I make soap in the laundry (my soaping room where everything is). I mix my lye in the sink there. I wouldn't want to carry lye around (disaster waiting to happen) so I don't bother mixing it outside. I too prefer Soaping 101. I like the nurture silicone moods. I have large mesh pull out drawers to cure my soap. I line them with thin old linen t-towels to protect them from the metal even though they are coated. I wear glasses and have spots left by batter right in the middle so no matter what you do always wear eye protection. Working out your point of difference - whether it is natural as possible etc will help you decide on colours and additives. You need lots of thoughtful testers because everyone is different and good feedback (even negative) is important. Not everyone can use soap with fragrance in it. Use water or oil from your recipe to mix colours and additives. Even 1 tsp extra can effect the final soap.