“Soap Makers Success Stories” presented by Brandy McClurg of SoapEquipment.com

“Soap Makers Success Stories” presented by Brandy McClurg of SoapEquipment.com

Brandy		As you guys all know I work for Soap Equipment. Com.  I would like to share the many companies we have worked with and their journey to success.
		First off - the Rocky Mountain Soap Company.  They are located in Kenmore, Alberta, Canada.  They are the largest soapmaker in Canada.  
Mike		Turning mike back on, Derek told me to turn them off.
A		Start over.
Brandy		Today I'm going to talk about a few of the many companies that we have worked with during their journeys to success.  
		The first is the Rocky Mountain Soap Company.  They are located in Kenmore, Alberta, Canada.  They are the largest soapmaker in Canada.  They started out in a 300 sq. foot shop.   They purchased a manual cutter, a couple of manual cutter molds to help to get the production up.  After twelve short years, their work space has grown to 7000 sq. feet and their soapmaking equipment needs have grown from three manual cutters and several manual cutter molds to two air cutters, numerous air-cutter molds and they have oil heaters and others types of equipment.  Their success has been through opening 13 company-owned retail stores and stocking them.  Their product line includes soap, body butters, bath balms, lip balms as well as skin care.  We, over the years, have made large mixers for 85 gallon oil heaters for them, for different products that they use, with a custom motor on it because it is a lot heavier than what like our slow speeds would do.   
	Next up is the Sun Feather Soap Company.   Sandy Maine started that company back in 1979 in Rural Pots Dam, New York and at a time where there were very few soap makers around. She had no phone and no electricity and so she used a generator and they had to carry 5 gallon buckets of water from a near-by spring in order to make their soap.  All of her business was done initially by snail mail. They had to make a trip a couple times a week to the nearest town to make phone calls to contact customers.  She sold her soap wholesale, retail, farmer's markets and festivals to get started and private labeling had also became a large portion of their business in later years.   Part of Sandy's success was due to her creative packaging of her product at the time as well as staying in close contact with her customers.  Her husband initially made a lot of the equipment that they started out with.  Later in the years she purchased an air cutter, they have over 75 of our air cutter molds, various size oil heaters, extra loaf brains, they have changed bar sizes because of the private labeling that they do.  They probably have 15 different bar sizes that they do.  We have made custom bath balms.  If you go to their website right now, they have a round bath balm that has a feather imprinted in it.  We made that mold for them.  She has published numerous soapmaking books.  The soap book "Soothing Soaps", "Creating an Herbal body care Business".  She built the Sun Feather Soap Company into a successful business from the ground up.  In 2011, she sold her business to the Nutraceuticals Corporation, although she has remained the CEO of the company.  
A		Brandy, what was the name?
Brandy		Sun Feather. She was also one of the first members, they had a meeting in Ohio for what was considered the beginning of the Soapmaker's Guild, and she was one of the founding people who said we know we really need to get something, get a group together.
	The Scarlet Kitty is located in Ohio.  They currently only do bath balms.  They came to our shop, the mommy and daughter and her four little kids.  They were just great.  They wanted to see how this press worked.  So we are corralling the kids and showing her how to work the press.  They walk out with the press and three bath balms.  They came back three months later to buy their second press because she sells her bath balms like everywhere.  When she left she was like "We are going to do this", and I'm going, you have four kids, like five and under, and I'm going okay?  You are ambitious and when she said it she meant it.  They currently employ 10 part-time people.  Their product is carried in 30 children boutiques as well as whole foods.  They just returned from America's Mart in Georgia and now they are working on securing a larger location as her basement is just getting too small and also getting another press.
	Bubble Shack Hawaii started their business in December of 2005 after recognizing the need for natural bath products that weren't, according to them, so boring.  They specialize in melt and pour soap, although they do some cold process lotions and candles.  They are the largest soapmaker in Hawaii.  They market mainly to tourists and do some wholesale accounts.  Ashley and Holley have six two mold systems, various sized oil heaters and air cutter, air cutter pro molds, M&P molds and several other small equipment.  
	Willow Way started after Ron and Debbie bought a copy of Susan Miller's "The Naturals Soap Book".  They made their first batch of soap in their kitchen.  The directions read to dribble the lye solution into the oils and stir slowly.  After about two and one half hours of both of them taking turns slowly stirring, they gave up.  So, you can picture these in a bowl going like this for two and one half hours trying to get their soap to a trace.   So, they sent a letter to Susan and said "Why is this not working?"   Well about a month later they receive a letter in the mail because this was back in the mid 90's, you know, internet wasn't really all that great saying that you could use a mixer.   I'm going, "Really God", but anyway so of course the next batch that they made turned out and they decided that was something that they really liked.  After deciding this was something that they really wanted to do, they made several batches and passed them out to friends and families along with a questionnaire.   Though only a few of them were returned, they decided that they were going to move on.  A couple more batches were made and wrapped in different color gingham and ribbon and Ron took the soap to a local gift shop to see if they would like to carry it.  After about a week, he went back to see how it was selling, only to find the soap bars, completely unwrapped and only with a ribbon a tag stating the same.  The store owner explained why the bars were unwrapped.  Most of our customers want to see, touch and smell the soap.  Most of the soap had been sold though.  Her only complaint was that the bars were different sizes and the customers would pick overall the bars to find the heaviest.  Taking her advice on the packaging was changed to a simple cigar band which was done in publisher and they also started working with a machinist to design what is now our pear cutter.  After that was perfected, Ron drove up and down historic US 40 selling their soaps to all the small shops along the way.  Wondering how to increase their sales, he asked the original store owner where she got the other products for her store.  The shop owner told Ron that they came from Gift Mart Sales Wraps and also said to ask other store owners who their best sales rep were, because they were only then willing to tell who their best one was and who their worst were.  After contacting a sales rep agency that matched their particular products with specific sales reps, their business started to grow.  In a five year period their soap was in about 500 stores and they have 50 sales reps throughout the United States.  Their soap was carried in Cabela’s, in the gift shop and the National Yellow Store National Park.  They made a bear shaped soap and a fish shaped soap.  Longs and Ryley Drug Stores and CVS.  They made 500 lbs. of soap a week in roughly a 500 sq. foot kitchen in a small bar.  The soap part of Willow Way was sold off several years back in order for Ron and Debbie to see the vision of Soap Equipment.com to become a reality.  Our goal, as Soap Equipment.com is to help you grow your business by providing you the equipment that helps accomplish this in a more efficient manner, no matter how big or small your needs are.  We customize equipment as well as do system designs.  We do custom lip balms, custom molds, custom cutters, custom tanks, stamps, about anything.  We've done stuff for cheesemakers, automobile companies.  We just did a tank for a company that uses it to put deicer on planes.  They roll it around the lot and deice all these planes.  It's amazing.  A lot of our equipment can be transferred over to different industries.  At the next retreat, I'm going to discuss the ways that you can actually grow your business from peddling your soap at stores, flea markets, stuff like that, which a lot of are already do.   Sales reps, how you go about it, you know what some of the costs can be and some of the things you need to do to help get that moving along, wholesale accounts and also private labeling.   You private label your product, it would be hard for me to compete with you.  If I have my product and I have my nice little label with like, you know, my logo on it and I take it to a hotel and you go to the hotel and you say, "Okay, I can offer you this bar.  I'm going to put your logo on it, your name on it," which one are they going to take?   They want their name on it, most of them.  
Does anyone have any questions?
Catherine:  	My question is as a soapmaker, if I ever need a product that would make it easier for me, could you custom design that?  You should repeat the question.
Brandy		The question was.  If you are a soapmaker and you contact us and you want this product custom made for you, can we do it?  In most cases yes.  You know the cost may be, it might be a little scary, a lot of it depends on what it is.  If it is something that is very similar to what we do, if it's like reinventing the wheel, we may or may not.  We have done a lot over the years like our pneumatic M&P cutter, we literally had to pretty much reinvent the loaf cutter per se, in order to get this to work for melt and pour.   But, if you have anything, just shoot us an e-mail, we will gladly look at it and see if it is something that we can do.
Catherine:	This is part two of my question.  So you can alter any design you currently have easily?
Brandy		Um, Most generally.
Catherine	You should repeat that
Brandy		The second part of her question is that could we redesign something that we currently make.
Catherine	A mold or something
Brandy		Yes, we do that all the time. Molds are a very easy thing.  We have one wide mold and then we have the other molds that make the bars this way.  We customize those all the time.  It is simply redoing the measurements, do the drawing, cut it out, route it the right way and it's out the door within a week or so.
Catherine	Silicones
Brandy		No.  All of our molds are made of HDPE Plastic, it is a high density polyethylene.
A		That's a number five plastic?
Brandy		I don't think so, we just call it HDPE, because well high density polyethylene.
A		You can put chemicals in it?
Brandy		Yes
Catherine	It's the same base as the cutter	?
Brandy		Yes, it's the same base as the soap cutters, yes.
A		Did you say you make soap stamps also?	
Brandy		We, most of the stamps are based on your bar size.  You know you have so much around.  We have a handle that you can get the handle and stamp it with that or we sell a press that you can actually put it on, which is the same as a bath bomb press, because you can get a custom stamp for a cylinder mold or a cube mold if you want to do a logo bath bomb, but then you can then use it for your soap.
A		Do you have a minimum quantity for that?
Brandy		Her questions was do we have a minimum quantity.  We do not.  If you want one, we'll do one.  If you buy three or more there is a 10% discount, so people do.  We have one customer who would buy eight stamps at a time and want them done the next day, but he knew what we required, what kind of graphics we required and when he sent them to you, we would put them in Corel, send them through Vector Magic, run it through the laser and they would be done.
A		Can you bring samples next time of things that you do?
Brandy:		I can bring stamps.  I do have to make bath bombs to take to Tennessee, so I might have some of those so I might be able to sneak them in my luggage, so they don't think I'm going to blow up the plane.   First, if you know what, if I think about it, I will send them back with you from Tennessee.  I could do that.
A		You could always mail them here.
Brandy		Or I could send them with cutters.   I will remember to do that.  Yeah, if we do it that way, I can do that.
Susan		Could you go back to the Sun Feather slide for a moment?  Okay, right there.   No power, no water, no phone, seriously, no excuse.
Brandy		Sandy Maine, her first soapmaker was this older biker lady and I swear she must have had one arm bigger than the other because she literally stirred this stuff by hand to bring it to trace.  She ended up breaking her shoulder and Sandy finally give in and got a pot wheeler to do that to help her out.
Susan		That's amazing to me.  Any one of those things I would have said "I can't do that".  I'm amazed.
Brandy		You in 1979 soapmaking was not really heard of,  you know, she was literally one of the pioneers and most people have heard of Sun Feather, they may not know Sandy, but they have heard of Sun Feather soaps.  She actually was one of our first distributors.  She got like her second or third air cutter.
A		Can you tell me a little bit about how big they are, something like that?  Are they a small company when they first started out, but how big have they blossomed into?
A		Willow Way is you right?
Brandy		Soap Equipment.com now.  They sold the soap part off.  Designing was more of Ron's passion and mom became hypersensitive to the essential oils and stuff, so she would get massive headaches for weeks and she just couldn't do it anymore.   I can't blame her there for that and without the equipment where would some of us be now?   Sun Feather became a huge company, they really were.   Nutraceuticals that bought her out in 2011, they have bought about four, I believe four other companies and they were large companies.  I mean they don't buy just little mom and pop shops.  Most of the ones they have bought have been well established and been around for years, Sandy even had to sign a no competition clause for what is it four or five years.    It's almost up, so it will be interesting to see if Sandy starts another company to what she is going to do.  
		The Scarlet Kitty is a very small company right now.  They have ten part-time employees.  It is in her basement, so she is very small.
		Bubble Shack, they have a pretty decent sized facility. I have never been there, I'm still trying to go to Hawaii.  I believe they are, I want to say, I will have look to get you the exact address as I'm not sure.
		Rocky Mountain.    They have a very large facility, I mean 7000 sq. feet and it is full, I mean they use it, but they only, right now, they do a little bit of wholesale, but most of it goes into their 13 company-owned stores.  I mean they supply those.  
		Any more questions?      Okay

 

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