Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Story of Emily's Handmade Soaps' Brick & Mortar Grand Opening!

The first thing I need to say is that I'm SO grateful.





Grateful to the family that came in to help me get the shop together. 
Grateful to the friends who were so full of support and kind words that I may have shed a tear or two. 
Grateful for the amazing, encouraging culture of Des Moines as a whole. 
Grateful for the surrounding business owners who, out of the goodness of their heart, walked into my shop to welcome me and offer to share flyers for the big grand opening day. 
Grateful for so many of the soap lovers of weeks, months, and years past, who visited to start their holiday shopping.

I'm so grateful. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Giveaway Opportunity!

www.laughingvixenlounge.blogspot.com

Fall is well under way, and this year I've decided to participate in a giveaway! I'm giving away $25 in products of your choice from my website as part of the 5th Annual Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway on the Laughing Vixen Lounge blog. Eleven handmade shops are participating in the giveaway in which one lucky winner will receive a prize package worth over $300!

You can enter to win via the giveaway widget on this blog post. There are tons of ways to grab extra entries to the drawing, so make sure to check it out. Good luck!

Enter Giveaway Here

Friday, September 9, 2016

More on Natural Colorants


Now that farmers market season is wrapping up and my holiday show schedule is taking form, I've had a little time to catch my breath and reflect on the past few months. If you've visited my website recently, you may have noticed a shift in favor of more essential oil soaps than those using fragrance

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Making Soap Runs in the Family!

Our popular Pumpkin Soap will be back beginning next month!

Soap making runs in the family! I was recently discussing my soapmaking business with my mom, and she had some fond memories to share about her own grandmother (my great-grandmother) making laundry soap when she was a youngster. The tale goes something like this:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Adventures at the Farmers Market

The kids are out of school, the sun is (mostly) shining here in the Pacific Northwest, and farmers market season is in full swing. In the past couple of weeks, I've had the pleasure of vending at the Kent Farmers Market, Burien Farmers Market, and my favorite (I'm biased because I live here!), the Des Moines Waterfront Farmers Market. Needless to say, it's been a very busy time of hauling soap to and from locations, and of course, making more soap! Here are some notable highlights from the past few weeks of farmers markets.

Bartering for Berries in Burien


I had the opportunity to trade my soaps for a flat of local, organic berries from another vendor at the Burien Farmers Market recently. It doesn't get much better than this! I've also bartered my soaps for bakery bread, signs, and jewelry in the past.

Fresh, local, organic berries. It doesn't get any better than this!


Oh, the People You'll Meet!


Monday, June 20, 2016

First Day of Summer Scents

Today is the first day of summer, and I have some classic, limited edition summer soaps coming your way!


Summer is Coming!

Sandalwood Soap


Sandalwood is just one of those classic scents that bring to mind walks on the beach and hanging out around the campfire with friends on those warm summer evenings. I added

Monday, May 23, 2016

New, Notable, and Naturally Nourishing

With farmers market season right around the corner, I've been working on stocking up on some new (and returning) artisan bath and body products for you! Here are some new, notable, and nature-inspired goodies that you'll want to check out. 

Tea-Inspired Soaps


As you know, dear readers, I like to use alternate liquids in my soaps from time to time. I recently had a special order for a tea-themed bridal shower, so I took the proverbial ball and ran with it! The result was two tea-themed soaps that are made with real green tea. Jasmine Green Tea soap is earthy and fruity with real green tea sprinkled on top. White Tea & Ginger soap has a floral and citrus scent that is as delicate as the white and gold swirls within the soap. I topped it with organic ginger tea for some visual interest.


Jasmine Green Tea soap is one of two tea-themed soaps that are new this month!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Show a Soap Maker some Perfectly Purple Love

This week my Lavender Soap is featured on an amazing blog, On Fire for Handmade. My soap is a part of the Perfectly Purple Great Handmade Finds Contest, and I need your help! This contest highlights lovely handmade goodies around the internet that feature shades of purple.


Voting is easy and requires no registration. Click here to vote now!


I would love it if

Friday, April 22, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wedding Shower Soap Favors? I Do!

With Spring in full bloom, Mother's Day is coming right up and wedding season is almost upon us. I've already had wedding favor orders coming in for upcoming celebrations! Being even a small part of someone's unforgettable day is a big responsibility, and one that I don't take lightly. Handmade soap makes an excellent gift for wedding showers (or Mother's Day!), and the perfect festive packaging really highlights an auspicious occasion. Here are some recently shipped items that were purchased for gifts, weddings, and other happy events.



Custom gift basket with 4 handmade soaps and a lotion bar.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What I Love About Making Soap



Making soap and making it available for sale has become such a fulfilling creative outlet in my life. My hobby has flourished into profitable, growing business with a dedicated website, and

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Spring Soap Scents Giveaway Winner!

A few days ago I announced a giveaway of all five of my new Spring Soap Scents to one lucky winner. I assigned a number to each person who entered the giveaway and used a random number generator to pick the winner.

And the winner is...

Miriam Reyes!


Congratulations, Miriam!

You can check out all five of my new Spring Soap Scents here!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Spring Soap Scents Launch + GIVEAWAY!

Today is the day! I've given you some sneak peeks into my new line of Spring Soap Scents (a sneak peek here and more info on the scents here), and now they're finally available for sale on my website! I had originally intended to launch the new line on the first day of spring, but in the spirit of wishful thinking for sunny weather I chose March 1 as the perfect day to share these uplifting soaps with you.


The best part is that I'm also doing a GIVEAWAY!


I'm giving away a set of all five new Spring Soap Scents to one lucky winner! There are 4 ways to enter:

  1. Place an order on www.emilyshandmadesoaps.com (or on my Etsy site)
  2. Like my Facebook Page and share my Facebook page status about the Spring Soap Scents Giveaway
  3. Follow me and tag a friend on Instagram for an entry for you and the friend that you tag
  4. Sign up for my monthly e-mail newsletter (see below)

I'll pick a name at random and annouce the winner at 1:00 p.m. (Pacific time) on Wednesday, March 3. Good luck, and stay clean!




Friday, February 19, 2016

Spring Soap Scents Revealed!


I'll be launching my new Spring Soap Scents on my brand new website on March 1! As I mentioned in my Sneak Peek blog post, some of the new scents are floral, and some are a little bit earthy. If you absolutely cannot wait for March 1, I have a new limited edition Honeysuckle soap that has a subtle sweet and a floral scent that's available a little bit early.

Here's what's coming on March 1:

Floral Soap Scents



Rose Garden
This rose scent is fresh and green without being heavy or perfumey, and
I've added some dried rose petals to the top!



Lilac
I have 3 lilac bushes in my back yard, and I can tell you that this soap
smells just like the real thing! I blended the colors in dark purple, lavender,
and white to replicate my own garden.



Honeysuckle Gardenia
Notes of gardenia are combined with a hint of rose and sweetened
with tender honeysuckle. The scent is complex and lovely!



Earthy Soap Scents


Patchouli Orange
This soap is made with all natural essential oils and colorants. If you like
the scent of earthy patchouli, you'll love it combined with
the sweet tang of orange!


Olive Grove
This complex scent is a musky combination of lemon and bergamot intertwined
with olive branches and some vanilla tones. I added sunny calendula
petals on the top to bring bright spring sunshine to mind!


Handmade soap makes a perfect gift for spring celebrations like Easter and Mother's Day. If you need to do some online shopping, make sure to use the coupon code WELCOME20 for 20% off of your order, no minimum purchase! (This coupon code will only work at www.emilyshandmadesoaps.com, and will not work on my Etsy site.)

I'd love to know what you think of the spring soap scents. Let me know in the comments!

Monday, February 15, 2016

What's Fresh, Clean, and Natural?

What's Fresh, Clean, and Natural? My new website, complete with new look! Have no fear if you're a ride or die Etsy fan, as my Etsy shop will stay open for the foreseeable future. The benefit of using the new website is that it will have the latest scent additions to my line (like my Spring Scent Soaps that will be coming out on March 1), and you don't have register for an account to make a purchase like you do on Etsy.

Emily's Handmade Soaps has a new look!
My logo has a new look, as well! Since I started my business, I've worn many hats. In fact, Emily's Handmade Soaps is a one woman show at this point. That means that I've needed to hone my skills in everything from photography to website coding. It's been quite an adventure, and I've learned so many new things! After many attempts at designing my own logo, I decided to work with a graphic designer to help me achieve that fresh, clean, natural look that I was going for.

I chose the imagery of an olive branch in the background for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that olive oil is a primary ingredient in my handmade soaps. It's a fantastic oil for soap making that's great for your skin. The olive plant itself  boasts lovely shades of green, and reminds me that beauty comes with age (something I need to be reminded of as the big 4-0 looms on the horizon). Olive trees embody strength, nourishment, and beauty to me, and as a longtime peacenik, I like that the olive branch has a peaceful connotation.
My first attempt at a logo.
I promise I'm way better at making
soap than graphic design.

In honor of the new website, I'd like to offer you a coupon code! This code will only work on the new website at www.emilyshandmadesoaps.com and will not work on the Etsy site. Click the Shop tab at the top of the page to be redirected to the new website! Use coupon code WELCOME20 for 20% off of your order of any size.

I'd love to hear some feedback on the new site. How does it look? Is it easy to use? Let me know what you think in the comments!



Another early packaging theme. 

Packaging at present, without the new logo.
Everyone loves the organza bags, so I'll be keeping those!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Suds in Suds!


Beer Soap

One of my best selling soaps is my Beer Soap. Yes, there is actual beer in it and no, it does not smell like beer. Customers buy this one by the dozen sometimes to give to husbands, boyfriends, sons, or just because they tried it once and got hooked on it. I'm featuring Beer Soap today because it makes an excellent Valentine's Day gift for the fellas in your life, and I just made a big double batch of it so the process was fresh in my mind.

Making soap with beer takes some forethought because the beer needs to be flat before it's added to the soap batter. I also like to give some thought as to the brand of beer I use, and generally choose beer from local breweries. The beer pictured below from my most recent batch is Two Beers Brewery Jive Espresso Stout made in Seattle, WA. So why do we need the beer to be flat?

A pitcher of flat beer is no
cause for tears in soap making!

Here comes the science!


When sodium hydroxide (lye) is added to oils and butters (fats) it begins an endothermic reaction, meaning that the combination absorbs heat from its surroundings. In other words, it gets really hot. When you add sugar to the mix (or in this case, the sugars in the beer), things can really heat up! When the combination heats up too much, you can end up with something that soap makers call a soap volcano. Yes, it's a real thing. Now imagine if that super hot, erupting soap volcano was carbonated. Not only would it be a huge mess, it would be really dangerous for anyone nearby.

Once the flat beer is added to the soap batter, I have to work really quickly to get everything properly mixed and into the mold before the batter starts to harden. Usually this takes a matter of a minute or two. During this phase, seconds count! You can see in this picture of newly poured beer soap that the soap in one of the molds has already started changing color due to the heat. I poured these two soaps less than 5 minutes apart.
I poured these batches less than
5 minutes apart. The saponification
process is well underway!

Now that we're well into the saponification process (the chemical process of transforming lye and fats into soap), the beer soap goes through a very hot gel stage when it gets so hot that it becomes liquid and translucent. After several hours, the soap cools and hardens again. A day later I cut the cooled bars and let them cure for 4-6 weeks before they're ready to use. The waiting is the hardest part, but oh, so worth it!

So why put beer in soap, anyway?


Some people give me an odd look when I tell them that my Beer Soap has real beer in it. They wonder why on Earth I would put beer in soap?! For the bubbles! The sugars and other carbs in beer soap make an incredibly bubbly, creamy lather, which makes for a really luxurious bathing experience.


If it doesn't smell like beer, then what does it smell like?


The scent of the beer does not survive the saponification process, so it does not smell like beer. My Beer Soap is scented with a teakwood and cardamom blend with hints of cedar, sandalwood, amber, and patchouli. It's an enticing fragrance that customers have described to me as warm and spicy. It's a fragrance that you'll smell, think about, and then smell again. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Customers Who Warm My Heart



It's cloudy and cold today, and I miss the warm days of summer at the Des Moines Waterfront Farmers Market with the sun shining and the breeze rolling in off the Puget Sound. With Valentine's Day coming up, it got me thinking about a couple of times that customers absolutely warmed my heart with their kind words and deeds.

One customer that stands out in my mind had purchased soap from me as a gift for her mother. Weeks after her purchase she stopped by my booth at the farmers market to tell me that her mother (who was in her 80's) had recently suffered an injury that kept her off of her feet. Her mother was regularly quite healthy and active, and being told to rest was vexing to say the least! My customer told me that her mother had placed her newly gifted soap next to her resting spot, and had told her that the scent had helped in soothing her. I felt so proud and inspired that the scent of my soap was a small comfort during this vibrant woman's recovery!

On a more romantic note, another customer that really made an impression on me was a young man, probably in his mid-teens. He was clearly a guy's guy, and came right to the point when he walked up to my booth. He told me that he wanted to buy a gift for his girlfriend because he "thought she'd be into this stuff." I pointed him toward some of my more popular scents and we chatted a little bit while he picked a soap that he thought his young love would like. I was absolutely inspired by this young man's thoughtfulness, especially at such a young age. I hope his girlfriend knows what a keeper she has!



Sometimes it's the little things in life that make all the difference, and it makes me feel really good to be a small part of bringing joy to people's lives. It's so special to me to know that the soap that I make may brighten someone's day when given as a gift, or just used for a little bit of luxury in an otherwise hectic day. That's why I always package my soaps for gift giving. Even when you buy my soaps "just" for yourself, you should still feel like you're receiving a little gift, to you, from you (and maybe a little bit from me, too).

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Sneak Peek at New Spring Soap Scents!



I'm more than a little bit glad that ol' Punxsutawney Phil failed to see his shadow this morning. While his methods aren't exactly scientific, anything that gets us a little bit closer to an early spring is welcome in my book!



Speaking of spring, I'm pleased to announce that I have several brand new spring scents coming to my Etsy site! As you know, I try to keep my soaps as natural as I can (with a few exceptions for artistic license), so I focused on scents that tie into the season. You'll see a lot of floral inspiration along with a little bit of earthiness in my spring line.





I will make my spring scents available for sale on Tuesday, March 1, but I've included some soapy eye candy here in the meantime. Enjoy!






Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Winner of the Giveaway Is...

Yesterday I announced a giveaway of 3 hand crafted, natural soaps to one lucky winner after I reached 22 new subscribers to my monthly e-mail newsletter. I'm surprised and excited that I reached that goal in under 24 hours! Thank you all so much for your support! I used a random number generator to determine the winner, which turned out to be lucky number 22.

Jody Young, congratulations! You're the winner!


If you haven't signed up for my monthly newsletter yet, there's still time to be included in my upcoming Spring Scents launch, a new look for Emily's Handmade Soaps, newsletter exclusive coupon codes, and more!

Emily's Handmade Soaps Monthly Newsletter Signup

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Monday, January 25, 2016

GIVEAWAY Time!

Giveaway time! There are some exciting new developments here at Emily's Handmade Soaps over the next few months, and I love to share them with you through my monthly newsletter. I have a goal in mind, and once I get 22 new e-mail newsletter subscribers, I'm giving away 3 soaps of the winner's choice! Winner will be chosen randomly from the new subscribers using a random number generator. Good luck!



Giveaway time!


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P.S. I never share your e-mail, and I e-mail once monthly. I hate spam as much as you do!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pics From the Drying Rack, Part 3

Now that the holidays are over, it's time to get back to work making soap! Here's a peek at some of the classic favorites and new scents that I have on my drying rack right now.

Classic Favorites



Lemongrass Litsea



Peppermint Spearmint
This popular scent will be coming back to my Etsy site in early February.



Apple Rose
This one will also be coming back to my Etsy site in early February.
.



Espresso Coffee


Energy Soap



Just for Testing



This is a facial soap that I made using argan oil and fresh avocado (using Kenna from Modern Soapmaking's recipe). This one won't be available for sale, but I'm diligently formulating and testing my own facial soap recipes for sale at a future date.



Coming Soon...Stay Tuned for an Announcement on my Spring Scent Line!


I'll keep you guessing on the scents for now. ;-)






Friday, January 8, 2016

Samples and the Slow Season

This mold is just so darn adorable, it
fits into the palm of my hand!
The spring and summer months bring farmers market season, and shortly thereafter the holiday markets start filling up my calendar. After the holidays however, there are a few months that are very quiet for me in terms of craft fairs and other markets. That's why January through April are great months for building up my soapy inventory and trying some new scents and designs!


I found this year that offering low-cost soap samples on my Etsy site this year was a really popular way for customers to be able to experience my soaps at minimal cost. When I'm at my local farmers market or at other craft fairs, I love it when customers come to my booth and want to smell each soap. I always encourage it, and suggest smelling them again so that they can pick out a favorite scent! Unfortunately, scent does not translate well into the world of online sales, thus the samples.
Here's my sample bar mold inside of my 
usual 20-bar mold. It's so tiny!


Recently I received a huge order from my favorite supplier (which to a soap maker, feels like Christmas!), and part of it was a teeny tiny mold specifically for making sample bars. Until now I've been offering samples when I have extras (usually cut from the ends of the soap that I trim off as I'm cutting the individual bars). Now I'll be able to increase my recipe size slightly and generate more samples of each batch! I'm so excited to soon be able to offer samples of all of my soaps instead of just a few varieties at a time. The mold is full of Honeysuckle soap, which will be hitting my Etsy site in about 6 weeks. Aside from keeping up my regular line of soaps, I also plan on offering several floral scents during the spring months.

What's your favorite springtime scent? Answer in the comments below!




Monday, January 4, 2016

A Look Back and a Look Ahead

This past year was my first full year in business, and far more successful than I had dreamed it would be! I learned so much about myself and my business along the way, and have a clear vision about where I want to go from here. Some of the highlights of 2015:

  • My sales were 19 times what they were last year! Okay, I only started selling at the end of October, 2014, so we're not comparing apples to apples here. If I compare my year-end totals between last year and this year, I still grossed 6 times as much in the same time frame. I call that a success!
  • Emily's Handmade Soaps was featured in South Sound Magazine's October/November edition. I don't care what the circumstances are, seeing a three page magazine spread of you working on your passion project would make anyone weak in the knees!
  • I did my first full season at the Des Moines Waterfront Farmers Market. What a fun way to connect with my local community! The last market that I attended seriously felt like I was saying goodbye to my summer friends on the last day of summer camp. I'm hoping that some of my favorite vendor buddies will be there again this coming summer! 
  • Additives were the name of the game in my soapy experiments. I like to think of it as soap with a little something special in it. Along the way I made soap out of beer, rose water, coffee, bourbon, handmade almond milk, and recently, fresh pureed avocado!



I'm not a big fan of resolutions. It feels superficial to me to wait until a certain day of the year to set a goal to work toward (and let's face it, resolutions never seem to turn into anything meaningful). If resolutions have done something powerful for you in your life, hats off to you. Since the fiscal year for my business also happens to be the calendar year however, a little bit of goal setting at the beginning of January seemed appropriate. Looking forward into 2016, I have several goals for Emily's Handmade Soaps:

  • I'm working with a graphic designer to redesign my logo, and develop a more consistent brand message across social media platforms. Be on the lookout for an updated look from my products and my website!
  • I'm already planning on participating in some great events around the Puget Sound area. Stay tuned on my Upcoming Events page for up-to-date information on the events where I will be vending. Of course, you're always welcome to shop online on my Etsy site if you prefer.
  • Later in the year, I have the lofty goal of a website overhaul that will make online purchasing easier, and will point viewers toward my products rather than my blog. Don't worry! The blog will still be a part of the website, but won't be the main landing page. 
  • More soapy experiments are definitely in my future as well. I have some natural exfoliants to play with, some (not vegan, but cruelty free) tussah silk, coconut milk, and some other additives that I'm absolutely dying to make soap with. I'll be sure to share my exploits here!

What are your personal and creative goals for 2016? Answer in the comments below!