Monday, December 22, 2008

Buy Broken Arrow Campaign

Thank you for all those that came by the store and participated in the Buy Broken Arrow Campaign sponsored bythe Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce. The drawing for the winning tickets took place today. Click here to see if you won!

If you don't have the winning ticket now don't throw your tickets away just yet. If the winner has not claimed their prize by 12/30/08 new numbers will be drawn.

Good Luck!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Snowflake Soaps

I made these soaps this morning for a donation to a gift basket for a local PTA. These are fun and easy to make. Moving me more into the Christmas Spirit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bath & Body Products

I have a great passion for making soaps and various bath & body products. I have gradually been introducing various products in my gift shop, The Gift Garden, and at local craft shows. Since I enjoy making these products so much and the feedback I have been getting, I decided that I should make these items as a separate product line. Therefore, these items will no longer be packaged and sold under The Gift Garden. Now they will be sold under Distinctly You. This is our new logo.

I chose this name because I want my products to be about you. While I will have some pre-made items like my cold & hot processed soaps and glycerin soaps other products will be custom made. You will be able to choose colors and fragrances making the products distinctly yours. I am working on a web-site devoted to these products and hope to have my Etsy store up and running very soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cupcake Soap

I have to say wow for this soap. I was browsing through Etsy and checking out different soaps when I came across this one. This looks so much like the real thing and it is scented with White Chocolate Cherry.....yum.

Check out other great creations by Crazy K Bath & Body here. I am off to go buy some of her soaps.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Aroma Bead Ornaments

As promised, I am posting the rest of the information on how to turn your Aroma Beads into ornaments.

After making the beads, choose metal cookie cutters in the shapes and sizes you want. For mine, I used Christmas Ornament shaped cutters.

Place the cookie cutters on a metal non-stick cookie sheet. Fill the cutters with a layer of beads. Make sure the bottom is completely covered. You will then bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 5-10 minutes. The beads will melt together making your ornament. Do not leave the beads unattended.

After taking them out of the oven, let them cool completely and then remove from the sheet and cutters. You can place in the freezer to expedite the process.

To finish them off, I used a nail to make a hole in the tops and put in an ornament hanger. You could also use string or ribbon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Aroma Beads

Aroma beads have been quite a popular item so I wanted to show how to make them and also how they can be made into ornaments for the holidays.

Aroma beads are clear plastic beads that can absorb up to 30% fragrance oil. Most often they are used as air fresheners in the car, in lockers, linen drawers, closets, or anywhere fragrance is desired. When I sell them, I put them in organza bags.

To make them you need the following:

Aroma beads
fragrance oil
liquid candle dye (if you want to color them)
a glass jar or container that has a lid

I usually make the beads in 1lb increments however you can do smaller amounts too. I use 2 oz of fragrance per lb of beads. If it is a really strong fragrance or essential oil, I use less and if it is a soft fragrance I may opt to use more.

For the candle dye, I usually use approximately 6 - 10 drops to color 1 lb of beads. You can use more or less depending on how soft or dark you want the color to be.

After adding the candle dye to your fragrance, swirl the jar to mix the 2 together.

Next, add the beads.

Then put the lid on securely, and give a good shake. Keep shaking until the fragrance and color is evenly disbursed.

You will want to shake the jar up every hour or so. Depending on the fragrance, it can take a few hours to several days for all the fragrance to absorb. You will know when the beads are dry when they no longer stick to the sides of the jar and they are dry to the touch.

All the supplies listed in this tutorial are available in a special kit for the holidays at The Gift Garden. In part 2 of this tutorial, I will show you how to turn these beads into ornaments.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Craft Show

It has been a while since I have posted but I will be posting regularly over the next few weeks as I have lots of great information, tips, and ideas to share for the holiday season. In the meantime, I will be at the Holiday Craft Show this Saturday at Immanuel Lutheran Church. The hours are 9:00 am - 4 pm at 400 N Aspen in BA. Please come on down and say hello!

The shop will also be open Saturday from 10 - 6. We are participating with the Main Street Association Holiday Tea - Off. Be sure to fill out an entry form for the drawing to be held on November 13th at 8:45 pm.

I am also participating with the Buy Broken Arrow Program sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. You get one ticket for coming in and more tickets for every $10.00 you spend.

Full information on both of these campaigns is available in the store. I look forward to seeing you soon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Holidays are coming!

I have tried to deny the fact that we are once again approaching the holiday season. I can no longer deny it and I am actually starting to get in the spirit. The fragrances of fall are helping. I recently made Cinnamon Cold Processed Soap and a Pumpkin Cold Processed Soap with real pumpkin in it. They both smell just yummy and should be ready it about 3 more weeks. In the meantime, I have been thinking about Christmas and how I will decorate. I have decided that the tree in the shop should be decorated soley with bath and body ornaments. So I will be doing some soap-on-a-ropes, aroma bead ornaments, using some bath poofs, bath bombs, and whatever else I can think of that I can make work. As I do this, I will share some tutorials on how to do these projects as well. So stay tuned.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cupcake Soaps

Cupcake soaps have arrived. This is our latest addition to our novelty glycerin soaps. These were so much fun to do. These can make great party favors and can be custom ordered in a color scheme/fragrance of you choice.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Party Favors

This is a sample of soaps that we are doing for favors for my sister's wedding this Friday. We can do these for your special event or promotion. We have many shapes and colors that you can choose from. We can put names, logos, photos, poems, or almost anything you can think of in the soap.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bath Cookies

There is nothing like a nice relaxing soak in the tub. I enjoy using bubble baths, bath bombs, bath teas and more. I found this recipe for Bath Cookies at Spa Index. Give it a try. For the light oil listed in the recipe you may want to try using Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel, or Jojoba oils.

2 cups finely ground sea salt
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 T light oil
1 tsp vitamin E oil
2 eggs
5-6 drops essential oil of your choice

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Combine all the listed ingredients and form into a dough. Using a teaspoon or so of dough at a time, roll it gently in the palm of your hand until it forms a ball. Form all dough into one teaspoon balls, and gently place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Consider sprinkling the bath balls with herbs, flower petals, cloves, citrus zest and similar aromatic ingredients. Bake your bath cookies for ten minutes, until they are lightly browned. Do not over bake. Allow the bath cookies to cool completely. To use, Drop 1 or 2 cookies into a warm bath and allow to dissolve. Yield: 24 cookies, enough for 12 baths.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Scam going around targeting soapers

On Wednesday I received an email from a Reverend Fred Williams wanting to place an order fro 180 soaps. Through continued email communication he increased the order to 540 soaps and he wanted the pricing excluding shipping. He claimed that they were to be sent to his late Uncle's orphanage in Ghana. He claimed that he had his own shipping company and for me to provide them the shipping details so they could give a quote on the shipping cost. He then wanted to pay me for the order and the shipping costs and for me to pay the shipping company. Of course, the only method of payment the shipping company took was Western Union. I thought something was just not right. He emailed me 2 credit cards for payment. I did not process them and called my processing company. They connected me with the security division and I explained what had happened and they confirmed that this is a common scam.

Today when I was on one of the soap groups I belong to, several other people had posted about this and had received the same email or communication just with a different Reverend's name. So I am posting this here to caution other soapers. They did not get anything from me and I don't want them to get anything from anybody else either.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shave Ice Soap

My mom sent me a care package from Hawaii and in it was this soap.
It is cute. The package says it is a Rainbow Shave Ice Scent. It smells really good and there is a definite note of lime in it. Yummy! This was done by Washi Soap Company in Honolulu. It does not appear that they have a website. That is too bad as I would love to see what else they do.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Items to Product Line

We are happy to announce that we have now added Sugar Scrubs and a Whipped Body Frosting (a nice creamy, soft frosting like lotion) to our product line. We are currently offering them in Plumeria, White Cherry Blossom, Mango Mango, Blushing Rose, and Feelin' Fruity. Stop in and sample these great additions.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dachshund Foster

On Friday, Dachshund Rescue of North America pulled this little guy from a local animal shelter. He has numerous medical problems which the shelter could not provide care for. He had been at the shelter for a week and had been seen by a vet but was not getting any medicine or care beyond that. Due to the shelter's inability to properly care for him and the reality that most likely he would not be adopted due to his condition, he was pulled. I am currently his foster mom. He has demodectic mange (which fortunately is not contagious), kennel cough, hookworm, bacterial infection, ear infections, dental problems, and needs to be neutered. For the time being, he is in quarantine at my house until we can get the kennel cough and hookworm treated. After that he will be able to interact with my dogs. He is such a sweet dog and did not deserve this. However, he is on his road to recovery and will have a life filled with love, attention, and care. It is estimated he is 1-2 years old and I have named him Quincy.
To find out more about Dachshund Rescue, available dogs for adoption, becoming a foster, or making a donation, please click here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rachel Ray Magazine Faves

This morning I was reading the September issue of the Rachel Ray magazine. I am so happy to see Handmade Soap listed as a Fave. I wish it were my soaps but it is not. However we can celebrate Indigo Wild's recognition. The write up specifically talks about the handmade Zum Bar Goat's Milk Soaps that are infused with essential oils and states "these soaps set the bar high!" Congrats!!!! It is nice to see handmade soaps getting recognized nationally.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Soap Making Weekend

I have been busy making soap this weekend. This is a sneak peak at two of the batches I made. Lots of new scents will be available soon. They will include Cold Water type, Energy, Beach Breezes, Gardenia, Puakenikeni (a Hawaiian Flower) and Peach Passionflower type.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Soap Savers are Here

I am so tickled with a new product that just arrived in our shop today. Soap Savers......

What is a Soap Saver you ask? The Soap Saver provides gentle exfoliation, creates mounds of lather and holds your soap. You insert the bar of soap into the Saver. Have leftover scraps of soap? You can use them in here too. When done, just hang in your shower or on tub spout to dry out. Just $2.00. We will be adding them to our website as well.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cookie Cutter Soaps

The other day, I was using cookie cutters to cut out some shapes to embed in soaps when I came up with the idea to use them to also create layers of color. I made a batch to test the theory and it works. I was having issues with pouring that day and kept over pouring so my surface is a bit uneven as I had to scrape off excess soap. However, if you don't do that while making your soaps they will be nice and smooth. Here is how I made them.

I selected what cutters I wanted to use and poured my first color in the smallest part of the cutter. The temperature of your soap during the pour is very important. You do not want it to be very hot. If it is too hot, your soap will seep out under the mold. I suggest pouring a little in the cutter to fill the bottom, spray with alcohol, and let cool briefly. After that, you can spray with alcohol, and finish filling the cutter. This will help to avoid the soap from seeping out.

After the first color cools completely, you can push it out of the cutter. I found the smallest ones the hardest to get out.

Place the first parts into the next size cutter. Spray thoroughly with alcohol and pour your second color. Again, make sure your soap is not to hot so it does not seep out or melt your first color.

Once this part cools, remove from the mold. Place into your next size cutter. Spray thoroughly with alcohol. Pour your final color.

Once your soaps cool, remove from the cutters. The shapes and color combinations that can be done with this is endless. Have fun and happy soaping!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Planning your soaps

Sometimes I get in such a rush on my project that I forget to plan them out. I experienced this on my fish soap. I am happy with the outcome but it was not quite I had in my head. First, I was a little messy with the the layering of colors. I figured it would be no big deal as no one would see it.

However, I wanted the background to be a light blue using clear soap so it would look like the water. In that case my little mess would be quite visible. So I went to work on that problem and poured a layer of dark blue over the back of the fish and that hid most of the issue. However, went I went to do the rest of the blue "water" my fragrance choice kept discoloring the blue to green. Point of this, is think out your soap first, check your fragrance choices, then go ahead. If not, as in my case, live and learn.

Adding & Changing Color in Displays

I like to frequently change the colors I use in my shop and the colors on my tables at craft shows. However, that can get very expensive. That was until I discovered two great things at Wal-Mart. 1) Sheets - they sell a flat full size sheet by itself in a wide variety of colors for approximately $2.50. I have used these as table cloths for at craft shows. They are light-weight, durable, easy to wash and not nearly as expensive as table cloths. I then add colors by using fabric. Wal-Mart has a good selection of fabrics that are $1.00 a yard. I have picked up many different ones that I have used to further enhance my displays. The yellow one in the picture was $1.00 per yard and the other two were a little more however it still makes changing colors and look very economical.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fall Soap

As we progress into the latter part of the year, we must recognize that it is time to be planning for fall and winter. I am soooo not ready for this but signs of the changes are everywhere. As I was out shopping today I saw displays out for Halloween, Fall, and more. So as I am thinking about was fragrances to incorporate, colors, and designs for my soaps for fall and winter, I stumbled across these phenomenal fall soaps by First In Line Soap. The use of colors and design is inspiring. These are great looking soaps.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Geisha Soap

This is a sample of my Geisha Soaps. I scented them with Japanese Cherry Blossom fragrance and used the Geisha Mold. The soaps are now available for purchase in my shop for $7.00. We will be able to ship them in the future. We prefer to wait until after summer as I don't think these little gems would be too happy in our 100 degree temperatures. We want to ensure that they arrive in the best condition possible.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We have a winner!

This past weekend, The Gift Garden participated in the Shop Tulsa event sponsored by Promenade Mall. We had a great time and met many wonderful people. Thank you to everyone who stopped by. We also had a drawing for a $50.00 Quicktrip Gas Card. Our winner is Jamie Conrad. Congratulations!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shop Tulsa!

This Saturday and Sunday, Promenade Mall in Tulsa is having their first annual Shop Tulsa event. The Mall has invited local retailers the opportunity to set up displays in the mall to promote their businesses and sell product. I could not let this opportunity go by. Therefore, The Gift Garden will be there both days. Saturday hours are 10am - 9pm and Sunday is 12:00 - 6pm.

Come out and support your local businesses. There are approximately 30 vendors. Please stop by and say hello and enter our drawing for a chance to win a $50.00 Quicktrip gas card.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

4th of July Soap

I know I am late in posting this, but better late than never. I got inspired to try this mold and of course waited too long to order. Fedex decided to play hockey with my boxes resulting in damages and further delays but after 3 attempts my order finally got here. Then of course, I procrastinated. I finally finished but I was sad because I had worked so hard to try to get the stars perfect and when I took the soap out of the mold, 2 of the stars fell off. :-( I think my blue could have been darker and the colorant I used for the red is supposed to be non-bleeding but as you can see there is some bleeding. Back to the drawing board on this one. It is a really cool mold though, I just now have to fix the user errors.

Surviving the Times

Everyday we are faced with signs of the economic times we are in. Gas prices continue to rise, the rising rate of foreclosures, the stock market, and the daily news reflect the times we are in. As a small business owner it can be very stressful. Not only do I have to keep my home budget in place but also my business.

This subject has been on my mind and I have been evaluating options. The other day I was looking at buying some oils for making soap and one supplier had a message listed that prices for some oils are changing by the hour. How crazy is that? Some of the forums I belong to are filled with messages about the increasing costs of supplies. Even Walmart's prices are going up. Many vendors have posted announcements of forthcoming price increases. All of it can become very overwhelming. This morning I read one of my favorite blogs, Soap Queen, and the topic was pricing.

That is a very real issue and one that any business owner must address. During these times I hate to increase prices. Everyone is already struggling and the products I carry are mostly non-essential buys, so now I increase the price making it even harder??? However, if I don't increase my prices to coincide with the economy, my profit margin declines and I struggle. So I have been looking for reasonable options that would allow me to maintain my prices without decreasing my profit margin.

As a small business owner, there aren't many areas to cut. I am the only employee so can't cut there. However, I do try to watch expenses. So some recommendations that I am using for myself and suggest you to consider are as follows:

1) In soap making some substitutions can be made and still result in a quality bar. For example, some say you can use Pomace Olive Oil vs Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the Pomace is less expensive. Pomace Olive Oil can speed up the trace process so be prepared for that.

2) Rice Bran Oil can be used in place of Olive Oil. Rice Bran Oil contains similar properties of Olive Oil but is less expensive.

3) Soybean Oil is another oil to look at. Some say that soybean oil can cause those dreaded orange spots so if you go with soybean I would recommend using hydrogenated soy as it improves the stability of the oil. This could be used as a filler to help keep costs down. When used alone, it creates a hard white bar.

With any of these, you will need to experiment and find what you like and what works for you. There are other options to help with costs as well. You can consolidate orders. Instead of making little orders, stock up and buy in bulk. You will get better prices on larger quantities and you can also save on shipping. If you can't take on larger quantities, get with other soapers and buy your supplies together.

Also use slower times effectively. Since this is not holiday season and times are tough many business are slower. Use this time to experiment and test new recipes and formulas that you did not have time to do before. Work on your packaging design, create new products. Plan for the holiday season. Line up craft shows you want to do. Plan for the volume of products you will need (again helping you to plan out your orders). Market your business. Many companies are already distributing their catalogs for the holiday season. Get your info out there too. Take this time to follow up with your existing customers, this will also give you a chance to market and tell them about any new items or changes. Clean the soap room. Get organized. Hit the list of things to do that never got done. Use this time effectively because as the season progresses you won't have time to do it later.

Most importantly, don't sit by and do nothing. Be proactive in your business. Stay informed and get creative. You can use these tips at home too. Buy generic items, buy in bulk, and combine resources. Keep a positive mental attitude. We can all make it through these times, even if it does not feel like it at the moment.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New Line of Soaps Coming Soon

I wanted to give an update to what is coming up at The Gift Garden. As some may know, I moved to Oklahoma a little over a year ago after living in Hawaii for about 15 years. I know, I know, Oklahoma from Hawaii but trust me I had good reasons. Anyway, I find myself missing the fragrances of the flowers found in Hawaii such as Tuberose, Pikake, Ginger, and Plumeria as well as the ocean, waterfalls, mountains and more. Therefore, I have decided to create a line of soaps that are inspired by all the islands have to offer. I am incorporating the vibrant colors, the amazing fragrances, as well as coconut, macadamia nut oil, and kukui nut oil in some of the soaps. I am enjoying the process of developing quality, handcrafted soaps with a touch of aloha in every bar. I look forward to making them available and hope you will love them as much as I love making them.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beautiful Soaps

This morning I was checking out Etsy and found these absolutely beautiful soaps. These were done by Carmel Soaps. The one on top caught my eye first. I love the richness of the colors. I ended up ordering that one which is Berry Patch, and the one on the bottom which is a Creamy Chai Tea, and a Key Lime (not pictured). I can't wait to get them. I bet they will smell just as fabulous as they look. The swirls on these soaps are amazing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Experiment Away

There are so many possibilities when it comes to making soap and it is very easy to settle in to one recipe and not experiment with different colors, oils, fragrances etc. Two of the biggest reasons that impact play and experimentation is time and cost. Do keep in mind, that if you are experimenting and you have a batch go bad, in most cases you can save it by rebatching. Or if it just comes out ugly or not quite what you were hoping for but otherwise is good soap you can sell it at a lower price. I usually have a discount basket at my craft shows where I put such soap. However another option is to make a very small batch or even just 1 bar. Here is a recipe for making 1 bar of soap:

1.5 oz Olive Oil
1.5 oz Palm Oil
1.3 oz Coconut Oil
.6 oz Lye
1.4 oz Distilled water
1/4 (or less) teaspoon of essential or fragrance oil

Be sure to double check it with your lye calculator and use proper safety measure when handling lye.

Happy experimentation!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Just Say Vitamin E

Over the holiday weekend, I was searching through various recipes online and I came across one for a foot scrub that sounded very interesting to me and I thought I would try it. However, when I was reading the list of ingredients I came across one I was not familiar with.... Tocopherol. So of course, I had to research this and it turns out that it is the INCI name for Vitamin E.

According to the Brittanica Concise Encyclopedia, Vitamin E or Tocopherol is a fat-soluble organic compound found principally in certain plant oils and leaves of green vegetables. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in body tissues and may prolong life by slowing oxidative destruction of membranes. Certain rodents require it for normal reproduction. Besides uses in foods and in nutritional research and supplements, it is used to retard rancidity in fats, especially vegetable oils.

It turns out that Vitamin E can help to prevent rancidity in oils or cosmetics containing oils such as lotions, lip balms, and scrubs. It can also be used to extend the shelf life of oils. I have heard this about Rosemary but did not know Vitamin E could do the same.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Turtle Soap

I was playing around and trying out different soap molds along with some new micas and lab colors that I have not used since I received them. This is the Turtle Mold by Milky Way Molds. I used a clear glycerin soap base and a Sea Green Mica for colorant for the turtle and the Emerald Greeen Lab Color for the bottom of the soap. I don't normally like green but I do like this combination and how the final soap turned out.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Water Resistant Labels

When I started making bath salts, body mists, scrubs etc. I thought about the fact that most of these products are used in the bath and could very easily get wet. This would cause the ink on the labels to run. I have had this happen with products that I have purchased from other soapers and wanted a solution. I know I have seen "weather proof" labels and such but they can get expensive. Fortunately, someone shared a brilliant tip with me and I am now passing it on. Clear Acrylic High Gloss Sealer. I print my labels. Go outside (the fumes can be strong so you need a well ventilated area). I spray a coat of the sealer across my labels and let dry. It dries in just a few minutes and as stated on the can it creates a permanent, water-resistant finish. I have handled some of my jars with wet hands to test it and it worked great. For 2.99 (from Hobby Lobby) for a 6 oz bottle that is lasting me forever... I can't complain. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Animal Rescue Flights

I currently foster this handsome guy for Dachshund Rescue of North America. He was an owner surrender and was brought into foster care on Valentine's Day. He is so sweet, gentle, and loving, with the most amazing blue eyes. Recently I was talking with one of the organizers for rescue here in Oklahoma and was told about a dog that was recently transported from Tulsa to Virgina by Animal Rescue Flights. I went to their site and was so moved to hear about what they do and how they do it. If you click on the Photos link on the top you can see pictures and read stories about their transports. This is a terrific organization. If you know any pilots that may be interested in helping a good cause, please share this information. When we work together, wonderful things can and are accomplished. We hope that Hahns finds his forever home soon and lives his life with all the love and hugs he deserves.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Marketing Your Business

Last week was one of those weeks that ended with me being filled with self-doubt and frustration. Owning your own business is not a walk in the park. There are great joys of being in business for myself however there are also many stresses and difficult moments. I don't find many people who will open up and discuss this part of business but I do believe it is a reality for all especially in the economic times we are in.

One of the biggest realities I faced in the beginning stages of this project was the amount of money needed to start up a business. The other was the reality that in the beginning, all I did was spend, spend, and spend. I got to the point where I was sick of spending money (and I love to shop - so it takes a lot for me to get to that point) and wanted to start seeing the money coming in. But I am learning to have patience. I have not mastered it but I am working on it. My shop opened approximately 3 weeks ago. I am not at the level of business that I desire to be and work on marketing everyday. I found the best sense of relief and motivation that I can give myself at this time is to be proactive. The sense that I am out doing something to help my business grow makes me feel a lot better than sitting and sulking that my sales are not where I want them to be. No one said that just because we open our doors and put up a sign that everyone will come.

Marketing can definitely become very expensive, very quickly. I have a budget that I need to stick to so I have been searching for various methods to create exposure without breaking the bank. Here are some of the methods I am using. Some work better than others so I encourage you to test your market to see what will work best for you and don't be afraid to do different things to advertise.

1) Local newspapers. I have advertised in our community paper. I discovered that they had a special section for business and by agreeing to a specific term for running the ad they throw in a 2 page spread on your business. That is a pretty good deal.

2) Other local distributions. We have a local paper here called "Coffee News." They have a weekly paper that is distributed to various coffee shops, restaurants, etc. They have a high reader base and their cost for advertising is very reasonable. Perhaps, not one of the more traditional advertising forms but it is effective. I get a better response from advertising here than in the local paper. Look around your community and see what other papers or distributions are available.

3) Flyers/business cards. I visit local business that would draw customers that would be in the market for my products but are not my direct competitor. For example, I do favors for baby showers, weddings, birthdays, etc. Therefore, I have visited maternity clothing/consignment shops, bridal/tuxedo shops, wedding venues, etc to introduce myself and my business and to see if I could leave either flyers or business cards at their store. Most people have been very nice and allowed me to do so. A cheap method of advertising. Mostly takes your time and effort.

4) Internet. This is a complicated medium but does provide many avenues to market for free. If you have a website, make sure your keywords are up-to-date and that you get it submitted to the search engines. Beyond that go to major sites like Google and make sure your business is listed. If it is not, list it. This is free to do and very easy. Check your state to see what sites they have and if you can list your business there. Oklahoma has a site for Shop Oklahoma and I was able to put information there about my business and they also have free classifieds where you can list specific products/services. Other free sites, like Craiglist are also an option.

5) Use your network. Most people today have a MySpace page (I dont' but most do), a website, a blog, or some form of presence on the internet. Have them add a link to your site or put info about you on their pages.

6) Networking. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and other business network groups. Take advantage of opportunities to do presentations to various groups.

7) Use your current customer base. I try to have all my customers sign our registry and provide an email. We will be sending out a monthly newsletter to all of our customers to advise them of sales and promotions for the coming month. In addition, we will include fun things like recipes for making different products, contests, etc. I also give out coupons to encourage a customer to come back and shop again. Another good idea is a frequent buyer gift/discount. For example, each time they buy a soap they get a stamp on their card. After 10 purchase they can get one free. There are many things you can do in this arena but know one thing for sure. It is much easier (and cheaper) to keep the customers you have than to continuously have to market to get new ones. Appreciate and take care of your customer base so that they keep coming back to you.

I know this is a lot of information for a Monday morning but after last week, I found myself needed to review this again and get myself pumped and going for this new week and I wanted to share for those who may be going through something similar or for those looking for some new ideas.

I also played in soap this weekend. Another great stress reliever. I will post later with some pictures and information about those projects. But for now, I am off to market.

Friday, June 27, 2008

First Soap Making Experience

Yesterday, my niece Jalyssa and her friend Danielle came in to make soap. This was their first soap making experience. I must say that they appear to have a natural knack for this and were very creative with their use of colors. Well done!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sample of Baby Soap Favors

These are my new Baby soap favors. This mold was the first one I used where I tried using the different colors. I found that using a dropper to fill the letters in made it much easier. Also, having your soap base at a good temperature helps too. Be sure to allow your first layer to cool and then spray with alcohol before pouring your second layer.

Creative Ideas for Soaps

I have recently been inspired by the intricate soaps of PJ Soaps and many others that I have seen on Etsy and various other sites. Seeing these amazing creations is really helping me see the endless possibilities of working with melt & pour soaps. I have done so many of the basics with 1 color and 1 scent. Recently I have been practicing with layers. I am finding that having the right tools definitively helps in the process. I had not thought about layering scents until I was reading the above listed site. With all things in life, we can be as detailed as we want to be. I am thankful to those creative enough to bring us such fabulous ideas and techniques.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Happy Monday!

The Gift Garden has now been open for 2 weeks. This has been one of the most challenging tasks of my life and at the same time very rewarding. I started making soap and other craft items several years ago. After moving from Hawaii to Oklahoma, I found myself really thinking about my career and life in general. I decided that I wanted to do things that I enjoy which include soaping, crafting, etc... I wanted to be a part of happy and special moments in people's lives. With that The Gift Garden was born. The concept has changed over the months but I think I have found my place. One of my greatest pleasures is making soap. I love the smells of the wonderful fragrances and the endless possibilities. There is so much that can be done with soaps. I do both cold process and melt-n-pour. This weekend was a productive soaping weekend. I made a batch of Mango soap as well as numerous samples of party favors that we offer. I attempted my first loaf soap with various colors in it. I like it, except I got a layer of bubbles in it that messed it up. Oh well, trial and error. Not all batches come out good. I will load pictures soon.