Archive for December, 2011

Simply Soap 2011 Summary…

Dec 31 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,soap photos

In the spirit of an end of year round up, l decided it would be fun to take a look back on some of the memorable (for me!) happenings in the first year of Simply Soap. Yes, it’s been a year since we decided to launch the website and launch into making soap. I can’t remember exactly when the shopping cart went live, l think it was in March, but December was when we started planning and soapmaking.

So here’s my top 10 take on the soapy events of 2011 with some awards just for fun.

Most Beautiful Soap:

l love Peppermint Rose because of it’s simplicity. It’s not complicated or topped with amazing curls or piping or chunks, but for me that makes it even more lovely. It helps that l adore the photo, but l also love the plain creaminess of this bar, the scent combination and the cheery red stripe. The glitter on top is pretty but not overdone. To me it is perfect in every way.

‘Fastest Journey to the rubbish bin’  soap:

Oh my lordy, this is one of the very few batches that l didn’t even bother to consider rebatching, it just got marched straight out the back door and dumped unceremoniously into the garbage. I still can’t believe that it was so pretty when first poured into the mould! But alas, Coconut Cream morphed from this into spotty beige ugliness and will never be attempted again.

Bestselling Soap:

May Chang soap with calendula petals and goats milk was Simply Soap’s number one seller for 2010, followed closely by plain unscented goats milk soap. The others in the top 5 were Honey & Oatmeal, Snow Candy, and WarmVanilla.

Most surprising new scent combination that l didn’t expect to sell at all:

Snow Candy!

It continues to sell like hot cakes, and it came about as a request for ‘more essential oil soaps please’ from Norman, one of my retailers. Being a bit clueless at the time on how to blend essential oils beyond Lavender, Lavender and Lavender, l researched online and found a recipe that l liked the sound of. Truthfully, l thought it smelled a bit awful, but Norman loved it, and so does everyone else. And yes, it is growing on me. Slowly! Just goes to show that it pays to listen to your customers!

Most surprising new soap that l thought would be a complete hit but soooo wasn’t:

Rhubarb Al Fresco sounded so exotic and tangy, and l was sooooo proud of the way l got a ‘rhubarby’ look to this soap. And it really smelled lovely! But it didn’t matter how l described it or how many beautiful photos l took, this soap Would Not Sell. I ended up reducing them all heavily just to clear it out. I’ve still got some of the Rhubarb fragrance oil left, but have no idea what to do with it now! People obviously do not want to shower with Rhubarb ;-)

Soap photo l am most proud of:

I’ve taken lots of soapy photos this year, but this is one of my favourites. I’ve learned so much about my camera (and still have so much more to learn) but this photo made me grin from ear to ear.

The ‘I will never make this soap again’ award goes to:

Bay Rum and Beer soap. Never, ever ever again, what on earth was l thinking? It’s been done a million times before, and it doesn’t need to be done again. And my version smelled somewhat peculiar to say the least.  l will be attempting to be a bit more inventive next Father’s Day!

Best piece of new soapmaking equipment:

My ‘homemade by John’ soap log splitter and 3kg wooden moulds. I don’t make all of my soap in the moulds, because l still like to make small 1 or 2kg batches, but it’s great to be able to make bigger quantities of some of my soaps when l need to catch up. And the simple log splitter tackles a big slab of soap beautifully and quickly.

 Newest soaps:

Why Hello Myrtle, l do look forward to seeing whether you sell in 2012!

And Raspberry Mint is a limited edition that will also be available late January. My first ‘tomato sauce bottle’ soap (LOL the blue piping on top)

(edited to add):

my Simply Soap Goals for 2012:

  • to get some money in the bank instead of constantly spending it on new fragrances (a budget might be a good idea!)
  • to get a better system in place for packaging and labelling instead of doing them as orders come in
  • to build stronger retail sales (maybe it is time to hit the markets?)
  • to learn more about essential oils and blends
  • to not run out of soap!

Happy New Year everyone, l am so looking forward to 2012!

4 responses so far

New soaps!

Dec 28 2011 Published by under new soaps

I’m so excited, l have made some new soap flavours. Just when we decided l had to have a standard ‘range’ of soap, l realised that part of what l love, love, love about soapmaking is trying new things, tweaking recipes, even soaping in different moulds. So sod it, l think l’m going to have to break my own rules before l even started following them.

Above is ‘Meditate’ soap. I had an essential oil blend here of Lavender, Lemon, Mandarin, Frankincence & Rosemary, and l added pink rose clay, crushed rose petals, calendula and lavender buds to the soap mix. And just happened to have a clean milk carton here, so revisited my very first soap batch that was poured into a milk carton :-)

I love these bars, they are so rustic and chunky and oddly shaped, and the colour is exactly what l had in mind.

Next up is this lovely green bar, l want to call her Hello Myrtle! – she contains yummy organic crushed lemon myrtle leaves, as well as a blend of Lemon Myrtle fragrance and Lime essential oil. I adore the colour, and the smell is delish!

I can’t wait to test her out…

I’ve had so much fun dreaming up these…and it does make me wonder…how on earth does one stick to a ‘regular’ product range? Do you think it’s something that should even be attempted? (both as a customer if you are reading this, and also as a soapmaker?) l get so much pleasure out of trying new fragrances and playing with new soap designs that it seems almost silly to try and shoehorn myself into a set ‘range’. And the minute that John and l decided that l should try and define a range for practical reasons, l almost felt a little bit sad. I’m sure it had something to do with me not wanting to make soap the past week or two. Maybe it turns into a chore instead of something pleasureable?

Maybe l need to make the soaps that sell and that people ask for…but also make sure that in every soapmaking session there are one or two soaps that are ‘just for fun’ – ones that l make for my own entertainment.

(maybe l’m just looking for an excuse to buy more fragrance oils hahahahaha!)

8 responses so far

I changed my mind…

Dec 27 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,new soaps

*sighs*

I’ve decided to keep the soap cutter. Trying to make the decision has really tied me in knots. It was basically the 10kg of soap below that did it for me. Faced with the thought of cutting all of this by hand (and the resulting mistakes, rejects & wonky slices) l decided to give it one last try.

I started out with the soap below, which was fresh out of a washed milk carton. (l LOVE milk carton soap, if l could drink enough milk, l’d make all of my soaps in milk carton moulds!)

It sliced like a dream. Seriously. I think the freshness of the soap contributed to a much better result, because my test log when l first bought the soap cutter was about 5 days old before l cut it, and didn’t cut half as nicely. It was also a goats milk soap, l’m not sure if that may have contributed too, although one of the logs from this morning was also goats milk and l didn’t have any trouble cutting it. In fact everything l cut this morning was still warm and sliced beautifully. l wonder if the warmth helped… (?)

So yes, my soap slices are going to be slightly, slightly thinner. They’ll average out at 125g per bar instead of 130-150g (and there’s no consistency with those latter measurements it’s very hit and miss).

I’m not entirely happy with making smaller soap, because it reminds me of when you go to buy *anything* at the supermarket these days and the packets and jars seem to get smaller and thinner everytime you pick them up. It annoys me no end, it smacks of being sneaky and underhanded, and l really, really hate it. So for me to now make smaller soap for the same price, well, it sticks in my throat a bit.

But… (there’s always a ‘but’ isn’t there LOL)

  • It means less wastage because the bars are far more accurate, neatly and consistently cut. And because of that:
  • It means l don’t have to put my prices up, and l was starting to think l was going to have to increase them soon.
  • We cut and put away that 10kg of soap in no time, so it is obviously much more efficient.
  • And the novelty of having a new ‘toy’ has made me quite enthusiastic about making more soap, and really, that’s exactly what l need right now, a bit of enthusiasm LOL.

So l’m going to slightly adjust my labels, re-shoot some of the product photos and just get used to very slightly smaller bars. I hope all of my customers out there will forgive me. If not, l suppose l now have quite a LOT of soap to use for myself or give away for next years christmas presents *LMAO*

5 responses so far

Merry Christmas!

Dec 24 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,soap photos

a beautifully decorated house near us…(it is sooooo hard to get photos of christmas lights even with a tripod!)

we tried christmas light time lapse photography instead…which was much more entertaining LOL

my favourite one – love the tree!

my rusty cheese grater/christmas light decoration LOL

the christmas tree

Georgia and l made a gingerbread house to take to lunch tomorrow. We got slightly carried away with the ‘snow’ :-)

Rolly after being told off for getting too boisterous with the reindeer. He can’t understand why it won’t play with him ;-)

and finally…Simply Soap’s christmas present. Woo hoo!

I hope you all have a wonderful christmas day!

3 responses so far

lots of soap!

Dec 17 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,soap photos

I had a big soapmaking day yesterday and it’s hopefully gone a long way towards filling the curing racks that have been stressing me out with their emptiness. Above – Pomegranate & Grapefruit soap ready to be smooshed into the mould. John has been nagging me for ages about having a core range of soaps, and also a production schedule so that when a soap flavour gets down to a certain number of bars, l know to make a new batch. Instead of just letting it run out and then falling behind. This way l should theoretically never run out of anything. (theoretically LOL!) So what l am trying to do now is build up my soap stocks again so that l can actually start the system.

A slightly tweaked look for the Dead Sea Mud soap. I thought it was a brilliant idea to include a spoonful of dead sea mud in the photo, but now I’m not so sure – it looks a bit unappetising to say the least LOL!

And then l got stuck into the Lavender soap which has been bugging me for ages – I’m a bit over the purple and white swirls and decided l wanted to go for a really rustic look with lots and lots of ground up lavender buds throughout the soap. I wasn’t able to make it though because my trusty 1970′s relic – the Breville Superwhizz food processor – finally died on me. I was devastated, l’d been nursing it along for years, nervously watching bits crack & fall off from the bowl; and silently begging it to continue shredding up soap bits, grind oatmeal and chop up calendula petals.

(quick note: yes you should be a bit nervous if you get invited to my house for dinner LOL)

When it died l had nothing to use to attack my soap scraps, and the novelty of a handheld grater wore off very quickly l can tell you LOL.

So all l could do was save them, and when the icecream containers started to take over the laundry and l could no longer hold off on my dreams of a chopped up Lavender soap, l decided to research a new food processor. And found that Breville have actually designed a new one, and it’s bigger and better and stronger, and perfectly suited. I call it the Breville Beast – 2000 watts of soap grating wonderfulness :-)

They are retailing for $499 online at Target, but l couldn’t justify spending that much, so found some ‘seconds’ on ebay for $360 with $10 shipping. Coincidentally a big wholesale order had just been paid for, so l bit the bullet and pressed ‘Buy It Now’.

Yay. It’s absolutely brilliant!

When it arrived l got it out of the box, ignored the instruction booklet, grabbed my first icecream container full of soap scraps, and started grating. I grated and grated and grated, and sorted them into colour co-ordinated containers. When John got home, he didn’t need to ask what l had done today, because there were neatly labelled containers of coloured soap shreds everywhere. Hahaha :-)

So that was a rather longwinded way of telling you that l got to make my Lavender soap with ground up bits in it. Finally. The lavender smelled absolutely amazing as it got chopped to smithereens. Here is the freshly poured soap with more lavender buds scattered on top. I sourced beautiful blue lavender from a grower in country Victoria, and it’s going to stay blue unlike some of the more common ‘grey’ lavender buds you sometimes see. I’m sure most of the lavender will fall off when l slice up the slab, but l am going to package each bar in a cello bag with some extra lavender buds sprinkled inside.

It was worth the wait :-)

7 responses so far

New Soap

Dec 15 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,new soaps

This is French Pear, added to the website last night. The fragrance is really lovely! As some of you already know, l’ve always been a die-hard citrus kind of girl, but French Pear has really caught my attention. It’s a lovely warm smell, a little bit like Oatmeal & Honey, but with a lovely brandied pear edge to it. As it says in the store:

An absolutely beautiful fragrance – the soft aroma of brandied pears is warm and smooth, with the slightest hint of sugared almonds. Each soap is infused with toning french green clay to draw out toxins, oxygenate and rejuvenate tired skin

 

I also added a new batch of Warm Vanilla Sugar soap to the site – l’ve been playing around with the Vanilla for quite a while and haven’t ever really settled on a ‘look’ that l like. I did make some in the past though with brown sugar sprinkled on top, and l’ve always missed it, so l decided to ditch the soap curls and go back to something simpler.

Today l am playing catch ups and planning on restocking the curing shelves with 100 bars by the end of the day. I’ve not felt like soaping at all lately, l think part of me gets tied up in knots about whether to sell wholesale/not sell wholesale, and also how big l want this little biz to grow. And the answer is…l think l want it to stay small and hobby-style for at least the next 12 months. l definitely have days where l avoid anything to do with soap at all, and l think l get quite resentful when l *have* to make soap, so l am much better off not putting pressure on myself and keeping it fun.

By the way…thanks everyone for your lovely comments about John and I. It’s been lovely to read them.

4 responses so far

on the curing rack…

Dec 11 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,new soaps

These are some Castille soaps l made about 2 weeks ago. They are 100% olive oil soap – normally l make them unscented & uncoloured (ie: the white one) but this time l decided to live dangerously and scented some with lavender essential oil and a blend of citrus essential oils. I’m going to let them cure for about 8 weeks before even testing them, because l’ve found it’s true that castille soap is much better the longer it ages. (even though patience is not one of my virtues LOL.)  These are already nice and hard but l tested some scraps the other day and they still have that ‘slimy’ feel that pure olive oil soap sometimes has. l’m hoping this will reduce with time.

The soap mix was poured into a length of PVC pipe that l bought from the local plumbing supplies shop. It was a pain in the rear end to get them out though – they ended up spending quite a bit of time in the freezer to harden the soap up before they slid out with some brute force. You can see one of the purple ones got freezer burn LOL.

These would make lovely baby soaps and are also perfect for people with really sensitive skin.

 

2 responses so far

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