Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Bitch Post #7: Handmade Soap Is Too Expensive And Other Misconceptions
Well that can pretty much be said about anything that's handmade: It's too expensive. I can get that for much less. But what are you comparing it too? Wal-Mart or Nordstrom? Hell, Goodwill can look too expensive compared to Wal-Mart, but the point I'm making is that just because it has the "handmade" tag attached to it does not automatically mean it should be inexpensive! In fact, anything that's made from scratch with human hands made with the utmost precision, and dare I say-love, should cost more than the factory-made, mass-produced version. Handmade artists have to eat just like the factory worker does.
Getting back to the handmade soap is too expensive: I was compelled to write this post following a heated discussion in the Artfire forums this week. The basis of the "discussion" was "handmade soap is too expensive when I can buy a multi-pack of soap for the price of one bar that soapmakers are selling here." I maintained my cool as I wanted to see how this would play out. Needless to say, the lady who started the thread got ripped along with anyone who co-signed with her. I love my fellow soapmakers because they came in and set 'em straight, boy! I have to really shout out Pegasus Soaps and Soapsmith who were very polite but firm in their defense of why handmade soap costs what it does. I especially love what Pegasus said about the ingredients to make soap aren't cheap-and they aren't! Olive oil is very expensive. Shea butter is twice as expensive. For a good soapmaker, it's about quality-not quantity. I could sell you a bunch of handmade soap made with primarily lard or soybean oil which are relatively inexpensive compared to olive oil and shea butter, but one: I only make vegan soaps, and two: I care about what I put into my product. Like Soapsmith stressed, we soapmakers don't make a lot of money doing this. We do it for love of soapmaking. To make a profit, you'd have to sell a lot of soap-like having wholesale clients or maybe sell only melt and pour like a lot of successful Etsy sellers do. Melt and pour soap is inexpensive relative to buying raw ingredients to make soap. And let's not forget those soap disasters when a batch doesn't come out right-and I mean, completely tanked, unusable soap.
To wrap this all up, handmade soap is the best soap for your skin bar none (pun intended). It's made with oils and butters that moisturize and nourish. It makes it's only natural glycerin-which by the way those commercial detergent bars remove so that the "soap" stays hard and lasts longer. They're unique and they are affordable in that for every detergent bar you buy, you'll need twice as much moisturizer or lotion to combat the dryness your skin will suffer. But, if it comes down to having train fare or buying a bar of handmade soap, by all means, buy that fare card and the dollar "soap"! I know times are hard....
I'd love to read your take on the matter. Oh, by the way, a very nice lady from that same forum purchased some soap from me to send anonymously to one of the nay-sayers. Hopefully, we'll make a convert out of her!