When to start selling

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by Donee', Feb 3, 2019.

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  1. Feb 3, 2019 #1

    Donee'

    Donee'

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    When you start a new job - you learn about the job and the company and the products on the job dont you? Same with soaping.

    BUT I would say that start with melt and pour - it makes your life so much easier.

    I started soaping with MP when I urgently needed cash - so I began immediately to make and sell - havent looked back - had a bit of a hiccup in the whole thing for the past year but am getting back into it immediately.

    I see from other threads that the rule seems to be to wait a year. I dont agree.
    Start selling from day 1 - but start with MP.
    Aside from burning it (which I just did the other day) there is so very little that can go wrong.

    And its a great motivator to keep going and keep selling.

    My mantra is "if you going to do it then do it"

    Having started my last two jobs with absolutely no experience - i gained that experience from learning on the job and from the feedback I received.

    Nothing quite like the feeling of having an idea, getting the stuff together, making it (well in MP its a case of chopping it up and shoving it in the microwave - go check out youtube before doing it my way though) and then wrapping it pretty and off it goes.
    Use the cash you make to buy the oils and then start with CP.

    Saying that people should wait a year is making people spend cash they may not have and its a very very long time until you can see pennies in your pocket for your hard work.

    Richard Branson said it well "JUST DO IT" (or was that Nike - I need coffee and cigarettes to get my brain working)
     
  2. Feb 3, 2019 #2

    LilyJo

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    I know that rules are very different across the world but in reality no one should just rock up with a batch of M&P they have made and start selling.

    Whatever you make and sell you need to understand how its made and why - and aside from the legalities of what you suggest - if you are selling you need insurance, you need correct legally compliant labels (this depends on where you sell and the rules therein), you need to ensure that the products you produce are safe. If you dont understand what you are doing or why, how do you know what the safe level of fragrance is and how that can vary with EO and FO? How do you know what colourants or additives to use safely?

    Yes the suggested wisdom is to make soap consistently for a year before you sell and whilst M&P doesnt need the long cure time of CP, anyone who has made soap whether that is M&P or CP knows that the soap they produce in month 1 is vastly different to the soap produced in month 12. There is so much more to be gained in perfecting your art than rushing ahead.

    I understand your enthusiasm but for anyone who lives in the EU (including the UK, whatever happens with Brexit) legally you cannot start selling on day one, you need safety assessments for any product that is sold, no matter whether that is CP or M&P. I know that probably doesnt apply to SA but please understand that 'just do it' doesnt apply to everyone.
     
  3. Feb 3, 2019 #3

    atiz

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    I have the suspicion that most people on this forum started soaping not because they needed money but because they tried it as a hobby and liked it --- liked the experimenting and the learning that comes with it. (That's certainly how I started recently and why it never even occurred to me to sell my soap --- I won't). There are better (and safer) ways to earn money quickly if you really need to; but selling soap without being entirely familiar with its effects on people seems like a bad idea. You can't open a restaurant before you learn cooking.
     
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  4. Feb 3, 2019 #4

    Alfa_Lazcares

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    Yeah, i mean, sell your MP lots of people do it, i just wouldnt go buy a cheap base, decorate it and sell it because that just perpetuates the thought that MP soap os for decoration only cause as a soap its horrible. Truly that is the thinking here.


    Now, if we are talking about CP then I completelly disagree. Its not about you and the money you spend, I am sorry, but if you want a cheap hobby this is not it. Its cool to want to make money back, but for that you need to wait. If you want to open a business then I would consider another busines and not this one.


    There is a pletora of reasons why selling CO right of the bat is a very bad idea. The first one i can come up with is that when people make their first batch, they dont actually know all that they are doing and why. Just take a look at the amount of threads asking for help after a first failed batch. It happens a lot. Then there is the curing time debate, the HP vs CP debate, the oil ratios and the additives and there is a bunch of stuff you HAVE to know before selling. How about how your recipe behaves after some months? Whay if they end up with DOS? How long does your fragrance last on your soaps? Cause a customer will be mad if you sold them a great smelling soap just to be a non smelling soap in a few months.


    So while i do think you can sell MP and get money to start CP, i would absolutelly not sell CP before a year of making soap.
     
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  5. Feb 3, 2019 #5

    Meena

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    Donee', the suggestion to wait a year is also to gain the experience and knowledge of how your recipes age -- for example, whether they go on to develop DOS -- and to give the soaps time to complete their internal chemical reactions, to become harder and longer-lasting (which is only fair to your customers), and become fully mild (which probably varies by recipe. My soaps aren't old enough for me to have gone through this phase with them yet and fully understand what's meant by becoming mild.) A 1 week old soap is not the same soap it will be at 4 months, 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years.

    Periodically, during the year before selling, repeated testing is done, and notes are made about each soap. Also during this time, people are tweaking and perfecting their recipe(s), based on what they learn. Then you know, for each recipe, what an optimum cure time might be, all factors being equal (which they rarely will be exactly equal -- seasons change, humidity/dryness changes, age of oil from one purchase to the next, so many small but cumulative factors such as these).

    Here is a moderately technical, 100% fascinating, and pretty thorough explanation of the "internal chemical reactions" I mentioned in the first sentence: https://classicbells.com/soap/cure.html
     
  6. Feb 3, 2019 #6

    IrishLass

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    Right here, silly!
    The 'wait a year' advice we advocate very stongly here on SMF refers to lye-based soap, not necessarily MP. The two types of soap are very different animals from each other. With handmade lye-based soap (aka CP and HP) so many things can go wonky in the months after unmolding....things like DOS (rancidity), scent morphing and/or fading, color morphing and/or fading, etc. The trouble with these kind of problems is that they don't rear their ugly heads right away. For example, DOS doesn't usually show up until at least a month has gone by, but it can show up months later as well. DOS normally has to do with a problem with your formula.... for example, too much linoleic acid in your formula combined with living in a high humidity climate is one of the big causes of DOS (not the only one, though). The 'wait a year before selling' advice gives you time to work out these details and to perfect your formula, and make sure your scents and colors are compatible/work well with it and that your soap can stand the test of time when exposed to different stresses over a period of months. Why months? Because many people who buy handmade soaps don't use them right away. They stick them under their bathroom sink until they 'get to it' eventually. If you know that your soap can last a year without developing DOS, and that your scents and colors will last at least a year without morphing or fading, that's a big positive for you and your business.

    Those of us that have been making handmade lye-based soap for awhile have heard one too many stories of folks that jumped right into selling their handmade CP or HP just two weeks after making their first batch that have lived to regret it... because their soap turned out to be icky a few months down the road. And we all can share stories of people we know that have sworn off ever buying handmade soap again because they happened to have bought some unknowingly from a newbie that ended up turning bad a few weeks after buying it and now they think that all handmade soap turns bad after a few weeks.

    You may disagree with our stance, that is your prerogative, but we've seen too much to change it.


    IrishLass :)
     
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  7. Feb 3, 2019 #7

    atiz

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    (This is about CP.)
    I made my very first batch almost 6 weeks ago now, so it is (mostly) cured. I got the recipe from a soapmaking book, and everything went as planned.
    Is it a good soap? Yes, it's pretty good. Is it great? No, I wouldn't say so. Would I do everything the same way again? No; I have learnt a ton since then.
    Even though it is an okay soap (i.e.: not too stripping, bubbles, feels pretty good, fragrance is already fading but nice blend of EOs), I would feel terrible selling it, since I think I can already make better ones -- and I can see this pattern repeating at least for a while. Maybe that's just the perfectionist in me but I can't see why someone would sell something they already see as somewhat mediocre. (Now there may be others whose first batch already reached perfection; it seems rare though.)
     
  8. Feb 3, 2019 #8

    Marilyn Norgart

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    with all the good advice given--I personally think to go ahead and start figuring out what all is involved in selling and making sure you have your ducks in a row when you have some knowledge on what your soap is going to do is probably not a bad idea.

    my first batch was nice scent but I had issues with partial gel and I realized I used spring water (got DOS in it too) the cuts weren't good (I am anal about straight even cuts) it lathered good. the next I don't know how many batches had a lot of issues, overall the soap lathers nicely and isn't drying and I have figured out how to get nice cuts. I am getting somewhat better at swirling but still have too many that I am not crazy about. if I found out I sold soap and the scent disappeared I would feel horrible. I have given a lot of soap to friends where I have asked that I get all the constructive criticism they can give me (I have gotten some). I have been told which scents already are fading. I have also had some soaps that discolored with time too. I understand the reasons for waiting no matter how hard it is and it is hard
     
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  9. Feb 3, 2019 #9

    cmzaha

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    There is a big difference with starting a new job, where you are working and learning under knowledgeable people. Making and selling soap is manufacturing which is not the same as working in a job. Manufacturing of any type takes money to get started. Depending on the products being manufactured, it can be a relative small amount of money or it can be in the hundreds of thousands. You simply cannot start manufacturing without an outlay of cash.

    When I start selling quite a few years ago I will say I made decent soap, but not great soap. I admit to selling to soon because of our downturn in the economy here and I was having to support 2 families. My daughter started with her m&p business and finally go me to go with cp soap. She did make a living at it for about 5 years and that turned too with to much competition.

    I still have some of my original printouts and I will say it was not bad soap, but soap I would not like today. But I will say even back in the beginning I did not make claims or feel soap was some kind of magic...No eczema soap, no anti soap etc.
     
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  10. Feb 4, 2019 #10

    Chris_S

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    I would like to echo what @LilyJo said that south africa is one thing selling melt and pour but outside of your country there are all kinds of various rules and regulations i think to suggest that people just get out there and sell even if it is melt and pour is a very reckless thing to do. As already mentioned even melt and pour soap within the EU is heavily regulated about how its sold once purchased by the person who is buying to make and sell on still needs a safety certificate to show its been tested. If someone was to read this and not realise that thier country has separate regulations to yours and started just selling melt and pour soap as you suggested by jist waking up one day and deciding you wanna sell then they could find themselves in SERIOUS legal and finacial troubles not to mention the lack of insurence and starting up a business in order to sell legally and havinf declare any tax and earning they have got from the selling. That would come under the label of fraud if not declared especially if you are making a living from it. As i said i know the laws will be different for you i just think to suggest its THIS easy to start selling without pointing out that you should check laws regulations and having insurence all under a company name is very irresponsible not everyone will take the time to check if they see something like this post going unchallenged. Might sound harsh but i feel it needs to be said :(

    Oh and also i have to agree with the comments regarding it being a year after starting to sell its NOT to make you spend money at all why would the people who also make soap want you to spend money that they wont see a penny of? It wont even slightly benifit them. I started making soap because i liked the idea of challenging myself and seeing if it was something i would enjoy doing and yes it absoltly is something i enjoy doing and yes i want to start selling at some point but even after not far off 6 months i know im not ready to sell iv not even been to look at the competition locally yet because i know im just not ready and until i can produce something consistent that falls under our regulations i wont be looking at what else is around. For the eu people here i would suggest mp soap isnt even really worth selling because it costs 180 quid for 8 variations ect regardless of if its mp or lye handmade soaps.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  11. Feb 4, 2019 #11

    Hendejm

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    I’m in the fence about this 1 year before selling idea.....I totally understand what’s been said here regarding you need to be able to test results over time, dos,etc.

    However - I’ve made over 500 bars of soap, I’ve used them, I’ve given them away, I’ve abused them under all sorts of conditions, I’ve tweeked recipes, I found a recipe that works over the last few months, I’ve put them in my Airbnb...and people are asking to buy them from me. I have been saying that I don’t sell but I may in the future....but recently I decided to sell some bars. They understand the risks of something that hasn’t been tested for a year and agreed to purchase anyway. There is substantial cost involved with making soap! I would like to cover some of those costs. Should I feel guilty or wrong? Maybe not. Will it bite me in the butt? Possibly. Am I willing to take the risk? Yes.

    I’ve done my homework, I’ve researched ALOT, I’ve tested them, people like them, it won’t kill them if they do lose their scent or develop DOS, so in the end I made a judgement call and decided to start selling. That works for me but may not be right/appropriate for others.

    I have a business license, I will pay taxes when due (quarterly), I properly label the soaps to comply with regulations, I purchased insurance. So I am happy with my decision.
     
  12. Feb 4, 2019 #12

    Alfa_Lazcares

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    At least you've done quite a few so in my head you are quite a few steps above those who make ONE batch of a recipe they found somewhere on the internets and didnt check them on a soap calculator and then decide they will sell at one week cure.

    The one thing I do no not agree with is that this is a risk YOU are taking, by yourself. If something goes wrong and it could, but you may never experience, then that custmer, specially if it is a one time customer, doesnt like the soap cause it ended up with DOS or what have you, they wont buy anymore from you and they may not buy from anyone else either, and that hurts all of us.

    For some reason people lump together all the hand made soap. Its like, they know that if they dont like a cake from one place they very well might love the same kind of cake from someone else, but they dont make that distiction with soap. if they dont like a hand made soap, they just declare hand made soap is bad or just not good from them. At least hat's whay I've seen.


    Having said, if I had an AIRBNBN i would totally put my soaps there for guests. Tried and true recipes of course.
     
  13. Feb 4, 2019 #13

    Meena

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    I happened to look at the Business Forum for the first time, and thought you might be interested in the stickie post.

    https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/are-you-ready-to-sell-your-soap.16002/
     
  14. Feb 4, 2019 #14

    KiwiMoose

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    Can't you just put a 'best before' date on your soap to avert some responsibility if someone leaves it in their drawer for 2 years and then finds it all DOSsy and rancid?
     
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  15. Feb 4, 2019 #15

    Micchi

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    I feel like a year is a good general guideline for when you're ready to sell, but I also don't feel like it's necessarily a hard-and-fast "you must wait a year".

    There's a lot of factors that come into play. I grew up on a pretty self-sufficient farm. If I were to use my mother's lard soap recipe, I would feel confident selling after the first few test batches were cured - I grew up with that recipe, I know how the soap is supposed to feel at all stages of its curing, I know when and where to tweak and adjust it based on time of year and environmental factors. I have never made it by myself, only helped my mom make it, but I feel confident that I know exactly how to work with it.

    That also translated to me knowing, pretty well, a lot about cold process when I started doing it for myself. It also gave me a skillset that a lot of folks who have never done CP have to spend that year building - putting a process in place for measuring ingredients so I don't miss a step, how to safely work with lye, how to spot the various stages of trace the batter goes through, how to change plans mid-soap because it's not doing quite what I want it to, how to salvage a batch when things go drastically wrong. Because of that previous knowledge and understanding, I have yet to make a batch of soap that isn't good soap. Maybe not always exactly what I envisioned, but nothing that wasn't a product I would have been embarrassed to put my name on. I spent the past few years instead building other skills - coloring, working with FOs, learning how to do swirls and stripes and textured tops, researching the market and deciding what niches I wanted to cater to.

    Did I necessarily need to wait a year+ to start selling? Not really. I could have gone with the recipe I knew well and been selling a quality, simple bar of lard soap within four months of starting. But I wanted to build skills I didn't have, to cater to the market I wanted to create for. So instead of quality, simple bars of soap that I can churn out half asleep, my first launch will be artistic, whimsical pieces that I'm genuinely excited about, that will hopefully enable me to carve out my niche in the market and stand out.
     
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  16. Feb 4, 2019 #16

    Donee'

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    Good discussion

    Personally I dont believe that entrepeneurs should be restricted to a 1 year thing.

    But I suppose that most people will have to do what they are confident in doing.

    As far as giving hand made soap a bad name - thats what samples are for arent they.
    The business side of it should go as follows - and I am referring to South Africa which is considered somewhat of a third world country.

    Takes 48 hours to get a bar code

    Takes 1 week to get a health inspection

    Then its up to the entrepeneur to do the rest - branding, marketing, packaging.

    Dont feel that you have to make 600 bars of soap before selling them.
     
  17. Feb 4, 2019 #17

    amd

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    I have a "care and feeding of soap" card that goes out with every sale. I recommend that people use soap within 6 months - but I know they won't. I have a handful of customers who buy once a year and buy 10 bars for the whole year. I used to guarantee my soap regardless, but have stopped after a handful of returns for faded scents 6+ months after the sale.

    Your employer is covering your butt while you're learning - paying the insurance, telling you what you need to know, what you need to do, etc. If you're working for a cosmetics company, one would hope that they have done testing before they begin selling to customers. Same deal for making soap - you have to test before selling because you're the one covering your butt.

    Speaking from personal experience: I made soap for a year and a half - plain white unscented soap. One day I decided that I wanted to make pretty soap, saw how expensive fragrance and colors are, and decided the only way I could afford it was to start a business. Fifteen minutes later I was announcing to the world (aka FaceBook) that I had a soap business. DO NOT DO THAT. If I could go back I would buck up and learn what I can and can't do with fragrance and colors, and make sure I was really good at it. I did a huge disservice to my customers by making them pay for my learning curve. The only good thing was that I had a recipe that I knew would keep for at least 9 months. A few of my earlier recipes didn't keep as well. If I had started my business with those recipes, I probably wouldn't have a business at all.

    This is exactly what we mean - what if your soap samples are bad soap? If you're still learning, you may not know. (or as I've done a time two, I thought I knew and then discovered I didn't and it cost me money to fix it)

    Please do make a LOT of soap before you start selling. Try things, see what they do, see how they age. Try different oils, try different recipes. And then see how they age. Make sure your processes are correct and repeatable. Make sure you know how to be profitable.
     
  18. Feb 4, 2019 #18

    cmzaha

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    Some folks actually wait more than a year. You are apparently not going to agree to anything we recommend, but again recommending to sell right after learning to make soap is Not good information for newbies. Maybe you do not have much competition where you live, but in the US the competition is brutal, so us sellers need to know we are selling the best soap. I only do one market now, but when I was doing 5 markets per week I would always be up against new soap sellers. Guess who sold and lasted at the markets and who did not... Markets here, are nowhere near as good as they were when I started so I do not waste my time and only do my one good weekly market now.
    ETA Misspelling

    A lot of people here use high amounts of lard, which I do not because it always starts smelling off or going rancid in time for me. I love the feel of lard soap, but it just does not work for me over 25%. This realization came after I was making and selling soap for a few years, and any soap I had smelling off over several months had lard in higher percentages. That lead me to test a lot of different lard brands including fresh rendered at 100%. Some of the people here will remember how that turned out :) Ironically I have the very first soap I made out of 100% lard is still not smelling off after close to 9 yrs. That is what led me to using high lard until something changed. I still have not figured out what the difference was other than the brand of the lard. Walmart no longer carries the brand I started with and I also purchase bulk blocks of lard now. This is why we tell soapmakers to test test test...
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  19. Feb 4, 2019 #19

    Donee'

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    I have only questioned TWO threads - so the exaggeration of the above is completely out of order- apparently people arent allowed to question anything or bring forward new ideas either.

    Even people who have been soaping for decades have mistakes and failed batches. Its just the way of artisan production.
     
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  20. Feb 4, 2019 #20

    amd

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    If Carolyn's quote from above is what you mean by "exaggeration", she is far from out of order. We (members on the forum) try to keep in mind that when posting on the forum it isn't only the OP who is reading what we write, but also new members. Input from experienced soapers is that for CP/HP soap, one should have at least a year of soapmaking. If you choose not to follow that, that's your inexperience talking and you take your own risks. As experienced soapmakers, we would like to protect the business side of soapmaking and that includes giving due warning to new soapmakers. We encourage questions and give reasonable explanations, but we certainly can't force you to listen to us. We'll keep repeating it though for others who are reading and may not have made up their mind or considered all consequences.

    Yes, but I'm not wanting to sell my mistakes. Does bad soap happen to me? Yes, but I've also enough experience to know not to sell it. New soap makers may not know it's bad and that's what experience is for.
     
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