It's been a little quiet in the soap kitchen over the last few weeks, and it's apparent by some of the empty shelves in the soap shop! After the Christmas rush, I took a couple of weeks to take care of my parents; dad had a partial knee replacement, and mom has Alzheimer's that has progressed further than I could detect through our phone calls over the past year. It was alarming to actually see, but I am really grateful for the conversations and laughs that I was able to have with my mom, and my dad was moving around pretty good with a cane by the time I left.
Most work-related things really ended up on the back burner while I was with my parents, but I did manage to read up on a few soap-related matters. Carrie Seibert, a fellow soapmaker (and along with her husband, Darren), a master shaving soapmaker, just published a book called How to Make Shaving Soap. I have made a few trial batches of shaving soap, but I am excited to take what I am learning from Carrie to refine my efforts. As any man who is serious about traditional shaving will attest, good shaving soap is a far cry from regular hand soap!
A few years ago, I met husband and wife soapmaking duo, Amanda Gail and Benjamin Aaron, before they were married. Separately, both have been involved in the handcrafted soapmaking business for quite some time. Together, they started the Lovin' Soap Project in 2013. In their words, "They travel to developing nations and teach women how to make soap and start businesses. The women that they teach are then able to provide soap to their local communities to tackle hygiene issues and are able to sell their soap in the international market to earn an income." The video below is from their trip to India in 2015.
Amanda and Benjamin offer a wealth of information for soapmakers, and I have been reading up on some of their work regarding soap colorants, masterbatching, business matters and more.
All of these resources, along with too many empty soap buckets provide more than enough motivation to get back to work in the soap kitchen! Each year, I have added a few more things to the soap shop. For example, this past year, I added and expanded our soy candles and wax melts, and our bath bomb/fizzie selection. This next year, I plan to add shaving soaps, charcoal soap, room and linen sprays, a small selection of basic essential oils, and perhaps a small selection of natural cleaning products. Most of these items have been requested, and it never fails that what one customer requests, goes really well for others as well. Keep an eye on our Facebook page, and our website for the release of these products throughout the next year.
Regardless of the new products, handcrafted soap will always be the central product at Artisan Soaps. One of my guiding principles has always been to provide sufficient quality, quantity, variety, and value to make it worth your while to stop in. That includes offering new soap fragrances, and I want to include all of you a little more in choosing what those new soap fragrances will be. Each month, I will post a poll on Facebook for new soap fragrances. The fragrances receiving the highest voter rating will be the ones that I make and put out on the shelf for the following month. Beyond these, if there is ever something you'd like to see, be sure and let me know!