One week ago today, I was a vendor at a craft fair. I had never sold anything at any type of market or fair before. So, to say I was nervous would be an understatement. Besides being nervous, I was also really excited. Excited to meet people who are interested in handmade soaps. Excited to have the experience and know what it’s like to sell at a craft fair. Excited to discover what people look at, what people buy, what sells the best, etc.. And I was really excited to get our name out there.
I had thought about selling at this craft fair for many months.
For some context, let me backup a little…
This month marks the anniversary of the first time that I made soap… my “soapiversary”, if you will. Since I started, I gifted friends and family with some of my soap to try. I also sold some to friends and family after I was confident that I got the recipe right. I got pretty good at making soap. I loved to post pictures of my soap creations on Facebook, and I would often get requests to sell my soap, but I wasn’t ready. I had more learning to do. I decided to follow the best advice that I received about selling soaps, which was to “wait a year”.
So I did.
I waited a year.
In that year, I made a lot of soaps, and a lot of mistakes. I learned from those mistakes, and developed several recipes that I am proud of. I observed how my soap felt, how long it lasted, the texture, how it bubbled and lathered, and how my skin felt after using it. I learned how different ingredients behave in soap. I learned how natural colorants and essential oils react in soap and how long they last.
I experienced a lot in that time! I know what it’s like to have a soap seize up on me (meaning it is impossible to pour the soap batter into a mold because it hardens immediately). I know that certain essential oils cause soap to accelerate and seize up. I know certain essential oils don’t stick in soap. I also know that adding clays can help anchor the scent of essential oils. I know what it’s like to have soap partially gel (a reaction where the soap heats up from the inside out but cools as it gets to the edges and, as a result, leaves a dark circle in the center). I also know how to fix a partial gel. I know what it’s like to have to work fast when making a soap with alcohol, or a 100% coconut oil soap. I know that it’s impossible to cut a loaf of coconut oil soap if I wait too long for it to set up. I know that if I don’t wait until the lye-water and oils are at a cool temperature, the soap can overheat and crack in the mold. I also know how to “re-batch” a failed soap (chop up the soap into tiny pieces, melt it down, and cook it in a crock-pot), which is essentially a hot-process method.
Left photo: soap that seized up and had to be squished into the mold by hand like play-dough. Right photo: soap that over-heated causing it to crack down the center.
As I was learning, I was thinking about how, when, and where I would sell my soaps when I was ready. I decided I really wanted to kick-off our retail adventure by selling at the East Sangerville Grange’s annual craft fair. It is the grange that Steve and I belong to, so it seemed fitting to start there while supporting our grange. Plus, their craft fair is well known in our area for the quality of art, crafts, and goods sold there. So, in August I applied and was put on a waiting list. In the mean time, I prepared for it as if I got in because my soaps take 6 weeks cure and I was planning to make 25 different batches (about 500 bars of soaps). Late September I got the news.
I got in!
I sold soap!
lomah Handcrafted Soap sold at the East Sangerville Grange Craft Fair. Photos courtesy of R. Whitten Photography.
You guys… I am officially a seller of soap!!!
And, with this post, our webite is officially launched and lomah is officially open for business!
Thank you to all of our friends and family for not only being our soap testers, but also for your encouragement, love, and support. We love you so much! <3