Archive for the ‘Business Related Questions’ Category

I feel a sense of satisfaction when I can assist a customer one-on-one with their product needs and wants.

Recently, a customer sent a random email asking if I could make a soap for her complexion.  She named off the essential oils and clay that she felt would be good in the soap.  I tested her suggested essential oil blend on a strip later that day.  It worked perfectly. 

I sent a response to the customer, telling her that I agreed with her facial soap suggestion, and that the combination of the essential oils was a “go.” 

The customer responded to the email, “Oh my gosh, you are actually going to do this? I didn’t really think you would!” Of course I would, and I do, and I will. 

I delight in operating a small enough business to make lotions and whipped shea butter fresh to order.  Those particular products are not limited to the fragrances listed in the online store.  If a customer asks me for a particular fragrance in her products, and if I have it on hand, I will scent their products as they wish.

One small reminder, safety first.  If only 4 drops of an essential oil can safely be added to 1 ounce of product, that is what is added.  If a fragrance is listed at a safety level of 10% by the supplier/manufacturer, that is the maximum I add to a product.

I appreciate questions and comments.  Shoot them at me!


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I receive this great question now and then, does goat milk soap expire?

Comments that have been received:

  • The soap has milk in it so it has to deteriorate over a period of time.
  • Goat milk soap has a shelf life between 1-6 months.
  • Goat milk soap softens as it ages.

In actuality, goat milk soaps age beautifully.   

A preservative is not needed in goat milk soap.  If the soap has been made properly, cured and then stored properly, it will not “go bad.” 

Moisture in soap does continue to evaporate after the initial curing period of 4-6 weeks, however, this does not mean it is no longer good for your skin.  In general, the soap will hold the same properties, except it will weigh less, regardless of how long it is in stock.  The soap will continue to harden over a period of time, which actually makes for a longer lasting bar.  I prefer to sell soap that has some age behind it, but demand takes first choice.

Regarding my discounted soaps:  Any soap that I sell that is not acceptable because it is too small, or the color or fragrance is not right, or if anything is wrong with the soap other than it not being safe (if it is not mild or mixed properly), is discounted and the description of the soap in my online store will say why it is discounted.  Age is not a factor in discounting soap, unless it simply does not sell.  For example:  Lily Of The Valley goat milk soap does not smell (to me) similar to Lily Of The Valley.  There is nothing wrong with the soap otherwise.  I found it difficult to accurately describe the floral scent, so I discounted the perfectly good goat milk soap.

Your questions are appreciated, and please keep them coming!

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I recently received a question from a fellow soap maker that asked about graininess in products that contain shea butter. From time to time I have experienced shea butter grains in a lotion, cream, or whipped shea butter product myself.

Research the shea butter grains issue on the internet and you will find a plethora of explanations:
-used unrefined shea butter in product
-used refined shea butter in product
-heated the shea butter to an excessive temperature and then cooled it too quickly
-used shea butter that was too old in product
-used shea butter that had gone through a temperature change (too hot or too cold in shipment)

I get best results from unrefined shea butter (not bleached or deodorized). I also never overheat the shea (not to exceed 150 degrees). Heat it only enough to allow it to begin to melt, then remove it from the heat source.

When I produce products that contain shea butter I always watch for the tell-tale signs of shea butter grains. Watch the sides of the mixing container, for example. Grains definitely like to cling there. What do I do when a product turns out grainy? I use it myself, or a friend gets to use it. The thing is, an occasional shea butter grain is going to happen. It may look and feel strange, but it does indeed melt on contact. Normally, though, where there is one grain, there are a lot more, and the product doesn’t fit into the creamy or smooth category when it feels like it has small particles in it.

I hope this helped with your question. I am sure there are a lot of explanations, and there definitely is a lot of conflicting information on the internet to sift through. This post outlines what works for me.

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I recently received a remarkable and valued question:  Why does the product received not smell unscented even though it is labeled unscented?

If a product is marked unscented it contains no fragrance or essences that scent. 

Every ounce of my business, except for accounting, is done in my soap shop.  Paper products (including soap boxes and shipping materials) may pick up an aroma from my shop.  

It is virtually impossible for an unscented finished product from my shop to become embedded with scent.  The products themselves are kept separate from the day they are made (beginning with the scrupulously clean equipment and utensils).  There is no cross contact between products. 

The only way I can guarantee a customer that they will receive a shipment that never hints of fragrance is to make unscented soap in my house, store it on a curing rack in my house, place it in storage bins in my house, and ship/package the product using materials that were also stored in my house.  And that is simply not feasible. 

FYI…the client and I did determine that it was the packaging that the recipient was smelling, not the product itself.  A nose not exposed to fragrance is significantly sensitive to fragrance.    

I welcome your comments and feedback!

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A common question that I receive is:  Why is there a difference in scent from one batch of soap to another, or between any product containing a natural essence? The word natural frames the answer.

Each batch of essential oil, concrete, or absolute can smell slightly different based upon several conditions, mainly, where the plants were harvested and when the plants were harvested. In addition, some essential oils continue to mature (better) with age, such as rosemary.  A rosemary essential oil distilled from plants harvested in France will smell different than those that were harvested in Morocco.  An aromatherapist, for example, that depends upon not only scent, but also the physical properties of an essence, will purchase oils when harvested from only the “recommended” regions.

When a product contains man-made fragrance, or even speaking of the fragrance itself, the lasting power and strength of the scent is chemically controlled and perfected, which is impossible with a natural essence.

Always store natural essences in a cool, dark area, in glass bottles that are also dark in color. Some professionals keep their essences in the refrigerator, and some store only their citrus based essences in the refrigerator. The bottom line is, better storage, longer lasting oils!

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White board...in the barn too!

A question that I am frequently asked is, how do you juggle everything that you do (business, personal and farm)?

I don’t. Yet, I do. Working from home, with two businesses operating from the same office, and with a farm to boot, means some tasks simply wait or are delegated.

Here are my basic rules of thumb:

Schedule, plan, and think ahead.

Allow yourself time to find a pattern that allows a frequent task to flow efficiently. In most cases, when beginning something new, hours of practice and patience are required until the procedure becomes smooth as glass.

Determine when your productive hours are. For example: soap making works best for me before noon. I make sure I have time between feeding and milking goats, before lunch, for soap making. I am less tired and feel more creative during those hours.

Focus on your business during the hours you schedule for business. During that time do not fret about dirty dishes or a pile of laundry. Remember that your thoughts and attitude determine your future. I frequently give myself a “you are grateful” speech, put my best foot forward, and continue to put 110% into whatever really is most important.

A home based business requires adjustments from friends and loved ones as well. I learned to call my business hours “work time.” When I go to work I announce, “I am going to work.”  And I announce my work schedule to others if needed.  A growing business comes with growing pains. Until you can afford help, you wear all of the hats, you steer the engine, and you pull up the caboose. If you take your business seriously, others will too.

Remember, seeking help is not a sign of failure. Personally, I have reached a point in my life where it is obvious that deep cleaning the house is extremely difficult, if not impossible. So, ask yourself, can I afford help? Perhaps you cannot delegate accounting work at this point, or soap making, but can you hire a person twice a month to help you with domestic work? Or, perhaps there is someone you can barter with (help in exchange for help)?

To wrap this up, owning and operating your own business comes with independence that truly can be embraced, yet, it comes with a lot of sacrifice. The key is exactly that, how driven are you to sacrifice?

Finally, never forget, you need down time. Seek and find balance between your personal and business life. You cannot be there for yourself and others without your own happy and healthy mind.

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I receive many business related questions. I take the time to answer each request with care.

I do not supply proprietary information, nor do I disclose vital tips that I have worked hard and diligently to acquire for my products or business.

I do, however, feel compelled to help others that aspire to start a business, or those that want to make soap or cosmetics. I want to see people meet their dreams and succeed.

When a person asks for help, it often is one of their first business transactions. My word of advice is, it is important to step into the business world with courtesy as a virtue.

Courtesy does not portray weakness, instead, it reflects an amount of dignity.

Set your standards high.

Build your business with smartness, have a backbone of steel, but never forget common courtesy.

Thank you are two of the most important words in the English language. It is just that simple.

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