At the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, we love to hear the stories of our Members and share these stories with you!
This month, we’ll be highlighting HSCG Certified Teacher Tami Thornton of Beehive Soap. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to ask Tami a few questions about how she got started, and what advice she’d give to a fledgling teacher.
HSCG: When did you start making your products, and why did you start making them?
Tami: 11 years ago — I was participating in (of all things) Irish Folk Dance as a fun hobby and form of exercise. It was getting too hard on my knees so I was looking for a new hobby to explore and happened to read about a woman in my area making soap in her kitchen. This intrigued me, as my maternal grandmother had also made soap in her kitchen, and I dove in! I read everything I could find at my local library and online then reached out using Craigslist hoping someone could “show” me how to make a batch of soap. Janice R. in my area graciously invited me to her home for a simple demonstration/lesson and I was on my way-thank you Janice R!
I created soaps for three years as a hobby, working out formulations, processes, sorting out fragrances/colorants/etc. using my soap in my own shower and sharing soap with family, neighbors, etc.
In 2009 I branched out as a small business — selling at Farmers Markets/Boutiques. We eventually added lotion bars, lip balms, created formulations for sugar scrubs, whipped body butters, shaving cream soap, deodorant, etc. as we moved forward.
2013 — Beehive Soap had out-grown my kitchen (this was mostly true… but read between the lines… Hubby said “it has taken over the house… take it big or shut it down”) and rented my 800 square foot studio in Murray Utah. In 2016 we rented a second studio in same development to better handle racks of curing soaps and storage of containers/etc.
HSCG: What inspired you to begin teaching?
Tami: I could not be where I am today without the help of Janice R. and many others who answered my lame questions on soap making forums/yahoo groups. So — I feel that I need to help others who also want to take this journey, and teaching is an ideal way to do so!
HSCG: How did you hear about the HSCG, and what inspired you to get Certified?
Tami: I heard about the HSCG during all my google searches early in my soap making journey. After selling product for just a few months I jumped in as a member seeing the value of education, camaraderie, conference, lobbyist efforts for good of all, vendor discounts, etc. Adding certification added credibility to my efforts and helped set me apart from others also selling soaps and other body care products in my area.
HSCG: If someone has the desire to teach, what advice would you give to them?
Tami: I recognize that someone can simply watch 10 YouTube videos these days, and be on their way to soap making on their own. Providing a one-on-one or small group session offers the student(s) an opportunity to ask questions. I do not know all the answers, but I happily share my knowledge and experience to help others in their soap making journey.
I recommend limiting the times when you offer lessons to fit your business/schedule — I advertise that I am available to teach classes January through August by appointment. This allows me to handle holiday production without interrupting my day to teach classes. I recommend creating a simple flyer explaining your class fees, policies (require payment in advance to secure their class), directions to your studio, etc. so that an inquiry about classes is easy to reply to by simply attaching your flyer to your email reply — leaving it in their court to get back to you when ready to schedule their class.
Thank you so much Tami for sharing your experience and advice! You can learn more about Tami and Beehive Soap and Body Care by visiting her Handcrafter Listing.
Interested in becoming an HSCG Member? Learn more about Membership.
To learn more about upcoming classes offered by HSCG Certified Teachers, please visit our Class Listing page.