Growing Your Business: 6 Things to Look for When Choosing a Trade Association

When you talk to Handcrafters, you hear many positive things. Handcrafters love to help people feel beautiful, love to innovate when it comes to formulation, and especially love to educate others about their products.

One thing that the majority of Handcrafters we’ve spoken to also voice is the loneliness of the industry. Because the art of making handcrafted soap and cosmetics is still a growing industry and Handcrafters are located all over the globe, they sometimes feel disconnected or isolated.

Another common negative is the lack of insurance options, and the desire to protect their business. Handcrafters want peace of mind so that they don’t have to worry about what might happen-they want to focus on growing their business and expanding their line.

These are a few common reasons why Handcrafters seek us out, and the HSCG prides itself on being dependable, trustworthy and full of benefits for ever Handcrafter level. So today, we are going to lay out six ways you can differentiate the great trade associations from the not-so great ones so that you can get the most out of your business.

  1. What benefits does it offer? Let’s be honest; when you seek out an organization to join, you’re probably searching for something that directly benefits your business-that’s just good business sense! Take a serious look at the benefits that offered by the organization you’re considering before you join. Will you use them? Will the benefits help further your business? If one of the benefits is insurance, have you read the coverage to understand if it truly envelops your whole business? If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, keep searching. (Check out the HSCG’s benefits to get an idea of what you should be looking for)
  2. Does the organization have a good reputation? This is important. Put those Facebook stalking skills to good use and do a good ol’ fashioned search for the organization you’re considering. Do they have positive reviews, and are they recent reviews? Take a look at the content they are posting. If they post educational material on social media or on their own site, browse through it and check for obvious errors. Ultimately, you will be aligning your business with this organization, and if they are not reputable your business reputation may also take a hit.
  3. How is their customer service? This one is very important, especially if you are considering purchasing insurance through the organization. In this age of digital communication, most businesses have a Facebook page with the option to message, a listed email address and/or a chat option on their website; make sure that the organization you’re considering does too. If they have a phone listed, give them a call and ask your questions over the phone. Checking for comprehensive customer service first will help you avoid any surprises if they don’t communicate well later.
  4. How does the organization further the industry? This is a big one. Does it exist only to offer insurance, or does it provide advocacy in the changing world of legislation? Check to see if there are educational opportunities like certification programs, listed teachers and classes that you can either take advantage of, or participate in. (The HSCG’s main goal is to further the industry-check out our Legislative Advocacy and Certification Program.)
  5. Why does the organization exist? Learning the reason why the organization started in the first place will give you insight into what their goals are. If they do not exist to further the industry, keep searching.
  6. Most importantly, is the association legitimate? We want to think that when we see a company’s website or talk to a customer service representative in their office, they are honestly representing themselves-but unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Are they claiming to be a non-profit? You don’t have to take that at face value! A simple search will usually tell you if the organization is actually a registered non-profit. Take a peek at the way their organization runs, too. Do they have bylaws and policies in place? This may seem like it doesn’t affect you, but it will; official bylaws and policies mean that the organization has plans in place to keep business running fairly and ethically. (The HSCG’s Bylaws are available for public view; Members may log in and access the HSCG Policies through the Member Area.)

Final Thoughts 

Choosing an organization to join when it comes to your business doesn’t have to be the most difficult decision you’ll ever make. Take into consideration what you hope to gain from your experience and membership with them. Also take into consideration their dependability; if they promise to deliver experiences, education and services but fail to do so, look elsewhere! Your organization should be as dependable, trustworthy, and downright awesome as you are…never settle for less!

Calling all Recruits

As a non-profit trade association, the HSCG is run largely by volunteers and we have some awesome, hardworking volunteers! Several of our standing committees are looking for a few more volunteers to help bring our goals to fruition. Whether you have an hour a month or several hours a day, we’d be happy to put you to work. Read on for what each of the committees are looking for and email admin@soapguild.org to get involved.

 


Photo credit: xenia from morguefile.com
 

Public Relations Committee

Got a penchant for public relations? The PR Committee wants YOU! We need individuals who will:

–        sniff out publicity leads for our members to promote

–        make the HSCG known to the general public. We’re looking to be mentioned in several major publications this year.

–        have contacts and the persistence necessary to get media coverage of the 2014 conference!

If this description has your name written all over it, contact us today!

 


Photo credit: Karpati Gabor from morguefile.com

Social Media Committee

Calling all pinterest mavens, vine fanatics, twittering fools, blogging pros, and facebook fiends. HSCG is the place to be – we need your help spreading the word online. The Social Media Committee engages the membership and the industry and we’re ramping up our presence online this year. We’re looking for bloggers (both one-time and ongoing) and members passionate about interacting with our online community on Facebook and LinkedIn. If you’re looking for a safe, fun place to test and grow your social media skills, you’ve come to the right place. Help make the HSCG bigger and better; get social with us!

 


Photo credit: tomboy from morguefile.com

 

Membership Committee

We’re seeking a few task-oriented volunteers to assist with the 2013-2014 goals, including recruiting additional members (both Professional and Vendor) by creating a reward-based membership drive. The Membership Committee will also be responsible for creating membership registration packets, submitting exciting news and information to the Social Media Committee and increasing our member retention stats.


Photo credit: earl53 from morguefile.com

 

Programs & Services Committee

We need YOU! We are looking for volunteers for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. We will be looking to bring new programs, services, rewards to our members, i.e UPS, Office Depot. Do you have some ideas? Some suggestions? Some time to help? We already know you are creative and talented!

 


Photo credit: JulesInKY from morguefile.com

 

Learning Library Committee

The Learning Library Committee is a brand, spanking new special committee kicked off this year. This Committee will be setting up the structure and parameters of an online learning library. Once this structure is in place, the Committee will work towards filling the library with helpful and instructive articles and videos.

 

Photo credit: taliesin from morguefile.com

 

Certification Committee

Proctored testing was developed in order to make it possible for HSCG members who cannot travel to the Annual Conference to still become HSCG Certified Soapmakers. By utilizing a proctor to oversee the examination, a member can take a Soapmaker Certification Examination anywhere in the world. Every HSCG member can take advantage of the HSCG Soapmaker Certification Program.

Proctor: a person appointed to keep watch over students at examinations.

Are you a certified soapmaker? Would you be willing to act as a proctor for a soapmaker in your area? Become a volunteer proctor location for the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild.

 

Thanks for making HSCG the strongest organization we can be. Long live handcrafted soap and cosmetics!!

2000 and Counting!

The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild is proud to announce that we have reached and surpassed the 2000 member mark! (Cue wild cheering!)

2000members

Since 2011, we’ve grown 40%. How did we get there, you ask? September 2011 marked the establishment of an official HSCG headquarters (in lovely Saratoga Springs, New York) along with the hire of our first full time employee, Leigh O’Donnell, as Executive Director. Prior to that time, the HSCG was run out of homes, basements, and temporary spaces, with multiple contractors and volunteers cobbling together coverage of the various and sundry day to day operations of the Guild. Having a corporate office staffed full time has allowed the Guild to provide better support than ever before.

In late February, we became the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild. Our change was more than a simple name modification; we were also expanding to bring cosmetic handcrafters into the guild. Since then, membership has spiked – jumping another 10% and netting us another 200 members at the close of the first half of the year. We are excited about this expansion of our mission and can’t wait to bring in even more benefits for cosmetic manufacturers.

membershipchart

Our 2013 Annual Conference in Raleigh was the most successful yet. Three and a half days of learning, networking, and having fun energized us for the year ahead. Ten months out from next year’s conference, we have already filled half of our 400 available slots and are well on our way to selling out the 2014 conference in Tucson (if you’ve signed up, by the way, book your hotel stay now – you may have to call as rooms are filling quickly. We will be filling this venue!)

These days, we are seeing larger numbers of new members, a good indication of the strength of the industry and our stature within it. Members have been busy spreading the word about the Guild as well. We are receiving many referrals and handing out boatloads of golden soap bubbles (don’t know about golden soap bubbles? Where have you been? Read up on them here and get yourself a tidy little discount to the HSCG store.) Our next membership milestone is 2500 members. With today’s benefits, learning opportunities and support, we are well on our way to reaching that landmark by the time next year’s Board takes office.

2000exclamation_blogsize

We want to do something fun to celebrate reaching 2000 members. Send us photos of your products spelling out 2000 (post them to our wall, tweet them to @thesoapguild, or email them to socialmedia@soapguild.org). We’ll post the best ones in our Facebook page header through mid-month and give you a little shout out (and the satisfaction of being awesome!)

Submit a 2000 cosmetic/soap photo today to compete for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest bragging rights!