Saturday, 22 March 2014

Interview at SoapJam


Silvia at http://soapjam.wordpress.com/ is one of those lovely soapmakers and bloggers that contacted me early on in her soap making adventures, full of excitement and questions.  I love getting those emails from excited new soapmakers and love helping them.  I really can't believe how far she has come in less than a year!! 

She recently asked me to do an interview, sent me some great questions and has now posted the interview in 2 parts on her blog.  If you wish to read the interview, head on over to Silvia's blog.
http://soapjam.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/inspiring-soap-maker-jennifer-young-part-1-of-2/

We had 75 litres of wonderful, rich, recently pressed organic extra-virgen olive oil was delivered the other day by David from the olive oil mil we work with.  Inhaling the scent is heaven... so we are heading into full-on soap production!  So excited!   We are also making soap for this olive oil mill with their oil. 

Happy soaping everyone and Happy Spring!!!

xo
 

 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Soaping Journey - 2013



It has been such a while since I have blogged, and I got one of those emails yesterday that I get occasionally from another soaper reminding me that my blog inspired them.  If I have inspired one person out there, blogging feels more than worth it.

So, what have I been up to?  Working hard at the most awesome job I have ever had.  I remember vividly when I was at the point of stress breakdown from the job that led me to where I am now (yes, I am far enough away to look back now and understand why I had to go through that…). I said to mum “I want NO stress in my life.” She said “I have a feeling that there will always be some form of stress… you may leave the stressful job behind for a simpler life, but then there may be a new form of stress, maybe money stress.  Shouldn’t you focus on learning how to deal with stress instead of trying to escape it?”  So wise.  So, amidst the most creative time ever in my life, living my dream, making soap and other awesome products, supporting the local community, there is still stress, but it’s okay.  Some months I wonder if people still wash!!  Where are the orders?  Other months, we have so little time that we are making soap till midnight!  Looking back on 2013 and what I have learned so that I can share it with you?

1)      It is possible to make a living from soap making.  However, it is very important to know how to run a business.  Numbers & pricing. Organization. Prioritizing are keys.  Sometimes I do it better than other times and I am always learning.

2)     Competition shouldn’t scare you.  More and more soap makers pop up at the markets and fairs we do, but that’s all right.  Each one is offering something unique.  Uniqueness is important.  What makes your product different from others?

3)     Stick to your core values.  Getting those values across to clients is important.  Although profit is important, so is enjoying what you do, and if you understand your values and stick to them, you will enjoy it so much more.  This is where you have to balance the “head” and “heart”.  If it were all “head”, I wouldn’t enjoy it.

4)     The “down” moments are the moments when you most need to remember what you are thankful for.  I keep a Gratitude journal and try to write down several things before bed that I am thankful for.  It can be the simplest of things – “My warm cozy duvet”, “The morning sunlight over the Mediterranean”, “My daughter’s enjoyment of my homemade pizza at lunch today.” When you look for things to be thankful for, it changes your approach to and outlook on life.

If 2012 was setting up the business with our own shop and dedicated location for production (the studio), 2013 was about growing the business.  We developed and released several new products – Facial Serum, a Facial scrub and Liquid soap.   We have been selected by Biocultura to participate in the biggest organic trade fairs in Spain this year.  The first one – in Valencia – is next month!  We got a van so we no longer need to rent a vehicle to transport things to trade fairs.  We doubled batch size so that we make more soap at a time.  And so many more wonderful things have happened.

Now, I am focusing on the Social Networks, which is time-consuming but important for increasing web sales.  Currently putting out a photo campaign of our products in use around the world!  If anyone is using one of our products out there – send us a photo with it on your hand and your town in the background!  Come join us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

I would love to hear about your journey… and about what you are thankful for.

Wishing you happy soaping and tons of inspiration!!

Xo  Jen
 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Shampoo Bars - Experimenting with Citric Acid


 
As a follow up, I just want to let you know that after 5 weeks of curing, the pH of this soap/ shampoo bar, is no different than my other bars without Citric Acid.   It has not brought the pH level down.
 
The shampoo bar is okay, but I actually prefer my bars without it!
It was an interesting experiment, although I have so many other things to experiment with... so will probably not be focussing on this right now.  I remind myself that I am not that concerned with lowering the pH in my soap bars as I am okay with where they are.
 
Has anyone else out there tried this?  With what results?
 
xo
Jen

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Essential Oils in Soap & Skincare – Therapeutic Properties Versus Scent

So many choices and decisions to make when soaping - size, shape, properties, colour, scent, packaging etc. etc.

So, for those of you who use exclusively essential oils in your soaps and skincare products, do you create your blends based on how it smells or what it will do for your skin?
(My latest Potpourri Soap - with Lavender, Lemongrass, Fennel and Ylang Ylang Essential oils, a blend I created for the scent...)
I usually aim for therapeutic value…. But try to blend nice scents.  For example, our oily skin soap has a nice blend of Tea Tree with Eucalyptus.  Our sensitive skin soap has my favourite blend – Patchouli, Geranium and Lavender.
Sometimes it is more difficult… so many things to think about.  In creating our Rose Hip facial serum, as we are aiming this product at mature skin, I had a blend in my mind before ever smelling one of the essential oils I wanted in it… Then it arrived… I opened the bottle with so much anticipation (I am like a kid in a candy store with new essential oils!!), and YUCK.  Have you ever smelled Carrot Seed Essential Oil?  Well, it smells like DIRT.  I knew I didn’t want any citrus essential oils in a product specifically for the face because of photo-sensitivity and was sure I wanted Frankincense in it… so I finally came up with a blend that is loaded with therapeutic value for the skin, and has a pleasant but not a Wow scent.
Me, at our stand at the Artisan trade fair we did this past weekend in Murcia
Maybe I will grow to like Carrot Seed Oil?  That has happened to me with several oils in the past.  Oh how I love essential oils… blending… sniffing… inhaling… some are love at first sniff… the passion develops slowly for others… like patchouli (which I couldn’t stand at first but now love it but only in blends), and like my new obsession – Vetiver.  What a change from supplier to supplier… I recently opened my vetiver essential oil from a new, local, supplier and WOW!  Previously Vetiver was simply smokey campfire to me… unique but basic.  Had never created a blend I loved with it… but now?  I can’t get enough.  Alone, blended, whatever… the oil from this new supplier is incredible… it is more than smokey campfire, it is bewitching, lingering, enticing, sensual, reminiscent, luring, addicting, playful yet calming, up & down, feet-on-the-ground yet magic-carpet ride… I am in love.  
 
Questions for you:

1)      What are your favourite Essential Oil blends for soap and for other skincare products? Why?

2)      Does anyone out there like the scent of Carrot Seed Essential oil?  What do you blend it with?

3)      What are your favourite Frankincense blends?

4)      Can you contribute any soapy essential oil blends with Vetiver? 

5)      As the scent of essential oils changes during the soaping process, I have had certain blends turn out beautifully in soap, but then haven’t been able to achieve the same scent in a non-soap product! Like patchouli, geranium and lavender… I have been trying to duplicate my soap scent for one of my moisturizing creams… I have attempted so many different versions but it never comes out smelling like the soap.  Any tips?
 
Please feel free to share any thoughts on Essential Oils!
Happy Soaping!
xo Jen

Friday, 18 October 2013

Christmas Soap Experiments

The cut soap from the other day (scoop glob)... turned out okay.
 I tried a new one.  Used up some cut offs from my super accelerated wine soap and experimented with Titanium Dioxide... surprisingly pleased with Titanium Dioxide!
 
Happy Soaping Soapers!!
xo
Jen

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Scoop-Glob Tecnique - Handmade Soap

 
My ideas for a Christmas spoon-swirl soap did not go as planned this morning...
 
 
Romantic visions of a fulfilling soap-flinging soap-making session this morning were thwarted.... and I had to resort to scoop-glob...
 
I have a re-found respect for you soap swirlers out there!!
 
Happy Soaping all!!
 
xo
Jen

Friday, 11 October 2013

New Red Wine Soap

The answer to the guessing game was guessed by Mika at
I was making soap with Wine and it accelerated too fast.

(New batch of Red Wine Soap - I am so pleased with this one!!)
 
I am still trying to come up with something to do with that big batch of wrecked wine soap I made earlier this week... i will most likely be cutting or grating it up for a potpourri Christmas soap.... then if there are left overs, I grate it into my laundry soap but onto the happier story....
 
I continued with wine soap and bravely made another batch that turned out wonderfully.  I used to make wine soap but in smaller batches and had no problem, did not need to boil the wine down as seems to be recommended.  This is a private label soap, that I had been making for a local Winery.   I tweaked the recipe slightly this time, adding a little silk, and new essential oils.
Curiously, upping the batch size, changed everything.  heat heat heat.  So, I made a new batch, this time using red wine that I boiled down and reduced first.
 
It still accelerated, but was managable.  This time trace took 5 minutes instead of the distaster batch, which didn't even let me get the stick blender into it before hardening in Globs.
 
The scent?  I added a blend of Essential Oils of Cedarwood, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, May Chang and Vetiver... but it still smells more like wine than of Essential Oils.
This batch also got ash on the top and this is a first for me. I always thought that ash came from sunflower oil soaps and as I don't use sunflower oil, I had never had it before..  But this appeared out of nowhere and I like it.  I know that sometimes ash is undesirable, but I like the way this top turned out - kind of romantic.  
 
So pleased with my new wine soap.  So pleased that I am sorry to be handing this entire lot over to the winery.... I think I will be making another batch to sell in the shop!!
 
Happy Soaping!!!!!!
xo   Jen 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Guessing Game.... Again...!

 
Another guessing game for you....
 
What do you guess I was experimenting with in this soap?
 
What do you think happened?
 
The game is on!!
 
xoxoxo
Jen

Friday, 4 October 2013

More Shampoo Bar Experimenting - Sodium Lactate

 
I am so excited to be experimenting again after a summer focussed on producing and sales.  I feel like a mad scientist with my lab coat on!
 
This time I didn't use Citric Acid, but tried Sodium Lactate for the very first time.  Again, strange streaking... unusual looking.  I believe the Sodium Lactate didn't mix in properly for some reason.
 
Can't wait to see how these bars differ from my normal bars after the cure period!
 
Happy Experimenting!! xo Jen

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

pH in handmade soap – Shampoo bars – Citric Acid



 
Although I am okay with the pH in my handmade soap bars as it is , I am still experimenting with bringing it down in my shampoo bars.  I read a very interesting post recently on Soap Queen
claiming that they achieved a pH of 7 in a shampoo bar recipe using Citric Acid, so I decided to try it.  I am not sure if the quantity I used was correct but I got some strange seeping…
won’t know for another 6 weeks about the pH!  Will update!
Xoxoxo Jen