The HSCG Kentucky – So. Ohio Local Chapter is helmed by President Margaret Neff, Vice President Catherine McGinnis, Secretary Tracy Heppes, and Treasurer Lynne Akalin. Recently, we asked the Kentucky – So. Ohio 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?
Two different groups, Kentucky and Ohio were considering starting chapters. At the HSCG Annual Conference in Las Vegas, we entertained joining together. This would allow us a greater area to pull members from, yet not so large as to alienate any one.
Our goal was to give this area a voice in the soapmaking community and in the HSCG. Our local board members (although we are more than this brief description) include a talented hobbyist, a budding entrepreneur who is quickly growing her business, an accomplished brick and mortar store owner and a soaper/teacher of over 20 years who sells solely online. The vast differences in our backgrounds and experiences allow us to begin to respond to the wants and needs of our members.
What do you think is the biggest benefit of participating in a Local Chapter?
The local chapter serves as an outreach and educational group by providing networking and community service opportunities as a group of makers and teachers in the Southern Ohio and Kentucky regions. We have found members have thoroughly enjoyed meeting other soapers, as many are unable to attend national conferences. As a smaller group, we can discuss ideas, issues, and concerns specific to our regional and state regulations. We can discuss how certain laws and regulations affect what we do as makers.
As a member, anyone can contact the board to ask questions or find resources. Also, local chapters allow everyone to meet other local soapers to share ideas and information.
How do you feel your Local Chapter impacts, or can impact, your local community?
As a local chapter, we have the ability to focus attention on handcrafted bath and body products. We emphasize creating recipes with body safe ingredients and using good manufacturing practices. This is important for the hobbyist as well as those who craft for profit.
We can encourage others to hold a soap drive for local food banks and shelters. We think it would be fun and interesting to offer a kid’s hands on program using melt and pour. This may foster interest in soapmaking with the younger generation.
What is your favorite part about your local chapter?
We love that our events are small and a full day of learning, with hands-on experiences, which can set us apart from larger conferences. We love that everyone can participate and learn. Therefore, we can incorporate the varied levels of every attendee.
In July 2019, we had a small group gather in Kentucky and repeated the agenda in Ohio in October. Keeping our events small allows us the opportunities to have everyone make soap during the event, as well as fun contests. We gave everyone the chance to work with soap dough. Creativity reigned! Our attendees also learned about GMP processes and a fun swirl that everyone “air swirled” together! We also decided to invite one vendor per event. Attendees seemed to love the small group events as it gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions, meet everyone at the event and try their hand at new methods.
Imagine the future of your Local Chapter: what do you see?
We see many possible directions in which our chapter can proceed, including the possibility of providing knowledge of the soaping and skin care product world to those who wouldn’t necessarily have access to it. That may include underprivileged families and teens. It is our goal to engage people in the Kentucky – Southern Ohio areas to become empowered through education and self-sufficiency.
We would love to see more soapers involved. We need leadership to continually change and grow with the organization and its needs.
We are planning both a spring and fall event in 2020. We’ll plan to have our annual meeting at the spring event, streaming it live for others who can’t attend.
If you live in the Kentucky – Southern Ohio area and would like to become a part of the HSCG Kentucky – So. Ohio 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.