Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Skin Care Resources

During my research on skin types I found that most proponents of healthy skin espoused the adage "you are what you eat" because no scientific studies have defined different skin types.

I did learn, however, that Helena Rubinstein started using these terms in the early 1900s. Since then these skin care market segments have ballooned into a billion-dollar industry by creating and marketing products made specifically for these skin types.

That's what I was going to do!

Instead, most skin care professionals encourage folks to eat healthy, fresh foods.

Read more ...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Working Festivals and Meeting Customers are Fun Times

Attending the Badin Heritage Festival in Badin, NC was tons of fun. I met folks who enjoyed handmade soaps, folks who had heard of goat milk soap, and those who hadn’t.

All of us had a fun day! The weather was wonderful, the location on the Badin Museum front yard was perfect, Natalie (goat) was a super lady who allowed oodles of new friends to pet her, and the teenagers took care of each other, the goat, and me. To all of you, Many Thanks.

I truly enjoyed chatting with new customers about their skin care challenges and the benefits that our goat milk bath and beauty products offer. We had a few laughs together, told a few stories, and shared many skin care tips.

For those of you who needed the soap badly enough to take it without paying for it, please be my guest. I have an advertising budget and hand out samples all the time. All you had to do was ask. Parents please keep an eye on your children. Often ‘getting away with it’ is a game – in their youth. Unfortunately, that game grows to be harmful.

We will improve our security. We have just now begun working festivals and are improving our management skills with every event. We at Gran’ Nanny’s are big on lessons learned instead of fault or blame.

Unfortunately, most lessons learned follow after the death of one of our beloved goats. When a goat dies, we have a responsibility to everyone else to learn why and then improve our procedures and methodology so that the same event doesn’t happen again.

I’m working on our festival schedule for the season and will publish it as soon as a few more decisions are made.

We look forward to meeting you, talking with you about the benefits of goat milk soap and listening to your suggestions for future products.

I love hearing your goat stories. It’s amazing how many folks have had goats in their youth. Aren’t they incredible, inquisitive creatures!

Happy soaping!
Pat Allen, President
Gran’ Nanny’s Goat Milk Soaps, Inc.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soap Making Process Makes or Breaks Your End Product

Having a recipe for making soap is one thing but knowing how to put all the ingredients together makes a huge difference. When? How? What temperature? For how long? … are all critical questions that can be answered by taking a few minutes before you begin to stop and think about what your getting ready to do.

I’ll be writing an instructional series on how to make soap. But more pointedly, I’ll be focusing on how you can develop your own process for making soaps. It’s been my experience that the process one uses to make soaps makes a significant difference in the end result.

Since theses instructional steps are being developed and released concurrently, I’m not sure at this point exactly how many steps will be included. My plan is to work through my process then let you know what works for me. Some of my recommendations may not work for you, and that’s fine, but at least you will have a model process to change. You’ll have a beginning, so to speak.

By working with a tested process, you will have a better understanding of equipment layout, storage needs, and space planning. My experience in these fields is buttressed by years of store planning and architectural/interior design, as well as years of writing information technology process manuals and teaching writing courses at the university level.

Getting Ready
If this is the first time you’ve made soap, then you are probably working with a recipe/formula you got from an experience soap maker. Chances are good the author included some preliminary instructions on how to put these ingredients together. But, did the author write the recipe for a beginning soap maker or for an experienced soap maker who has a degree ‘presumed knowledge’. The nuances make a difference.

Thoroughly understand your recipe.
Be aware of the caustic materials, the temperatures, the flash points, the precautions, the neutralizers, and the ventilation needed to be safe.

Get your ingredients out where you can see them. Make sure you have enough of everything that your recipe calls for. Having these ingredients together will also help you remember to put all of them in your mix; forgetting an oil critically alters your end product.

Working with lye is dangerous. You must exercise caution with every step. Lye can burn your skin and inhaling its fumes can burn your mucus membranes as well as your eyes! Be careful! Know all precautions. Place neutralizers throughout your work space and have emergency phone numbers where everyone one can see them.

Gather all your equipment in one spot
; make sure you have all the tools you’ll need BEFORE beginning because you will not have time to go searching for missing equipment or ingredients once the chemistry starts working.

Put your equipment is in its proper place. This way that spoon you desperately need will be where you need it when you need it instead of across the room or in a closed drawer.

TIP: A ‘walk-through’ helps. What I mean by this is walking-through what the recipe instructions tell you to do; kind of like role-playing but without the ingredients. Go through every step the author suggests just to make sure you understand which tools work with each step. This is how I learned where to put my stainless steal spoons versus my rubber spatula; and where to store my stove and my immersion blender.

Clean or otherwise prepare your countertops and tools. I say this because I make goat milk soaps and lotions and everything that touches milk must be sanitized for milk to produce its best results.

Your room must be clean, well lit and have adequate ventilation and exits. Just in case you need to leave quickly. No children, no pets and no items on floors that might cause you to trip, slip or fall.

For you graphic learners, I have translated the above text into a process chart.

This concludes the Getting Ready steps. Next I’ll address more of the actual preparation of soap making. That will take more time to develop so please be patient with me. I’m working on it.

May your soapmaking be joyful!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

How important is it that the soap you purchase match the photograph on the web?

I ask because I'm always experimenting with designs, colors, textures, exfoliates, and sizes. Swirls are my passion now and will be until I master them. Then I’ll move onto another design challenge. How would be the best way to convey my designs to you? More than likely every batch I make will be different from the last because soap making is wonderfully creative.

Here are two examples of how our products have improved.
The first two photographs are of our Minnie's Goat Milk Olive Oil Soap, the black and white photo was one of my earliest batches and before we had a color printer; whereas, the teal colored photo was taken with our new packaging design.

The differences between the two involve labeling and packaging. We now have a color laser printer; labels are laminated; and all soaps are shrink-wrapped for cleanliness.

Example two: The forsythia background showcases one my earliest batches of Bucky's Bergamot Bar whereas the blue swirl design in the fourth photograph is my latest batch of bergamot. In addition to new labeling/packaging, we have a better photograph of Bucky (our main man).

Here's my quandary, I'm not sure what the next batches of these products, and others, will look like -- not for sure anyway.
My formulas are pretty much established; that is, until I learn of a different oil combination that is better for your skin.

The industry is bursting with creative people. All of us love our craft and want to make the best products possible. The goats are pretty set in their ways (that’s a good thing). We feed them fresh hay, green grasses, grain, fresh water and treats galore. They're a lot like me; feed me and I'm happy.

But aromatherapists and suppliers are constantly inventing new products, finding new suppliers. The industry changes frequently. Tell me the best way to communicate with you about our products:
  • Should I update my website with every new batch?
  • Should I remove individual photographs and just have a photo composite of our products?
Please let me hear from you on what you expect when you purchase merchandise online. I look forward to hearing from you,
Pat Allen