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Starting a soap making business

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  • Starting a soap making business

    Dear All,

    I am in the process of writing a how-to book on starting a soap making business, aimed for the UK/EU market, planned for publishing this autumn.

    Since the book is for the UK market, it will have all the information needed regarding safety assessments, regulations on paperwork and labelling, etc, so that you'd get all necessary information in one place.
    I would welcome any thoughts and comments on:

    If you are already selling soap, what did you think was really difficult before you started?

    If you are thinking about starting a business, what is the biggest problem, what seems hardest to find information on?

    If I decide to use your comment in the book (with your permission) I will contact you first and you would of course get both credit and mention.



  • #2
    Initially I thought, what a brilliant idea.

    However as legislation is always changing, would your hard work be out of date before or soon after it went to print?

    The Highway Code has to be rewritten every year or so to keep up to date.

    Other things to consider, how well are you known in the soap making world? You will need credibility to get noticed?

    Sorry if I sound like a damp squid - but these things will need to be considered?

    What did we find the most difficult when we started - not a lot really as we knew were to ask.

    There are tons of books out there on soapmaking/business - how are you going to make yours stand out?

    I wish you well, I would love to write a book one day, maybe when I am retired and go on a 9 day week.

    If you do go ahead and want a section on soapmaking courses, you will know where to come

    Good luck with your venture - keep us posted

    Twitter JUSTSOAPS
    Natural Handmade Olive Oil Soaps and Skincare free from SLS, Parabens, and other Nasties


    • #3
      Thanks for that Jane,

      I take your point on legislation always changing, but then if that was an issue, then what would be the point of doing a course in legislative matters? The intention is to have present relevant information available and a section on the 2013 changes - and pointers to the websites that keep us all informed and up to date.

      The book isn't about soap making - it's about the business of soap making i.e. selling soap (or any other toiletry product) and making a business out of it.
      I'm not so much in need of thinking about usp's and such anymore since I already have a publisher and a contract for the book. (It's easier when you are a published author I guess and having world recognition in the field of making your business stand out helps too)
      Having my own experiences I know what was difficult for me, and wanted to see if others had similar feelings when starting. Lucky you to have had such competence right from the start! I wish it had been that simple for me...


      • #4
        Hi Ewa, I'm curious as to what your published works are! I'm writing a book but it's pretty small potatoes - a murder mystery that takes place among crafters at a market! I imagine I will give away more copies than I sell...someday...IF I ever get it published! I doubt I will ever have world recognition. Maybe neighborhood recognition! I'm having fun though! =D

        I think your book in progress sounds very useful and needed! Many people don't know where to start or are overwhelmed by everything they do know or are told.

        Jane, I disagree that someone must be KNOWN in any area in order to be successful as an author. Look at all the authors who were never known before their works were published. Quite honestly, I had never heard of Melinda before...just heard of her book. Nor do I think 'being known' equates with credibility. But that's just me.

        Also, publishing a list of the many soap making classes offered in the UK is perhaps far iffier than publishing info regarding legislation.

        But as Ewa said, it's not about soap making.

        I do hope many of our wonderful soap makers here on the CF will chime in soon. It's a weekend so some will be at market, some will simply be doing the weekend stuff with their families, so keep checking back! (My experiences might not help you as I am in the US.)

        So glad you joined the forum Ewa - you might enjoy browsing through some of the threads under the various business sections and of course, the soap/beauty section. They might give you some insight as to what crafters wrestle with, re the business part of it all.


        • #5
          Originally posted by cosmic grammie View Post
          I disagree that someone must be KNOWN in any area in order to be successful as an author. Look at all the authors who were never known before their works were published....Nor do I think 'being known' equates with credibility.
          Are you talking about our very own Woodtattoos here by any chance? I believe his infrequent visits to the forum are due to his blossoming career as an author

          As for the original question, I know from talking to customers that came into my shop the certification aspect was something that put a lot of 'hobby' soap makers off from attempting to build it into a business - it sounds a bit of a minefield and potentially very expensive if you don't know exactly what is expected from you.
          Visit Natty Netty for a huge selection of Iris Folding supplies


          • #6
            Originally posted by nattynetty View Post
            Are you talking about our very own Woodtattoos here by any chance? I believe his infrequent visits to the forum are due to his blossoming career as an author
            Why yes, I actually had him in mind but didn't want to suggest he was unknown prior to authorship...he is known and loved by many here on the forum, I'm sure!! Ahhh, what price fame...I can't wait....just dreaming!



            • #7
              For me, the most time consumin part of the business is the ingredients labelling. Hours spent looking up latin names (does the general public understand them anyway), then hours looking up the allergens on MSDS and then working out if the levels are high enough for inclusion.

              Cosmetic safety assessments were easy once I understood I just needed to list my basic recipe. The assessor did the rest and just put together a list of about every imaginable ingredient that could possibly be included in soap. I think most soapers think they need to put together a list themselves which can seem quite daunting.

              Good luck with your book, it seems like a good idea to me.

              The Soap Lady


              • #8
                Wow, look what I just found! Of course, it's for US soap makers, but might prove interesting to some of y'all.



                • #9
                  Argh, after rummaging around their site I discovered I must give up selling perfume. Apparently to do so I would have to register with Homeland Security...because of the vodka. Or with the Dept. of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Crikey. I'm not going to be buying tons of everclear, just the occasional bottle at the liquor store...


                  • #10
                    Im very new to this and hoping to start up a business later this year. Quite small to begin with as I have young children and not a lot of time. I personally am finding the whole labelling issue complicated. Im trying to make sure that I read at least half an hour a day on the regulations etc. I would love something which had it all written down in plain english language.

                    FACEBOOK PAGE:


                    • #11
                      Hi Ewa
                      I have just started making soap. I'd like to make a business out of it at some point, once I get past the experimental stage. I think the thing I find most daunting at the moment is how I can get my product to market and how I differentiate myself. I'm fairly confident that I can learn the craft as I have a lot of patience and am a keen textile crafter (weaving, knitting etc) but those two elements make me uneasy. I would also agree with Super Grammie that credibility in the market isn't necessary to create a best-seller. I went for the books that contained good photos of the actual process and didn't blind too much with science. A step by step guide to setting up a business would be really useful. You sound like you know what you're doing anyway. Best of luck with all and I'll keep you posted on my progress if I think I can help. Dx


                      • #12
                        Who was Woodtattoos?!
                        I love writing too. Perhaps we could set up a soap-making writing circle!!!


                        • #13
                          He's one of our esteemed moderators and a PUBLISHED AUTHOR! Read the first post here -



                          • #14
                            Thank you Susan and all others who have responded with positive and constructive comments! I am so grateful for the feedback and it may well be that I come back to you for some more in-depth information - and I will need readers who can comment along the way! There will be a lot of interactive and thought-provoking stuff about individuality, style and claiming your own space in the market (this is one of my expertise areas; PR and media analysis and measurements). My aim is to whet appetites, inspire to passion and bold stands...

                            I also want to make it relevant in the UK/EU, so there will be some great cases from companies (soap makers) around Europe. Resource library and contacts from UK/EU.
                            I am working with a very helpful guy from Trading Standards as well, so present and future (2013 changes) legislations will be covered to make it crystal clear for us all. The subject is so dull and stuffy, but the rest...;-)

                            Thank you all, please keep the comments coming!



                            • #15
                              Hi Trainlady

                              I started making soaps eight years ago during my first pregnancy and enjoyed it very much. Although I have been doing it for awhile I only started doing it as a business this year giving up my regular job as a secretary when my second son was born last year. The problems I encountered were misprints in publications, therefore quantities were not quite right. It was useful checking recipes and quantities on sage calculator. Enough information was given on handling lye and the warnings but not enough information was given on basic first aid in case of a emergency. Also on the importance of getting safety assessments and where to get it from, I found the cosmetic safety assessments & consultants to be the most reasonable I got one from him for m&p and one from soap school just so I can try out a lot of differents recipes with them. They both give lots of advice etc., on labelling etc., The one on soap guild charges by the recipe so is very expensive. It will also be useful to have other contacts such as supplier information, notes on pricing, business link, accounting, what to do with HM revenue re taxation VAT etc., setting up websites, where to sell and so on...I hope this helps.

                              Good luck & wish you the very best in your venture