Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Soap and Craft Fairs

Spring means a busy craft fair season. If you want to promote your handcrafted soaps, one of the best ways to do that locally is through craft fairs and farmers markets. A few tips we've learned by attending several shows:

*Have an attractive display. With oodles of tables to look at, customers will be drawn to the tables that pique their interests. Decide on a theme for your product, then set up your table accordingly. Be careful how you lay things out so that they are not overwhelming to the customer as most people tend to browse quickly and move along.

*Display your prices clearly. It never fails, we can have three pages of prices plastered all over the table and somebody will ask, "How much is your soap?" Unfortunately, most people won't ask and won't buy because of it. Prominently and clearly display your prices, and don't be afraid to tell people how much your products are when they are browsing.

*Talk, or don't talk. In any case, make eye contact, smile, and be available. Some customers want to know everything about you and your goats and your mother, but others just want to enjoy their afternoon without a sales pitch. Some customers like their space, but most appreciate your sincere interest in them and their needs. Don't sit hidden behind your table all afternoon, but feel free to come out and mingle with your crowd. Remember, the customer is always right.

*Offer free samples. With every batch of soap we make we cut a couple of bars into little slices for samples. Once cured, we put them into a baggie, staple our business card and soap class advertisement on them, and offer them to everybody who gets close to our table.

*Don't oversell. Most people simply want to see what you're offering. If they ask, "How do you make that!" don't go into a detailed explanation of cold process versus hot process, gel or not gel (unless of course they are a soap maker, too, and really want to delve into the various options), rather offer up a brief explanation of how you raise the goats and have been making soap for several years and love, love, love what it does for your own skin. Ease right into the oil bar versus the lard bar you offer, exfoliates or not, and -oooh- smell this Cranberry Pomegranate.

*Make sure to have bags available to package your soap- nobody wants to carry around three bars of soap on a hot afternoon. Have business cards printed up and tuck one into each bag, and if they haven't taken a sample, add one of those, too.

*Remember - many craft fair customers become long time buyers and friends, so treat them as such.

Happy Craft Fair/Farmer's Market season!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Photographing Soap

Getting great photos of your beautiful handcrafted soap is easy when you know a few simple tricks. If you play around with your camera settings you will find a little button that allows you change the scenes. Once you've discovered where it is on your camera, find the close-up option and click on it. You will now enter into a whole different world of photography that you never knew existed. If you are really brave you can even play around with the lighting settings and enter a whole nother level of picture taking art.

 The first thing you need to do when photographing your soap is set up a back drop. This can be done by simply placing a white piece of poster board on a bench in a sunny or bright location which won't require you to use a flash.

Adding some props, or even a color coordinated piece of scrapbook paper, makes for an even funner photo shoot. Here I added a doily, a china cup and saucer set, an antique book and some potpourri.

Now, prepare to bend, squat, and just about turn upside down to get every angle possibly imagined.

Once you start you won't be able to quit.

Just look at all those amazing shots of your beautiful soap!

Be sure to lay out your soaps in lots of different arrangements.

If you designed some beautiful tops be sure to highlight those, too.


Black and white, or sepia, is always fun.

And the soap doesn't always have to be the main focus, either.

If you want to have some extra fun after the photo shoot is over, check out PicMonkey (most of it's free) to add borders, highlighting, tinting, brushing, borders, and almost every other tweaking option available. So much fun with one little camera!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Men Like Soap Too

Believe it or not, men really love handcrafted goat's milk soap. Although you will most likely not find too many of them stopping by your table at the local farmer's market asking to smell the Lilac bar, some of our best customers and soap supporters are men. The Drakkar scent from Brambleberry tends to be a best seller for us at craft fairs. Maybe the ladies figure that if they bring some soap home for the other half they can justify buying more for themselves?!

Drakker with Oatmeal Goat's Milk Soap is available on the sales page.
Drakkar Goat's Milk Soap is on the curing rack and will be available soon.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Spearmint Eucalyptus Goat's Milk Soap

Spearmint Eucalyptus Goat's Milk Soap~ Yum!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Soap Classes

Alexis and I have been hosting soap making classes both at our farm and our local high school for several years. The classes begin with an ice breaker game, time to browse the sales table which includes cured soap, goat's milk soap laundry detergent, books, frozen goat's milk for those who want to make their own soap at home, plus a fun slide show of our Nubian goats.

Once everybody is settled in there is a lecture time including an in-depth explanation of soap terms and how to make cold process soap, followed by a soap making and cutting demonstration. At about this point most people feel even more intimidated than when first they arrived, but soon after they have been handed a wand mixer and a pair of goggles they quickly figure out that making soap isn't so scary.

Next, we pair everybody up into groups of two where they get to make their own batch of soap and then help their fellow student mix up a batch - some are even courageous enough to try swirls and color combinations. It is so fun to see the transformation in our students who enter both scared and excited, then leave two hours later laughing and confident with a box of their own hand made goat's milk soap under their arms.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Overheated Soap

Not every batch of soap turns out pretty enough for pictures, or even for resale or gifts. Especially soaps made with goat's milk can tend to be tricky to make because goat's milk easily overheats. Previously I have always wrapped my soap in old bathroom towels to insulate them after pouring the finished mixture into their molds, but recently several batches have overheated. At first I thought it was just the new scent I used, which could have attributed some to the heat level. But after the second, then the third batch had those eery looking teeth, I did some investigating and discovered that yes, my soaps were overheating.

After a few not so perfect batches I have since gone to the other side of the gel or not to gel debate and have started to pop my soap into the freezer, unwrapped, after pouring the fresh soap in the mold. Results: beautiful soap, no overheating, no eery teeth.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

One of the best parts about making goat's milk soap is raising the very goats who provide all that good milk. Kidding season is nearing its end on our little farm with five out of six does having already kidded. There are some doelings who will stay on our farm to be future mommas, and the bucklings have begun to find new homes~ one even as far away as North Dakota. Love those long Nubian ears!