If I were to sell...

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by lenarenee, Mar 5, 2018.

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  1. Mar 5, 2018 #1

    lenarenee

    lenarenee

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    I'm investigating the idea of selling as a hobbyist but think my soap is too boring to appeal to others. As much as I appreciate those who make intricate and fancy soaps, I rarely have the urge to do so myself. My marketing friend asked me what I want to soap to "say". Ugh - even my answer was boring. You know how artisan soaps are either marketed as all natural, or cures for skin troubles, or are really blinged out? My philosophy is that quality soap should be affordable for everyone and NOT a luxury.

    I can also be very indecisive when selecting a fo and color pattern to go with it. But that's a luxury of being a hobbyist - I can spend 2 days choosing!

    What would happen if every soap had the same design, but different fo and colors? Or simply were solid single colors? Too boring? How do you make a soap interesting without fancy claims or designs?

    What if I specialized in salt bars only?
     
  2. Mar 5, 2018 #2

    BattleGnome

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    That sounds like a perfectly reasonable mission statement to me. It’s definitely something relatable and if you market right I feel you’ll find a ton of people who are looking for luxury for less or even just something affordable. Simple scents/colors can reflect that both as a “cut the frills and pass the savings on” note and for the simple beauty possible in a plain bar of soap.

    I think salt bars would be awesome but you’d have to consider the space needed for a proper cure and super plan ahead to not run out of inventory if you do a show/market.
     
  3. Mar 5, 2018 #3

    dibbles

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    Best of luck to you if you decide to pursue this. I think marketing as affordable, or simple, little luxuries is a perfect approach. You could specialize in salt bars, but like BattleGnome said, you'd have to plan ahead. Having some one colored and maybe some two colored simple swirled soaps in addition to salt bars is a good idea. You could have consistency that way.
     
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  4. Mar 5, 2018 #4

    KristaY

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    I don't think there's anything wrong with single color soaps, I see vendors successfully sell them routinely. It's simple to fancy things up a bit with packaging. You can create a fun logo label, add raffia ribbon, etc. Basically things that are cost effective & simple to put together will draw the eye. Scent always lures in the crowd 1st, the look of the soap is secondary. Once people find out you make a great product, they'll come back.

    I agree with Battle Gnome that you have a great mission statement so build on that philosophy!
     
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  5. Mar 5, 2018 #5

    cmzaha

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    Where are you going to sell them? I find Salt bars do not sell well enough to just make them to sell. You are picking a tough area to sell in as you probably already know. It is great to think it is doable to make a handmade soap that everyone can afford, but it is not very realistic. You want to make money and when you start breaking down the cost per bar after adding packaging, labeling, ingredients, and time, you will be suprised how much it cost you to make a bar of soap. That does not include the cost business license, insurance and getting the soap to market... Not trying to discourage, but it is tough in our area and you live in a very saturated area of soapmakers.
    Just be prepared to commit a lot of time to selling and expense. In the end it is fun to go to markets and sell just hard work to build up your name and clientele.
     
  6. Mar 5, 2018 #6

    shunt2011

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    I also wouldn’t recommend selling just salt bars. Though I have quite a lot of salt bar lovers it’s taking a lot of time to even get people to try them. They aren’t common. They are still one of my favorites. You could get lucky, bit I’d offer another option.
     
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  7. Mar 5, 2018 #7

    Susie

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    Where I used to live in Texas, the major soap maker that sold to the farmer's markets and craft fairs (also online) sold simple two color soaps. The color combo told you what scent it was so that you could actually remember that you liked the blue soap with the green stripe, or the yellow soap with the orange stripe. Simple, easy to remember. Great marketing. And we are not talking about a fancy swirl, they used slab molds and poured thin, so they simply mixed just enough of the accent color to make a stripe through each bar.
     
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  8. Mar 5, 2018 #8

    navigator9

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    lenarenne, you and I have a similar philosophy on soapmaking. I didn't get into soapmaking because I wanted prettier soap. I wanted better soap. Swirling and brightly colored soaps were never my thing. And still, people really like my soap. I did have attractive packaging, people often commented on it. But I always stressed quality over appearance, and people didn't seem to mind. I do have some really nice individual molds for people who wanted soaps that look pretty. If I had to make soaps that I personally didn't like, it would have become work, and not a pleasure to make, and I would have been miserable.

    I have to agree with shunt about the salt bars. I don't think you could make a go of it, with just those. And I also have to agree with Carolyn about selling. It's really tough these days. I know a lot of good soapers who have quit selling. That doesn't mean it couldn't work for you, but I would test the waters before jumping in with both feet. Best of luck!
     
  9. Mar 5, 2018 #9

    lenarenee

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    I appreciate all of the input fellow soap makers!

    I didn't make myself clear about my goals for selling: this will be very small scale word of mouth thing. No website. No regular market, just a holiday one. I don't expect to make an income. The money would simply help pay for the hobby, while having customers wanting to buy my soap is an ego thing...feels good to make a product that people want.

    What's changed my mind about selling is witnessing what happened to the 100 bars of soap I donated to a non profit fundraiser held at church. They sold out the first night - and the salt bars went first! (No one even asked what salt bars were!) They charged $6 per bar. They weren't fancy soaps - just drop swirls, mantra, and single colors....the kind I like to make, with no weird bumpy tops and embeds that make it difficult to hold in a shower.
     
  10. Mar 5, 2018 #10

    dixiedragon

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    While I love the look of the intricate tops some folks do, I actually don't care for the feel of them in my hand. I love your mission of "affordable luxury".
     
  11. Mar 5, 2018 #11

    lenarenee

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    How would you label, market it the idea of affordable luxury? I don't really need to market it, but I do want my soap to have a meaning, or stand for something, if you will.

    I've already played around with a name: Simple Basin Soaps. (feel free to critique, won't hurt my feelings). For a tag line I was thinking: Simple, Quality, Classic. I love the fact that soap making is an old skill from thousands of years ago (I also use animal fats - the first ever soaping fats), but I'm not sure "classic" speaks to that. Using the word historical just sounds old.
     
  12. Mar 5, 2018 #12

    jcandleattic

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    Hi lenarenee. If I remember right you are in my area of the world, and I can tell you, even though I make the intricate soaps with peaked tops, and embeds, and very colorful swirls, etc., and I do very well, and sell more of those types than my plain jane soaps, however, that is how I market my soaps, and who my target audience is, but there IS a market here for EVERY type of soap.

    IMO what you are describing - word of mouth, 1 holiday market, etc., is more to do with HOW you market your soaps than what they look like. At a holiday market, it will be about your display, more so than they type of soaps you offer. For word of mouth, it will be more in how you describe the quality of your soap, than describing how they look.

    I wish I could be of more help. I have a migraine right now and am at work, so my words are not really coming out how I want them too. LOL
     
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  13. Mar 5, 2018 #13

    artemis

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    I think simple, clean, labeling will communicate the classic, but luxurious idea. Think of Martha Stewart, with her simple, monochrome color schemes and minimalist labels. I googled "simple elegant soap label" and found a lot of ideas that looked both "classic" and luxurious.
     
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  14. Mar 6, 2018 #14

    Primrose

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    Not historical - "heritage" !
     
  15. Mar 7, 2018 #15

    Millie

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    I love the look of plain soaps - that was what I was always drawn to before I started making my own. Now I do swirls just because it's fun. Simple classic soaps really are elegant.
    Tell your customers a handmade bar of soap is a month of luxury for the price of a single cappuccino ;)
     
  16. Mar 7, 2018 #16

    penelopejane

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    Personally, I think it is important, if you want to sell, to have some point of difference.

    When I went to the US I saw handmade soap in every single souvenir shop and there would have been soap from three or four different suppliers in each one.
    Not one of the hundreds of soap I saw filled my criteria for handmade soap so there is room for new suppliers. For instance, some of them weren't labelled with their ingredients.

    If you have soaps that stand out and have something different to offer, I'd say go for it.
     
  17. Mar 7, 2018 #17

    gloopygloop

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    I too prefer plain soaps, maybe because I am a male I find most soaps to be too girly for my taste, a slight marble or swirl is fine but I think more people see great and eye catching packaging and pleasant aroma more than really decorative design. Just my thoughts.
     
  18. Mar 7, 2018 #18

    Arimara

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    Speaking as a customer, I look for plain looking soaps first. I don't mind a few swirls but I have to acknowledge that my skin HATES most coloring above all (it can handle some scents fine surprisingly). I appreciate the time a lot of soapers take to create beautiful works of art with their soaps, be they M&P or CP/HP soaps but it's not a good buy if I can't use that soap (some colorings make me itch so bad). As others have said, a plain or minimalist approach would be a start. Your title "Simple Basin Soaps" brings to mind a farmstead, which might be a little risky depending on how people view a farm. Was that the direction you wanted to go?
     
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  19. Mar 8, 2018 #19

    lenarenee

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    No, farmstead wasn't where I wanted to go. Thanks for your opinion! I've been having a hard time pinpointing my "brand" ( I use that word lightly).
    My marketing friend asked me what I wanted my soap to say. Pfffft! My soap says nothing! I don't buy into the "natural" thing. I use and love using animal fats. Soap fascinates me because of its history. Aleppo, Greek, French soap makers pouring soap in to a floor that serves as a mold! Pioneers stirring vats of soap on the prairie! Soap is an overlooked, everyday common item that most people never think twice about,
    YET soap saves lives and prevents a lot of illness! We've forgotten that soap is a little miracle.

    Oooh. Can an animal fat soap company be named Miracle Soap Co.? (FDA knocking at my door!)

    Penelope, what are your criteria for handmade soap? And what is an example of a soap that stands out?

    Hmmm, do I have a soap that stand out and offers something new? No, but who does? It's all been done: vegan soap, highly artistic soaps, rustic soap, goat milk soaps. All that's left is .....packaging?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2018
  20. Mar 8, 2018 #20

    penelopejane

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    You did ask...

    I want to know all the ingredients, because I am very fussy.
    I don't want to use pomace on my skin so unless it specifies pure OO or EVOO or I know the maker or there is a website I can check I won't buy it.
    I am allergic to palm even in soap. I'm allergic to most EOs.
    I don't want EDTA or SLS or SLSA.
    I only want natural colours.
    I want vegetarian or vegan soap because I don't want BHT and I don't know where the animal fats used are from.
    I don't want spots or poorly made soap that looks like it did not work.

    See why I have to make my own soap? I am not alone.

    It hasn't all been done.
    If you live in a small area and are selling in that area then you are making local and they are buying local, small manufacture, handmade soap.
    There is art and art. Simple is an art.
    There has to be something about your soap that is different and that you are passionate about because any business, no matter how small, is tough. You need to know that what you are doing is worthwhile and that there are customers out there who want what you want to produce.
     

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