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Bigun

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I don't know if this has happened to any of you, but I started this whole soap making thing as a curious little hobby, something I saw on a YouTube video that I wanted to try (this video to be exact: https://youtu.be/4_c4HjVGk3I). I kept improving on the methods and the recipe, a few examples can be found on this forum.

Now, per batch I make about 22 bars of soap. With several different scents in my arsenal, I have to make a lot of batches to try all the scents. So I naturally give quite a bit away.

Fast forward a few months, and people are actually offering to buy soaps by the entire batch. Literally all within a few weeks. Has anyone else experienced this? It's been suggested by friends that I go ahead and get business cards printed up.
 
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toxikon

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As I've been posting more and more of my soapy creations on Instagram and Facebook, I've definitely had some friends ask about buying. I'm just not ready to go through the labour-intensive process of starting a business with all the rules and regulations on selling cosmetics... I just don't want to deal with that, and prefer to keep it as a fun hobby instead. But it's nice to have an arsenal of eager testers!

I'm definitely trying to cut back on batch sizes so I don't become overwhelmed with soap, and I'm happy to give away bars as gifts.
 

Bamagirl

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I would think twice about it and maybe even three times or four. When I started, my sister in law loved my soap and only wanted to use my soap. But honestly, it became a hassle trying to keep up with someone else's soaping needs as well as wanting to learn and experiment. I was so glad when she decided she was allergic to the lye (yea, I know she's crazy). I want people to try my soap and love it, but it is a hassle, especially when I just wanted to experiment and play. It wasn't a fun hobby anymore. Now I am finally back to just making soap because I enjoy it. Anyway just something to think about.
 

cmzaha

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I don't know if this has happened to any of you, but I started this whole soap making thing as a curious little hobby, something I saw on a YouTube video that I wanted to try (this video to be exact: https://youtu.be/4_c4HjVGk3I). I kept improving on the methods and the recipe, a few examples can be found on this forum.

Now, per batch I make about 22 bars of soap. With several different scents in my arsenal, I have to make a lot of batches to try all the scents. So I naturally give quite a bit away.

Fast forward a few months, and people are actually offering to buy soaps by the entire batch. Literally all within a few weeks. Has anyone else experienced this? It's been suggested by friends that I go ahead and get business cards printed up.
A few months is not even close to enough time to start selling. At this time you cannot even know a good soap from a bad soap. It takes months and months of testing. Plus if selling you should have insurance. There are good threads on selling in this forum. I would wonder why you are not just making 1-2 lb batches at this point, 22 bars is a lot of waste if a batch goes south. Believe me when I say they can and will go south when it is the least unexpected.
 

lenarenee

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I expect almost everyone here has had that experience. Unfortunately I get it constantly and it drives me nuts as I've had friends end our conversations in anger, even yelling that I'm stupid because I don't want to make money! They don't understand the complex process - not to mention the expense of starting a business, getting insurance, etc. Not to mention that your city's zoning laws may not even allow you to sell product made in your house.

I had a friend accuse me of giving her a lye heavy soap and causing a severe reaction on her face that required a Dr. visit. It was a bar of soap from a 6 bar batch - 4 of which she had used for months. After some investigating I found she'd recently gotten into essential oils and was applying them directly, undiluted, to her face - as she sunbathes on the beach for 2 hours every morning. She still blames my soap, even though she doesn't use it any more - for her continuing skin problems!

Unless you're interested in selling, you'll just have to smile and nod when people insist you start selling instead keeping a happy, low key hobby.
 

toxikon

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I had a friend accuse me of giving her a lye heavy soap and causing a severe reaction on her face that required a Dr. visit. It was a bar of soap from a 6 bar batch - 4 of which she had used for months. After some investigating I found she'd recently gotten into essential oils and was applying them directly, undiluted, to her face - as she sunbathes on the beach for 2 hours every morning. She still blames my soap, even though she doesn't use it any more - for her continuing skin problems!
OMG How frustrating!!! :headbanging:
 

IrishLass

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Fast forward a few months, and people are actually offering to buy soaps by the entire batch. Literally all within a few weeks. Has anyone else experienced this? It's been suggested by friends that I go ahead and get business cards printed up.
Yes- it has happened to all of us, trust me! :lol:

On a serious note, though, I'm with Carolyn. I cannot urge you strongly enough to not give into the temptation to sell so soon. The peculiar nature of lye-based soap is such that it requires a good testing period to put your formula (including the scents and other additives) through its paces.

As all of us long-time soapers can attest, a batch of soap that looks and smells good for up to a few months out of the mold can turn on you overnight into a DOS disaster or completely lose its scent or have the scent morph into something else, and/or have the color morph into something else. Because of this interesting quirk of lye-based soap, the general consensus is that it is best to give your formulas/scents/colorants, etc.. a year of testing and observation before deciding it's good to sell. When I first started soaping, I thought such advice was just scaremongering, but I soon came to learn it's the wisest piece of advice on the planet that anyone can give you in regards to lye-based soap.

It's perfectly fine to dream up designs of business cards and all that, but my advice is to hold off on getting them printed just yet.


IrishLass :)
 

Bigun

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I have no desire to rush into anything. I just think it's odd for people to try to rush someone else into it is all.

I'll put it this way. I'm a network administrator by trade, and no one has ever suggested I go into business for myself when I fix a friend's/family member's computer.

It all feels strange to me.
 

Barbsbreakingbath

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Selling

I have been selling at craft fairs for a couple of years now. I've had no experience selling online.
I don't sell cp soap, I sell lotions and melt and pour, body butter, and sugar scrubs. It's a lot of hard work, and there are a lot of ups and downs. I've had people literally run and grab for my products, then at other fairs, I've had them turn their noses up at them. Also, I've learned the hard way that just because one or two people love stuff you give to them and want to buy it, doesn't mean that you're going to actually sell a lot of it.
 

randycoxclemson

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Yeah, a lot of people ask me when I'll start selling (other then the stuff I already sell to friends) and I figure the day is fast approaching. I realize that watching soaps for a good while is important (I've seen one change scent after several months--just out of the blue), but truly I don't think a horrible disaster is looming behind every batch of soap and I do believe most soap will sell.

My day job is for a company that makes linens and a favorite quote of one of our past presidents was, "Jeez, it's just making sheets!" when we tried to make the process too complicated and the recordkeeping too cumbersome. I take that to heart and figure, worst case, I don't sell or I sell and people dislike the product and never buy again. I lose nothing but some time and still get to keep making soap for my family and friends.

In other words, unlike many people on this site, I say "go for it." Enjoy the hobby and enjoy selling if you want to.
 

shunt2011

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Yeah, a lot of people ask me when I'll start selling (other then the stuff I already sell to friends) and I figure the day is fast approaching. I realize that watching soaps for a good while is important (I've seen one change scent after several months--just out of the blue), but truly I don't think a horrible disaster is looming behind every batch of soap and I do believe most soap will sell.

My day job is for a company that makes linens and a favorite quote of one of our past presidents was, "Jeez, it's just making sheets!" when we tried to make the process too complicated and the recordkeeping too cumbersome. I take that to heart and figure, worst case, I don't sell or I sell and people dislike the product and never buy again. I lose nothing but some time and still get to keep making soap for my family and friends.

In other words, unlike many people on this site, I say "go for it." Enjoy the hobby and enjoy selling if you want to.

And if you sell a product that people dislike you can also play part in affecting others business because that person may never buy another bar of handmade soap. Bad way of approaching a business. I myself and many others too spent a lot of time, money, testing and planning to have a business. I wish I had a dollar for all the people that said they had tried handmade soap and it was soft, smelled off, made their skin dry etc. I've actually been able to change some of their minds by giving away samples and gaining faithful customers. Soaps can and do go rancid, fragrance disappears or morphs. If you aren't faithfully testing then shame on the seller.
 
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Barbsbreakingbath

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Selling

I would recommend researching the best ways to label, market, photograph and display your products. It really does make a difference. I'm embarrassed at some of the mistakes I made starting out.
For most people, selling becomes an expensive hobby rather than a way to make money.
 

cerelife

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And if you sell a product that people dislike you can also play part in affecting others business because that person may never buy another bar of handmade soap. Bad way of approaching a business. I myself and many others too spent a lot of time, money, testing and planning to have a business. I wish I had a dollar for all the people that said they had tried handmade soap and it was soft, smelled off, made their skin dry etc. I've actually been able to change some of their minds by giving away samples and gaining faithful customers. Soaps can and do go rancid, fragrance disappears or morphs. If you aren't faithfully testing then shame on the seller.
OMG, THIS...exactly THIS!!! I love you, Shunt :)
All it takes is one crappy bar of handmade soap to put off not ONLY the original customer, who now thinks all handmade soap is like that, but all of the family/friends/co-workers whom they tell about their 'awful' soap!
I was once on the customer side of this scenario and I blush to think of how many people I warned against buying handmade soap - not knowing that the several bars I purchased from a soapmaker who was just starting out weren't indicative of the quality of ALL handmade soaps!! It was literally years before I tried handmade soap again, and then I was addicted. A few years later I was making my own soaps.
But before I made the decision to sell, I made doggone sure to test, test, test! And tweak my recipes until my soaps performed exactly the way I wanted them to after cure/after 6 months/after a year and beyond. I take pride in my products and my goal is to make my customers addicted to them - 'not liking it and never buying from me again' will NEVER be an option for me!!
My soapmaking business is not my sole income - my full-time radiology job pays the bills and I make soap because I love the creative outlet. But I was taught from childhood that if you're going to do something, then do it to the best of your abilities.
So yeah..."It's just soap." However, from my own personal standpoint, this is hardly a reason to justify selling pretty much anything.
 

randycoxclemson

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I really don't believe that one person (whether a "pro" or a "hobby" maker) is going to be the downfall of artisan soaps. :) I have tried restaurants one time, had a bad experience or even just mediocre, and told everyone that the place was either bad or "meh." I don't think it's going to keep everyone away. It will keep me away FROM THAT RESTAURANT. I'll still continue to go to other "handmade food" restaurants elsewhere.

I think people are making too much of a) the belief that a newer soaper cannot and does not make fine soap and b) that if they happen to sell a potentially inferior product, it will negatively affect everyone else's sales.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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A) it is often the case. But also, and mainly for me, that a newbie most likely doesn't know what that soap will be like in a year (people buy soap and hold it longer than that!) nor a lot of the why's of soaping. If you buy a product, you might well be happy that the person who made it could do it, but I want to buy from someone who knows why it worked, who didn't just copy a recipe from somewhere

B) people have experienced this! People who sell or even give soap away have had a hard time getting someone back on to using it. That would negatively affect sales. And that's only the people who bother to approach the stand - how many other people don't even come to the stand because they refuse to waste good money on that homemade soap rubbish?
 

cmzaha

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I really don't believe that one person (whether a "pro" or a "hobby" maker) is going to be the downfall of artisan soaps. :) I have tried restaurants one time, had a bad experience or even just mediocre, and told everyone that the place was either bad or "meh." I don't think it's going to keep everyone away. It will keep me away FROM THAT RESTAURANT. I'll still continue to go to other "handmade food" restaurants elsewhere.

I think people are making too much of a) the belief that a newer soaper cannot and does not make fine soap and b) that if they happen to sell a potentially inferior product, it will negatively affect everyone else's sales.
Believe everyone that says it hurts all of us sellers are very correct. Having such an attitude is quite lousy when selling any type of cosmetic or any product for that matter. I have sold for several years and many a person has mentioned how bad handmade soap is. Sometimes I talk them into trying a sample of mine, which I know is good soap, and they come back. Others will simply refuse to even give it a chance. It is a very hard business to make money in and a lot of very hard work. Having people with a so what attitude is crappy. It simply is not fair to us or customers to have this attitude.

I saw a girl at a market selling soap you could punch your finger thru. These are the kind of sellers we are up against.
 

Susie

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I really don't believe that one person (whether a "pro" or a "hobby" maker) is going to be the downfall of artisan soaps. :) I have tried restaurants one time, had a bad experience or even just mediocre, and told everyone that the place was either bad or "meh." I don't think it's going to keep everyone away. It will keep me away FROM THAT RESTAURANT. I'll still continue to go to other "handmade food" restaurants elsewhere.

I think people are making too much of a) the belief that a newer soaper cannot and does not make fine soap and b) that if they happen to sell a potentially inferior product, it will negatively affect everyone else's sales.
Yes, I understand what you mean.

However, let me try to explain this this way...if you had a restaurant selling X, and you took loads of time and attention making the best X you could. You know that the customer can go to the buffet down the street to buy some cheaply made X ISH product. But you have taken years to find the best X recipe you can find, you go to market every day to buy the freshest X you can, and source out the best herbs and spices you can. Your X is far more expensive than that X in the other restaurant. And your prices fairly represent all the time and attention you put into every dish of X you sell.

Now, along comes this person who has only ever eaten X at the buffet restaurant, and the chef was having a bad day that day. So, this person thinks X tastes just like that buffet restaurant, and refuses to even try YOUR X, that is 1000 times better than anything that buffet restaurant can even hope to put out.

That is what it is like trying to sell what is essentially a luxury soap in an area that has previously only had someone who did not make good soap.
 

Bamagirl

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I really don't believe that one person (whether a "pro" or a "hobby" maker) is going to be the downfall of artisan soaps. :) I have tried restaurants one time, had a bad experience or even just mediocre, and told everyone that the place was either bad or "meh." I don't think it's going to keep everyone away. It will keep me away FROM THAT RESTAURANT. I'll still continue to go to other "handmade food" restaurants elsewhere.

I think people are making too much of a) the belief that a newer soaper cannot and does not make fine soap and b) that if they happen to sell a potentially inferior product, it will negatively affect everyone else's sales.
I'm sorry, I have to disagree. Many years ago (probably 10), I went to a craft fair and someone was selling homemade Goats Milk soap. Now I really, really wanted to try homemade soap, so I went to their booth. That soap smelled just like a wet stinking billy goat, so I walked out and determined that handmade soap just wasn't for me. I refused to even try it for probably 8 years just based on that one experience. The only reason I wanted to make some myself was that I promised myself I would stay away from that stinking Goat Milk soap. Now, I know it was just one bad crafter and I have even made a batch of GM soap last week. My point is, one experience was all it took for me to steer clear of anything to do with handmade soap.

Another experience a friend of mine had. She loved my soap. She went to a fair and someone had handmade soap and scrubs, ect... there. She bought some soap and facial cream. She told me that the soap was nowhere near as good as mine and wanted to know what happened to the facial cream. After a week, it developed mold. I told her that I had never dealt with the facial cream or anything other than soap, but from what I have seen on this forum, it looks like she didn't use a preservitive and she probably should have put it in the fridge (especially since we live in the south with really high humidity and it was the middle of summer). I asked if the lady told her that and she said no. To my knowledge, (haven't spoken to her in a while) she has given up on this type of product.

So, I do believe that one bad experience can affect everyone else. And just to clarify, I do not sell, and I don't plan to ever sell. I make soap because I enjoy it, so I do not have a dog in this hunt so to speak.
 

Dahila

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randycoxlemson, you saying that "I sell and people dislike the product, and never buy again. I lose nothing but some time and still get to keep making soap for my family and friends"
It is not like that. Selling the bad soap, is killing the market for others, I have tons of customers that they bought soap from a business and they hate it, I waste a lot of sampling for this reason, and it does not come free to me. It is important to sell when your soap is pretty good. I was testing mine for a year before I sold first bar, to my friend. Think about other people, who do this as their main job.
cmzaha is right, there are a lot of surprise on the road. I had four batches developed dos, 72 bars (I think it was old FO) and I ended up tossing it, after so many good soaps. I would not take it to the market
 
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