Friday, April 17, 2015

Farmers' Market Season Begins!

Farmers' Market Soap

She sells soap too!

My treat from the market
And so it begins! I have started my farmer's market season. I have now worked 3 Wednesdays at the Tigard Farmers' Market from 3-7 p.m at the Grange. It has been a slow start, but lots of fun. I am gaining confidence setting up shop with baby Rosalie in tow. She has been the perfect selling partner, rarely fussing and always engaging with customers. Plus, she's darn good company.

I also love meeting other vendors. I get a delicious BBQ dinner, beautiful flowers, fresh bread and I can't wait until the fresh produce is ready to be sold!

I will be selling at my community's largest farmers' Market, the Beaverton Farmer's Market, every Saturday, starting May 1st. I am ecstatic for this opportunity and have high hopes. Also, since Beaverton is my hometown, being a part of this market holds a special place in my heart.  My fingers are crossed that this will be a successful market for me.

So far, my biggest seller of the season has been my Farmers' Market soap. Is this good marketing, or is this soap really just that great? It is a new scent for me, Bramble Berry's Kumquat, and I adore it!

When I first started markets and bazaars, I was so anxious and tense about sales. I am finally at the place where I can take a deep breath and relax when sales are slow. I love being content knowing that my product is solid and that when I have a slow day, it isn't because my soap is inferior. I just try to enjoy the slow sales days for what they are: an opportunity to spend alone time with my baby, a chance to chat with fellow vendors and customers, being able to hand pick local goods and support my fellow vendors. It's alwats a good day at the Farmers' Market!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Winner is announced!

Thanks to all who entered the 2015 Bramble Berry S.O.A.P. Panel contest. I randomly assigned numbers to each entrant and then used a random # generator to pick the winner. The winner, Emily Fehrenbach, entered the contest twice, and her perseverance paid off!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The results are in!!!! Contest!!!!

Boy was this fun! I loved being a tester for these mystery fragrances that may become part of the amazing fragrance collection from Bramble Berry. After so many years of soap making, I know what I look for in a fragrance oil, so I will report about my personal experiences and impressions of each oil:

  1. Discolored to medium brown. Easy to work with. No noticeable acceleration. Scent is chocolaty with a hint of mint.
    Name Choice: After Dinner Mint
  2. Discolored to a medium brown. Easy to work with. No noticeable acceleration. Bakery-type scent. Hints of spice, perhaps nutmeg or cinnamon. Super yummy.
    Name Choice: Biscotti
  3. No discoloration or acceleration. This scent was the most intriguing to me. It smells of jasmine rice and a soft floral. To me, it's an Asian inspired scent.
    Name Choice: Japanese Garden
  4. Discolors to light tan. No acceleration. Smelled chocolaty OOB, but smells more like a light chocolate and hazelnut mixture after it is used in cp soap.
    Name Choice: White Chocolate Delight. 
  5. Discolors to medium tan. No acceleration. This is another bakery scent. Smells like
    Pecan pie.
    Name Choice: Pralines and Cream
  6. No discoloration or acceleration. Very fresh and a clean shaven man. Could market this as a spa scent as well.
    Name Choice: Barber Shop or Clean Shaven
  7. No discoloration or acceleration. This scent was the most intriguing to me. It smells of jasmine rice and a soft floral. To me, it's an Asian inspired scent.
    Name Choice: Chinese Garden
  8. No acceleration or discoloration. Smells fruity, like grape candy. I am guessing this would be a big hit with little girls.
    Name Choice: Grapes and Giggles
  9. Very slight discoloration to cream. No acceleration. Very masculine, in a fresh and green kind of way. This smells like a fresh, crisp mountain air kind of day.
    Name Choice: Mountain Fresh Air or Mountain Mist

The real winners for me are #5,  #6, and #7. I am really intrigued by #6. This one baffled me the most and although I like it, it may not be a good seller for me. I feel that #3, #5, and #7 would be big sellers. I would market #3 toward men. It smells fresh and clean, like shave gel. #5 is a delightful bakery scent. I personally don't use these fragrance oils because I don't like brownish soap and but I do understand their appeal. #7 would be a big seller with the younger girls. It smells so fun and fruity.I had an amazing time on the 2015 Spring S.O.A.P.  Panel. What an honor it was to help take place in this testing process!

Please leave a comment below to be entered to win all 8 of the soaps I tested, and then you can judge for yourself!The contest ends Sunday, April 5th at midnight PST.

Monday, March 16, 2015

More Bramble Berry S.O.A.P. Panel Testing!

Here are 2 more videos documenting this fun experience. Yikes! I have to get use to being recorded! I will have a blog post with all the results when I am done.

Initial Impressions

Bramble Berry 2015 S.O.A.P. Panel Testing Part 2

Also, I am crazy busy making my own soap! Here is a close-up of my newest batch of PDX Carpet soap. It is so pretty. It is amazing where inspiration can come from! I love creativity!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bramble Berry's 2015 Spring S.O.A.P. Panel, Part 1

Here we go folks! Buckle up and take this ride with me!

I was recently selected to be a member of the 2015 Spring S.O.A.P. Panel. I was beyond thrilled. Woo hoo!

A few days ago, I received my 8 samples (this is like Christmas). They were labeled 1-8, and opening each one and sniffing them for the first time was quite the gift!

In anticipation of this testing, I bought two 4 inch Silicone Loaf Molds . OMG, are they ever cute and the perfect size for test batches. Love them.

I have decided to be very methodical about my testing:
  • I am making this soap using the recipe I make for almost all my soaps, so I know what to expect.
  • I will soap at room temperature.
  • I will leave some of the soap uncolored so I can determine how the fragrance effects the soap color. The bakery scented ones will be free of colorants, because I prefer them that way.
  • I will soap 2 fragrances per session. There are several that smell very similar, so I want to see how they preform against each other.
Please watch this video to see how testing my first 2 fragrances went. These were chocolate scented and fun and easy to work with. 

Thanks and enjoy!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Dream Interview Happened!

Bramble Berry's Anne Marie

Indie Business Network's Donna Maria

I became familiar with Bramble Berry when I first started making soap. Anne-Marie, Bramble Berry's owner and founder, is always featured in Soap Queen videos, which is essentially how I learned to make cp soap. I follow her blog, videos, FB page, Istagram etc.  and have shopped at Bramble Berry for years. Bramble Berry's products are always top notch and the customer service is amazing!

I became familiar with Donna Maria of the Indie Business network after hearing her name tossed around on soap making forums. Through a forum, I learned she had a podcast, so I subscribed and got hooked! As a small business owner of  handcrafted items, I have learned so much! Please listen to her podcast! You won't be disappointed. 

I was an early adopter to podcasts. I have been listening to them for almost 10 years and they have entertained and educated me during many hours of breast feeding, house cleaning, and exercising. 

I also made the switch from the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild to the Indie Business Network this year when it was time to renew my insurance. I couldn't be happier with my choice and have learned an immense amount about business so far. I feel that Donna Maria really cares about the folks in her network and wants us all to succeed!

These amazing female business owners are my role models, so imagine my surprise when I looked at my podcasts and found that the latest Episode of Donna Marie's Podcast, Women, Wealth and Wow, was an interview with Bramble Berry's Anne-Marie! It was such a gift to me. I have already listened to the episode twice. 

I strongly urge any small business owners to be inspired by Donna Maria's podcast. There is such a wealth of knowledge and wisdom every week!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bramble Berry's Spring S.O.A.P. Panel (Choose Me, Please)

Bramble Berry has always been my favorite soap supply company. When I first started making soap, I watched so many hours of Soap Queen videos that I would get the theme song eternally stuck in my head, as did my husband. I feel fortunate to live in Oregon, just south of Bramble Berry's head quarters in Washington.  

I have always felt a personal connection to Anne-Marie, Bramble Berry's business savvy founder and owner. I look up to her as a role model, have read all her business articles ( check my iPad underestimate-books).  She is close to my age, a mother of young children and a business owner. Granted, her business is much bigger than mine, but she has encouraged me to believe that anything is possible through hard work, good planning, ethical decision making and a positive attitude. 

So what does this have to do with the S.O.A.P. Panel? I have always wanted to be a part of this process. As a member of the panel, I would be given 8 fragrances to test in soap. I would then report my findings. What fun! After being in business for a few years, I feel this is my time (or at least I hope so). I  am ready and eager to help Bramble Berry by testing potential fragrances.  As a handmade soap company owner, I know what I desire a fragrance, so I feel I can help other soap makers too!

So what products do I like best from Bramble Berry? I have bought so much, it's difficult to narrow that list down, but here is the list of items I am never without.

5 pound mold with silicone liner

Fragrance Oils:
Ginger Lime
Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Fizzy lemonade 
Electric Bubblegum

The fragrance oils are my favorite.  Aside from the artistry of my soap, what sells my soap is the smell. I am very selective about what I use, and I rely on Bramble Berry fragrances because they are consistently good. I have fallen in love so many times with news scents (Kumquat is my new love). I look forward to falling in love again with some fresh new fragrances. 

To be honest, as awesome as Bramble Berry's products are, my favorite thing is not a specific product, but the tremendous community that Anne-Marie and her team have built. The videos, blog, newsletters etc. have all been amazing resources for learning my craft. You better believe that if I lived closer to Bellingham, I would do everything is my power to work for Bramble Berry. Even if I am not chosen, I will forever love Bramble Berry!