Saturday, December 12, 2015

This image is from Naiad Soap Arts. So in LOVE!!!
Look at these kids! I am so blessed to have these 3 little ones in my life!

I have been so busy with bazaars every weekend. It has been so fun and I love every minute, but I haven't been able to make much soap. I am now itching to add to my product line. That may be my goal for 2016! I tried candle making, but I think that may just be a hobby. I am so anxious to get busy creating again! What should I add to my line? Whipped sugar scrub, roll-on perfume, shave butter, shaving soap, lip scrubs? What's your vote? If your  maker, what are some of your more successful product lines? I am like a kids in a candy shop...the possibilities are so exciting.

I am so eager to get my hands on some of Bramble Berry's awesome body care kits. Yes, this could be a business expense, but I would love my husband or kids to buy me one as a Christmas gift. I know I can write this expense off as a business expense, but sometimes a girl can mix business with pleasure.

I find so much inspiration from Erin Pikor of Naiad Soap Arts. Like me, she was a Graphic Designer. I LOVE her packaging, website and amazing products. I also would love some whipped sugar scrub for Christmas please (hint to my husband). I may just have to buy some for myself. Merry Christmas to me!

I am so excited for 2016. Every year Lion and Rose grows and I am so excited to see where the new tear takes me.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Makers' Masterminding Day with Donna Maria!

Donna Maria and me!

I am giddy like a school girl because I was able to spend a day of masterminding with Donna Maria of the Indie Business Network. Last Monday, October 12, I spent the day soaking up kernels of business wisdom from Donna Maria and the amazing team at Essential Wholesale,

Alex Badcock, VP of Marketing for Essential Wholesale wrote a  blog post that sums up the lessons learned from our day of masterminding. His post is so eloquent and insightful, so I must share! Please read this: 5 Take Aways from Portland Connection Day 2015

Not only did I learn a lot from the expert speakers, I was so encouraged by my fellow makers. What a supportive and creative group of business owners! I was so impressed by how intelligent, creative and energetic this group was. We even had belly dancing lessons from the Vanessa of Herbs of Grace.

Also, we left the event with plenty of swag from Essential Wholesale.There products and ingredients are amazing and after meeting their wonderful staff, and touring their immaculate facility, I would encourage any soap maker to buy their products.

If Donna Maria comes to a city near you for a masterminding event, I would strongly encourage any maker to participate. It was fun, insightful and inspiring! I am amped to take my business to the net level.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Holiday Events!

Fall is in the air! Apple Harvest Soap!
Soaps made in honor of Oregon's rival colleges: OSU and U of O
She's walking and finally got her first tooth at 15 months!
Stickering soaps for my big wholesale account!
Back to School!
I love fall! The kids are back in school, the air is crisp and I get to start making Fall/Winter soaps! I am loving my Apple Harvest soap. It is scented with Bramble Berry's Red Apple and smells so good! It has been selling so well at the farmer's market that I decided to make another batch, but modified it a tad by adding a touch of Bramble Berry's Sleigh Ride, which smells quite spicy, to create a spiced apple scent.

As a mom to 3 young kids, I have so many days when I feel as though I can't fit it all into a day. This summer, I focused on getting my kiddos out and busy. We had swim class, days at the pool, play dates, time at the park etc. I feel the need to get these Oregon kids out in the sun as much as possible, because once the rainy season hits, we are home bound a lot! As a result, so much of my soap making and business stuff was saved for the evening, so I was one exhausted Mama.

Now that Leo is in 2nd grade and Somerset is in preschool, we have fallen into a new routine, which frees up a little more day time for me. That means I can make soap during the day. I do as much prep work as I can with the baby around and then when it is time to make soap, I have the baby in the high chair for a snack. I have become exceptionally efficient!

Our baby girl is now walking! She is such a peach. She is my #1 marketing tool at the market too. When she is at my booth, she waves, smiles and says "hi" to all who cross her path.

I am now starting to plan for the upcoming  Christmas season. I hope to add a few more dates too. For all who are local, here's where I will be selling:

November 7: Annual Mountain View Holiday Bazaar
17500 SW Farmington Road, Aloha OR 97078, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

November 14: Beaverton High School Bazaar, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m,
At Beaverton High School

November 21: Lake Oswego Farmer's Market Reunion, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Millennium Plaza Park
200 First Street
Lake OswegoOR 97034

December 5: Garden Home Recreation Center Bazaar
7475 SW Oleson Rd, Portland, OR 97223

Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Soaps and Something so Exciting!

Scented with Bramble Berry's Red Apple

Inspired by My Little Pony's Twilight Sparkle
(I have a 4 year old daughter).
Scented with Nature Garden's Love Spell

As you can see, I am loving making these beautiful marbled tops. I love the look and it is relatively easy. I find that using high contrast colors always look more dramatic. So I always use white to make the other colors pop. I also don't let the soap batter get too thick. Using wooden skewer sticks has worked well for me. 

My big news is that I am going to be a part of Indie Cruise 2016. I have loved being a part of the Indie Business Network and am so inspired by Donna Maria, who I consider a mentor (she doesn't know it yet though)! I love her podcast and have learned so much from her while doing mundane chores around the house or going on a run.

Also, Bramble Berry's Anne-Marie will be attending as well. She is another personal mentor. Being surrounded by these inspirational, positive, like-minded, business leaders in paradise is a dream come true for me and a once in a life time opportunity.

So what does this mean for me? Well, I will be thinking of what I can do to prepare for this experience. I plan to soak up the sun and soak in knowledge from my mentors and other successful business owners...I have so much to learn! I try to explain to my friends here in Oregon what this means to me and no one (except my dear husband), can truly grasp the scope of this trip.

It doesn't hurt that all of this wonderful masterminding will occur in Cancun.  I plan to hit the gym hard! I also have to be away from my sweet family for a week, which will be difficult, but it will be so worth it. I can't wait!!!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Charity Soap!

Leo's Lion Heart
Flower Wishes


I love having my own business. It has given me the opportunity to stay at home with my children and grow the business at my own pace. The goal is to make this a real income and when Rosalie starts kindergarten, I can work full-time and really grow the business. For now, I have my hands full with 3 kids and the business, but I love that I may never have to return to a desk job working for someone else.

Another thing I love about owning a business is getting my kids involved. I think it's great that the kids have watched me make and sell my soap. They are also great little sales people too and help out as much as they can.

I have had both Leo and Somerset design a soap. They chose the fragrance and colors and I executed it for them. Somerset even chose the name of her soap, "Flower Wishes." I love the color combos they have chosen. Somerset's soap is so girly and beautiful and Leo's color combination is striking. The kids really think outside the box and I love that! The allow me to take my soap designs to a whole new place.

For every bar sold, 1 dollar goes to charity. Leo's soap charity is Champions against Bullying and Somerset's charity is the Make a Wish foundation. I am happy to say that Leo's first batch has sold out and we get to send some money off. Somerset's bars are nearly gone and we are so excited to donate to such a good cause. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Beaverton Farmer's Market! I love my job!

Me and my stand. I love my business!

Beautiful NW Berries displayed on the 4th of July
Look, she's holding a bar of Farmer's Market Soap. 

Market customer's always get more options at the best prices. This is Caribbean Coconut!
Farmer's Markets are a huge deal in the Pacific Northwest. Oregonians love farm fresh produce and locally made products! Luckily for me, I am now a part of the Beaverton Farmer's Market. which is one of the largest and most visited markets in our state (22,000 visitors a weekend)!!!

Here's a little known secret. The Beaverton Market only allows agricultural products, which means there are no craft vendors at all, only food related vendors. So in other words, high end dog treats are a go, but handmade soaps are out. Luckily for me, the Methodist church that lines up against the market rents out space each week to artists and craters and has created the very lively and interesting ensemble of vendors known as Art Court. It is so seamless and well integrated within the market that no one knows that we aren't "technically" part of the Beaverton Farmer's Market. It is genius and both the vendors and customers love Art Court. 

I love everything about being a part of my city's market. I have grown to love other vendors and the fares they offer. I am neighbors with Denny, who paints beautiful and affordable works of art and Joe Bennett, who creates very geometric glass creations. They are full of wonderful stories and I love seeing them every week.

A shout out to my competition as well,  Peace of Soap. Their soap is lovely and competition is good for the customer and for keeping my standards high.

Every Saturday, May-September, you will know where to find me, and possibly the baby. She draws in customers by waving, smiling and saying "hi." Who could resist seeing her and while they admire the baby, the are introduced to my soap. Win, win!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Swirl within a Swirl and Marbled Tops

Good Day Sunshine

Leo's Lion Heart

Flower Wishes

Farmer's Market

Summer Melon

This summer has been magical. Loads of hard work with the kids and daily soap making. To keep up with my Made in Oregon orders, I have increased production to 150-200 bars of soap a week.

Making large quantities for Made in Oregon has taught me valuable lessons. The most important is consistency. This is difficult! My soaps are very artistic, so having the colors and quality consistent has been very important. I have become much more proficient at keeping the 7 soaps that Made in Oregon stocks consistent, but I still have missteps. Luckily, I have a very fun and successful Beaverton Farmer's Market to sell at as well. When a shade of blue isn't quite right for my Oregon Coast soap, it will be a great soap for the market. I am after all, a soap perfectionist!

I have come to really love the swirl within the swirl technique and use it in many soap. Almost all my soaps use this technique and I almost always use 3 colors per soap, sometimes 4, with white almost always used to add beautiful contrast. I will do a tutorial some day on my method. I first aw this technique used by Missouri River Soap. I love her soaps so much. I have even made a few purchases even though the last thing I need is more soap!!!

I also love the marbled tops. When the consistency is just right, this method is so beautiful, especially when the colors have lots of contrast. I still love my peaked swirled tops, but the marbled tops are my new favotite.

What are your favorite techniques?


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Made in Oregon!!!

Front Window display from the store at Washington Square Mall
I have been hush hush about something so huge and exciting for my business, but now I can officially share that my soap is being sold in all 9 Made in Oregon stores! This has been a goal of mine for quite some time, but it is actually reality and I can hardly contain myself.

I met with the buyer a few months ago and she decided to place an order. She chose 7 soaps: PDX Carpet, Oregon Coast, Northwest Beer Soap, Grapefruit, Fresh Ginger Lime, Lavender and Lemongrass and Farmer's Market.

I decided not to make an announcement until the soap was in the store and when a friend of mine texted me a photos of my soap from the airport location, I was beyond thrilled. I had no idea the soaps were even in the stores.

Apparently sales are going well because they placed another order after 2 weeks and the PDX Carpet soap sold out at the airport.....yeah!!!

Our family has always been big fans of this store, so it really is a dream come true to have my soaps in Made in Oregon!

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!

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!