nova Studio teacher and co-owner Ruth Esteves shared her techniques for testing all types of natural colorants. Attendees walked away learning how to get the color from jar to bar successfully.

jackie LS sign

Liquid Soapmaking author Jackie Thompson continues to blaze new soapmaking trails, showing attendees both how to make thick soap gels and jellies without thickeners and taking the fear out of accurately neutralizing liquid soap in her Advanced Liquid Soapmaking sessions.


Finally, there was time for a quick dinner break before a pool party networking session generously sponsored by Essential Depot. We gnoshed on hearty appetizers and desserts while relaxing under the stars and catching up with new friends, before heading off to get a little rest before the final day of festivities!

We’ve nearly covered our conference adventures – stay tuned for a recap of #soapconf14 day 3 (and if you missed out this year, 2015 registration is open now)