In stores, at craft fairs and online, you have a choice of who to purchase your handcrafted soap from. How do you choose a soapmaker? By the look of their website? From their pictures and product description? It’s pretty easy to put together a nice looking website. And you can pay someone to take great pictures and descriptions of your soaps. So, how do you choose a soapmaker?
First of all, there’s nothing wrong with seeing a beautiful soap, picking it up, smelling it, and falling in love with it. I’ve done it many times. Sometimes, a soap just strikes me and I want it. So I buy it.
But I encourage you to start a conversation, in person, or online with your soapmaker. For simplicity sake, I’ll assume the soapmaker is a woman. Get to know her and her story.
How long has she been making soap? 20 years? 2 years? Did she take a class 3 months ago and decide to sell? I tell my soapmaking students that you wouldn’t learn how to make a chocolate cake and start selling it the next month. You’d practice the art of baking, play with flavors and learn from your mistakes. Because, trust me, you’ll have them.
Is she a member of The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild or Indie Business Network? Is she a certified soapmaker? Does she have insurance? Her answers would indicate to me how serious she is about her business.
Has she been to any conferences, taken any recent classes or participate on any online forums? A committed soapmaker is always learning more about her craft.
What are the oils in her soap? Are they cheap oils, chosen to keep her costs down, or are they more expensive oils? What qualities do they give her soap? Why did she choose them?
Are her soaps vegan? Does she use essential oils or fragrance oils? Organic ingredients? Does she give back to her community or a charity? Why did she get into soapmaking? Do any of these things matter to you?
Most soapmakers I know would love to answer all these questions for you. The only thing we love more than making soap is talking about our soaps. I’d be grateful if you ask me in the comments below.
Yours in Gratitude,
jane wheeler says
Well everything is just fine Angela except for that certified part. Not everybody likes to take a test to become certified but you can still be a experienced soapmaker without being certified.
Angela Carillo says
Absolutely true Jane! All soap makers won’t have all these qualifications, and many of my favorite soapmakers aren’t certified. Some can’t afford to travel to a conference, I know it can be expensive and they have responsibilities at home. But all of my favorites are passionate about the soap they make and serious about their business. They collaborate with other soap makers. They love to talk about their soaps and why they choose the ingredients in them. They understand what each oil/butter brings to the soap. I think that’s what separates the good ones from the OK ones. Does that sound better to you?
Donna Maria says
Great tips, Angela, and thank you for including the Indie Business Network. I love what you are doing with your business. Your products are always made with such intention and care, and it’s such a joy to see that you truly love what you do. That’s another reason to buy from anyone — that they love making whatever it is that they make. It all makes the world a better place.
Angela Carillo says
I find all the members of Indie Business and the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild truly love what they do. I love being an Indie member and having a place to connect with other makers and soapmakers. Thank you Donna Maria for “hosting” the group and for your kind words. With soap making I feel as if I’ve found my calling.