Making handcrafted soap and cosmetics is a great way to let your creativity shine, but let’s face it-it’s a very time consuming, labor intensive process!
One of the most crucial and sometimes difficult parts of selling your finished product to the public is labeling it accurately. Making sure to include all of the proper information, but before that, putting in the time to find out what the proper information is can take a lot of dedication. Double-checking your product labels for illegal claims and accuracy one of the most important steps in your handcrafting process.
We know you’ve put in the legwork and are familiar with labeling guidelines, but we hear you: what happens when you come across a handcrafter who is mislabeling their products and in clear violation of the law? Mislabeling can mean many things, including technical errors like missing weights which are very common. It can also mean misrepresenting a product by making erroneous claims like curing a skin ailment or treating a condition.
Let’s discuss a few ways to handle this possibly awkward situation, including some things we really don’t recommend.
Don’t be accusatory. It is simply human nature to become defensive if you feel someone is attacking you or something you’ve worked so diligently on. It is because of this instinct for self-preservation that you should approach your fellow handcrafter respectfully and professionally. Don’t saunter over to their booth, pointer finger ready and immediately start off with “YOU! You’re mislabeling your products!” Not only will you embarrass the handcrafter in question, but you’ll embarrass yourself-calling someone out in public view is never a good way to get your point across, and especially not professionally.
Be helpful and express concern-but don’t dive right into that either. Take a few moments and learn about your fellow handcrafter. Find out if they are a seasoned pro or a new to the industry. After you’ve chatted for a few minutes, ask if they’ve heard about the federal labeling regulation. If they haven’t heard of them or were not aware that they exist…
Offer resources such as the FDA website and the HSCG. Of course, we dream of a world where every handcrafter is well-versed in regulations and guidelines and creates spotless labels to match, but we are also realists. Handcrafters often start businesses without guidance from fellow entrepreneurs in the industry, and because of this, have no idea that there are rules in place that govern labeling. If the handcrafter you’re confronting is unaware of the guidelines, refer them to us here at the HSCG. We are happy to act as a resource or provide contact suggestions for anyone with regulatory questions and provide other forms of education, too!
But…what if the handcrafter is familiar with the guidelines, but refuses to comply or becomes defensive?
Walk away. If the handcrafter you are trying to help becomes defensive or claims that they do not need to label their products properly for whatever reason, this is the time to step off of your soap box and back away. Unfortunately, there are those who are too focused on making money and disregard the guidelines in place to keep consumers safe.
Rest assured that if someone is marketing their products as some sort of miracle cure or saying that the final product contains something it doesn’t or weighs more than it really does, their consumers will not stay loyal for long. Not only that, but once their consumers become unhappy, they will be reported to the FDA and will likely be investigated.
Labeling accuracy is very important. Dedicating time to creating a compliant label not only protects you as a small business, but also helps to protect the industry as a whole. The reputation of the industry as a group depends on everyone’s efforts to sell trustworthy products that are honest and fair. Help others to understand the guidelines, and remember that we here at the HSCG have access to resources to help you if you have questions!