A little peeved with the booth I saw today

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rainycityjen

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I like to visit my local Sunday farmer's market as often as I can. 10% for shopping reasons, 90% for soap stalking reasons. The last two weeks there's been a new soap vendor, first in a half-booth, now in a full booth.

Her selection looks pretty good and right for this crunchy area: she uses mostly EO blends and natural-smelling FOs, very little colorant or none at all, and specializes in salt bars.

Two things bug me: one, that none of her bars are wrapped or packaged, either the ones on display or the ones in the "back"; instead she sells them by weight ($1-$2 an ounce). Each type of soap is presented in a wide, shallow basin bowl. There's not much uniformity to the bar size, because she is selling broken along with full bars.

The other thing that bugged me was on her Facebook page. (Yep I went full stalker.) It looks like she set up the page in January; the only text in the About section is something about creating quality soaps at affordable prices. I see she's repeatedly posted photos of wet, molded soap 1-3 days before market, and then on market day you see photos of that same soap for sale. The only exception is her castile soap which she posted fresh saying "ready for sale in a couple of weeks."

I don't make salt bars, so is there something about salt bars that would make them mild without curing? Or does she just know they'll be harder than uncured "regular" soap?
 
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Dorymae

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Well if she is making no claims, and it sounds like she isn't, then she doesn't have to package them at all. Soap simply for cleansing does not have to be packaged. As for the cure time . . Perhaps she doesn't know, she may have leaped into selling head first. You could ask her how long she lets her soaps cure. Pictures can be deceiving, I try to keep my batches consistent. It could be that what you think are the same bars are actually from an earlier batch.
 

rainycityjen

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I know there's no legal requirement to package or label soap, it's more of a personal peeve like I said. It requires me to ask her for the ingredients of each one. I'm not allergic but try not to buy products with beeswax or non-RSPO palm. Also, everybody handling the soap for sale all day in the 90 degree heat after eating food with their hands and petting dogs and stuff... I don't know it's just not for me.

Her captions for the "wet soap" pictures explained that they were for sale that week.
 

newbie

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Also, her castiles will simply stop selling if there are truly a couple weeks old. It's unlikely anyone would be impressed with it at that age. However, if she is keeping them simple, she could have old bars that will produce some lather and she is selling those. Are you planning on selling in the same market? If you are, I wouldn't worry about her. Quality will sell.

If anyone is keeping their eyes open, they will see people picking through the bars to choose theirs. If they don't like that, they will take a pass. Some people have the philosophy that they will simply wash the bar if they are worried about someone having touched it.
 
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rainycityjen

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I don't sell. Unless fantasy soap counts. (I would totally sign up for a fantasy soap league.)

I hope she learns that longer cure means happier customers!

As for selling unwrapped by weight, I can see what you mean.
 

cmzaha

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I do sell, label and shrink wrap all soaps. Over 50% of my customers have mentioned they would not buy an unwrapped soap. I have even had to open a smelly hole, in front of them, because the sample slice was dead. If they decide to buy the soap they will pick up another one even though they are the only one that smelled it. LOL, public is fun to watch...
As Newbie stated, people will quickly learn and not be happy with the melt time of a new soap. I have had customers recently complaining that they will not buy handmade soap because it disappears so quickly. I give them a little .7 flower soapie and have them see how long it last them. Most have come back surprised the little soapie lasted as long as it did and proceed to purchase a full bar. I inform them that I formulate my recipe and cure time to make a soap that will not just melt away
 

not_ally

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I must be in the minority of people who actually like to buy handmade soap by the oz, or at least I did in the days before I made my own. It didn't really bother me to buy unwrapped stuff because it was, you know, soap, and I figured I would be washing off any germs the first time I used it. There was just something about the lavish piles of soap that I liked from a visual perspective. I used to get it at Whole Foods, maybe I just thought that they are so expensive they wouldn't sell anything gross :)

That being said, if I sold soap I would wrap it myself.
 

jenneelk

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I've bought unwrapped and markets and IMO I just considered it more homemade and 'earthy' I guess. Like anything it's a personal preference it seems and sounds like it would just be more work for her to keep it clean.
And id want an ingredients list somewhere. One I recall I went to had them posted at the back of each line of soap with other info. It was rather cute actually.

As for myself.. I do wrap in a bio wrap but not covering 100%. It's just easier for me to keep track because I don't care for bins everywhere and prefer to get a loaf done with label and wrap then stack it.

In regards to her pic.. Maybe it was an old one she took a while back but used because it was prettier? ;) Wet soap is quite lovely.
 
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navigator9

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You can make yourself crazy over the business practices of others, but there really is little to nothing that you can do about it. If you have potential customers who say, "Oh, I bought handmade soap once, and it was terrible, it didn't last at all.", you can say "Well, there may be soapmakers out there who sell their soap too soon after it's made, mine on the other hand is cured for a full 4-6 weeks, and will last a long time if kept out of standing water. Here, would you like a sample?"
 

CookbookChef

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I LOVE to see a stand at a Market where I can buy Soap by the pound and pick and choose the ounce or pound that I want. Shucks, you kinda gave GOOD advertising for this person. I wish you would of gave a link to her facebook so that I could buy me a few ounces or pounds from her. Sounds like my kind of person to know!! I know you did not like it, but that is why we have so many churches in this world. Their is a Pastor to meet the needs of a particular gathering of people, and if you do not like the preaching? well then, move on to the next church and hopefully you will find what I like to call.....HOME.
Just like soaps, many booths and many Artisans making the kind of Soap that THEY feel can reach a potential Market of People. What you just described is what I would call....HOME!!

Wow, now I am dreaming of touching all that yummy soap and allowing myself to be picky on the exact piece or chunk or ounce or pound that I want. How cool is that? Super Cool :)

If by chance you still know how to contact this fine seller of Salt Soaps, please be so kind and point the way :)
 

jcandleattic

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I sell naked soaps, so I have no problem with this. I make no claims, but I do give a business sized card with every soap all ingredients used with every sale. I'm more than willing to answer any questions about the ingredients I use. I also take pics of my wet soap, as well as my cured soaps, but I don't usually post pictures of my wet soap until they are ready to sell. So, the pictures, even though they are of freshly poured soap, are actually 6-8 weeks old. Are you sure that's not what's happening with this persons soaps?
I don't know, I just like giving people the benefit of the doubt before being too judgmental about things.
 

jenneelk

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CookBookChef.. haven't seen you on here but the way you explain yourself is kinda funny and interesting.. lol
 
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TVivian

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I post pictures and videos of soaps I made months ago sometimes. When people see a freshly poured or cut batch they are eager to buy right in that moment and not 4-6 weeks from the time they see a picture.. So posting her wet soap pictures could be a very successful selling strategy. It makes the soap seem "fresh" ,most people don't even know about curing time.
 

rainycityjen

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A lot of people are defending the seller here; maybe I came off like a jerk? If so, sorry, I didn't mean to. I'm not a competitor, but I have an opinion as a consumer. Unwrapped (and more importantly unlabeled) is not my style. If you like buying unlabeled soap by weight, cool. But I don't understand you. :)

I'm certain she was making her soaps only 1-3 days in advance. Her "wet soap" post was about a specific new recipe, mentioned the hot weather we had 2 days ago, and said we would see the bars at market this week. And they were at market today, 2 days after her post. Does that make her an awful person or soap seller? No. It's just not a smart business practice IMO.
 

jenneelk

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Sorry Jen if you feel defensive of your stance.. I think we (or maybe just I) aren't so much defending her as saying here is another way to look at it through our eyes since they differ from yours. :) Not saying either is bad though or you are wrong for your thoughts on it. If you don't like unwrapped soap then for sure don't buy it.. some do happen to like it is all. Our yay or nay would not make her business practices 'bad' though as they are all about impression we get from seeing the soap at the table, not the quality of the product.

As for the wet soap.. I again don't think anyone was defending. More trying to say here is what could be happening since not a lot of info was given. Now that you've elaborated I would say that yes her soap sounds rather questionable. Maybe send her a message and ask her about it as a buyer.. it's a reasonable question to ask since you do indeed buy from her. :)
 
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boyago

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I LOVE to see a stand at a Market where I can buy Soap by the pound and pick and choose the ounce or pound that I want. Shucks, you kinda gave GOOD advertising for this person. I wish you would of gave a link to her facebook so that I could buy me a few ounces or pounds from her. Sounds like my kind of person to know!! I know you did not like it, but that is why we have so many churches in this world. Their is a Pastor to meet the needs of a particular gathering of people, and if you do not like the preaching? well then, move on to the next church and hopefully you will find what I like to call.....HOME.
Just like soaps, many booths and many Artisans making the kind of Soap that THEY feel can reach a potential Market of People. What you just described is what I would call....HOME!!

Wow, now I am dreaming of touching all that yummy soap and allowing myself to be picky on the exact piece or chunk or ounce or pound that I want. How cool is that? Super Cool :)

If by chance you still know how to contact this fine seller of Salt Soaps, please be so kind and point the way :)
That was kinda strange. Are you the seller?
 

not_ally

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I agree with Jennee, people just vary depending on what they prefer, so the naked soap did not seem like an issue at all to me, I like it that way. If I were selling I probably would wrap, or use the naked soaps as a display where people could not get to them and use a tester soap for handling, since I know not everyone is like me. Also would label so that in the event that someone was allergic to something and bought it anyway it would be their fault and not mine. But since neither of those things are required by law, it really seems to me to be an issue of personal choice, so not really something I would get peeved about either way.

The wet soap thing is more problematic from a quality perspective, but I agree with Newbie (I think she was the one who noted this), someone who buys this woman's soap and does not like it b/c it is not mild or hard enough will not buy from her again. It does kind of suck that she is potentially giving hand made soaps in general a bad rep, but if you are not selling in the same place as her, not much you can do about that. If I was, I would probably put up a little informational sign saying like "What to ask when you buy hand made soap: What are the ingredients? How long has it been cured? Ask me and find out what makes this soap so special." Or something like that.
 

Dorymae

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One way to tell for sure is to buy a bar and see if it lasts longer than a few days. If it doesn't you could go back by the booth and ask her how long she cures her soap because the one you bought only lasted a few days and seemed to be uncured.

The way she handles this will tell you a lot. She might try to tell you that homemade soap doesn't last as long. (Big red flags there!) however she might be more helpful than defensive. If she is a newer soaper it is possible that she really doesn't know. There is a lot of bad information out in the internet. Not all soap forums are like this one.
 

CookbookChef

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That was kinda strange. Are you the seller?
lol wow, your pretty funny!!

"Yeppers I am the seller!!"


NOT :)

I had a good laugh tho Boyago


Anyway, I ment it when I said I would love to attend a booth that had naked soaps. So cool!!
Yes, I am a seller of much more than just soap and soapy things, And when I sell my soap I wrap and label. Saying that I am a sucker for naked booths of well, anything. Thats right, I went to a chocolate booth once out in Minnesota that was "To Die For"!! All kinds of truffles and Gourmet candies all layed out in trays for a Customer to pick and choose what they wanted. She offered so many Fresh Caramels It was like being in a Dream. The only rule they had was that the chocolates had to be picked up using tongues and they had 3 weigh scales out due to it was such a large booth and a large crowd gathered around picking and choosing as they wanted. Thy sold ALL the Candy per the weight starting to the nearest ounce and sold by the ounce. I loved it so much. The seller would cut a bunch of truffles up into quarters and Caramels were cut into a half. She offered samples out to anyone that would ask and she offered often as well. Anyone buying would also get to try about 4 to 6 samples. What a wonderful display and I do remember she was super busy!!

Oh wait a second...that was ME :)

Thats right, I am more of a Chef than I am a soap maker (Hence my Screen Name). But no, to answer your question the right way, I am not in anyway the Artisan that is being talked about within this thread. I would however like to meet her :)
 
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