Monday, February 1, 2016

Soap Spirit Animals aka In which I blaspheme all the types of soap makers including myself.

Long time no chat!

Something you should know about me, I enjoy using coarse and salty language almost as much as I love reading it. Hello World, this is me!

 If that turns you off, you should leave. NOW. You can pretend I am a sweet as pie shy girl who makes soap and sells it - that's cool, we can stay friends like that.

This will probably piss most soapers off.

It might make some of you soapers laugh - those are the ones I like so, please join in and feel free to call out your soap spirit animal. Or those that you have encountered in your forum travels and Etsy lurking.

 If you are far too idealistic, sensitive, trollish, dramatic, and/or easily annoyed shuffle the fuck on outta here.

I need to say some shit about the soap world that's been in my head for quite some time.

I know it, you know it.

There should be a meme with the "types of soapers."

Maybe I should create one.

It would include:

1. The my soap looks like utter decadence from a fine Parisian bakery Soaper. Would you like a laced doily with that bar that you plan to scrub your ass and ranky manky armpits with? Oui? Non?

2. The holier than thou all natural, no fragrance, no colorant, but I'm all up in yo' face about why mine's the best soaper.

3. The quietly all natural one that makes the most wonderful rustic hunks of soap soaper that we all secretly wish we could do as effortlessly. Oh man, was I  just gazing longingly into the computer at your Etsy shop and slurping my drool? Possibly.

4. The orchestrated down to the last fraction of a molecule soaper. (Butterfly swirl/Taiwan swirl/Zen Swirl/15 layer soap cake soapers I am looking at Y-O-U.)

5. The ranting palm free soaper (me hahahahaah although I no longer rant about it because  some things need only be stated once in your marketing and are then better left to subtlety.)

7. The ranting use palm in truckloads because RSP says it's okay soaper. The aforementioned and this one want to fight TO THE DEATH.
 In palm trees.
In the rainforest.
With spears coated with lye.
Just kidding. Kinda....hahahaha.....NEXT!!!

8. The soap it, plop it, drop it soaper. The honeybadger of soapers. This one gives no shits and just makes some goddamn soap. It might peel your knuckles off. It might be made with the pig that was just slaughtered this winter and turned into mostly bacon and chops. It might have an inch of ash and be cut up all janky. But it's soap. Like your ancestors used.

9. The awesome blender soaper. Your scents transcend reality. You make other soapers buy your soap with the utmost of ease. You are probably full of witchcraft and have made a pact with the demons of the otherworld by selling your soul to concoct those blends. We hate you. We love you. Here are our DAY JOB PAYCHECKS.

10. The 1 million questions, ready to take on the soaping world and make all of the above by next week and sell it all right now soaper. You are cute. Your vision is clouded yet pure at heart. You will be awesome if you can make it through the 5MILLION expensive fails that most pro soapers still experience from time to time.

11. The super niche soaper. Etsy branding blogs told you to super niche yourself and now you have. You have cornered the most gothest (also applies to hipsterish/bacon eating/baby having/boho chic/beard bearing) part of the market you can find and are now trapped. FOREVER. in your dark moody broody brand and have to rename every stupid flowery name the supply companies put on their fragrance oil bottles so that it will appeal to your niche. Flower Bomb? HELL FUCKING NO! Let's call this shit GRAVE FLOWERS. kaccchinnnngg$$$$!

12. The soaper who makes everything in every scent. They run on speed, moondust, rainbow rays, cocaine, methamphetamines, coffee spiked with liquor spiked with glitter spiked with unicorn hairs, or maybe are just super alien androids from a planet made of bar soap. They have the market cornered because they offer every imaginable scent you could ever want. This isn't a bad thing, it's just INSANE.  (I want to do this, secretly...not so secretly. Maybe it's the Veruca Salts in me I WANT IT ALL!!!) These are also known as fo-hos (fragrance oil horders). Their cabinets are full and they are busting out that scent addiction en masse.

13. The Pro Soaper - you are selling the SHIT outta the soap market. You busted up wholefoods with your kick-ass, wholesome, generic, wide-appeal branding and money-saving, basic recipes that are time tested and loaded with skin loving nutrients. Yet you still subsist on almost nothing so you turn into a supplier, teacher, or business guru (or all three) and recruit everyone with your brilliant success.

14. The soaper who travels through the umpteen layers of soaping hell and is just going to make a ton of soap in whatever way they feel like. The soaping for my spirit soaper. (I am slowly progressing to this level after hording and planning and wanting and lurking and feeling and dreaming and then saying "You know what? Who gives a shit, just make some stuff, use it, sell it, give it away, and then make some more). This spirit animal sometimes takes awhile to meet or come to terms with and be content with. It's a nice place to be. It's why we came to be soapers in the first place. Because we like the process. It soothes us if we let it. And it sometimes sustains us if we let it.

Unless you are Proctor and Gamble or Zum Bar there is little money in soap until you can make a shit ton of it in giant batches and lose all of the personality, zest, zeal, optimism, and personality (wait didn't I just type that?) that is acquired as you travel through the seven MAKE THAT 13 , NOPE, 14 levels of SOAPING HELL..

We all fall into the above categories at some point (well most of them, and few of us actually ever get to the 13th one since we have babies, are broke as fuck, daydream too much, write stupid blog posts like this one, or are too scared).

Soaping is a passion that can and will pay for itself if you just keep plugging away and maybe even give you enough side income that you will pay 25% income tax on it and then wonder how the hell you will ever be able to do this full time and afford to eat anything that doesn't grow in the woods.

(Just kidding about that. I don't wild-harvest my food from the great north woods. I swear I don't eat squirrels and lichens and chicken of the woods just to be able to pay homage to the gods of Sapos....but if you do, well you are probably soaper #8...that is, if we are still stereotyping here).

Soapers sacrifice their sanity, their free time, their personal relationships, their income, and succumb to whatever crazy mind parasite that slips in through your skin and eats your brains out when you start using handmade soap and then think you should start making it.

I know I missed some of you soap lurkers in the corners.

Nothing is wrong with any of these soap spirit animals. I just had to lay it out as I see it, been it, experienced it, smelled it, did it, you name it. Embrace it. Embrace your spirit saponista(o). I travel between each of these with alarming frequency but am happily sitting at 14 currently.

And for making it to the very end here is some soap to look at from my travels through the umpteen layers of soaping hell while you ponder my pontificating on the spirit world of body cleaning products.

Category 1 & 4 soap (Look at all of the care, planning, and charm I have infused into this bar of pie that will wash your stinky body): 

Category 8 soap (PLOP.)  

Category 11 soap (I AM A WITCH WHO SOLD HER SOUL TO THE DEVIL AND RIDES A MUGWORT GREASED BROOMSTICK NEKKID) **update** according to Jennifer over at Shawnee Botanicals this one is also a category 9 soap. And since I like you here is the blend, but get creative and call it something different or I will spank you:  Clary sage 1oz, Bergamot 1.3oz, ylang .5oz, patchouli .2 : 

Category 10 soap (aww that's cute, she made soap and she is just starting out): 

Category 12 soap(who the fuck wants to smell like a hot buttered pear???! For the record, I still totally make soap like this. Because it's fun. And I can.): 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Potted Lemon Curd, best left small, and a many pointed compass.

Potted Lemon Curd
Rice Bran oil, Shea Butter, Coconut oil, Avocado oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, Castor Oil
 Essential oil blend of Lemon, Litsea, Benzoin, & Vanilla oleoresin.
A small 7 bar batch because small is beautiful!

So the past month or so I have been feeling this overwhelming push to make some sort of progress in my life; almost a jump off the cliff and ride the waves sort of feeling. The result of this is that I have doing a lot of introspection and exploration lately. Primarily I have been trying to figure out the direction and role that Bubble & Flame will take and play in my life.

I called several commercial realty agencies in surrounding communities, and went to see a retail space in a local tourist region and started gathering information that I would need should I venture that path. While I adore the idea and have the support, I have decided that this is not the best time for me. I also scheduled a part time job interview. So, there you have it...lots of exploration.

In fact all this reaching out and exploring has left me feeling more inclined to scale back and refocus. I am still exploring directions and decisions but so far I keep coming back to the adage "small is beautiful."

Soap, for me, is an expressive outlet. It is a source of relaxation and fun. I don't have the desire to mass produce huge volumes of repetitive product for sale in vast stores across the world.

My desire lies in utilizing my creativity to the fullest while using exceptional ingredients to produce a product that nerdy, enchanted, dreamy, hermit-like folks (like me) can appreciate. Inspired, small batch, small scale, and an ever-changing variety. I am not at a point in my life where I wish to be pinned down to a production schedule contingent on the demands of retailers.

That said, I am scaling back.

To my current wholesalers:
-I will no longer be offering custom blending or custom private label packaging.
-All orders will be made off of my website based on current inventory utilizing wholesale passwords.
-Bars for private labeling can be purchased at the same price as wholesale and packaging will not be provided by me. All orders will have the label requirements (per law) provided via email and the retailer will be responsible to place them on their own labels. You want the advertising, you do the dirty work (and yes, packaging is definitely the dirty work).

To my current customers:
Nothing really changes!
I will continue to bring you the same high quality product you enjoy.
I may be scaling back on fairs and shows, so if you need soap catch me when you can and there is always the website or my Etsy Shop which now host bulk deals.

On Etsy there is a preset section, you purchase and then message me your selection.
On the website there is a page with active discount codes for multiple soap bar purchasing. Save your money and stock up!

I frankly need more play in my life. So batches will probably be smaller, more inspired, and I am going to have more fun.

This past year has been spent working a part time day job, raising a wonderful 7 year old, being a terrible housefrau and family member, and cranking out soap in an attempt to keep a steady pace of healthy business growth.

What I am hoping is that this (mostly internal) refocusing will allow my business to grow at a pace that will feel balanced, allow me to feel less pressured and more inspired, and to more fully enjoy what I am doing rather than constantly pushing B&F from a business perspective.

All that said - I totally love my supporters and want to thank you by offering you 10% off any order placed in April 2014. Use coupon code SPRINGSPRUNG on Etsy or on my website for the discount.


Monday, March 31, 2014


Just Poured Testers

2 weeks later (I put them back in the mold just for the picture)

So the SOAP fragrances have been tested in room temperature cold process soap.

I used my standard palm oil free recipe with Rice Bran, Shea Butter, Coconut, Organic fair trade unrefined Cocoa Butter, & Avocado oil. I did not add any colorant because I wanted to be able to report any discoloration.

Each bar is about 4oz and I added about .10 oz of fragrance per poured bar. All of the bars had soda ash and did not gel. I flipped them over so you can see their underbellys without soda ash.

I also opted to not include a water discount (which I normally include) since I wasn't sure what I would be up against in terms of how the fragrances would behave. I left the superfat at 7%.

Overall they all soaped easily. The last bar (single in the last row) is my control bar which I have been using on my face and it smells like a decadent hunk of cocoa due to the high organic unrefined cocoa butter content.

Scent 1: This scent mellowed out a bit after a week and smells a lot like true Haitian Vetiver. It has a smokey tone that is really pleasant but it isn't simply like "smoke," it's more of a refined scent. Definitely would appeal to men and women who like darker scents. I still love it but it is so close to true Vetiver (which I already use in some of my recipes) that it could be used as a more cost effective substitute. This one is nice on its own but could also be excellent for blending.

Scent 2: Smells mostly like green apple candy. Still bright and perky.

Scent 3: Discolors to brown. Smells like a cross between a cherry root beer float or a cherry cough drop.

Scent 4: Discolors to a butterscotch. It is a perfume-y beachy scent. Scent stayed true and is sticking.

Scent 5:  Pours fluorescent yellow then discolors to a butterscotch. My cocoa butter is in a tug of war with this scent so I am not sure how it will fare long term. The scent has mellowed some and smells like a vanilla berry punch.

Scent 6: Wow! What a smooth scent. It has lost the overpowering detergent scent and is definitely a mellow, clean but subtly romantic scent. It would make a beautiful linen spray and I imagine the soap would appeal to women who prefer spa fragrances. No discoloration.

Scent 7: The green notes are coming through. Still smells like a delicious grapefruit spritzer with some muddled herbs. No discoloration.

Scent 8: Citronella, citronella, citronella. It's all I smell. No discoloration.

I also wanted to say that this little mold is an excellent scent testing mold.
-You can make a little single bar for yourself to try a new fragrance without purchasing a huge amount of fragrance.
- It minimizes the amount of raw materials you need to use in order to test.
- It is super easy to clean and the prep for pouring soap is ZILCH!

I think I may start using it for salt bars since they are such a bear to cut and require a huge time commitment to CPOP and catch at just the right time for slicing with minimal crumbling.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Crank it up!

So I have an issue with the microphone/volume/idon'tknow on my iPad which I have been using to record. So be prepared to CRANK that volume!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fragrance review of S.O.A.P. fragrances from Bramble Berry

So here are the basic reactions to the scents for S.O.A.P. from Bramble Berry:

Scent 1: I LOVE this one!!!! I hope it is introduced to the main line because I think it will do well (although I have yet to soap it!). It is a masculine/unisex blend with notes of leather, smoke, wood, and a smooth sweet note (not too sweet - almost clean). It is reminiscent of bonfire bliss from another supplier (without the marshmallow/sugar notes) but is far more top notch and far more realistic. If they bring this to the main line I will redo my Fires at Midnight soap because this is a dead-ringer for what I imagine when I hear that old Tull song.
I adore it! This one is brilliant and I want it all for myself!!

Scent 2: This one initially made me think of the candy Nerds. After that initial impression it balanced out to have lots of a tart green apple and maybe a ripe melon, like cantaloupe. It's sugary at first but mellows out to a sweet fruity scent. Kids would love this and so would all you fruity fans.

Scent 3: This one....this reminds me of several things. It reminds me of Luden's cherry cough drops and maybe a subtle note of an old vanilla paraffin candle burnt to the stub. It opens with notes of cherry and finishes with a powdery, burnt vanilla base.

Scent 4: I cannot place this scent but it reminds me of some sort of facial mask I had when I was a tween so it brings me back. It's very beach-y, green, slightly herbal. The notes I came up with are lemon, ginger, white tea, and musk. A spa scent. It's really nice, very pleasant, and is slightly soothing.

Scent 5: This smells like a berry holiday punch with a deeper hint of red wine..... or maybe even Raspberry Sangria? It could definitely dual wield as a summer wine scent and then a holiday spiked punch scent. It's nice and fruity but not sugary sweet....more body.

Scent 6: To me this smells like a blend of Lavender and Siberian Fir Needle or Pine. To my daughter it smells like dish and/or laundry detergent. It's very clean and fresh but I feel like there is definitely some sort of Lavender in there with some of the brisk pine notes. Brisk - there you go, it's brisk smelling.

Scent 7: First sniff was "bubblegum??" Second + sniffs brought: Grapefruit, watermelon, and bunches of berries. This is a fruity tooty.

Scent 8: I smell straight Citronella & Lemongrass.

Overall it seems like a lot of fruity stuff is in the works for summer. I am not a fruity girl personally so with that said.......

I plan to do the test soaps this coming week after I get the survey from Bramble Berry to fill out. Since I am all the way in the north east I think I may have been the last person for the package to arrive too and it's a weekend so Monday, Monday, Monday....

I will also update with the soaping results and an update with how the scents are when they have been used in product.

Friday, March 7, 2014

S.O.A.P. Fragrance testing with Bramble Berry

The 8 mystery fragrances from Bramble Berry have arrived! 

Several times a year Bramble Berry has volunteers sign up to be selected for their S.O.A.P. testing (short for Soap Opinion Awesome Panel ) and sends out mystery fragrance samples to be tested in any form of bath and body product.

I will be testing these using my normal palm oil free recipe and since the percentages of that recipe are kinda, sorta proprietary I will say the base is comprised of the following luxurious oils and butters:

Rice Bran Oil
Coconut Oil
Shea Butter
Avocado Oil
Organic Cocoa Butter

I plan to video myself opening and sniffing the bottles once the house is a little more quiet so stay tuned!