Monday, August 1, 2011

Even the Soap Snob Loves These Soaps!

Okay, so one of the goals of this blog was to not only keep you up to date on what is going on here at 13th Moon, but also to showcase other very talented artists that deserve your attention & recognition for what they do. While I want to go through, show by show, and showcase items we have purchased and have pictures and links, etc. I also, obviously, have a thing for handmade soaps and cannot stop myself from buying from other soapers every chance I get.

Some take offense to this and think I am doing some sort of sneaky research or stealing of ideas, which, I guess, I can understand, but it is genuinely for my love of soap, and really good soap at that. To be completely honest, I have so many ideas swirling around in my head that I can’t get to all of MY ideas and batches of soap that I want to, let alone trying to make something that someone else is already doing. My goal in all of this was to let my personality and sense of humor come out in what I do, (and believe me, both are very unique to only me). How can I do that if I am taking someone else’s creativity and love in an attempt to make it mine? That’s just not me, never has been.

I buy from other soapers to support handmade products and to support my craft. I LOVE what I do, every single aspect of it. I like to see that same love and care taken by others and I like to support them for that reason. I love to talk soap with other people in the industry, almost to a fault, I never know when to shut up about it.  If they are willing to talk and share, we can learn so much from each other and further our craft. Isn’t that what it is all about anyway?

So, I figured I’d start this portion of the blog out showcasing two wonderfully talented soapers that I met at different shows. Yes, I have met many other soapers, and nothing against them at all, I am just a soap snob and am very particular about the products I use. I not only admire these women for the beautiful and well loved products they create, but for their glowing personalities and willingness to be kind and gush about what they love to do when meeting “the competition”, lol, so funny to me that we are “competition”.

One of the things I love the most about handmade soap is that creating your formula is so much like creating a food recipe (oh how I love my food and cooking!). Just like, even when given “grandma’s” recipe for something, you can follow everything step-by-step, yet it just isn’t quite the same as when grandma makes it. I know that I could even give out my formulations to someone, and they can make a batch using the same oils and butters and liquids that I do, what they come back with will be completely different from my batch. That is part of the beauty & magic in it. That is also why I am so willing to share what I have learned with others. There is only one me and only I make what I make the way I make it. It took me years to come into my style of soapmaking and I only was able to do it with the help and guidance of other soapers. For that, I will be eternally grateful to them. My promise to them, that I will continue the craft and share my knowledge as freely as I can.

But, on to the fun and good stuff, the two amazing soapers that I really admire and suggest, that if you, like me, are a soap junkie, try one of their products. They are both very different from mine, but still beautiful to use and left my skin happy.

1. Marie’s Soaps in Ottsville, PA.

Marie’s is very established and has been doing this for quite a while. It is a family run local business, and all female, which I admire. I first met the granddaughter, Brooke, at a school craft show last winter. She was selling for her family, soaps made by her mother (Brenda) and grandmother (Marie). Brooke was kind enough to chat with me for a while once I told her that I, too, was a soapmaker. She asked very good questions, like what got me started, what processes and ingredients I use and she shared the story of how her family got their start.

I absolutely loved the enthusiasm she had for their products and her excitement for when she would be able to make batches herself. She knew so much about what went into the process and the ingredients they used, for her age, it was very impressive. She was quite the sales woman as well. I left their booth with 2 bars of soap, “California Citrus” (I rarely do straight citrus blends, so that is usually what I go for from other soapers) and “The Stripper” which was an exfoliating scrubby hand soap, I was out of my “Monkey Wrench” at the time and like to see what others use for this purpose.

Marie’s uses only essential oils in her soaps. Both of the soaps I got from her were very nicely, lightly scented with beautiful, creamy, fluffy lather. As many of you know, I love my fragrance, so I know that my soaps tend to be on the more scented side of the spectrum. I use toward the maximum usage rates for almost all of my soaps to make sure the scent lasts. I love when the whole bathroom smells of the soap you used right after a shower. But, I also know that many people prefer a less scented soap, or different blends from what I have to offer. If that’s you, then Marie’s is your place to go. Her formula left my skin very soft and feeling loved and pampered.

I later, at another show, got to meet Brenda briefly, then at a different show, had the pleasure of briefly chatting with Marie. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the opportunity to talk as much as I would have liked, but I did get to tell her that I love her formula and which soaps I purchased. I also got to tell her how taken I was with her granddaughter. Again, both of them couldn’t have been nicer, no wonder they have been so successful! I point this out because some soapers simply get annoyed with another soaper wanting to chat. Or you try to make conversation on something you don’t have or offer (or even intend to for that matter) and are told that things are a “proprietary secret” when it is something having to do with how they use their mold, not even about their formula. Hell, I’ve actually written down fail proof starting formulations for people looking to get into the craft, as a here, try this, see how you like it, research and tweak as you see fit. But at least it’s a starting point.

I’ve even had another local soaper, not naming names here, trash me to an event coordinator! Now, this woman never tried my products, so had nothing to base her claims of, “oh, my soap is better, you should kick her off the show and put me on, I will have better sales.” Well, everyone, I will tell you this right now, that attitude will not get you very far with event coordinators, or anyone else for that matter. Because I was so excited about the show and so friendly to the coordinator, she felt the need to call me and let me know of the “trash talk” that was dished out and who said it. This left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth about this person, her business, and her products. And since I’m not naming names, I feel I can say this, I bought a soap from this person about a year before this happened. The soap was used twice and thrown away! Do you know how hard it is for someone like me to actually throw away a bar of soap without using it? I use everything down to the smallest sliver, but this was not something that did anything positive for my skin at all. But as I said, I am a soap snob.

I feel the love in my soaps, as I do in Marie’s and Donna’s (read about her below). Maybe if you can feel the love, you can also feel the bitterness, lol? Maybe it was the bad attitude that came out in the finished product, but it was certainly not superior to anything I have ever used, period. This was even before I was selling my soaps that I tried hers. I am not trashing her now, please don’t take it that way, I am simply saying, that you truly do get back what you put out there. People pick up on these things whether you realize it or not. I hope my gushing about what I love shows in every single batch, just like Grandma’s special recipes that cannot be duplicated, no one will put what I do into a product, just as no one can put what anyone else can into theirs. Soapmaking truly is a labor of love.

2. Donna McGinn at Garden Party Soapworks in Pequea, PA.

I met Donna at a show in Columbia, PA. We were both selling at the show and were a few booths down from each other. I seem to approach other soapers with caution anymore, lol, but there was no need with Donna. She has gorgeous soaps, she is confident in her products and it shows. Since the show was a little slow, and luckily, Dan was there with me to help man the booth, I was able to go and chat with her a bit during the lull of the show. Donna was so generous with sharing her knowledge and techniques, some of which are similar to some of the things I do, but as I said, we are all so unique and I love it!

I fell in love with her “Smokin Sexy” blend. This was a white bar that was filled with black “confetti” soap. It was shredded black soap in a white base, not only was it beautiful to look at, it smelled like heaven to me. I now regret not taking a photo before I used it all up! As I said, my nose likes a lot of fragrance, and this was the only soap of hers that I could actually smell much, and I loved it. She was kind enough to let me know what was in the blend, at least some of it. Needless to say, I left with a bar of the “Smokin Sexy” and a half size/travel bar (I love these for at the sinks) of Green Tea & Lemongrass, which, admittedly, I cannot really smell, it just smells clean and fresh, like handmade soap should! Much like my own, and Marie’s, I could feel the love that Donna puts into her soaps. My skin thanked me for using her bar, which is beautifully formulated with rich, fluffy lather. So, if you are, or if you know someone that is, one of those people that can’t handle fragrance, but loves a great bar of soap, then you really need to try Donna’s Garden Party Soapworks.

Well, all, that’s it for sharing my love of others soaps. It does take quite a lot to impress me, but both of these companies did. I admire all of these women mentioned, not only from a business perspective, but for who they are and allowing it to show in their products and to me. Thank you, ladies, for your kindness and sharing and for making an excellent bar of soap. As a soapmaker, you not only represent yourself, but the whole community and industry. If you sell before you are ready or have an inferior product, it reflects on all of us. A person that buys from you or me, or whoever is selling soap will now think all handmade soap is like the one they bought, good or bad. They remember that experience. Let’s get together as a community, start acting like one and respect each other, it only furthers the industry for all of us. Ladies, I thank you for representing all of us soapmakers in a positive light, both from your sparking personalities to your high quality products you put out there.

Until next time…….