I can't believe our little one is nearly here! My baby shower was this past Saturday and it was absolutely fabulous. I have awesome lady friends! I love them so! We have nearly everything for the baby. All the furniture is bought and in the room although it needs put together! We just got a pack and play, stroller and a car seat last night from a co-worker of Donnie's for a very reasonable price. I have a running list of the rest of the stuff to get. Donnie thinks it's funny that I'm nesting. I brought home the shampooer so I can do the carpets and I'll also be tackling our bedroom and the rest of the house getting things organized. There's just not much time left! And just when I'll be done with my thank you cards, I'll be putting together our baby announcements...So much to do, but all in good time.
LYE SOAP! Oh no! Just hearing that phrase makes me think old grandma’s hovering over their kettles stirring for hours making soap. I’ve read and heard stories that lye soap was not that great. It smelled of whatever fat was being used, mostly tallow (cow fat) and/or lard (pig fat) and sometimes, it probably wasn’t the freshest of fat either because fat was stored until there was enough to make soap. It takes a lot of fat for soap because it needs to be cooked down (rendered) and strained. About fat being rendered will be left over from this process. And the lye used was home made from leached wood and ashes with unknown strengths resulting in soap that could be crumbly, runny, lye heavy (note, lye heavy is not good! It burns and stings!) and other strange consistencies with dirt and bits of material embedded left over from the fat rendering process. Making lye soap was an ordeal but well worth the prize of soap. And soap was and still is a commodity that is prized for cleaning and beautifying.
I can’t imagine making soap that way! I wouldn’t love it that’s for sure! And I love to make soap! So imagine my surprise when I started reading about lard soap. Makes me think…lard. In. my. soap. (ick?) What is so special about that? Now, before you go gross, lard in my soap, know that a lot of commercially made soap is made from tallow and sometimes lard. These are animal by products. Check out your labels: Sodium Tallowate or Sodium Lardate. That was easier for me to swallow. And I had to admire people back in the day making their own soap because it was a luxury and people didn’t waste things! So, I couldn’t knock lard in soap, in fact, I was really fascinated and just couldn’t wait to get some for us to make soap with. Lard made into soap is a gorgeous, creamy white and supposedly, a beautifully creamy soap.
We asked around for awhile for lard or tallow hoping someone could help us out. Then my BFF’s boyfriend said his family was buying a pig and they were going to process it and we asked him for the fat left over. We were so excited when he brought us already rendered lard in a big coffee can. Beautiful, yummy lard. And he also brought us other goodies of some of the best tasting sausage, pork chops, pon hous (scrapple) and cracklins’. I’m getting side tracked here…Back to soap talk! Let’s just put it simply, we loved getting the lard and stuff! Thanks to Barb & Marty!
So last night we decided it was time to finally make the lard soap. Just lard, lye, and water. It’s not a fancy soap and we actually prefer simpler recipes for our soap. I’ve heard that lard soap is absolutely fabulous so I all up for the hype of finally using it. And I will see how wonderful it is in a few hours when we cut and test a piece! What we were not prepared for was how long it was going to take to make it. We have some pretty involved soap recipes that take some time to get the soap to its final state and that’s all well and good because I expect some difficulties and long prep time. Things were going as expected with the melting the lard down and mixing our lye solution, poured everything in the mixing bowl and started mixing away.
And mix away we went…for about an hour!!!! After the first 10 minutes or so, my dear husband asks me if I calculated the recipe wrong because it was not setting up like any of our other soaps. We had just made two batches of soap that set up in about 5 minutes, which is typical of using a stick blender. After my 10 minute stirring turn, I decided to go research why the soap was taking so long. I didn’t ever remember reading about this soap taking a long time to trace like a castile soap (olive) so I was beginning to be concerned also. I found my answer instantly thanks to Google. The first post said about lard soap said be prepared to stir til your arm falls off. There were several other posts following reiterating the same thing. I went back upstairs to inform my love of the estimated time we still had left to stir. He proclaimed that he didn’t like lard soap any more and it’s now $5 a bar due to all the time we put into it, lol. I’m thinking it’s going to be awhile before we make another batch of it. Finally, after an hour went by, I got a trace (the point where soap sets up). It was not a thick trace but enough for me! Because the soap was more liquidy than most soaps we make, Donnie pours the soap into the mold and spills a bunch all over the floor!!! Disaster! Active lye on my floor! It wasn’t too bad. I cleaned it up quickly and we wrapped the soap up and set aside for tonight’s cutting.
I’ll post pics and a review later about how the soap comes out. I’m hoping wonderful after all the time we spent on this soap! Normally, we make just vegetable oil based soaps, but I couldn’t resist making old-fashioned lard soap. Hopefully, others will be just as interested in it as we were.
Last night, we tried to make soap. Until I realized the soap we were going to make was short an ingredient! Oh nos! That can't be! But yes, it is. With a few expensive things we invested in for the upcoming Homemade Days (we have yet to hear from, soon!) money is tight, especially with other expenses coming up in the next couple months. Since we haven't been open a whole year yet, we had no way of knowing what summer was going to bring with soap selling and have had to be careful with what shows we could be at because of the baby. That said, I've looked into other marketing options, namely Etsy.
I love Etsy. I have realized this in the last couple weeks after perusing the site daily, almost hourly. There is some totally cute stuff on there. I have also checked out other soapers and bath and body peoples, mostly local ones...I'm a bit of a stalker I suppose, checking out our competition, lol. Gotta know what we're up against! Anyway, if you don't know what Etsy is (seriously, who doesn't) Etsy is a online shopping forum for handmade goods & services, vintage stuff and supplies. The array there is amazing with really talented people! I'm a designer by day so I like to look at stuff for creative inspiration, and boy, do I get inspired, mostly to shop lol.
Other than Facebook and this website, we don't do a lot of marketing and advertising. Surprising since that's the field I'm in, you'd think I would do more of it for the benefit of the business. But advertising is expensive! And without an actual store, the only time we like to advertise is when we are going to a show. It's not the best business model to promote sales. We do get a lot of business from word of mouth which is the most fabulous free advertising a business can get. Who would be best to tell others about products than loyal customers! (On a side note, let me just say Thank YOU to our loyal customers! We got nothin' but love for you!) Word of mouth is even better when stuff is given as a gift!
So, back to Etsy...after checking out the site incessantly and after many conversations with my darling husband, I think we are going to Etsy. Fees are reasonable, we have a paypal, and it's a popular interface, what do we really have to lose? More sales? lol I've been inspired by a fellow soapmaker who said she quit her day job and runs her Etsy full time. Not that I expect that to happen, but it would be nice if I could do the same! And if we don't Etsy, then I think we are losing some exposure in the market. At least we can try!
Here's to Etsy! Side Door Soaps is coming soon!
With less than 12 weeks to go now, the baby is making itself more evident with my growing belly. I am so fascinated by the whole process of pregnancy. Seriously, I’ve pondered how totally awesome it is that I am growing a life inside of my body. I really didn’t appreciate that when I pregnant with my son, possibly because I was just so young. Now that I can appreciate my body, I really revere pregnant bodies, especially mine!
With the baby fast approaching its debut to our world, we are trying to prepare. It’s hard though. I’m not sure how this will affect the soaping, after all, I do remember the first few weeks as exhausting with a newborn. I really am thinking about other ideas so eventually I can stay home with the baby! I never really thought of being a stay at home mom before because I like to work. But I really want to enjoy the baby also in ways I wasn’t able to with my first-born.
In the next couple weeks, we will be getting ready for a 2-day show we hope to get into. Our application won’t come back until the end of the month. The people said we should get notice 10 days before the show. I hope we do get in. We bought one of those outside easy up tents, which was a large expense for us. And we have been holding off buying some supplies due to rising costs and getting more income to make some reasonable purchases to get the most of our shipping costs. It’s all such a delicate balance!
After the baby is born, we will be ramping up production for the holiday season. We were so busy last year and it was unexpected! But thanks to all of your support, that busyness really helped us realize what was important to us and affirmed our dedication to our soap. This year we shall be better prepared! I’m still hoping that some of our plans for this year will come to fruition like our plans for liquid soap. We will need to really plan this out! And I have some ideas for lotion bars. It comes down to priorities. We’re getting there!
As always, thanks for your support! We love you for it…