Thursday, March 26, 2009

Looking Forward to Summer Already?

Didn't it just become Spring? Oh well...the life a soap maker! Must look forward a season or two ahead.

Almost everyone looks forward to summer anyway, right? There's a lot to look forward to; such as warm days, soaking in the sun, swimming, gardening, hiking, boating, camping and just generally getting out of doors. I love summer. Everyone and everything gets out and gets productive in one sense or another. EVERYONE...including BUGS.

They are a part of the summer season, whether we like it or not. We have to put up with them.

Or, do we?

I'm bringing back, by popular demand a soap that I made last year with just a little change in its looks just for those who aren't fond of little creatures landing on your body and biting you.

Bug Be Gone Soap; a soap that contains essential oils found in many plants known to repel buggy little critters. I'm not the only soap maker that has this, but I think mine is the prettiest and most fashionable looking.

Only natural plant oils are used in this soap that are known to repel bugs, including catnip oil. Catnip oil is known to be one of the most effective natural ways to repel bugs. These oils combined also have a fresh, minty added bonus and change to the commercial bug repellent crowd.

Most of the commercial bug repellents out there are chemically enhanced to keep bugs away. Most of them work quite well, but there are some drawbacks...the spray-ons getting into your eyes and down your lungs, the less than attractive smells, and all the strange-sounding, unpronounceable chemical words that you're are slathering on your body. All the while you are trusting they won't make you grow a third eye!

Bug Be Gone soap certainly smells much nicer than any of those chemically enhanced bug repellent products out there and you are getting a natural product that doesn't make you grow a third eye either.

What a concept!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Featuring... Bead n Chain Jewelry

I've picked a few of my favorite items from Jeannine's shop at and have pictured them here. She is very talented in her jewelry making and I just love some of her designs. I've pictured a few of my favs here, but it was hard to decide which pictures to choose, she has so many great designs.

Recently, I asked if I could feature her here on my blog and she was happy to do so. I am pleased to feature such a talented artist on my blog site.

Here is Jeannine in her own words:

I was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada and spent most of my youth dancing Ballet in Canada and England. Married at twenty, have four children, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Widowed at the young age of 40 in 1976. I take one day at a time with God's help, and He has seen me through the good and bad times.

Designing my jewelry is an art that the Lord blessed me with. I am not inspired every day but when I am then I'm on a roll.

When my husband took ill in 1975, our friend taught me and my children to mass produce necklaces and that is what kept us afloat. We did "Flea Markets" back ion N.Y. and somehow managed to earn enough money for food and necessities.

I started working at my craft 34 yrs ago and although not continually, it has always been there for us when the finances were low.

I do not sell locally on a regular basis. Sometimes there is a craft fair but not often. When I go to San Diego next month I have a few sales planned at my home and one at the Spring Fest just before Mother's Day

I keep plugging and never give up. Everyone is very supportive and just when I think the well runs dry, my creative juices start to flow again. Praise the Lord.

Jeannine is such an amazing person, don't you think? Please stop by and visit her amazing shop on etsy. You will love it!

Coming up in April...the Next Jantzen Beach Artwalk

What can I say! this posting says all the important stuff.

The other important thing is...will YOU be there too?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Warm Vanilla Spice

Mmmmmmm....doesn't that sound good? Yummy! Delicious! Comforting! Those are probably the first three words that come to my mind when I hear Warm Vanilla Spice.

The fragrance of vanilla, comforting and warm combined with a touch of oriental spices...throws in just a bit of sensuous to the mix.

That is what this soap is made of...vanilla fragrance oil, which has the side effect of turning the oils mixed with lye into a warm brown. Mixed with touches of sandlewood, ginger, amber, Italian bergamot, apple wood, tonka bean, patchouli, cedarwood, oakmoss, a touch of cardamom, bourbon and allspice.

The mix gives you the final result of Wow!

Warm Vanilla Spice handmade soap is a cold-processed soap that will take several weeks to cure before I will list it online.

About half of the oils were mixed with the vanilla oil, while the other half included the rest of the oils, giving the soap an interesting contrast of color without using artificial color.

Fun, sensuous, warm and delightful. Full of lather, enough lather to use as a shampoo!

My workroom is filled with the luscious fragrance of this soap.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Not More Beer Soap!!!!!!

It seems that every soap maker has at least one vice! Lots of folk that make soap really dive into the "beer soap" thing.

I decided to dive in also and make my own beer soap, but I didn't want it looking like, or smelling like everyone else's beer soap.

I made a few changes to the usual beer soap routine. Still macho manly and all that stuff, but the gals will appreciate this also, so read on.

The beer soap you see pictured is my version of beer soap. You will notice that most beer soaps look, well...rather plain...the color of well, BEER! After all, that is what it is made from. The color of beer isn't necessarily the most bright and beautiful color and when you make soap from it, the drab, dull yellow/brown remains intact. I guess that color might be called "amber".

If you are a beer drinker, you notice that when you pour your beer into a glass, it forms a "foam" or "suds". Now, I like the look of the foam, so I decided to incorporate that look into my beer soap. You will notice that my beer soap has "suds" on top. That is an extra process of making whipped soap at the same time I am making the regular beer soap formula, so it is two soap processes combined into one soap.

The next thing that is different is that I've decided to add a bit of a twist to the usual beer soap and give it a "south of the border" feel. In countries south of the U.S. it is common to add lime or lemon and salt to the beer. Honoring that tradition, I've included a lemon/lime fragrance along with the beer soap and added some sea salt to the top layer of soap.

OK, now that I've added some twists and turns to the typical beer soap regimen, I could call it a "gimmick" for more sales, but there is more to it than that. First of all, beer is actually good for hair (or beard!) and this soap contains lots of sudsy lather that make it great for shampooing! Next, sea salt gives the soap a "spa" quality to it. As for the citrus addition, well, that just smells great and gives you the "south of the border" feel when showering. The citrus fragrance is not a true lemon/lime but I added the essential oil of litsea cubeba, which tends to hold its fragrance well in cold process soaps and has a citrusy fragrance to it.

Because I wanted this soap to stand out among the beer soap crowd, I had a tough time coming up with a name for it. I asked some of my dear friends who belong to for some suggestions. There were some delightful responses, but I finally settled for something as simplistic as I could get and still give it the "south of the border" feel. The name is called "SALUD!" That is the English equivalent to "Cheers!" only in Spanish.

This soap will be available in my shops next month as this is a cold process soap which takes several weeks of curing before it is ready.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty of Finances

On the days that I make soap, I admit that I get very excited in anticipation of the day. Because I work full time at a secular job, I don't devote my time entirely to soaping, but have to set aside a time in the week for it. The time I set aside is a real treat for me and I look forward to that day that I have set aside immensely.

So, at this point at least, making soap is not my method of making ends meet, not even close. It IS a desire of mine to make that a goal, however. With that thought in mind, I chose to review what my costs are to make my soap, and how much I am making as profit on my soap...or am I making a profit?

As with most new little start up businesses, and this is a business for me, they don't always make money intitially. In the first few years of opening my little soap business, I showed a loss because of buying equipment and getting enough supply to make it viable. Then, it was drawing customers to my soaps and building a customer base. It all takes time. Now, I am at a point where I am breaking even (whoo hooo!) I am learning to make the most of my soaping methods. Still, I would certainly like to do much better than "break even".

It was time for me to review how much it is costing me to make my soap. Am I charging enough for this amazing stuff? Am I counting in all my cost factors? So, I began to break it all down...the results were just a bit eye-opening for me. I already know basically how much soap I will make this year based on customer purchases and trends from the previous year, so base my cost per estimated bars I will make.

Here is how I broke it down:
I added up the cost of the supplies I use most often in my soap per batch, such as oils, sodium hydroxide; the basic stuff.
I added up the cost of the "extra" supplies that I most often use per batch, accessory stuff like, calendula blossoms, rose petals, fragrance or essential oils, oxides, micas and other fun little additions to the basic soap formula.
I added my basic cost of packaging each bar of soap.
I averaged the yearly cost of supplies that I use regularly, such as soap molds, wax paper, bowls, scales etc and broke it down per bar.
I added basic prep and production time per bar of soap (like paying myself wages for making them)...about 1/2 the amount per hour that I make on my "usual" secular job.
I added Paypal fees, etsy fees, and average per year craft showings fees per bar of soap.

I did not add cost of electricity, sewer, water, phone, internet access, although I should if I were to be more accurate.

The end result?

At my current charges per bar of soap, I only make about $1.62 per average size (4 to 4.5 oz) bar over and above what it takes to make it!

At that rate, it will be years before I get a vacation! The good thing is that I'm not totally losing out this year if I sell what I make...which is better than last year and better than the few years before.

Could I cut more corners and make more? Absolutely! It would take some additional sacrifices of freshness of the oils I purchase and quality of my product to do it though. If I bought more bulk product, it would certainly be much less expensive. The down side is that I don't make enough product right now to ensure freshness of my oils if I bought bulk, so resort to making smaller batches at this time. There are a lot of other small ways I could cut costs and am still in the process of streamlining and revamping some of the things I do.

If you run a shop of your own and have never broken things down this way, it may open your eyes a bit too. I have come to realize that many soapers and other shop owners on etsy may not be making money on their product that they think they fact may be LOSING money. (The big thing) They may be doing this to establish a customer base too. Perhaps. Perhaps they just don't know they are on a losing end either.

Doing this was a great reality check for me even though I already knew based on keeping decent records that I wasn't making the thousands that I always envision.

It won't keep me from continuing to make soap. This is wayy too much fun!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More than One Etsy Shop?

This is our two chihuahuas, Rocko and Pancho!

Here is Kobe, our Sheltie mix who THINKS she is a chihuahua!

Yes, I have more than one Etsy shop. As much work as running one shop is, it has been a choice that I really wanted to do because I really do more than just make soap.

Not wanting to mix things up with the "Soapy Blessings" theme, I chose to add an additional shop instead. It has been on etsy for awhile, but I've sorely neglected it.

However, it is time for a change. With that thought in mind, I've added a new look to my new shop, a new banner, a new avatar and I think it looks rather cute! It sells supplies instead of handcrafted items though. Most of the supplies are bath and body related, but occasionally I add other items that are not.

I've even added my shop here on my Soapy Blessings blog now too!

Oh, the name, you ask? Here is it

Why such a name as that? No, I don't sell chihuahuas. I just happen to have two of them. They came from a previous home that could no longer care for them, so we took them in. We have since added an additional dog in the group, much larger, a sheltie/australian shepherd mix. She thinks she is a chihuahua though. No, I am not going to name a shop after her too, but she is very sweet and loving.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rosemary Basil Mint Soap

This cold process handmade soap was just made about three weeks ago and is still in the process of curing. I love minty soaps and also love the herbal scents of rosemary and basil, so put it altogether in a lovely soap. The soap has added Tea Tree oil too. I infused some basil and rosemary into olive oil and then added it to the soap for a delightful, fresh, earthy fragranced soap. It is a great unisex soap, not really girly, but the ladies love this one too.

Available toward the end of March '09.

I'm thinking this might be a great gift idea for Father's Day, Graduation or just about any occasion.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Comin' Up Roses!

One of my latest soapy creations, Heavenly Rose Soap.

Bright, beautiful fuschia pink constrasted with white, a lovely rose fragrance and topped with dried rose petals.

Elegant, beautiful!

This soap will be available on my online sites in the next few weeks.

If you are interested in reserving a few for yourself, let me know on one of my sites at