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.

Tools:
5 pound mold with silicone liner

Fragrance Oils:
Energy
Ginger Lime
Kumquat
Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Colorants:
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!

Friday, February 20, 2015

What's Best for the Family

My Essentail Oil kit from doTERRA

Our 8 month old baby girl, Rosalie

The best big brother and future MVP

My 4 year-old Princess Somerset
If you know me, then you know how important my family is to me. I am so incredibly proud of them, which is why I love to include photos of the kiddos when I can. I make decisions for these kids that will affect them for life, so I want to be smart and informed.

Making soap has really opened my eyes to the world of label reading, being health conscious and making environmentally responsible choices. Do I buy all organic? I wish I could, but it is too expensive, but I like to buy what I can from the farmers' market and I like to buy produce seasonally. I also am much more thoughtful about where I buy my gifts. I would so much rather buy from a small business, than a big box retailer.

My next foray into alternative choices for my family was in the investment of therapeutic essential oils from doTERRA. My friend Niki sells them and she had approached me abut using them for my soap. Unfortunately, using doTERRA oils for soap would be financially impossible. They are so expensive because they are the highest grade of oils and are pure enough to ingest safely. I told Niki that I would love to learn more though for my own personal use.

After getting together with Niki, smelling the oils and talking about the benefits, I decided to invest in the Family Physician kit. I am so excited to try to using a natural approach to medical issues rather than always reaching for a pill.

I am really hoping the oils work effectively on my husband's upset stomach, my headaches, stress and anxiety, my kid's immunity, etc. I'll report back!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

PDX Carpet Soap




Have you heard of the term "Keep Portland Weird?" Perhaps you have seen Portlandia. Well, your perceptions about Portland, OR are probably pretty accurate. When PDX International Airport announced that the carpet was to be replaced, Oregonians flipped out! This carpet is iconic and the source of many shoe selfies. Now the carpet is being auctioned off and will sell for tons and there is even a Facebook page dedicated to the beloved carpet.

When I asked my Lion and Rose FB Community if they would be interested in a soap reminiscent of the carpet, the response was overwhelmingly positive. So here you have it, my interpretation of the Famous PDX carpet, in soap form. Unlike real carpet in high traffic areas, my soap actually smells good, like green tea and cucumbers!

R.I.P. PDX Carpet, I am sure you will have a second life in a hipster bar! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Web Store is Open! Contest!


I am so incredible happy to announce the GRAND OPENING of my Lion and Rose Web Store. I have been building the site for about a month using Shopify and have put a lot of energy into it, but I am so happy with how it turned out.

Initially, I was going to hire someone to design the site for me, but after placing a Craig's List ad for help and receiving about 100 interested applicants, I became overwhelmed. I then started thinking about how complicated and expensive it would be to always rely on someone else to update the site, so I decided to take it on myself!

Using Shopify was fairly easy, but there was definitely a learning curve for me. However, now I feel very confident making changes on my own. I also feel a sense of pride in having built this site myself!

To celebrate, the Grand Opening, I am offering a contest. There are 4 ways to win:

  1. Buy something from my store!
  2. Make a comment on this blog post about the new site: Suggestions for improvement, what you like, etc.
  3. Like my Facebook Page
  4. Share my Facebook Page status about the new store!
1st prize: The complete collection of my Oregon Series soaps (7 in all)!
2nd Prize: 3 soaps of your choice featured from my store.
3rd Prize: 2 soaps of your choice featured from my store.

The contest closes on Sunday, February 8th at Midnight PST. Good luck!