HSCG Certified Teachers are a great resource to both Members and non-members. This month, we’d like to recognize Lori Nova Endres, a long time HSCG Member and frequent flier at our Annual Conferences.
HSCG: When did you first start making products, and why?
Lori: I first started making natural handmade products way back in 2000, after finishing grad school in Hawaii & moving back to California. I was all work and no play…searching for a fun, creative outlet that would result in eco-friendly gifts for friends and family. After a short and unsatisfying stint with ceramics, I took a “Soapmaking from Scratch” class, offered at a home in San Francisco. I absolutely loved it, and my life hasn’t been the same since!
HSCG: What inspired you to begin teaching?
Lori: For the six months following the class, I had a blast, playing around with making so many different handmade bath and body products. I bought a bunch of books, tried dozens of recipes, and amassed quite a collection of raw materials and supplies to make not only soap, but everything from lip balm, to body butter, to bath salts. When it outgrew my kitchen cupboards and I started filling my office with soap supplies, I reached a crossroads. I knew that I needed to start selling my awesome creations…or start teaching other people how to make their own too. For me, teaching classes was the easy and natural choice, since I was already searching for (and having a hard time finding) a job teaching Speech Communication classes at a local college. Plus, there were no other product making classes that I could find in the entire SF Bay Area.
Teaching those early classes in my tiny kitchen in 2001 led me to open a part-time teaching location in collaboration with a bath and body supply store owner in Berkeley in 2002. Then, in 2003, I made the leap to opening the Nova studio, a full-time destination location for classes in Point Richmond, CA. We kept it going for 13 wonderful years, until 2015 when the military moved my family to Northern Louisiana. Since then, we focus on online classes through TheNovaStudio.com-with the occasional class or private lesson in Louisiana. I’m still as passionate today (both about teaching and making soap and natural bath and body products) as I was when I first started long ago.
HSCG: How did you hear about the HSCG, and what inspired you to become Certified?
Lori: I originally heard about the Soap Guild (that’s what it was called back in the day) from my friend and fellow teacher, David Critchfield. I noticed him teaching classes near Fremont, CA and invited him to come teach a Big Batch Soap Class for the Nova Studio. He has been in “the business” much longer than I had, and had been to a few of he early conferences. I was intrigued, so in 2006 on his recommendation, I signed up for my first conference in Portland. I had the best time, learned so much, and met some amazing product makers and suppliers (many of whom I kept in touch with and call great friends still to this day). Immediately after the conference, I signed up to become a member, and I’ve remained a proud member for the past 11 years. Years later, when the Certification Program was created, many years after I had been teaching soapmaking and other B&B type classes, I figured I may as well be certified. So I took the tests and became certified in CP/HP and Melt & Pour. I am thrilled to see the positive growth of the HSCG over the years. There is nothing better than supporting one another and when we can, getting together (online or in person) to share our passions with each other.
HSCG: If someone wants to teach, what advice would you give them?
Lori: Oh, what a question! It’s a big one that I get a lot, and in fact that was the topic of my most recent talk at the 2017 Las Vegas HSCG Conference! After teaching other people to make soap and natural bath and body products for the past 16 years, I have learned a lot through trial and error, and am happy to help others to get ahead without having to learn everything the hard way. I even created an online class called “Make Money Teaching Classes” for that purpose. As much as I enjoy making handmade soap and products, I equally love teaching people about teaching. Sounds kinda funny, but it’s true!
My advice to anyone wanting to teach their art or craft is to start small and test out the concept in a risk-free, low-cost, low-pressure environment. Start by teaching to friends and family first. Ask for their honest feedback. Use confidential feedback forms if possible. For your first class with strangers, only charge as much as you’re comfortable charing (don’t put too much pressure on yourself by having a high fee). As your confidence grows, you can grow your class sizes, class frequency, and price for classes. Starting small is a great way to decide if teaching is a good fit for you and also gauge interest in your local area. For more helpful tips and insights about teaching, I created a new category on The Nova Studio Blog called New Teacher Tips. There, you can find posts on recommendations for pricing classes, tips for creating a teacher bio, a printable teacher packing checklist, how to calculate the real time involved in teaching, and a bunch of other teaching resources.
Our thanks to Lori for taking the time to participate in this interview! You can check out Lori’s Teacher Listing on the HSCG website for more information.