HSCG at CSW 2014

Recently, the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild was lucky enough to send Guild President Feleciai Favroth and Executive Director Leigh O’Donnell out to the 2014 Central Soapers Workshop, held this year in Overland Park, Kansas. The brainchild of Kenna Cote (speaking this year at #soapconf14!!), this fast-growing gathering was designed especially for soapmakers in the central United States who may not have a chance to travel to other gatherings and is, of course, open to all soapmakers (even newbies).

In between chatting up attendees at the HSCG table in the exhibitor area, Leigh and Feleciai had a chance to check out the sessions, the fabulous raffle prizes, and the on-site soap lab. Check out the CSW main page for a link to some of the amazing recaps of the event. Check out some of our favorite photos from the weekend below (and out on our Facebook albums):


Thanks to CSW for having us and kudos for throwing a great gathering. We loved meeting soapmakers from the central region and beyond!

Conference Coverage: Again, from the top!

Today, we are exciting to announce the release of our official 2013 HSCG conference video. Produced by videographer Adam Grogin of Monster Productions, this video will give you a flavor of what our annual conferences are all about. (If you’re reading this from a reader, you can check out this video and past conference videos here.)

Hungry for more? We’ve collected coverage of this year’s conference – it’s been great fun to hear your thoughts and read your reviews of the conference. Here, for your reading pleasure, is a re-cap of the conference with links to posts and video from around the web.

Pre-conference/Half-Day seminars:

–        Attendees get excited, get very excited, get packed, and prepare for arrival.

–        We offered 3 different half-day sessions from 3 amazing teachers for attendees who wanted a more in-depth look at several special topics.

–        Marla Bosworth, pictured below with some of her students, gave valuable insights into the retailer mind (among other things, many, many other things) in her wholesaling session

half day session group shot 3 

–        Meanwhile, Marie Gale was busily making good manufacturing practices an easily digestible concept. Her students left, fear vanquished, with a step-by-step plan to start implementing Good Manufacturing Practices.

–        Students in Jackie Thompson’s class were the first to hear about novel new liquid soap production mechanisms. Jackie shared some hard-won secrets to the production of liquid soap. This class even got a hand in on the action, as seen here.

LS session scoop too

–        Later that evening, we held an informal welcome reception with mountains of treats, both savory and sweet, for attendees who had already checked in.

Day 1 Events:

–        Powerhouse speaker Ann Evanston brought the boom BOOM POW in her keynote, teaching us all about being warrior-preneurs and how to discover our real edge in business.

–        Back Porch Soap CEO and Founder Marla Bosworth shared formulating tips for natural shampoos while her assistant Angela Carillo of Alegna Soap whipped up a demonstration batch.


–        We grouped attendees by state and region for a new twist on the networking lunch, giving attendees, speakers, and vendors a chance to mingle informally over a hearty meal.


–        The Soap Queen highlighted some of the Soaper’s Showcase entries.

–        Michele gives a preview of the exhibitor area. Lucky Break Consulting, one of our exhibitors, was not kidding when they said mondo red balloons.


–        Marie Gale, HSCG webmaster and author, among many other talents, taught search engine optimization fundamentals, sharing tips and tricks to get attendee websites found  (happily snapped up by Soap Queen guest blogger Michele Lang of Tierra Verde Soaps).

–        Alabu Skin Care President and CEO Dean Mayes shared production solutions, with specific examples that he developed for use during Alabu’s start-up.

–        Joanna Schmidt, Absolute Soap co-owner and Soapers’ Retreat founder, taught some truly hassle-free milk soapmaking (as she recounted here and as reviewed here by Soap Queen guest blogger Jean Horn of SoapArt).


–        Lovin’ Soap blogger and teacher Amanda Griffin shared the secret of peacock swirling, a paper marbling technique applied to soap (recapped by Soap Queen guest blogger Jean Horn here).

–        Marie Gale made another appearance to teach her highly demanded class on product labeling (check out the book here, which supplies last, in the HSCG store).

–        We competed in a giant game show in the Quest for the Best Game Show Night sponsored by Wholesale Supplies Plus (touched on in a post by Robin Hasty of Bird Bath Essentials), culminating in gift certificates to Wholesales Supplies Plus for the winners.

Day 2 Events:

–        In a rollicking introduction by Vice President (now President) Feleciai Favroth, resident guild chemist Kevin Dunn was dubbed Dr. McSoapy. Kevin focused his scientific gaze on the true implications of lye discounts and superfatting (more takes on his session here  and here).


–        Stephenson CEO Jamie Bentley shared his company’s history, evolution, and the challenges all businesses face in The Soap Opera: 150 Years of Making Soap.

–        Rob Brown, Lebermuth President, covered natural, somewhat natural, is-that-still-natural, not-so-natural and synthetic fragrances in a fragrant and highly informative myth-busting session.

–        HSCG members took care of business at the Annual Meeting, learning the current state of the association, getting up to date on Guild activities, and voting with spatulas, of course.


–        Sirona Springs and Nova Studio co-owner Ruth Esteves demonstrated Soap Cupcakes and decorative soap frosting techniques (check out Jean’s recap here, Ruth’s blog post on it, and even more luscious cupcake pictures from Ruth).

–        Amanda Griffin taught how to make your own silicone molds (shared here by Michele).

–        Otion manager and swirling ninja Kathryn Hackney came with lots of soap to share in her Advanced Colorants class (and shared her teaching and conference experiences here).

–        We had more (soap-less) fun with molds than should be possible at Essential Depot’s English Village Fete, including a full country-style spread for dinner, drinks, and some wildly popular competitions. We walked away with bellies full and arms full of prizes.



Day 3 Events:

–        From organic to non-GMO, Oh Oh Organics’ Gay Timmons took us on an adventure exploring the standards, certifiers, and all the pros and cons of certifications.

–        Practicing intellectual property lawyer Bryan Baer taught us Trademark Strategies, including how to make our brands distinctive and protect them in the marketplace.

–        16th generation soapmaker and multi-business owner Kerri Mixon explained the chemistry of fatty acids and oils to empower soapmakers to create truly unique recipes in an epic two-part series (and Jennifer Hofmann of Jennifer’s Handmade Soap  loved it).

–        Watch out for the flying monkeys! Salus owners Jerell and Elisa Klaver shared their retail realities and gave loads of advice on all the things to consider when opening a store.

–        Cosmetic scientist and multi-company CEO Allison Kontur clarified the distinctions between private label and contract manufacturing and thoroughly demystified private labeling.

–        Mossy Creek Soap & Studio owner Michelle Rhoades showed us the ins and outs of using the Soapmaker program and gave us visions of just how efficient we could be.

–        To tie everything up, we had one more night filled with winning. We handed out lots of awards, including Soaper’s Showcase, longevity, certifications (Jennifer did – did you?), President’s volunteer of the year, social media, vendor and the final grand raffle prizes. We wished departing President Cathleen Timberlake a fond farewell and we announced the 2015 Conference location (Indianapolis, Indiana!).


Post Conference:

–        It may have passed in a blur, but Pam of bytheSEAsoap does her best to keep it all straight and share her Soaper’s Showcase experience.


–        Kelly of Soapalooza shares the fun and how she made a Cinderella exit.

–        Jennifer’s loving the special events, while Joanna’s just feeling the love.

–        Bonnie at Good Earth Spa dishes on the conference and all of the goodies for attendees.

–        Angela was thankful to have the opportunity; Rosie of Mrs. King’s Quilts ‘n Things tries to convince you to go and Michele agrees.

If this has you salivating, we’re halfway to selling out our 2014 conference, happening May 20-22 at the Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson. Registration is open now, with early-early bird pricing available through the end of November and financing available via PayPal.

Thanks for everyone who made this year’s conference a rollicking good time – hope to see you next May in Tucson for the 2014 Annual Conference!

Soap Angel Investors

Angel investors are a well-known concept in Silicon Valley, where their deep pockets help start up cash-strapped businesses. Have you ever heard, however, of the soap angel concept?

AngelPhoto by Flickr member Paul Esson. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Soapmakers are a generous bunch, as the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild has witnessed many times over. This past week, that generosity of spirit surfaced again, when HSCG member, Scentability owner and soap angel Tricia Samundsen mobilized the soapmaking community to raise a record-breaking $1300 in 11 hours for fellow soapmaker Sonya Black.


Sonya is the owner of Luxuriously Natural Soaps, a soap, candle, and handcrafted personal care product company based out of North Carolina. She met Tricia through online networking forums for soapmakers, where she is a frequent presence. Sonya had been saving for many months to be able to attend the 2013 HSMG conference in Raleigh when a breast cancer diagnosis turned her world upside down and canceled her conference plans.

With the HSCG conference quickly selling out, Tricia was inspired to make sure that Sonya was one of this year’s participants. She kicked off her secret mission Easter Sunday, using Facebook to invite all of her soapmaking friends to a group called “Soap Sisters and Brothers Unite!” Within an hour of the first invites, Tricia had raised over half of the conference fee. Bolstered by her early success, she decided to raise not only the conference fee, but also enough money to cover Sonya’s hotel stay and an extra meal ticket, should Sonya decide to travel with company. Hundreds of soapmakers pitched in their verbal and monetary support to help send Sonya to the conference.

Ultimately, the group raised almost $2000, enough to meet all their initial goals, provide Sonya with extra spending money for the conference (gotta enter those raffles!), and purchase her an HSCG membership with insurance. Reflecting on the experience, Tricia shares “the love and sense of family and a true tight knit community was so present that night, I cried tears of joy a couple of times!!”

Copyright usage granted to: Tricia Samundsen

Says Tricia, “Sonya is such a sweet, loving and special woman. Just having her around on the FB Groups has been a treasure! Now being able to meet her in person and to be able to say I was one of many people to help her get to this year’s conference is great! I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the response I received from my idea! SOAPERS ROCK!” Truly, a story of a soap angel if we’ve ever heard one.

Thank you, Tricia and Sonya, for allowing us to share this story. We can’t wait to see you BOTH at this year’s conference!!