The HSCG Great Lakes Local Chapter is helmed by President Suzanne Finley, Vice President Steven Meka, Secretary Mary Ellen Quaine, and Treasurer Michelle Neathery. Recently, we asked the Great Lakes Local Chapter leaders to share a collaborative view of their experiences and inspiration in forming and running their chapter.
What inspired you to form a local chapter?
We looked at it as a way to make closer connections with fellow soapmakers where we can share ideas, resources, cheer one another on and support one another. This opens up a whole new world where we can learn a great deal from other members as well and, hopefully, our chapter board can offer some nuggets of value and professional guidance as needed.
What do you think is the biggest benefit of participating in a Local Chapter?
More localized resources and network to support and grow our businesses. Meeting with our mentees helps us to motivate each other as well as help plan realistic goals for our businesses. Always having others in your corner = regular support! Additionally, many members of the HSCG do not have the resources to attend the larger conference, whether it be due to financial restrictions or geographic restrictions. Our chapter allows them to attend a conference that’s smaller, less costly, and, in most cases, much closer geographically.
How do you feel your Local Chapter impacts, or can impact, your local community?
We spread the word on the quality of locally made handcrafted products and show our customers and communities that we are professionals who take our jobs seriously and, in most cases, the bulk of our members are more environmentally conscious and health conscious than commercial companies. It impacts our communities in a positive way knowing that we care about families and better health.
What is your favorite part about your Local Gatherings?
Meting so many talented people who share a passion for making soaps and cosmetics, hearing their stories, and offering advice to help where we can. The camaraderie, the enthusiasm, the excitement!
Imagine the future of your Local Chapter: what do you see?
We would like to develop a network of experts within the chapter who can mentor, teach, answer and support other chapter members when needed; i.e., a go-to person for setting up a business, a go-to person for taxes, a go-to person for cold process, etc., where members know who to contact when they are at certain crossroads for guidance and advice. We realize we currently have a mentorship program, but this is different; specialists in certain areas so that chapter members can go to our own local “panel” of experts when needed. Additionally, we’d like to see more meetings with members and even possibly promoting more meetings amongst members in the various states we are in. For example, our chapter consists of four states, and it’s hard for all of us to get together on a regular basis, but it would be good to organize and promote smaller/micro meetings for members who are closer to each other. Our mentorship program helps with that too.
If you live in the Great Lakes area and would like to become a part of the HSCG Great Lakes Local Chapter, please reach out to our Member Services Assistant Kristine at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via phone during business hours at 866-900-7627. There is no additional cost to join a Local Chapter for HSCG Members.