This week I have talked about progress a couple times. The first instance was in a soap making group and the other on my social media sites. Often times I judge myself by comparing where I am to someone else’s progress. I look at how successful they are. It’s very discouraging at times. This kind of thinking can be unfruitful in the long run. Progress simply takes time.
The quote I post on my Instagram and Facebook was ” Slow progress is better than no progress.” This a great reminder at this point for me. When sales are not coming in at the rate I would like and I see others selling out within hours, l start to question myself. “What am I doing wrong”, ask myself. However, I have made progress in this journey. At one point I was barely selling anything. Today is a different story. That’s something for me to be proud of.
This is a marathon not a sprint. I have heard that so many times in life. With running a business, I have to believe that it’s true. The fact is that I don’t want to accept is that growth takes time. When I look at all aspects of life this is true. Growth from conception to adulthood takes 15+ years. Growth of tomato plant from a seed take six to eight weeks. Depending on the process the time for growth is different. This is true for business. Everyone runs their business a little different from others. Therefore, affecting the rate of growth.
I am not like every other soap maker. I may be similar in certain ways, for sure, but my differences will cause me to grow differently. I have to remind myself of that factoid. The other person is ready for the growth and expansion and I am simply am not there yet. However, I am continuously growing. I am reaching new customers, expanding my knowledge of advertising, learning more about SEO, etc.
My time will come. I just have to continue to work hard and continue learn how to improve my business. With this mindset there is nowhere to go but on and upward.
When I decided to start making soap I didn’t realized how the waiting portions would get to me. They say that patience is a virtue. I believe it is. I’ve seen it in other people and admire it so much. However, when it time for me to learn to posse it, I often fail.
This is the hardest part about soap making. You have to be patient. I mix up all my ingredients and make some pretty design while putting it into mold. Now, let those ingredients become soap. However, for the next several hours, actually days, all I can do is think of that soap. I check the soap constantly. Did the mold fall off the table? That ‘s not very likely but it’s what goes thru my mind. I have to make sure it’s okay. I take tons of pictures, I smell it, touch the edges to see how hard it is. Are the colors morphing on me? Did something fall on it? Any reason to look it. The soap doesn’t have a chance to breathe.
Eventually, I realize I need to cool it. “Stop acting like a crazy person”, is what I tell myself. Then I put the soap up high where it is an inconvenience for me to mess with it. Out of sight, out of mind. That’s usually true but my house works against me. The heat or air comes on and now I can smell the soap through out the house. Now I have to tell myself not to go look at. I usually loose that battle. I take another look. Even with my constant peaking, I usually let my soaps sit two days before taking them out of the mold. I usually end up damaging my loaf when I take it out of the mold before the 48 hour mark. The fear of messing up my creation is one thing that keeps me from doing to much too soon.
Finally, I get the pleasure of cutting up the soap. It such a great feeling unveiling each bar. Now I have to wait four to six weeks to use my wonderful creation. I just wish there was faster way but there isn’t . Yes, there are some things that can be done to make the soap cure faster but it’s always better to cure the soap for longer periods of time. During this time I look at and smell the soap almost everyday. I’m just filled with excitement.
The waiting involved in soap making makes me a little crazy at times. I have to push myself to do other things to occupy my mind. Many times I purposely wait to make soap right before I have to leave home for a few days. Therefore, there is no chance of damaging the soap and I can relax.
I thought as time went by the wait would get easier but that doesn’t seem to be the truth. July 2021 will mark my fourth year as a soap maker. I know that I’m not as seasoned as others but the anticipation of unveiling my soap doesn’t seem to fade. Actually, it seems to get stronger. I’m just a crazy soap maker and I love it. Also, I know I’m not alone. There are other crazy soap makers just like me. That makes me very happy.
As I think about this soap all I can do is smile. This was actually the second soap I made. It was to be scented. I didn’t want to use the “scent” but the hubby insisted. I knew from all of my research that it wouldn’t work or that I was going to run into some issues. He didn’t know and couldn’t understand. “Just try it”, was his attitude. So I did. The things we do for love.
The scent he wanted me to use was actually a cologne. The kind that is sprayed or dabbed onto the skin. It was a knock off of a popular men’s cologne. It smelled great. It’s a very masculine scent which suited him very well. Again, I tried to tell him that cologne wasn’t meant to go into cold process soap. He wanted something for himself and I understood.
For this batch of soap I used a different recipe. I wasn’t disappointed in the first one but I used up all the shea and cocoa butter. Therefore, I went on the hunt for a hard oil. Fortunately, we had some red palm oil in the kitchen cupboard. I came upon while searching for something else. I’m sure if had been looking for it I would have never found it. This oil was perfect because my hubby liked to cook with it. Therefore, it was fitting for it to go into his soap.
Before committing to this I looked into instances where others used red palm oil in soap. Most people didn’t use in cold process soap because of the color. So I created a recipe in the soap calculator and got going. Everything was fine and very much like my first attempt except the color due the the red palm oil. It was a orange color. Now it was time to add the cologne. SMH. The soap riced immediately. Since this was only my second time soaping, I had never seen ricing in person. I stick blended it more but it didn’t look any better. I remember thinking, “oh crap, oh crap, oh crap”!! I moved quickly and got it into the mold.
The soap turned out fine. However, the scent was weird. It smelled good but very different. He was satisfied but now understood why specific fragrance oils had to be bought for cold process soap.
After this experiment I sarted buying proper fragrance oils and colorants.
This was the day I fell in love. Once I worked up the nerve, there was no turning back. It was far far from professional. I’m the type person that when I decide to something, I just go for it. In this case I started working on getting all my materials.
First, I download a free soap app and gathered oils. My oils were left overs from previous projects. Olive oil, castor oil, coconut oil, Shea butter, and cocoa butter is what I had on hand. Actually, the olive oil came from the kitchen. It was the end of the bottle. I passed on an fragrance oil, colors, and any other additives. I wasn’t ready to buy or experiment with those just yet. With my oils determined and use of a soap calculator, I was ready to move to the next step.
I then went to a local hardware store to buy sodium hydroxide. That was quite an experience. The employee there grilled me about why I was buying lye. He asked me sereval questions. I kept my cool, but I was almost afraid he wasn’t going to let me buy it. Come to find out his aunt was an avid soap maker and sent him soap all the time but he never used it. Anyway, I checked lye off the list. While out I picked up the distilled water from a grocery store that was on the way home.
Most of my bowls and utensils were things from around the house. I gathered items that we no longer used. One of the molds that I used was an old mug lined with a plastic bag and the other was a small silicone mold from the dollar store. I got the cheapest stick blend I could find. My safety gear, safety glasses and mask, were from the dollar store as well.
With all my materials gathered, I got started. I was excited but I was very cautious. I took my time weighing out oils and lye. Even though I wasn’t using any fragrance oil, I was afraid the soap would seize on me. I paid close attention to how the soap batter looked. I kept asking myself if the lye solution was completely mixed into the soap. Therefore, I blended the soap batter a little longer than necessary. I eventually got the soap batter into my molds. Everything was fine.
Now was the hard part, the waiting game. I couldn’t wait to unmold and slice it up. I’m sure I checked that soap every few hours. When the time came, I used an old kitchen knife. Everything worked out. I made soap! It wasn’t pretty but still soap.
Like I said at the beginning, there was no turning back. I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to do it again. Now I was thinking about all the different colors and fragrances I wanted to try. Immediately, I felt the need to buy a proper mold. I became a soap maker that day.
I care. I believe I’ve always been a caring person. Well, for most of my adult life anyway. I care very much about what I do, especially for other people. As a soap maker caring is of the upmost importance.
Why? I’m more than just a maker but a lover of soap. Before I knew that soap making was a possibility, I love, and still do, search for great soap. A great bar of soap can really jump start your day. How it feels and smells leaves a great impact. I care about what goes on my skin. I want to be clean but I love products that nourish the skin as well. Skin is the biggest organ of the body, it should be pampered.
I care because soap making is serious business. If soap isn’t made properly it can burn the skin. Whether gifted or sold, I never want my product to cause harm. Even though soap making isn’t complicated, care needs to be taken during the process. One shouldn’t be too relaxed. I tend to make mistakes when I rush. Therefore, I make all my products when I have plenty of time.
For my shop, I care about what customers want. I hope to make each person feel like I was thinking of them. I want people to love my products as much as I do. I always test my products with friends and family. However, I choose people that I know aren’t afraid to tell me the truth.
As I soap maker, I care for others as I care for myself.
Making soap. What does that mean? Obviously, it means to create soap. What does it mean to me? I know that it’s something that I’ve come to love. I stumbled across soap making in the summer of 2016. It took me a year to get up the nerve to make my first batch. I’m so glad I took the plunge. I’ve been in love ever since. It’s always on mind.
I am a soap maker. It’s one of the hats I wear. Most people think it cool or at least interesting. However, some people think that it’s stupid or useless. For whatever reason, those people really get under my skin. It’s not stupid. I’ve had to tell myself that every time someone gave me “that” look. I’m proud to be instructor. I’m proud to be a wife. I’m proud to be a mom. I am proud to be a soap maker. Why shouldn’t I be? It’s a useful, necessary skill. It’s something I can share with my kids. If nothing else, it brightens up my world.
It’s been a few years since I started this journey. There have been days that have been filled great achievements. Some days have gone well but ended in disappointment. Then there are the days where I just want to throw everything away. There are hills and valleys in all aspects of life, including soap making. I am grateful for all of it. I love this life!