Monday, 29 October 2012

Our First Trade Show

Our first Feria/ Trade Show was such a wonderful experience!  I wish we had more photos of the other stands and of my husband and I in action once the crowds arrived… but the great news is that we just got too busy!!!  We have all sorts of ideas to improve for the next trade show but all in all I think we did pretty well!  Some photos to share with you…
pre-fair packaging fest

earling morning car-window shot on the way there 

set up


Some of the tools of the trade... I put them on show as it was an Artisan Fair and lots of artisans were actually doing their crafts there, like the glass blower, the ceramists, the basket weaver, the baker.... Lots of people were fascinated with these soap making tools

behind the scenes...
the "office"

getting samples ready...
 the quilting stand 

"hotel Volkwagen"

another early morning photo

me at work, when the first customers started arriving... 
I love trying new things… so here are some of the firsts that we did this weekend…
First big trade show
First time selling in Murcia
First time sleeping in a Volkswagen Camper Van (a secret wish of mine for more than 25 years!)
First time my husband and I have worked so closely together non-stop for 3 days, and I was surprised how well it went. I really cannot imagine anyone else that I could have enjoyed it so much with. Maybe Dad…
First time setting up an Expo / trade fair stand
First time using our new Naturalmente Mediterraneo tall marketing stand
First time selling 10 hours straight in a row without stopping
First time meeting a lot of the other trade fair people we met, from all over Spain
First time gorging on these amazing Murcian meat-pies…
First time we giggled ourselves to sleep two nights in a row…
First time (in a few years) that I didn’t even THINK of accessing internet for 3 days running… pathetic isn’t it?  I realized afterward how dependent we are on it
I am sure there are a whole lot more firsts… but I gotta go get my shop set back up…!!
Big hugs and kisses to you all!! Xo Jen

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Wine Soap

I am currently developing some wine soap and skincare products for a local Winery – Bodegas Perfer. Pretty excited! On Saturday, I participated in a trade show at their Winery and I met lots of new people, gave out tons of cards and samples, and made some new clients.
 As with all of my soaps, the majority oil is local organic extra-virgin olive oil and this one also has sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil (first time I have soaped with grapeseed oil), shea butter coconut oil and castor oil. I added nothing for colour and I may in future batches.
 I am trying to create a great-smelling essential oil blend that has the properties to accompany the properties offered by wine in skincare. 
This soap has lavender, frankincense, patchouli, cedarwood and ylang ylang.  Can’t say I am in love with the scent… so I will keep experimenting.
Will be away this weekend for a 3 day hand-made trade fair in Murcia!  Will be our first big trade show and I can’t wait!!
Happy soaping everyone!!!
Xo Jen

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Liquid Soap Packaging

I am so pleased with the results of my latest batches of liquid soap and have begun playing with packaging…
I have never been a fan of plastic, which has been a dilemma of mine for liquid soap packaging…  Growing up with a very naturally focused mother has had its influence on me.  She almost never used plastic.  I was the kid with the paper bag lunch.  My chocolate chip cookies had sunflower seeds and nuts in them.  She also never used Teflon… she stuck with cast iron pans.  She left her hair grey, never died it.  She always looked so beautifully natural… and still does.  She didn’t believe in unnecessary surgery and when they told me to get my adenoids and tonsils removed, she took me to a naturopath when I was 12 years old and they put me on a special diet with no dairy, sugar or wheat for a year… pretty difficult for a 12 year old.  But it worked.
So Mum?  Thanks for always staying true to what you believe in and feel good about and for passing that on to me.
I try to stay true to what I feel great about as well, but without judging others.  I decided not to use palm oil in my products and although I use glycerin in some things, it is palm-free glycerine.  I love the smell of sandalwood but don’t feel great about the potential environmental and controversial harvesting issues so am not using it.  Now I’ll do my best to use as little plastic as possible as well.
I tried glass, but realized that when I get to the point of selling liquid soap, it will be too heavy to ship.  Also, something strange… it smells weird in the glass bottle… it may be the cork top.  It also poured too quickly.
These are working well for me for now, even though the pump top is plastic.  The soap itself, medium lather, with loads of local organic extra-virgin olive oil, soft and mild, with lavender essential oil and a hint of patchouli.  It is still pretty liquidy, but I am getting the hang of getting it slightly thicker.  I think I will begin experimenting with adding local organic jojoba oil as well.  So many experiments on the go!!!
I am giving these out as gifts to some friends but feel pretty excited that I am getting close to being able to sell my liquid soap.  Oh yeah!! I almost forgot to mention that I have been using this batch lately on my hair and really liking it! Pretty excited!
Happy soaping all!!!!
Xo Jen

Monday, 8 October 2012

Honey Basil Shampoo Bar

Lovin’ the honey colour that came through in this shampoo bar… almost reddish!  Why are natural colours so unpredictable??!! 
Loved the colour in the mould… and was hoping it wouldn’t change much…  It even turned out two tone!  One colour on one side and a deeper colour on the other!!
All the little imperfections are noticeable in the photos as well… drasted bubbles… stamped too soft… but hey I love them, at least the look of them.
I have been experimenting with shampoo bars for 3 years now… and have had some good ones, and some not so good ones.  My rhassoul bar is the one I repeat and repeat, but this was something new.
The Basil EO comes through first and strong… then a hint of lemongrass comes through and the lavender is too subtle to note much but it is there.
Can’t wait to try this one out!
Shampoo bars continue to baffle me… some say it is a simple as lowering the SF, but one of my best bars was at 7% SF!  I have tried as low as 1% and not so great…. So I am not sure that lowering SF is the simple answer…
Experimenting ROCKS!!
Happy soaping!
Xo Jen

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Salty Surprise

  This one turned out better than expected!  My clients have been asking for a special Christmas soap, so I have been slowly designing one in my mind. As I use only natural colourants, I don’t have bright green or red.  I decided to cut up some of my silk soap and green clay soap and add it into the whitest soap I can make… my salt soap without olive oil.
The process did not turn out as expected though… it set very quickly.  I didn’t estimate enough soap either so I pushed shoved and spread the soap into the moulds.  One of the moulds wasn’t even half full.  I ended up loving the result though!
I have been making a lot of salt soap lately.  It sells quickly and I love making it.  I even have some clients with eczema who will only use the salt soap.
Lemon Sea Salt – with organic extra-virgen olive oil and coconut, castor & carrot tissue oil. A lemony blend of essential oils.
My original Sea Salt Bar – with avocado, coconut and castor oil, coloured with indigo, lavender, rosemary and spearmint essential oils.
A new salt bar, which I will make with goat milk next time.  It has my most addictive essential oil blend – patchouli, lavender and geranium.
Now this one – my Christmas salt bar.  Straight up peppermint essential oil. 
I am so pleased with how my salt bars are stamping lately…. And with just 1 simple little adjustment… fine sea salt instead of course sea salt. Note the difference in stamping in the photos - the lemon and plain white one have course sea salt.  The other two - fine. I have never found that course sea salt makes much difference in performance anyway as my salt bars get very smooth and hard when using, regardless if fine or course.
If you are making salt soap… be careful when adding the fine sea salt to make SURE that it all mixes in well.  If not, you may get salt clumps…
Happy Soaping!
Jen xoxo

Monday, 1 October 2012

Drasted Bubbles and Floods

Look at those drasted bubbles.  I don’t mean suds. I mean the bubbles that get into your soap when you pour into the mould! 
I try so hard during the mixing and blending phase to keep the bubbles out and then WHAM! as I pour into the mould, sometimes these get into my soap.  Doesn’t affect the soap quality… just aesthetics.   I think I get over anxious and start pouring too fast.  When I pour low and slowly… I get a nice bubble-free slab.  Any tips… let’s brainstorm them here.
Update:  Made over 400 bars of soap in the last 2 weeks and have been LOVING IT. I was almost completely out of soap after a busy summer.  As I am now getting stock back up to normal, I have begun to experiment again…. I have a pot of liquid soap on this morning.  I hope it doesn’t take me as many batches to get a really great liquid soap as it did for my soap bars!!  But I am patient (sort of) and I am confident I will get there.
On a personal and very sad note, we had a big storm on Friday in the area when I live and a flash flood of overflowing rivers took out two local bridges and swept a river of cars down to the beach. 
(Some photos I took on Saturday)
Destroyed many houses and some lives. 

(part of the promenade that was my morning walk)

The area has been devastated. We got water back this morning after a weekend of gathering buckets from our neighbor’s pool for the urgent stuff. Our neighbourhood is gathing clothing and what we can to donate to those that have been left with nothing.
I lost a friend... whose smile will always be with me.
I am focussing on being so very thankful for all that I have in my life. And living the moment, as it can all change so quickly. 
xoxoxoxo Jen