Sunday, February 21, 2010

Handmade Features: A Star of Handmade Soap

There's nothing I love more than the fresh scent of handmade soap. In fact, I love pretty much everything about it. Nothing screams luxury like treating yourself to a five dollar bar of soap. When I buy handmade soap all I want to do is find an excuse to take a shower, and I love cutting little slices off the bar to put in the kitchen to wash my hands with.

In honor of my love of handmade soap I have decided to feature an etsy seller, who happens to make her own exquisite handcrafted soap from scratch. My first ever featured seller is Soap Star. A talented Canadian soap maker with a unique approach. She is located in Cobourg, Ontario. Pictured here is her Mint Choc Queen Vic bar that looks good enough to eat. Here's a little bit about Vicky at Soap Star.

How long have you been making your own handmade soap, and how did you become interested in soap making?

I guess I first became interested a few years ago after watching a reality TV show in England (of all things!). It involved a team challenge where they had to create soap products along with all the packaging, marketing etc.

I've always loved natural bath & beauty products, harnessing all the lovely good stuff from the wonderful world around us without the use of harsh chemicals - so imagine my delight to discover I could do it myself!

I chose the 'cold process' method because it really is from scratch, and I find the chemistry bit fascinating & exciting (my mum & 2 of my sisters were scientists, so some of it must have rubbed off...)

I've only quite recently taken the plunge in making handmade soap for others, after receiving SO many compliments & requests from friends & family for my creations.

How did you select your name and slogan?

Brainstorming with the family, I wanted something simple that said it all - the soaps are the stars.

I live in the beautiful beach town of Cobourg, on the breathtaking shores of lake Ontario - it's known as Ontario's 'feel good' town. 'act natural * feel good' captures that spirit, along with highlighting the natural ingredients element.

What is your favorite part of the soap making process?

oh, that's a tricky question...but I think I'd have to say the 'moment of truth' - when I remove a new creation from the mold (by mold, I mean a recycled juice carton!) and take that first slice. Hopefully a beautiful interior is revealed, though there's no guarantee!

Oh, and blending the essential oils is also a fabulous perk of the process, all those evocative aromas - heaven...

What would you like people to know about your products?

That they're all made with alot of love, thought& dedication. Each product is inspired by a wonderful neighbourhood that has made me feel good, my hope is that they will pass on a little bit of that happiness to someone else.

I'm committed to using the best natural ingredients I can, and where possible I use organic, and/or locally produced. I source everything including packaging with a conscience. Reduce, reuse & recycle!

What have you learned that you wish you had known at the beginning?

Patience! A really good soap is a bit like a fine wine...it can take a long time (over 4 weeks) to cure, so I've learnt to 'let it be' until it's truly ready.

I've also learnt that the cost of shipping within Canada is kinda hindering a huge wealth of creative talent that should be flourishing as small / hobby businesses. I urge fellow artisans to be positive, inventive and never give up.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

Ahhh, cocoa butter (smells like white chocolate!), olive oil (my father was of Italian descent)
and all those mouthwatering citrus essential oils!

What would you tell someone who is interested in making handmade soap?

Go for it - it's addictive & very satisfying, not forgetting your skin will thankyou...
Read & research all you can first tho, (soapmakers are a very helpful, friendly bunch) there's alot to consider and the right safety equipment is a MUST - 'the science bit' (chemical reactions using caustic soda) can be hazardous. But hey, if you prepare properly there's no reason to be scared - you'll be SO glad you gave it a go!

Some more sellers of handmade soap that are worth taking a look at. Maple Creek Soap, Bovine Bubbles, and SV. Soaps

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jewellery Contest for February




Here they are! My lovely turquoise earrings, which feature gemstones wrapped in oxidized brass wire, fancy brass rings, and surgical steel ear wires. These earrings measure 1 3/4 inches in length(about 4 cm). The actual gemstones measure 2 cm x 1 cm.

The contest opens right now and closes on March 5, 2010. Don't be shy, tell your friends because this contest is open to everyone.

Here's how to participate. Send your first name and email address to joannielcreations@gmail.com with' contest' in the subject. Please include whether you would like to be notified of future contests, sales, and other events. Your email address will not be sold or shared, and you will not receive any emails from me unless you have indicated as such.

Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Selling on Etsy

I thought it would be very difficult to get sales on etsy when I started listing jewellery 2 and a half months ago. It turns out that etsy is actually very beginner friendly. As someone who doesn't have an existent customer base, I thought it would be difficult to get people to buy from a new seller. What I didn't realize is that etsy has an existent customer base. As soon as you start selling on etsy you are being seen by tons of potential buyers, and that is wonderful. I have 27 sales so far and that's way more than I thought I'd have by now.

I have recently joined the Oh Canada Team on etsy and have been overwhelmed with how friendly and helpful everyone is towards one another. I am proud to be among such wonderful talented artists. Just search for ohcanadateam on etsy and you will discover lots of beautiful creations from our top notch team members.

If you are considering selling your handmade art online, etsy is the place for you. Shoppers on etsy aren't afraid to spend money because they want to buy top quality handmade creations and that's good news for anyone who sells on etsy. And etsyans take there shops very seriously and work very hard to make sure their customers are happy with their purchase. I ordered beads from Hong Kong a while ago from an etsy supplier. When that order never came, the seller reshipped my $40 order at no cost to me. Now that's great customer service.

I am no longer intimidated by the huge number of sellers on etsy. Everyone sells different items that are targeted at different people. I sell jewellery and there are tons of jewellery shops on etsy. I used to think I had to compete with them all, but the fact is that each jewellery shop has vastly different items for sale and so my target audience is not necessarily the same as theirs.

If I could give someone who wants to sell on etsy any advice it would be to stay yourself and stand out from the crowd. It's great to take advice from others and try to mirror certain aspects of other sellers to improve your visibility and sales. Just don't lose your identity along the way. There's a reason you started doing what you're doing. There's something about you that makes you unique. Remember that. Keep that passion and that joy for your art and work hard. For every person that has something to offer, there's someone out there who wants it.

I have decided to shamelessly plug my shop by posting two photos of items I currently have for sale. Should you happen to click on them you may be redirected to my etsy shop. I cannot be held responsible for what happens next. lol.