Tuesday, January 5, 2016

January 2016 Workshops: Learn to Make Your Own Natural Skincare Formulations in New York City

Winter in New York City is magical, and the perfect time to join us to learn about formulating natural and organic skincare products. Our event takes place January 25-29, 2016. Choose individual workshops or the entire week of Bath and Body University. We have students join us from all over the world to learn how to create products for personal use and business. Most of our students do not have any formal training in skincare formulation.

Join cosmetic formulator Marla Bosworth for classes ranging from herbal infusions and butters to a skincare formulator's business seminar. Our courses range from intermediate to advanced, but Marla's teaching style and comprehensive materials makes it easy for the novice to feel comfortable in class as well.

The full schedule is as follows:

Day 1 - January 25
Herbal Infusions in Body Butters and Balms

Day 2 – January 26

Soy Candles and Luxurious Massage Candles

Day 3 – January 27
Liquid Soaps and Shower Gels 

Day 4 – January 28
Organic Cold Process Soapmaking

Day 5 - January 29
How to Run a Successful Bath & Body Business Seminar

These workshops fill up quickly. We post number of spots left in each workshop on our website. Workshops are held on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with easy access from all parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Can't make this series of workshops? Join our Facebook page for upcoming announcements and be sure to sign up for our email newsletter.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

How to Achieve Accurate Bar Size in Soapmaking

There are three ways to cut cold process soap loaves into bars: by hand, with a manual cutter, and with an electric cutter. The disadvantage to cutting soap by hand is that it is challenging to get consistent bar size and accuracy. If you currently cut soap by hand, try weighing each bar and see how close each one is in weight. Surprisingly they can be as much as .5 oz or more different. Also, it's next to impossible to scale your soap business with cutting soap by hand. Imagine cutting thousands of bars by hand.

When we move to a manual or electric cutter, our accuracy increases and so does the professional appearance of our soap bars. I prefer a manual cutter to an electric one, the reason being is that it takes so much time to replace cutter blades from loaf cutting to bar cutting.

In the following video I'll show you how we easily cut loaves into bars. This particular batch yielded 27 loaves, which in turn produced 378 bars of soap.

How do you cut your soap? Do you have any tips to share?

Thanks for watching!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Large Batch Soapmaking Equipment: Molds and Cutter

Two years ago I invested in soap making equipment for large scale production of cold process soap. The cost was over $10,000. The investment is well worth it if you are looking to grow your soap business. My company already owned a water-jacketed soap melter, plenty of stainless steel tables, bakers racks and utility shelving. But what we needed was a system to produce thousands of bars of soap per week with ease.

Equipment for increase production can be costly. Factors to consider when contemplating a purchase in equipment include:

  • How is this a wise investment for your company? (In other words, prove it to yourself.)
  • Do you plan to grow this segment of your business for at least 5 or more years? 
  • Will the equipment retain its value for resale?
  • At what capacity will your equipment investment allow your production to grow? Then what
  • As your production grows, can you add on to the equipment or will you have to purchase a completely new system?
  • Is there considerable growth from your current production volume and that in which you estimate your equipment will provide? How long will you start to see return on investment (ROI)?
  • How will you finance your equipment?
  • Can you grow areas of your business to help pay for the equipment (such as adding or increasing wholesale capabilities, private label, etc.)?
In the following video I'll show you the large mold (pictured below) and electric cutter. The cutter hoists the soap mold onto the platform. From there the mold block is secured and the soap is released from the mold by removing all four sides. The large soap block is then positioned under the wire cutters and the soap is cut into loaves. The loaves are then cut into bars.

Have you ever seen soap making equipment in action? Do you have plans to grow your business? What questions about large-scale production do you have?

Thanks for watching!

How to Make 100 lb. Batch of Handmade Soap

Like many soapmakers, I started my business in my home kitchen, making small batches of soap. As demand for my products grew, I found myself outgrowing a stockpot, then a 5 gallon pail. Stickblenders were no longer large enough to emulsify a batch of soap.

After much research, I invested more than $10,000 in soap making equipment: water-jacketed electric tanks to melt oils, large stainless steel mixing pot on tipping stand, 350 bar molds, drill with paddle attachment to replace stick blender, electric soap cutter, more stainless steel tables and baker's racks.

In this video I'm making a 100 lb. batch which will yield approximately 400 bars of soap. I'm mixing my oils and lye water together and getting ready to add essential oils and herbs. Let me show you how I combine 10 lbs. of lye, 73 lbs. of oils/butters and 56 oz. of essential oil!

As a business, we need to be mindful of operating efficiently. What areas of your production would you like to improve?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Upcoming Natural and Organic, Hands-on Skincare Formulation Workshops in New York City

Our next series of natural and organic skincare formulation workshops in New York City will take place October 26-30, 2015. Choose to take classes individually or the entire week of Bath and Body University workshops.

Join cosmetic formulator Marla Bosworth for classes ranging from custom essential oil blending to a skincare formulator's business seminar. The full schedule is as follows:

Monday, October 26
Mastering the Art of Custom Essential Oil Blending

Tuesday, October 27
Organic Luxurious Body Scrubs and Bath Salts

Wednesday, October 28
Herbal Healing Body Butters, Salves and Balms

Thursday, October 29
Organic Cold Process Soapmaking

Friday, October 30
How to Run a Successful Bath and Body Business Seminar

These workshops fill up quickly and it is advised to sign up in advance. We post number of spots left in each workshop on our website. Workshops are held on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with easy access from all parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Can't make this series of workshops? Join our Facebook page for upcoming announcements and be sure to sign up for our email newsletter.

Marla Bosworth has been teaching natural skincare formulating workshops along with running her skincare business, Back Porch Soap Company, for more than 17 years. She has 35 years retail experience and a strong background in market research and marketing.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Embracing Change and Growth - An Excerpt From My Heart to Yours

I’m sitting in a life coach’s office in 2000. I never imagined my world would have hit such rock bottom. By choice I was in the beginning of what would be a grueling, 12-month process of a non-amicable divorce. I found myself a single mom of our six-year-old daughter. I was working hard to keep her my number one priority and also keeping my business afloat, family bills paid, selling our house and trying so hard to be a strong mother and keeping our little family safe. Truth was, I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I was lost in so many ways. 

Surely this life coach would have incredibly wise advice for meShe will certainly help me turn my world around. 

Wrapping up our first hour-long discussion she said, “I want you to start thinking about what you are grateful for in your life.” 

Say what? Did I hear her correctly? “Did you say you want me to think about what I’m grateful for?” I asked. 

“Yes,” she replied. 

I couldn’t think of much.

 “Start with even the smallest thing,” she offered. 

I reflected on my day and told her that I saw a beautiful sunrise, and love holding a hot mug of coffee on a cold morning and enjoying those first sips. 

“That’s it, go on,” she encouraged. 

Still reluctant, I continued. I love to hear my daughter giggle and read these little love notes she brings to me,” I confessed. 

I felt better when I thought about these things and for a moment I forgot about my divorce, the overwhelming feeling of being stuck and the intense depression that I felt circling around me. Instead I felt the joy of being in the moment – like the way my heart felt warm when I thought about those little tiny notes my daughter delivered to me, handwritten and folded into special gifts for me. 

Gratitude Paves the Way for Allowing 

Practicing the art of gratitude will gave me powerful turning point to my lifeWhen we tap into gratitude we create a positive mindset and come from a place of abundance, rather from a place of what’s wrong and lacking in our lives. If you’ve never done this before, I admit it may feel odd at first. What you’ll notice, however, is the more you practice the more you are allowing this rhythm to begin to flow in your life. You’ll be able to recognize the good, the "light" - even if it is in the smallest kind gestures by others or a glimpse of beauty in nature. And when you begin to approach your life in gratitude, you’ll find blessings showing up at your door unexpectedly. 

Gratitude and faith helped me through the most difficult time of my life. Gratitude was like tiny baby steps, helping me see a glimmer of hope and light in my life. Faith was my rock, as I believe we are guided to our do our greatest good through trials and tribulations. Abundance began to flow freely for me in many ways. I now have empathy for others who go through similar painful situations. I can relate. I’ve been there and made it through. So can you. 

So if you’ve been through a time like this, I tip my hat to you. If you’re in the midst of something similarknow that it is a time of personal growth. It will become clearer in time. I encourage you to find faith – whatever that may be for you – and begin to take these baby steps of gratitude. Those steps will help ground you, keep you living in the moment (away from the what ifs, as well as past and future worries), and ultimately begin to create the space for abundance in your life. 

Here are five tips to start your personal walk with gratitude: 

  1. Begin – Make the commitment and tell yourself that you’re going to start. 

  1. Get Quiet – Early morning or late evenings are the perfect time to slow down, reflect and create awareness. 

  1. Start Small – What’ the one thing you’re grateful for today? Keep it simple. Your list will grow from here. Notice how you feel when you think about these things that make you grateful. See how long you can keep that feeling – 15 seconds, a minute, an hour, longer? 

  1. Journal – This is a powerful tool. I found it challenging to get started, but now I journal 4-5 times a week. Most days I can now stay in a state of gratitude for hours. When I fall out of alignment, I simply readjust my thinking 

  1. Notice & Take Note – When you tap into gratitude it allows for expansion and creating space for newness in your life. Journal regularly and then to read back over weeks and months to see your progression. 

Stepping into gratitude can change your life in three ways. First, it will bring you into the present moment – into the Now – and ground you. Second, it will set the stage for expansion in your life as you lay the groundwork for allowing. Lastly, it will bring gifts of abundance and life purpose in ways that you never imagined. Just begin with that one tiny step.

Question: Have you gone through a time in your life where just putting one step in front of the other was all you could handle? If so, what did you find helpful that you can share with others? Are any of you going through these life changes right now? Post your comments and I'll be sure to respond.


Written by Marla Bosworth. Reprinted from The Saponifier Magazine with permission.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Re-evaluating Your Soap and Cosmetic Business

If you are a handmade soap and cosmetic product maker who is in the process of re-evaluating your business you're not alone. There are a lot of business owners re-evaluating their businesses this year. It's a common situation for small business owners - and if you are finding yourself in this predicament know that you are not alone. 

Some small business owners are dealing with life challenges and unsure how or whether to keep their business afloat. Others are unaware of their business’ profitability and coming to terms with getting honest and real about financials or closing their doors. You might know someone going through something similar right now. Or that person might be you.

Just to be clear, I’m not referring to everyday challenges that are part of being an entrepreneur. I’m talking about life challenges that rattle you to the core and stop you dead in your tracks. These struggles might be with family members, health matters, personal finances, blinders on business finances and/or a business that no longer serving you and your needs.

I went through my own personal struggles back in 2001 when I was a divorced, single mom trying to keep my business afloat. There were days when I didn’t know if I should give up or continue the fight. But re-evaluating my business and pinpointing my strategies helped me made decisions to reshape my life and business.

For some entrepreneurs, the choice to close a business is the right move. Every situation is different. My challenges brought out the fighter in me. Either way, there is no wrong answer – only the right answer for you.

I was recently talking with another entrepreneur and she made an interesting point of how many people launch a business for one reason – because it fits into their current lifestyle and vision for the future. But when vision and/or lifestyle change, there becomes a need for personal assessment to evaluate whether the business still fits into the plan. Her point may sound obvious, but I think we all need to hear it over and over again. Ask yourself “Is my business serving my needs and my dreams?” It make take some time for the truth to reveal itself. Be honest.

Let’s look at some reasons you may have started your business. We’ll call this the “then” moment:
  • Drawn to Entrepreneurship
  • Flexible Hours
  • Convenience of Working from Home
  • New Business Replaced a Lost Job
  • Extra Income
  • Sole Income
  • Enjoying Creativity and Making Product
 Now let’s look at common curveballs that could change the way your business is no longer working for you. I’m not implying that these are the sole reason(s) to quit your business. More on this in a moment. We’ll call this the “now” moment. 

Are any of these going on in your life:
  • Hobby Turned to Business – Now What?
  • Financial Problems
  • Divorce
  • Death of Loved One
  • Aging Parents Who Need More of Your Time
  • Children Who Need More of Your Time
  • Forced to Move/Loss of Workspace
  • Layoff from Primary Job/Income
  • Not Sure If Your Business is Profitable
  • Other Opportunities Are Beckoning You
Determining the distance between “then” and “now”:
  • Does the reason you started your business still resonate?
  •  What has changed between the “then” and “now”? How big is the gap?
  • Are there other opportunities that excite you more than your soap business?
  • Can those opportunities be combined with your soap business?
  • Does your business no longer serve you?
  •  Is your business no longer profitable? 
Next, ask yourself what solution(s) can you put in place to help you keep your business? 
Does it make sense to put these solutions in place vs. closing your business? 

This may not be a quick answer, but hopefully it will start a thought process within you to gain insight into whether you should move forward in your business or think about new opportunities instead.

Look to Strategy for Simpler Problems

Sometimes problems that seem insurmountable can be easily fixed. For example, if you need more time in your life, perhaps you are trying to do too much yourself. Can you afford to hire employees? If you’re not sure about your business’ finances and bottom line then that’s an easy fix. You need to hire an accountant or learn Quickbooks to determine the profitability of your business – sooner than later. Or perhaps you’re burned out? Get clear on your reason for burnout by taking a few days off and getting away for a fresh approach. Determine what is causing burnout. Boredom? Overworking? Reach out to a mentor to give you insight in how you can change up your outlook and business operations.

Often it is too easy to think about the “right-now” aspect of our business, because we only see the results immediately in front of us. But what about the big picture? Do you have that big picture for your business as well as long-term goals?
Spend time for a few days envisioning what you want for your business. Where would you like to take it? What is your plan from taking it from here to there? Set goals and then develop an action plan to turn them into reality.
Advice on Moving Forward

If your wounds are new (such as divorce or death) it may be time to put your business on hold to care for yourself or a family member. Maybe you’ve already come to terms with closing your business, but open to starting a new venture either at a later time.

For some soapmakers, talking about your business challenges to a mentor is all you need to get you and your business back on track. Be sure to consult with those who are in the industry or have solid business background and are themselves successful, not someone just giving lip service. When you ask for advice, listen. Be open to constructive criticism that can ultimately lead your business to success.

Lastly, put your ego aside to make decisions about your business. Forget what others might think. Forget how it all “might look.” This is about being honest about how your business is affecting the quality of your life. Closing a business is not about failure. It’s about making a decision that is right for you. Most importantly, it’s not a an end, it’s the beginning of new dreams, opportunities and ventures.

What are ways you have re-evaluated your business? What decisions and actions did you find helpful?