Phoning it in.

by Veronica on November 5, 2015

in Soapmaking

Sweet Pea and Goat's Milk Soap

Lemongrass and Goat's Milk Soap

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Catch up day, with wet soap photos

by Veronica on November 4, 2015

in Soapmaking

Today is a catch up day. My curing shelves are being steadily emptied and I haven’t had a chance to fill them back up yet. So I’m making soap, writing things, catching up on my freelance work, and probably making even more soap.

There’s something soothing about soap making. You follow a formula and voila, you get a usable product at the end.

But it’s the pouring, the swirling, the cutting – those are the things which do it for me. Cutting a beautiful soap for the first time. Seeing how smooth it is – provided of course you didn’t fill it with air bubbles accidentally (it happens, a lot).

You can feel if there are air bubbles. It’s a feeling in the cutter, a sound, a sensation. You know before you even look, how smooth that cut side of soap is going to be. A perfectly smooth side of soap is just so pleasurable to look at.

Not that air bubbles affect anything really, except how it looks before it’s used for the first time.

And that moment, between running the soap through the cutter and picking up the first bar to check the design. Is it going to be amazing? Have you messed it up? It’s Schrödinger’s soap and you won’t know until you take the plunge and actually look.

Then you wait. And wait. A good soap is cured for at least 4-5 weeks, but you can test the end pieces after a few days. How does it bubble? How does it smell? How does it make your skin feel? Do you just want to roll around in it for days? (Usually, yes)

I really love what I do.

Lemongrass soap, made with goat’s milk and scented with Lemongrass Essential Oil.

Lemongrass Soap

Sweet Pea Soap, with Goat’s Milk. Pretty pink swirls throughout.   Sweet Pea Soap

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I probably ought to watch less Netflix.

by Veronica on November 3, 2015

in Life

I packed 80 soaps this afternoon while I watched Gilmore Girls, and if I’m lucky, I’ll get to pack another 80 soaps after dinner, as well as making the soap I’ve been putting off because my 3yo has decided she needs to “help” with everything I do. For the record, soap making is not conducive to being “helped” by a 3yo.

Especially not when you’re attempting a pretty swirl with a new fragrance you know is going to thicken fast. What can I say, I like to live dangerously.

Interestingly, Eve likes cooking. Way more than the other two kids ever did. She likes rolling dumplings and icing cakes and helping to peel potatoes. She also likes putting stickers on soap and throwing freshly labelled lip balms into bags, but cooking is her Big Thing. If she can sit on the bench and watch the eggs cook – that is her happy place.

Of course she doesn’t want to eat the eggs, but if I can just cook them over and over, that would be great. Bonus points if we can collect them too – although we need to start being faster than the dogs, who have discovered eggs are as fun as balls, only they’re delicious when you crack them.

Not my favourite.

Not my chicken’s favourite either, because Heidi also likes to chew on them if we’re not careful, but there it is.

Only a quick post today, while I wait for dinner to finish cooking and my children to begin to settle down for the night. I am strung out and stretched thin and bedtime for them, and Netflix for me is a happy hour here. Although I really ought to be working more and watching Netflix less. Details.

Whoever thought that starting a business while also parenting three children would be a good idea? Clearly I am a deluded idiot.

But at least I make really nice soap, so there’s that.

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I caved today and bought Facebook ads for my business. It’s one of those things – you work so hard to grow organic reach and engagement, and then everything tanks and you’ve got not option but to pay for advertising. It is what it is however, and paying Facebook to actually show my page to people probably isn’t akin to dancing with the devil, no matter how it feels like it.

Online sales have been slow for the last month. I know you’re not meant to admit things like this as a business owner, but there is it. October was a slow sales month in terms of online business, although the in-person business was quite brisk – between the Pop Up Shop and various markets, we did okay. Obviously nothing is making a profit yet, but the business is growing quite steadily, wholesale orders are increasing, and the feedback I’m receiving in person has been amazing, and quite gratifying.

It’s hard to make a profit in soapmaking I suspect. So much of what creates good soap actually takes a lot of money. Between the top quality oils and butters, the hand cut packaging, the time and effort, our profit margins are slim. And as the quantity of soap we sell increases, so does the quantity we make, in order to keep up.

If you’d told me 12 months ago that I would regularly be buying 20 litres of oils at a time, and spending more money than I care to think about on top quality essential oils and things like cocoa and shea butter, I might have looked a little shocked. But there it is.

Of course I could make soap with cheaper oils, but it wouldn’t be as nice, so I don’t.

The other side of selling online is keeping up with things like SEO, and promotion – but not too much promotion. Twitter and Facebook are great, but there’s a fine line in people’s minds between you sharing your journey and things they love, and pushing yourself upon them. One gains engaged interested followers, and the other makes them dump you like hot coals.

So, facebook ads. Obviously the goal is for Facebook to show my page to more people, thus increasing views and engagement, and maybe contributing to sales.

In the meantime, we’ll keep trundling along. The feedback I’m getting from markets has been great. I have lots of return customers, lots of people popping by to let me know they bought soap last time and they’re loving it, lots of people telling me my soap is the first thing they’ve found which doesn’t make their skin feel itchy and tight.

It’s gratifying to know that in a small way, I am making a difference in people’s lives. That something I’ve created, pulled together from scratch, makes someone happy in a small way. That the smells I blend, that the balms I make, that they help people.

It’s really really nice.

Even if I do have to pay facebook to keep it happening.


Today’s soap: Orange Blossom and Calendula Soap, with shea butter and coconut milk.

Orange Blossom and Calendula

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It’s 10.30am and I’ve just eaten chocolate for breakfast. In my defence, one of my children went trick or treating last night, and if I didn’t get in fast, there wasn’t going to be any chocolate left.

The trick-and-treating child is the reason there are chocolate wrappers all over the floor.

Unfortunately I don’t think I can blame her (and force her to pick up) the scattering of wood chips all over the carpet, brought inside by an enthusiastic dog, who conveniently killed the wood chips while I wasn’t looking and thus, unable able to send her BACK OUTSIDE JESUS NO WOOD INSIDE.

So there’s that. Woodchips and chocolate wrappers, while the smallest child sits on the couch eating blueberries and demanding ABC Kids be put on the TV, even though it will quite possibly drive me to stab out my own eyes.

(The older children are into music lately, and I don’t even hate their taste. Given a choice between Raa Raa The Lion and Imagine Dragons, I know which is less annoying.)

I need to make soap, and the lip balms need restocking before Brighton Show next weekend. I’m not sure how we’ll go – most people head to a show for the showbags and the dagwood dogs and the omgimgoingtovomit rides, but this year they’re adding a Farmer’s Market section, and hey, apparently handmade soap fits the bill. So there we are, at the show. The children are Very Excited because WE ARE GOING TO THE SHOW. I don’t think they’ve quite realised they’ll be stuck at home until mid-afternoon because I cannot work a market with three children weaving around my ankles, demanding money. So, they’re stuck with Daddy, while I head down at slightly-later-than-dawn-but-not-by-much-and-only-because-it’s-summer-o’clock.

I’m sure that’s going to be a Fun and Exciting day for poor Nathan.

Anyway. Lip Balms, Soap, Etc etc. Making

Sundays tend to be a catch up day here for me if I don’t have a market on. I don’t have any spare weekends until after Christmas now, so spare Sundays are few and far between, to be cherished like gold, or the random twix’s inside a halloween bag.

I just checked my recipe tracking software (Soapmaker 3, if you’re in the market. Won’t work on Mac’s, but if you’re on Windows it is a GODSEND when it comes to tracking curing times/ingredient usage and ordering/money/costs-per-portion), and I’ve got nearly 200 soaps to pack before the show.

On the upside, you should see some shiny new soaps in the Online Shop soon. (Please buy them. Support my soap habit. Also my book and good tea habit.)

On the downside: I need to pack 200 soaps and make another 200 to get through Christmas.

Yay! Business!


(Just quietly, I’m trying to blog every day this month. It’s a good habit and I miss the writing. So, cheer me on?)

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