Sunday, September 28, 2008

Customer Service 101

I don't know about you, but when I make a purchase from a business, particularly an indie business, I expect to be contacted by the seller to one acknowledge my order, and two, to thank me for my business. I don't care how busy you are, it only takes a minute to drop a quick line. If I can take the time to buy something and immediately pay for it, the least you can do is e-mail me and say "Hey, got your order, thanks...shipping details to follow...."

I've been in the service business since I've been old enough to work, and that's the first thing I was taught: Thank your customer! Not only is it professional and the right thing to do, but it can make or break the potential for repeat business. Where is all this coming from? I've been shopping a lot on Etsy lately, and of the five purchases I've made in the last week, only ONE of the sellers took the time to thank me for my purchase and tell me a little about what it was I bought. That really impressed me, and I'm going to buy from this seller again.

There, I've said. It's been bothering me for days, and I hope that my message reaches someone who may forget that thanking the customer is part of making the sale. Til next time.....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Great Debate

No, I'm not talking about the Presidential election. I'm talking about CP vs MP. For all you non-soapers, that's cold processed vs melt and pour. Cold processed is the method of combining oils (the same kind found in your kitchen or grocery store shelves), water, and lye until they saponify (that's the chemical reaction these ingredients undergo to form what we know as soap.) Melt and pour is just that: The saponification process has already occurred, and you're taking a block of premade soap and melting it down to add your own special touches.

There are many different kinds of mp soap on the market, but not all brands are made equally. I personally love mp because it's quick. It's easy. More importantly, for me, it's versatile. I love using shaped soap molds to make what I call soap creations. You can embed things in it. You can use additives such as herbs and salts. You get the point. BUT.... not all mp soaps are the same. There are many different brands on the market, and many of these brands contain stuff I can't even pronounce. For that reason, I only use what's called natural or organic soap-no sulfates or foaming agents. They can be very drying which is why extra glycerin is added to mp soap.

CP soap, on the other hand, is made from scratch. They're unique in appearance, color, and texture. No two batches will hardly ever look the same. There are dozens upon dozens of different oil and butter combinations you can use to make cp soap. That's where the science of soap comes in. It can be dangerous because it involves the use of lye or sodium hydroxide. You must wear protective gear whenever making soap from scratch. You must never attempt to make soap from scratch with children or pets around (I'm not saying if you have children or pets, do not make cp soap. I'm saying, don't have them in the same area when making soap.)

Okay, I'm getting off my "soap box." I just had to put it out there that I believe mp is real soap, and that you have choices-not only as a soap maker, but a lover and buyer of soap. Now, go wash your ___________________.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Honestly? Do You Use Your Own Products?

Or whatever it is you craft, make, sew, paint, draw.... you get the picture? I, for one, can emphatically say YES! My bathroom is overflowing with my own soaps and those of other incredible soap makers. My living room is filled with lit candles that I've personally created. I love my stuff not just because I made it, but because I know it's really quality stuff made with care and attention to detail. When a potential customer asks me a question like, how does it lather or how long should this bar last, I can answer them with honesty and confidence. When you instill consumer confidence, you've got a lifelong customer. It also helps if you actually make something you personally love not just because you think it'll be a cash cow. Trust me, with all the thousands of other soapers out there, this aint hardly a cash cow for me, but a true labor of love. What say thee about this?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shopping Is Therapeutic

I'm a shopaholic. I could be happy, sad, angry, or mad, but mostly bored. Of course I'm on Etsy when I get this strong desire to buy something. I decide to browse the Shop Local feature-you know where you view all the shops of the sellers who live in your city or state. There are a lot of sellers in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. I am a huge jewelry lover, especially silver. I've always worn silver because here in DC, gold was (and in some cases still is) the ultimate status symbol when I was a teenager and young adult. If you wore gold, then you were the sh*t. Being the non-conformist that I am, I chose to wear silver to not only go against the grain, but to make a statement: I AM A LEADER, NOT A FOLLOWER!

To wrap this little story up, I bought this fab ring at Beads In The Belfry. She's having a sale-25% off-til 6 am Sunday for all you night owls. I will wear this swirly delight on my right pointer finger. I'm going to point at everyone now just to show off my ring. There's also another fab seller whose in DC, CeCe St. Croix. She makes really lovely silver hammered jewelry. I favorited both of these artists of course. Well, I'm going to continue looking for interesting finds and feature them here. If you have something interesting you'd like to showcase, let me know. I love bragging about things I love!

In Memoriam

I really like to keep this blog light-hearted, but a year ago to the day, I lost someone who meant EVERYTHING to me. This is for you Whalen:

Minus One

When we met, it was fate.
You instantly became my Plus One.
There was no me without you.
You were my Number One. I was your Boo.
They thought we were joined at the hip.
We told them we were in love so don’t trip.
Now I’m minus one.
A Gina with no Martin. The beans with no fartin’.
You were my world, and although we’re lifetimes apart,
You'll forever and always be
In my heart.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The FDA Globalization Act Is Whack!!!!

If you're an indie beauty biz owner, then you must take a stand against this proposed legislation. I've been reading about it for months on various blogs, but I never paid it any attention until I saw this piece on one of my local news channels. If you're a maker of natural bath and beauty products and/or a consumer of natural bath and beauty products, you must understand the importance of this proposed legislation. After viewing the piece, please follow this link to learn more and sign the petition to shut it DOWN!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fun With Whipped Soap

I's hooked on whipped soap! I've always made cupcake soap, but I can now admit that they were so blah. Now that I've made these, there's no comparison. Whipped soap is messy as hell, but the finished product is so worth it. I love the texture, how well it holds scent and color, and all the different things you can do with it. I'm doing an entire confectionery line that I'll be debuting before the week is over. Thank goodness these are inedible cuz I'd be about 10 pounds heavier by now!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vino, Anyone?

I ordered this FO from Wholesale Supplies Plus, and I love it! It smells like sweet, tangy grapes with a dusting of sugar, and I could never find the perfect scent to fit this mold-until now! I usually make really purple grapes and I really dark green background, but I love this reddish-purple color and this sage green color a lot more. I just listed this bar on Etsy, and I put one in my shower. I love how this smells on my skin! The soap itself is a glycerin base with added olive oil.

I'm Such A Failure!

Okay, I chilled some, but I couldn't stay away from the computer! I'm such a junkie. I did not blog or tweet though! So how did I chill? Well, I spent some time with my sis who gave me the fabulous hairstyle that you see. I told her she could make a 2nd income from doing these braids but she said it's too time-consuming and finger-numbing. I made a batch of soap that I think is going to tank because the soap seized almost immediately once I added my FO, and I so loved that scent (another day, another post.) I did laundry! That in itself is a miracle. I'm just beside myself because I'll have about an hour of free time now because of my hair. Well, back to feeding my habit....

Friday, September 12, 2008

This Weekend, I'm Chillin'

You know, sometimes you gotta sit back, sip on a Mike's Hard Limeade, and just.... CHILL! That means no blogging, no soap making, no candle making, no Etsying, no Twittering-nothing business related. I'm going to really, really, really try not to. In order for me to accomplish these things, that means I'm going to have to NOT turn on my laptop. OH-MY-GOODNESS! How am I going to survive? Well, my sister Myia is coming down from the NYC for the weekend, and she's going to do my hair. That'll take about two days because we talk and BS and partake of a few cocktails in between. I have a coupla paperbacks I've been meaning to read. I could clean out my cat's litter box.

Have a good weekend. Talk to ya'll on Monday! I'm turning off my laptop right about....NOW!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Day of Reflection

Today is September 11th, and if you're from this country, then you must know the signficance of this day. I won't get all sentimental or preachy, but the one thing I learned from these tragic events is that life is short, and tomorrow isn't guaranteed. Tell the ones you hold dear how much you love them and appreciate them. Til tomorrow....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Come To Me...Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcake

Umh, umh, umh!!! I have found my favorite scent (of the moment, anyway). I made this batch on Sunday, and the "batter" literally looked and smelled good enough to eat. I am going to thoroughly enjoy showering wit this one. It's lemon-y. I can smell all the elements in this one. It's creamy. It's sweet. For this batch, I used pomace olive oil, Castor oil, and palm kernel oil. It's darkened a little bit, but I'm lovin' it anyway. Oh, hurry up and harden already!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Do You Twitter?

If you're an Internet junkie like myself, then you probably know what Twitter is. If not, click this link and get schooled. Basically it's a site where you literally talk about what you're doing at that very moment or what your immediate plans are. It can be very trivial or very detailed and specific. It's been touted as a way for friends to keep in touch, but I'm using it strictly as a networking tool. Frankly, who cares if I'm painting my toenails?

I've met some cool people who share similar interests, and I actually like reading what they're up to. The great thing about Twitter is, you can't ramble on and on. It's like, "Get to the point already." It's meant to give a brief synopsis if you will. I tweet about new stuff I'm making, new blog posts, interesting finds, etc. It seems a little silly at times, but people are following you. If you've had second thoughts about it, give it a shot. It's good exposure for your biz, your craft, or whatever your platform may be.

Follow me and check it out:

My Friends Just Love Me.....

because they're a bunch of moochers. Just kidding! They do love that I make candles and soaps because I always use them as guinea pigs when making new stuff. I think I have the pickiest, finickiest friends, and if they love it, I know I have a winner. I've decided to tweak my testing process a little. Now I'm going to give them a rating sheet, and I'll ask them to rate the product in terms of scent, color, visual appeal, lather (for soaps), burn pool (for candles) get the picture. I'll end the rating questionnaire with a comments section allowing them to tell me what they liked, disliked, and what could be improved. First up: These candles in my new Frosted Desserts collection in Iced Lemon Biscotti and Cinnamon Buns. These are for my sister Myia-my biggest and toughest critic.

Monday, September 8, 2008



I love, love, love this scent! I love it better than plain Yuzu. It's the perfect blend of sweet and tart, and I actually like the way this turned out. I made this soap a day and a half ago, and it's still incredibly soft, hence the "smeared" appearance. I know I should have waited another day, but I couldn't contain my excitement. This soap is made with pomace olive oil, palm kernel oil, and castor oil. I can't wait for it to finish curing so I can christen it.

Tomorrow, I'll reveal another new soap. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Listings on Etsy

I just listed some new stuff in my Etsy shop. I have a serious sweet tooth right now as reflected in my new listings:

  • Cookie Soaps

  • Bon Bon Soaps

  • Four Seasons of Clean

  • High Roller Soap Combo

  • Gingerbread Chefs

My personal favorite is the High Roller Soap Combo. I'm giving this one to all my Spade-playing friends.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I Made Another Treasury!!!!

I made another treasury on Etsy today. I'm in pretty good company with these tasty flame-makers. I think I'll go to Wendy's now and get one of those new Frosty milkshakes in Strawberry. Yummmmmmmmm!!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Are You Ready For Some Football????

I know this post has absolutely nothing to do with soap or candles, but today is the official start of the 2008-2009 NFL Season, and I am siced!!! My Washington Redskins are playing my sister's boyfriend's New York Giants. Chris and I have always had a love/hate/love relationship with one another, and this rivalry only fuels the fire. We talk so much s&*t to one another it would make Richard Pryor blush.

I'm working late, so I'll probably miss the opening concert with Keith Urban, Natasha Beddingfield, and Usher, whom by the way my sister would leave Chris for if Usher told her to. Anyway, I won't be thinking about soaps and candles at all tonight. I'll be fixated on the game, which I'm not feeling all to confident about. We have a new coach, Jim Zorn, who's never coached a pro team before. But that's okay. I've got a 6 pack of Mike's Hard Limeade with Patrice written all over it. I figure I'll be nice and numb if we're getting stomped. Tomorrow morning is another story. All I can say is, "Hail to the Redskins! Hail, victory....!!!"

It's 6:00am. Why Am I Blogging?

Good Morning!

I've been up since 5:30 EST, and I usually set my alarm for this time every weekday because I like to work out in the morning. I'm usually dragging, but this morning, I'm feeling rested, refreshed, and creative! I've made some new M&P soaps, and I'm working on a few new candles-all since I've awaken.

I've been kinda bummed because my online sales are extremely slow. I don't have a lot of money in my budget for marketing, so I am taking to the blogging and twittering circuit to get my name out there. One thing I've learned is it's not only what you sell, but how you sell it, meaning, not only is the visual appeal important, but the way you describe your product is equally important. Let's face it, there are thousands of soap and candle makers out here, and the Internet is very competitive. How are you going to stand out? By having top notch photos (no, I don't have a pro photographer, but a good camera, the right angles and lighting are my best friends. Using descriptive words in my product descriptions are important also, but most importantly, what will my product do for you? Hey, I've got work to do. I'm shelling out all this good advice and haven't done much myself.....Later!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Stockin' Up!

I am so excited that fall is almost here. I love the cool weather, the multi-colored leaves, and the onset of all the holidays to come!

So I did a lil shopping this weekend at DayStar Supplies. What I love about them is Stacy has these ridiculous FOs that I've never heard of or that I've always been itching to try, AND I can buy five, 2 oz bottles for $25.00 (boo hiss-they used to be 5/$22.50.) I bought 10 and can't wait to get em! What I also like is if I don't like a particular scent, I don't stress over it because I only pick scents that are soap and candle compatible. Almost everyone likes candles no matter the scent, so if I think a scent really sucks, I make a candle and give it to a friend or relative. I win every time!

I also did one of those fast buys of my fave M&P soap. Since I've decided to only make M&P soap with no SLS, I am spending considerably more for my soap base, but I think it's worth it. My only gripe about "natural" M&P is it sweats like marathon runner. Yeah, they make "low sweat", natural M&P soap, but I prefer the original. Beggars can't be choosers right? No name? I prefer not to reveal my source on this one.

Lastly, I picked up a few things at Go Planet Earth. I like them for getting the basics-molds, packaging, dyes... I actually kept my total under $100.00.

I'm going to start saving my pennies because I plan to go on a major Brambleberry shopping spring before month end. I love their FOs, but the shipping kills me because they're on the west coast, and I'm in metro DC. I believe in the old adage though, "You get what you pay for."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Pepper!!!

I can't believe it's September 1st. September has always symbolized the turn of everything for me-cooler weather, going back to school, but most importantly, it's my baby's birthday! I can't believe she's 11 years old today. I remember adopting her as a 6 month old from the DC Animal Shelter. She literally chose me. I didn't choose her. All the other cats were mewing and clawing to get my attention. But there was this one cat sitting in the cut. She was looking at me like, "I am the most fabulous cat on the planet, and I am worthy of your love..." Wow! She had me at hello.

This cat is so special to me. She's been with me through thick and thin. She's witnessed all my triumphs and tragedies. She's been my natural anti-depressant. She's made me laugh til I cried. So here's to you Pepper-Happy Birthday baby!