Handmade Conference

I’ve been a ghost on Instagram this weekend because my phone battery gave out right before I left for Ohio. The timing was awful too, because I would have loved to share a blow by blow of my whirlwind weekend at the first Handmade Conference! It was a blast, as all conferences are, a source of inspiration, and a great educational resource.

I’m still getting caught up after a weekend of not only being out of town, but dealing with a lot of irritating little “life-hiccups” (like my phone being dead, a rock cracking my windshield, that sort of fun stuff). Orders are shipping between today and tomorrow, and I believe I’ve caught up on all correspondence, but send me a reminder if I missed you.

First and foremost, there is a huge Semi Annual Sale in my shop from now until the end of June. I’m clearing out some inventory to make way for some exciting new products, like cold process soap (finally!), liquid soap and some fun projects. Everything is 40% off, regardless of its a clearance item, a gift set that’s already discounted or what-have-you. If there are some products you’ve been eyeing up, now is the time to get them. Not all of them will be coming back into stock after this sale.

So, the conference! It was incredible to be surrounded by so many like-minded individuals. While Etsy Up provided me with lots of new maker friends, Handmade plopped me in the midst of my true kin, SOAPMAKERS. We are a different breed to be sure, and it was like a breath of fresh air to hear that the things that plague me about this business and keep me awake at night are haunting my fellow soapmakers as well.

Over the course of the conference, I learned lots of new things about Essential Oils, Fragrance blending and Melt and Pour soapmaking. ¬†What I’m most excited about is that I finally learned Cold Process soapmaking. I’m finally at a place in my life – with my business in its own space, no full time job to distract me from my business (which started off as years of moonlighting), and a better understanding of chemistry and ingredients in general – where I feel ready to start making some Cold Process soap. Those of you who already make it might be laughing at me for being so intimidated; I’m laughing at myself now that I know how fun and not intimidating Cold Process is.

If you’re scratching your head at the terminology, Cold Process soap making is making soap with Lye and Distilled Water to create the chemical reaction that produces soap. It’s one of three different styles of soap making. Hot process is another (think Fight Club), and not one that I’m going to get into anytime soon, but Melt and Pour is a super artistic form of soapmaking that involves melting down blocks of pre-made soap base and adding color, fragrance or additives. Melt and Pour allows for some really cool techniques (like embedding other colors of soap, toys, embed paper; or creating really intricate designs like soap pops, soap that looks like slices of cheesecake or a cupcake, or just creative artwork). All of these techniques are real soapmaking, don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.

The most important concept I took home with me from this Conference was to be fearless. It’s very easy to get caught up in the competition and feel that if I’m not where my competition is, I’m not in the right place. We’re all in our own places, and that’s just fine. My insecurity gets the better of me sometimes and I need a reminder that it’s okay to walk a different path.

The other big part of being fearless is that change is a natural progression of being an entrepreneur. In fact, the reason I left every job I ever had before I dedicated myself to this business was because after 6 months to a year, I felt like my career was stagnating. Technology, education, these things matter to larger companies only in the sense of whats required to do the bare minimum of a job. What’s the cheapest way to deliver a product or service? My personality is just so much more ambitious than that. I wanted to being an entrepreneur so I could experience constant changes and challenges, so that I could watch my evolution happening instead of feeling my career drag by. As much as I wanted constant change, it still scares the hell out of me. Change means the potential to alienate or lose customers as my company’s values evolve. It means getting rid of products that I loved, even if they weren’t bringing me a lot of business. Change means that I’ll be moving forward, but things will be different – they’ll never be the same again.

I’ve seen enough change in my 6 years of being an entrepreneur to know that I always land on my feet, but sometimes I see parts of my business that I was really having a good time with fall away. It’s part of the natural progression, but you can see why I resist it sometimes.

But, a small business is nimble. Change is exciting. New things are okay. Respecting my roots and the journey is how I make my next move without regret.

So, expect lots of change in the coming months as I roll out some new projects, products and online classes (!!!), and expect to see evolution if you are sticking with me on this rollercoaster.


P.S. Need a good dose of courage? Go see Wonder Woman! She will make you feel brave!