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The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild is a trade association, but have you ever wondered exactly what it means to be part of the Guild?  We thought Executive Director Leigh O’Donnell gave a pretty amazing definition in her final President’s Report at the 2012 HSMG Annual Meeting.

Family Group

Photo by Flickr member anyjazz65. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Here’s how Leigh explained the Guild to the members present:

The definition of a “Guild” is:

guild (noun)

  1. An organization of persons with related interests, goals, etc., especially formed for mutual aid or protection.
  2. Any of various medieval associations, as of merchants or artisans, organized to maintain standards and to protect the interests of its members, and that sometimes constituted a local governing body.

“Protection” makes me think of organized crime and we are certainly not a “medieval” association but these definitions really do get to the basis of what the HSMG is.

The HSMG was started in 1998 by a group of women that loved soapmaking, had small businesses and wanted an organization that would represent them on a larger scale.  From those small beginnings we have grown to over 1,600 members, with members in all 50 states and in 29 countries.  Just to name a few: Canada, Mexico, Norway, Australia, Ireland, Taiwan, El Salvador, Guatemala, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Trinidad and Tobago.

We are the ONLY non-profit trade association for handcrafted soapmakers.

The “Guild” isn’t one person, it isn’t the Board of Directors, it isn’t the people that attend the Annual Conference.  It is ALL of the over 1,600 members, it is the group, it is the people in leadership, the people who are vocal and in the spotlight and the people who are not.  It is the member who joined in 1998 and is still with us and the member that joined yesterday.  It is all of us, collectively.  This is so important because it is our diversity, individual strengths and experiences that make up the backbone of the association.

We couldn’t have said it better.  What does the Guild mean to you?

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