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Soap

Our New Retailers

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If you've been reading about out trade show booth progress, it's now time for the results of all of that work. The list of our new retailers! From up and down the East Coast to the West Coast, we have some awesome stores that welcomed Old Town Suds into their family.

California

Independent Mercantile, Inc. 728 Main Street Murphys, CA Phone: 209.728.8416

Washington, DC

Lettie Gooch 1517 U Street Northwest Washington, DC 20009 Phone: 202.332.4242

National Archives Store 700 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest Washington, DC Phone: 202.357.5271

National Building Museum Shop 401 F Street Northwest Washington, DC 20001 Phone: 202.272.2448

Georgia

The Uniqueness Of It All 6786 Broad Street Douglasville, GA Phone: 678.427.8088

Maryland

The Annapolis Pottery 40 State Circle Annapolis, MD 21401 Phone: 410.268.6153

The Fine Arts Company 18031 Garland Groh Boulevard Hagerstown, MD 21740 Phone: 301.971.2781

The Muse 19 North Market Street Frederick, MD 21701 Phone: 301.663.3632

Massachusetts

Quinstance Opening Spring 2015 in Burlington, MA

North Carolina

Cedar Creek Gallery & Pottery 1150 Fleming Road Creedmoor, NC 27522 Phone: 919.528.1041

Pennsylvania

Pearl S. Buck Gift Shop 520 Dublin Rd Perkasie, PA 18944

Urban Post 323 Market Street Lewisburg, PA 17837 Phone: 570.374.0606

Virginia

Artful Gift Shop 145 Church St NW Vienna, VA 22180 Phone Number: 703.242-1220

Chateau O'Brien 3238 Railstop Road Markham, VA 22643 Phone Number: 540.364.6441

Michie Tavern General Store 683 Thomas Jefferson Parkway Charlottesville, VA 22902 Phone: 434.977.1234

The Picket Fence Burke Village Center 6025 Burke Centre Parkway Burke, VA 22015 Phone: 703.250.2671

Stifel & Capra 260 W Broad Street Falls Church, VA 22046 Phone Number: 703.533-3557

Tin Top Art & Handmade 130 N. Loudoun Street Winchester, VA 22601 Phone: 703.999.2997

Wanda's Hair Salon 3784 Old Franklin Tpke Rocky Mount, VA 24092 Phone Number: 540.489.1068

The Making Of Our First Trade Show Booth

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The past few years, I've been slowly expanding Old Town Suds' wholesale clients and made the decision that we needed to go to a wholesale show to make it happen. As luck would have it, a show was planning on coming to DC so it was a no brainer to attend. After deciding on our booth space size (6'x10'), I had to figure out our theme. Suds is kinda brewery, kinda posh, and kinda chocolate factory - which is rather difficult to transpose into a 3 dimensional space. I started on pinterest by searching for booth images. I found a lot that were beyond my skill level, the image of Suds and, well, the hubby would have killed me.

After the hubby calmed down when I told him I wanted to build hard walls, we got to work.

It was a pretty simple design. Basically, we took plywood, cut it in half, framed it with 2x4's (that were cut in half), added hinges, and added tons and tons of paint.

Cutting the frames for the plywood

A video posted by OldTownSuds (@steffaniehousman) on

Framing the plywood

A photo posted by OldTownSuds (@steffaniehousman) on

Post painting testing

A photo posted by OldTownSuds (@steffaniehousman) on

Stay tuned for more posts on our first trade show and all of our new retailers!

Getting your Soap Business Organized

Getting my office under control has been something I've seriously struggled with. It slows down my shipping, all over productivity and my motivation. In December (or was it November) I decided to try to get puppy to a better state. I mean look at this mess! It's only half of my desk too!

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I got a filing cabinet from Poppin to help keep all of those pesky records filed and a bunch of the paperwork that piles up off of my desk. (Now I just have to actually use the filing system I created. Details...)

To make shipping easier, quicker and less painful I asked santa for the Demo 4XL printer. My in-laws beat santa to the gift and they got my super easy and quick printer! It will be so nice when I ship out all of out new orders today! It will be a 1 click print instead of finding my shipping labels, making sure they are right side up in the printer, printing those first; then printing the invoices and then remembering to use the other half of the shipping label (2 are on a sheet) when the next order comes in.

I feel like she (he?) needs a name. Right now I am just calling her my precious.

 

What are you doing differently in 2015 to get your business organized?

Behind the Scenes - Soap Kitchen Tour

soap kitchen This is it! This is the main area of our soap kitchen. It was designed with the help of our contractor who did an excellent job building everything for me. (if you need a recommendation in Northern VA, I'll send you his info!)

I still need a few more shelves to help control all of the oils I use. You see those brown bottles on the shelves and the far right counter? Those are our fragrances and essential oils. Once you start collecting them....it is very hard to stop!

We've almost had this new kitchen a year now. I'm learning what works and what needs a bit more improving. You can never have enough lights and I'm in desperate need of a paper towel dispenser. Details, right? I'd also like some of those shock absorbing mats they use in professional kitchens. A few hours of standing on tile and you feel it in your back!

Next time I'll show you our soon-to-be-built shelves in the drying room. My husband is supposed to be making them for me as my birthday present. My birthday was in September...Maybe I'll get them by December? I hope. I really don't want to learn how to build shelves.

3 Myths About Handmade Soap

3 Myths about Handmade SoapThere are many myths floating about when it comes to handmade soap. I’ve already debunked the myths about how one can make soap without lye and that lye soap is harsh and here are 3 additional myths that need to be set straight.

Myth #1: Antibacterial soap is better than regular soap.

Soap is a surfactant – it helps water to disperse on the skin and then propels dirt, oil and grime away from the skin. Antibacterial soaps are marketed as germ-killing, and therefore are touted as being better than regular soap. The reality (which is backed by scientific studies) is that regular soap is equally effective as antibacterial soap at removing bacteria and preventing illnesses.

Furthermore, long-term exposure to triclosan and triclocarbon, which are the active ingredients in most of these antibacterial soaps is considered to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria and even lead to hormonal imbalances. This has lead to the recent (December, 2013) rule proposal by the FDA for the makers of these antibacterial soaps to prove that their soaps are safe for daily, long term use and that they are more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections. If the proposal is accepted and companies cannot prove these points, then the products would need to be reformulated or be relabeled in order to remain on the market.

Myth #2: Handmade soap doesn’t create as many bubbles as mass-produced bars, so it can’t clean my skin as well.

We’ve already established in the myths above that mass produced bars are actually detergents, with synthetic chemicals that can, among other things, boost lather. There is a big misconception that lather = clean, and there is no scientific proof to support this idea.

It is true that some handmade soap does not bubble as much as other handmade soap, and that is a result of the ingredients used. For instance, soap made with mostly olive oil will not be extremely bubbly – it’s more of a gentle, creamy lather.  Compare that to a soap made with castor oil, which creates an abundance of large bubbles, and the resulting lathers will be quite different. The ‘bubbliness’ of handmade soap will depend on the ingredients used, but either way, bubbly or not, soap will clean your skin.

Myth #3: Handmade soaps are expensive and overpriced.

Compared to a synthetic, mass-produced detergent bar found in the store, yes, handmade soap will often cost more (and should!) But when you stop to think about what goes into the production and the end result, the price is well worth it. For instance:

  • High quality oils and butters are selected to create a gentle, soothing bar of soap
  • The glycerin that comes from saponification is kept in the soap (not removed as it is with commercially produced bars) to make it even more moisturizing
  •  Premium essential oils and fragrance oils add scent
  •  Natural herbs and botanicals add color, soothing properties and even exfoliation
  •  The labor for an artisan to handcraft their soap, versus a machine cranking out thousands of uniform detergent-based bars

Also, most whom use handmade soap do not have to use lotion after bathing with natural soap, whereas those who use commercially made soap often have to slather lotion on at least once, if not more often during the day. So consider the cost of lotion when you’re comparing that bar on a grocery store shelf to a natural bar of soap from a handmade artisan and you’ll see that it’s a much better investment to go with the handmade soap.

How Soap is Made Part 2

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Just starting out on our How Soap is Made series? Check out part 1 here.
 

Rebatching

This method involves using pre-made soap (cold or hot processed). The biggest draw for soap makers to use this method is that they can buy pre-made soap for rebatching and do not have to come into contact with lye if that’s a concern for them. The lye has already been chemically transformed during saponification. It also means they can add additional ingredients such as essential oils or herbs and not have to worry about them reacting with lye.

To rebatch soap, the pre-made soap is grated like cheese and to this a small amount of liquid is added. The mixture is gently heated until melted and then pressed into molds. It must then cool and harden before it is suitable for use.

Melt and Pour Soap Making

This process involves purchasing a premade glycerin soap base (or making a glycerin soap base on your own, which is much less common, but possible), and melting it down, often in a microwave or on a stovetop. At that point, colorants, fragrance and possibly some additional oils (no water or milk can be added) are added to the melted soap base. The mixture is then poured into molds and left to harden – usually just a few hours. At that point, the hardened soaps can be removed from the mold and are ready for immediate use.

Some soap makers prefer using this method because the chemical process has already been done, so they don’t have to worry about using lye. Melt and pour soaps are also fluid enough to be poured into a variety of molds which results in more intricate designs and shapes compared to the other types of soap making.

That's it! You can't get true soap any other way. Next time you are shopping for soap, be sure to ask with method the shop uses.

How Soap is Made Part 1

How to make Soap part 1There are many ways to make handmade soap, and each soap maker tends to have a preferred method. We have our preferences on what we believe makes a better bar of soap. Technically, no one method is better than another, simply different, but that doesn't stop us from our opinions!

Cold Process Soap Making

In this method, oils are melted and combined with a lye and liquid (water, milk, etc) mixture. Mixing these ingredients creates a chemical reaction called saponification. The mixture is then stirred either by hand with a spoon, or by using a stick blender until the soap mixture has thickened (called ‘trace’). There is no cooking (using heat to speed up the saponification process) with cold process soap. The mixture is poured into a mold, covered and left to cool for 24 hours. At that point the soap can be removed from the mold and cut into bars. The bars are then left alone to cure for 4-6 weeks. This ensures a harder and milder bar of soap. This is the process that Old Town Suds uses.

Hot Process Soap Making

In this method, melted oils are combined with a lye/liquid mixture and are ‘cooked’ by using heat. Many modern soapers make hot process soap in a slow cooker/crock pot. The mixture is brought to trace and then cooked. The cooking time varies depending upon the ingredients used, the size of the batch and the heat setting on the slow cooker. The end result is a thickened, gel-like looking soap mixture that must be spooned into the soap mold. It is covered and left to cool for 24 hours, at which time it is removed from the mold and cut into individual bars of soap.

This method is often used to reduce the 4-6 week cure time required by cold process soap making. By the time the soap cools and is removed from the mold (usually within 24 hours), the soap is safe for use. Leaving it to sit for a couple of weeks may allow additional water to evaporate and become harder, but it is not necessary. Hot processed soap may have a more rustic, handmade appearance to it, compared to the smooth texture of cold process soap.

Stay tuned for two more soap making methods!

How to Save the Lives of 600,000 Children Per Year

Myriam Sidibe is a warrior in the fight against childhood disease. Her weapon of choice? A bar of soap. For cost-effective prevention against sickness, it’s hard to beat soapy hand-washing, which cuts down risk of pneumonia, diarrhea, cholera and worse. Sidibe, a public-health expert, makes a smart case for public-private partnerships to promote clean hands — and local, sustainable entrepreneurship. - TED