How much to bring/make?

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BeeMaiden

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Oh goodness gracious! I didn't mean to start an argument :D
Yes, I have only been soaping since March, but I take this very seriously - I properly superfat my soaps, let them cure a full 6 weeks+, only use distilled water, you get the idea. I have done a ton of research and feel that I know what I am doing, and am perfectly confident in my product's quality. Everyone who has tried it absolutely loves it. This includes people i have given free bars to in exchange for their honest opinion and also customers I have sold to. People don't seek you out all the way from Illinois to buy your stuff unless they really liked the little sliver sample they were given.
But that being said, I am really just curious how much product other soapers bring to small festivals and the like. Since I am planning on doing three in a row I need to plan now so I have enough.
I really want to limit my product line - I don't feel that my customers need 50 different choices of soap. I started with 8 different kinds and am working my way up to 15, with two that will swap out depending on the season (x-mas, spring, summer, fall, etc.)
 
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not_ally

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Well, Ok. Carolyn - probably one of the most experienced sellers on the board - has offered her opinion, but maybe your market is really different. I have typed and edited this response a few times, and it is not coming out right, so am giving up. I do not wish bad things for you though.
 

BeeMaiden

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I'm not offended :) I like to hear everyone's opinions - and lots of advice is a lovely thing. I wouldn't have joined if I wasn't interested in other people's thoughts. I'm not quite sure how my question got turned into a debate of whether I should sell or not, but that's ok. :)
So, I'm thinking two batches of each kind in stock, ready to go. A batch is 5 lbs which equals 14-15 bars.
 

Dorymae

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As for how much to bring. Start making soap, when you no longer have anywhere to cure it and your dining room table can not be used for eating or 6 weeks before your first event stop. You can now start making your labels and signs, but don't label that soap for at least 4 weeks.

This is the meaning of " as much as you can".
 

not_ally

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Bee, I think my thoughts about selling early are obvious. But it could be that you are lucky, you are preternaturally good for a newbie, and you will have a great future. I actually hope you do. What I would do w/r/t to your initial query is to try and get as much helpful information as you can from people who sell in venues/areas that are similar to yours. If not, successful sellers generally.

The reason I brought Carolyn up is that she has been working this business hard and successfully, so if she suggests taking more rather than less soaps, I think it is worth considering, unless you have space issues that really would eliminate that possibility. It does seem like taking more rather than less - if you can (even it it is a pain) could not be a bad thing.
 

kumudini

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At first look, your replies look amazingly positive. But the debate here is not particularly about you. It's more about how much practical knowledge the new soapers gain in a short period of time to be able to sell a bar of soap and be sure that it will live up to the customers expectations and guarantee their satisfaction. Every batch of soap is different, mistakes are so common when you are trying something new and haven't fully evolved in the skill yet. Even highly experienced soapers talk about occasional fails here. But they are experienced enough to recognize it before it's too late. That's why the most experienced and super helpful people here try to advice against selling too early, and from the looks of it you started selling after mere months into your soaping journey. Handmade soap probably sounds so good that everyone wants it and most mediocre handmade soaps are likely better than the big brand name cleansing bars. As soon as I made my first ever batch of soap, my friend wanted it, so..
 

cmzaha

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You may not want to take a large selection and that is fine, just hope there is not another soapmaker selling in your holiday markets that have a large selection. Granted here soapmakers come out of the woodwork especially during the holidays. The booth with a large selection will always do better than the booth with a dozen different soaps. I see this all the time.
Even experienced soapmakers make boo boos. I actually sent out a bar of soap I had not tested about a year ago to a good return online customer. I tried the soap and was appalled how bad it was, and immediately emailed the customer apologizing profusely and told her to throw it away. She had already dumped and wondered what had happened since she had never received a bad bar before. The soap was not zappy just awful and I was never able to figure out the issue with it. My customer received two bars as replacement that she loved and I told her to always let us know of a problem. So yep issues happen, I always zap test batches but had not tried it on my face. If this had been a new customer that did not know our products we would have lost her as a customer. I made one tonight and if I had not caught the error it would have made a poor batch of soap, at least by my standards. Had to sit done rethink what I had done and redid the batch of oils, to come up with the properties I originally wanted. I doubled up on a soft oil and had to re-balance it.
 

Relle

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I'm not offended :) I like to hear everyone's opinions - and lots of advice is a lovely thing. I wouldn't have joined if I wasn't interested in other people's thoughts. I'm not quite sure how my question got turned into a debate of whether I should sell or not, but that's ok. :)
So, I'm thinking two batches of each kind in stock, ready to go. A batch is 5 lbs which equals 14-15 bars.
If you are already selling, you should know how much product to take to a show - that comes with time and experience, I think that's why people get annoyed about giving their opinions to a newbie selling. Everyone gives their information freely, but it seems you haven't read their posts, why should they give their knowledge about such things when you don't listen.

As you have been only soaping for 6 months and selling within that time frame, you aren't able to tell me how your soaps are going to hold up after 12 months. Also what if I came to you and said - your soap burnt my skin, can you tell me why?

I think it got turned into a debate about whether you should be selling or not because we try to educate newbies here that selling to early is not a good idea, even though you have done a ton of research, everybody loves your soaps, given away free bars for their opinions etc.

We have all done that and I THOUGHT, remember THOUGHT my first ones were fantastic, so did people I gave them to, but when I look back and that was many moons ago, they weren't and a lot here will tell you the same.
I'm with not_ally - I still don't know what I don't know and that will always be the case as far as I'm concerned.

Here is the Should I be selling thread if you want to read it ?

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=16002
 

Relle

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I know that everyone advises not to sell for x amount of time, and I understand the reasons behind that and agree to some extent. I just feel that if someone is already selling, that advice would be redundant to them - especially if they are doing well, as the original poster seems to be from doing farmer's markets etc. I'm sure they are aware of the reasons why they're advised not to sell too soon, especially if they've read even just a handful of posts related to that on this forum.

TEG, I don't think that experience or advice was necessary on this particular topic, that's all. Perhaps if the question had been that she was thinking of selling, then the advice would be warranted and appreciated - but she's already selling and the question was purely about how much stock she should consider taking to a show. There are plenty of other relevant threads where that advice would be very, very useful - and I'm sure it helps a lot of people.

I just don't think it was necessary to flog that horse on this particular post - had she asked another question about something which someone who is selling should know (ie, what does trace look like?) then that would be a different story.

Like I said, not out to argue - just a difference in opinion. :)

EDIT: I'm not sure why anyone is assuming that OP's soap is not fully cured or is "bad" soap. For all we know, she has used the same recipe since March.
I know that bad soap affects the entire soap market, but I think it's a little unfair to tar this person with that brush. Again, perhaps a conversation for another, more relevant thread.
If the experience of selling was there, she would have known how much stock to take to a show and yes it is necessary to flog that horse as you put it, as newbies keep turning up saying they are selling, it has been going on for sometime and it will keep going and WE will keep telling them.

The forum is for educating about soaping in ALL aspects, we will keep moderating the posts and this was a relevant thread. Newbies join here daily and when this subject comes up again and it will, the conversation starts all over.

Also doing a search would have answered all the questions the OP wanted to know.
http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=42965
 

BeeMaiden

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If you are already selling, you should know how much product to take to a show - that comes with time and experience, I think that's why people get annoyed about giving their opinions to a newbie selling. Everyone gives their information freely, but it seems you haven't read their posts, why should they give their knowledge about such things when you don't listen.

As you have been only soaping for 6 months and selling within that time frame, you aren't able to tell me how your soaps are going to hold up after 12 months. Also what if I came to you and said - your soap burnt my skin, can you tell me why?

I think it got turned into a debate about whether you should be selling or not because we try to educate newbies here that selling to early is not a good idea, even though you have done a ton of research, everybody loves your soaps, given away free bars for their opinions etc.

We have all done that and I THOUGHT, remember THOUGHT my first ones were fantastic, so did people I gave them to, but when I look back and that was many moons ago, they weren't and a lot here will tell you the same.
I'm with not_ally - I still don't know what I don't know and that will always be the case as far as I'm concerned.

Here is the Should I be selling thread if you want to read it ?

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=16002
So what did you do when you went to your first show? Everyone needs to start somewhere.
I've done farmers markets, but I suspect that a small festival is going to have much better sales.
It sounds like you want me to lay down the $1K+ I have invested in this and walk away because my soap "might" be inferior - when you have no idea on way or the other.
If I had said that I had been soaping for 3 years, but in truth had only made 5 batches in that entire time would that had made me credible in your eyes? Sure, it's only been since the beginning of this year, but I have made over 30 batches of soap and yes, I know how to recognize problems - i have studied this stuff extensively. I would say that 30 batches in 6 months is far greater experience than 5 batches in 3 years.
There have been several who didn't make the cut and they are in a box even now. They will never see a customer. I also test every batch, yes every batch on myself and family. If, as you say, even you make an occasional mistake, then many years of experience may or may not help. Sometimes newer people are less prone to make mistakes because they are more careful.
Also, it sounds like y'all are assuming that I have formulated all my recipes from scratch. I haven't. All my recipes have come from reputable makers (and sellers) of soap. If I thought it would do any good, I would send you a bar to critique, but I don't feel that would do any good.
I appreciate all of your concern, but I feel that if you were really concerned, you would have asked me questions regarding it instead of assuming the worse.
Usually forums like this are helpful and encouraging, but this one seems overly critical. IE, you could have asked me and double checked your facts, asked me what type of soap I am making, what makes it special, how long is my cure time, what oils do I use, and then maybe kindly doled out advice.
I'm not upset with you (yet;) :D
 

Susie

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Quite often we say things that we know the OP knows already(or should). It is because we know that someone who is so new to the forum that they DON'T know or CAN'T know is reading it. It may seem like flogging a dead horse to some, but it may save someone from making an error that could damage either their reputation or someone's skin.

If you will look through the forum, you will see many instances of this. Whenever anyone very new is asking questions, someone is going to mention gloves and goggles, someone else is going to mention not using vinegar to clean lye splashes on skin, someone is going to mention having a good scale, etc. Should the OP have done their proper research and know this already? Yes. Are there going to be even newer people doing research by reading that? Absolutely. We are not necessarily trying to educate the OP. We are trying to educate the ones researching.

Yes, saying that the OP should not be selling right now is rather like closing the barn door after the horses got out. But it may save that person who is hearing that they should sell their soap when they gave some of their first batch out to friends and family from making a mistake that could get them sued.

ETA-I was typing the same time as the OP.

"Also, it sounds like y'all are assuming that I have formulated all my recipes from scratch. I haven't. All my recipes have come from reputable makers (and sellers) of soap. "

You should have been using your own recipes. You just took the results of someone's hard trial and error process that probably took them over a year to perfect and trotted it out as your own work.

Think of this another way: If you wrote music, and you sent a demo tape out to someone to see if they wanted to perform it, then they put it onto an album without paying you or even acknowledging that you wrote it, how do you think you would feel? What would you do about it?
 
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The Efficacious Gentleman

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^^ this is also why I think people should wait before selling - if you don't know how to formulate your own recipes, do you know why soaps do what they do?

If not, how do you respond to questions about soaps?

If you do know, why don't you formulate your own recipes? Having tested the book ones against the ones that you tweak to see how they all work?
 

BeeMaiden

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^^ this is also why I think people should wait before selling - if you don't know how to formulate your own recipes, do you know why soaps do what they do?

If not, how do you respond to questions about soaps?

If you do know, why don't you formulate your own recipes? Having tested the book ones against the ones that you tweak to see how they all work?
I understand what they do, each job the oil does, but my originals did come from other soapmakers. I do tweak stuff (and run it through a lye Calc after) but yes, I started with a "book soap" - internet really, but you know what I mean. Your logic is like saying, "why on earth would you use someone else's bread recipe - isn't that like passing someone else's hard work off as your own? Certainly you should start with flour, water and yeast and then tweak it to suit your tastes!" <Dosen't make sense. If they didn't want people to make their soap, why did they post it on the internet and no, I have been the one to spend the time and money on making it and studying how everything works so I feel that it is indeed my own hard work that i am pasing off as my own.
I've also make different sorts (it's not all one recipe for everything and I've settled on my favorite - a blend of Olive oil (for moisture - its very gentle on the skin, its pH is similar to that of our skin, lacks lots of lather and tends to make a soft bar when by itself), Coconut oil (for lather and to add hardness to the bar - it tends to be drying by itself but is awesome because it will lather in salt water), Palm oil (the vegetable equivalent of tallow, gentle, adds hardness and is the sole fat in traditional african black soap) Avocado oil (also moisturizing, high in vitamins A&E) and Shea butter (which tends to not saponify as easily as the others so it usually ends up as the main superfat that is left in the bar). My result is a hard long-lasting bar that lathers really well (especially if you use a pouf), and is moisturizing - but not overly so. Part of the reason I started making my own is that I wasn't happy with the stuff I was buying from other people, it went away too quickly and seemed rather drying. I don't use animal fats in my soap - I don't feel that it is as good for the skin and if I am going to make it, I am going to make the best.
If I felt it would exonerate me, I would send you all some to show, that yes, I do know what I am doing.
 

not_ally

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Actually, it seems OK to me to use other people's recipes as long as it is OK w/them, ie; they are published, and there is no other element of claiming that you created the recipe somehow. I am describing this badly, but you know what I mean. Also, I think it is likely that you do know what you are doing, to the extent that you can make soap that is decent and much, much better than the syndet bars people are used to buying. I don't think that is what people are really addressing. Pretty much all of us did that fairly early on the soap making journey.

It is just that I think - and the other posters here do as well - that it takes a long time before you can really be sure you are selling a product that is close to as good as it can be. Some of that is subjective, ie; there is no magic date a year out where you will say "Eureka, I'm there!" So I understand why you feel like it is good enough now, more time will not help, and it is frustrating to be told over and over that it does. But it does. You probably made a batch almost right away that was good enough to use/gift, right? But probably it was not as good as the ones you are making now. The timing is just an expanded version of that, and it is more important b/c you are selling.

You are taking a pretty good pounding here without losing your temper, but I don't think you are going to change our minds, and it seems unlikely we will change yours, so it might be best to just to glean this thread and others for suggestions about your OP, and also to search the board a bit more. You may already be using this, but I use sitecomber, this link is set up for searching smf: http://sitecomber.com/search.php?domains=www.sitecomber.com&client=pub-1307489338039489&forid=1&ie=ISO-8859-1&oe=ISO-8859-1&cof=GALT%3A%23008000%3BGL%3A1%3BDIV%3A%23FFFFFF%3BVLC%3A663399%3BAH%3Acenter%3BBGC%3AFFFFFF%3BLBGC%3A150567%3BALC%3A000000%3BLC%3A000000%3BT%3A0000FF%3BGFNT%3A0000FF%3BGIMP%3A0000FF%3BLH%3A0%3BLW%3A0%3BL%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fsitecomber.com%2Flogo-490x90.jpg%3BS%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.sitecomber.com%3BFORID%3A11&hl=en&channel=5823071447&q=&sitesearch=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.soapmakingforum.com&sa=Search&safe=active

ETA: Also, as I understand it, if you are doing CP there is no way to make sure shea is the main SF in your soap, you can't selectively SF w/CP. Best not tell people that when selling, it really does constitute a misrepresentation.
 
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cmzaha

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As I mentioned above, the bad soap I sent out was NOT my recipe and was the only time I did not formulate my own. This was from a well known soap person in the industry who teaches and has been making soap many many years. Not Anne Marie, but in the industry almost if not as long. It never occurred her recipe would be anything but good. Do not trust someone else's recipes. Think Peacock Swirl girls, although it was not that recipe that was terrible.

BTW olive oil actually makes a very hard bar of soap and in my opinion I hate olive oil, always feels sticky even after a year cure. Animal fat makes the nicest moisturizing hard bar of soaps, leaving Vegans to not use the greatest soap possible. Lard is considered non-comedogenic, olive oil is not, but I use the work loosely since there are no real guidelines for what is and is not comedogenic, mainly some testing done on rabbit ears which was dropped
 
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not_ally

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This does not have to do w/the OP, but is there anyone on the board who did *not* have enthusiastic friends/family telling them they should sell their soap right away? That seems to be pretty much universal. It was funny, when they said that to me I was grateful for the compliments but immediately thought "but I am doing it because this is fun! That would make it *not* fun :)
 

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Yep, the first thing I heard from everyone is, "You should sell this! You will get rich!" And my reply to them was, "There are too many people making soap now, and no one is getting rich!"
 

green soap

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BeeMaiden, here is what I do to figure if I have enough soap for a show or festival:

Take the booth fee, and make it 10% of your estimated sales. This is what I can accept to pay, 10% for the booth. Change that number to what is acceptable to you, it might be 15%, maybe 20%? up to you.

Continuing with this example, let's say the organizers want $50 for a day for a booth space. This means that for me (for what I consider an acceptable 'rent space' expense) I would have to sell $500 worth of soap that day. So divide this by your average price of a soap plus tax - it gives you the minimum number of bars to take to an event. At $5 a bar average (for example) you need to take 100 bars. You might not sell all of them, but you sure cannot sell them if you do not bring them. Also, no one sells out 100% and customers like choices, so I would double this to 200 bars. Note this is scaled to a $50 a day event. So for a $500 a booth 3-day event this would be from 1000 to 2000 bars of soap.

So continuing the example, you have 3 events close enough in time that you cannot make more soap in between? Let's say they all want $50 a day a booth, then you need 300 bars of soap - assuming the average of $5 a bar. Again, this is just an example for easy numbers, your event price and average price bar will most likely be different. Also, you might be willing to pay a higher percentage in 'rent' or booth fees, 20%? 30%? be careful though, you have many other costs to consider. In actuality I paid 12% to my local market, and I was OK with that because of what was provided with that 12%.

I have been 'invited' to festivals with much higher booth prices, and even though I might have done OK, I realized that I simply did not have 600 bars of soap available for that event, and I would have lost money, while still selling a lot of soap. Also, breaking even is not good enough in these cases, your material and time are worth a lot.
 

IrishLass

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I've settled on my favorite - a blend of Olive oil (for moisture - its very gentle on the skin, its pH is similar to that of our skin, lacks lots of lather and tends to make a soft bar when by itself.
BeeMaiden, I am not trying to be mean and I hope you take this in the sprit that it is given, but I truly hope you are not using that as a selling point. The pH of our skin is acidic (on the average, below 5 pH, but can go as high as 7 pH....pretty much a range between 4 pH and 7 pH). Soap made with olive oil, even 100% olive oil with a high super-fat is no where near similar to the pH of human skin. It will always cure out on the alkaline side, because by definition, that's what soap is- an alkaline salt of a fatty acid. The pH of well-made, safe-to-use lye-based soap will range anywhere from 8 at the lowest to 11.5.

Also, a 100% olive oil soap will actually cure out rock hard after 6 months to a year (one of the things that SoapCalc does not take into consideration in it's olive oil calculations..... and also on the list of reasons why many of the experienced among us advise against selling before a period of a year of consistently successful soap-making has gone by).

The thing with lye-based soap is that it's not static- in other words, once made and cured, it's not frozen in time- it still goes through changes over a period of a year, sometimes greatly so depending on several different factors that we may not even have considered. Those among us that have been making soap for a long time and have witnessed those changes time and again are truly not out to be tiresome, dead horse-beaters when they advise against selling too soon. They care passionately about the craft and they want other people to be successful, because when they are successful, it reflects positively on the craft as a whole.

It's almost the same kind of thing when our parents nagged at us to brush/take care of our teeth when we were younger. Being older and having seen what poor dental hygiene can do over time, they tried to steer us, out of love, away from having the same kind of dental problems down the road that they themselves had. Usually, we as kids thought they were just being tiresome nags and wished they would just get off our backs, but then sometime down the road we realized they were actually right and that they probably should have nagged us more.


IrishLass :)
 
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