Saturday, March 28, 2009

and the winner of the Jasmine Jubilee soap is? Camille!!

That's right, we've got a winner!! I put all the names that entered into a hat and drew out a name. I'm happy to announce the lucky winner is Camille!! I've just sent her an announcement of her winnings. Congratulations Camille.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Come and get it! Free Soap Giveaway!

Ok here we go, with today being the first day of Spring I am giving away one of my floral scented soaps to welcome all of the flowers blossoming this Spring. I had everyone vote on their favorite floral scent and it looks like Jasmine is the winner. So I will give away one of my Jasmine Jubilee Handrolled Soaps.

Here is a photo of the soap:

All you have to do is make a comment on this blog post telling me what is your favorite soap you have ever used and why?? Make sure you leave a way to contact you in the comment so I can reach you after the contest. (an email, blog, etc.)

This contest will last until Friday March 27th. At that time I will take all names that entered and draw a winner out of a hat.

If you are reading this anywhere other than my blog then go to my blog at DeShawn Marie Handcrafted Soap Blog to participate. Thanks a good luck!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Free Handmade Soap Giveaway!

Well with tomorrow being the first official day of Spring I thought what better way to bring it in than to give a floral scented soap away.  So start voting in the poll on the top right of this blog on which floral scent is your favorite?  This will help me decide which soap to give away.  Thanks, giveaway will be announced tomorrow.  Start voting now!

Happy Spring Everyone!

If you are reading this in a facebook note or other location than my blog, just go to DeShawn Marie Handcrafted Soap blog to participate.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Amo Italia! (translation “I love Italy”)

For some reason ever since I was a little girl I have been in love with Italy.  I had always wanted to go even though I don’t have a drop of Italian blood in me.  I use to plan imaginary trips and dream of going there some day.  Well eventually I grew up and turned those dreams into reality. 

A lot of my soaps are inspired by Italian food, landscapes and even architecture.  For instance take a look at my Cedarwood Lavender Handmade Soap pictured below.

small cedarwood

and now take a look at this photo I took in Venice, IT

small venice photo

When I took that photo in Venice I never thought it would inspire a soap, but when I arrived home and looked through my photos this photo grabbed me every time and became one of my favorites.  Over time I wanted a soap that had the same complexity as this picture with the aged walls and the natural texture that jumps out at you.  I wanted the soap to have the warmth of the soft natural light in this photo and voila!  That is when I made my Cedarwood Lavender Soap.

Another one of my Italian inspired soaps is the Limoncello Soap which is created after the famous Italian liqueur Limoncello.  I had never heard of  it until one day I was sitting in a beautiful cafe in Positano, IT and they served me a complimentary Limoncello as an after dinner drink.  At first it was kind of tart, but then it grew on me and I fell in love with it.

Here is a photo of my Limoncello Soap

new extra soap photos 015

and here is a photo of the famous Limoncello Liqueur


I love all things Italian and I’m sure you’ll see more of my Italian inspired soaps and themes in the future, but thought I would take the time today to show you a few of my favorite Italian inspired soaps I make.

Ci vediamo presto!! (see you soon)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Big or small?

When I first began my business back in 1998 (which at that time was only handcrafted candles) I didn’t have a vision. I just knew that if I made candles and sold them I could pay my bills. So that is how I started. I didn’t have a business plan, I didn’t go to business school, all I did was make candles that people liked and as a result purchased them. Sounds pretty simple right?? WRONG!!

Here is a photo of some of the first candles I ever made

first candles

As time went on I followed the typical American business mindset of “bigger is better” and “growth is good” what I didn’t realize at that time was that instead of controlling my business I was growing it to the point where it controlled me. I never asked myself the question “is this going to make me happy?” I was just so happy to be working for myself I didn’t think it would come to a point where I would be unhappy with it. I mean this is the “American Dream” right? Entrepreneurship and success?

Here is a photo of some of the first soaps I ever made

first soaps

So when I had grown it to a point of having a store front, a 24 page full color catalog, tv commercials, being featured in broadway plays, a coffee shop, a website, 4 employees, 4 interns and 50 stores carrying my candles worldwide I thought gosh I have it made, but why am I not happy? This is what everyone works for right? To have their own business and be successful. Everyone was always telling me "WOW you’re lucky!” Yet as much as everyone kept saying that I didn’t feel it. People came into my store and constantly told me oh I know a store that will carry these or they would tell me they want to invest to turn it into something even bigger.

Here is a photo of part of my studio during that time


I thought all of this was the natural progression of business and that I should want all of this, but the reality was I had come to a point in which it was too much for me and I had no life outside of my business. I couldn’t keep a serious relationship, all of my friends had to visit me while I was working and half the time I’d put them to work while they were there because I was so tired and overworked. I realized this was no life for me. I did this to be free and now I felt more trapped than ever. Everything was happening so fast and I felt the business was making decisions for me, rather than me making decisions for it.

Here is a photo of the candles that made me famous shall we say ;-)

soul searching candles

It was at the end of 2003 that everything changed for me. I became the victim of internet credit card fraud during the holiday season of 2003. At that time I lost everything I had and had to fight to make it survive another year. I closed my store and manufacturing at the end of 2004 and closed my business. My business was destroyed and I had to pick up the pieces and make sense of it now. I was devastated and went through some extremely hard times. To this day I am still repaying debt from this situation and working on resolving all of the tax issues it caused.

There is a bright side to this story though. Strangely I am happier than ever with my business as this catastrophe caused me to restructure my business in a way that was made for me. I am now a sole proprietor that works for myself, I mostly make soap as it is less labor intensive than candle making and I operate it as a small business with no intention of growing big. I’ve learned to say “no” to things I know down the road will not work with my life. My business and my life have to work together or it doesn’t work at all. I’ve learned that “bigger is not always better.” I am posting this today for those who are starting their own small business or turning a craft into business. I’d like to offer some advice that I feel is essential to the success of all small business owners.

My advice: “listen to your inner voice, take a step away from your business on a daily basis and ask yourself what best suites your life with your business being a part of it? They have to work together, make decisions everyday based on what you want your life to be, not on what you want the business to be as the business will naturally become what you want it to if you put yourself first.”

Here is a photo of some of my current soaps

bulk soap photos 012

I hope sharing this story helps those just starting out or those trying to make big decisions now or maybe you are where I was at some point in this story and it triggers you to make the right decision now. I wish everyone at any stage of becoming an entrepreneur or small business owner much success and happiness in your life and business.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Soap Makers Ultimate Compliment

new soap 021

Last week I was happy to see a repeat customer take advantage of my 6 for $25 plus free shipping sale.   It’s always nice to see people come back and purchase again.  After Heather of Vanity Design made the purchase last week I shipped it out as usual and stuck a little note in saying “thanks for the continued support”  As usual I hoped the package would get there safely and that my customer would be happy with it.

As soon as Heather received her package I received nice positive feedback from her on Etsy.  She wrote  “Best soap on Etsy I swear! I open all the boxes and set the soap around in my bathroom. They are so beautiful to look at that they add to the decor and smell so yummy you would have no idea my nine year old boy cant aim! They are not froo froo smelling at all so my husband uses them as well.”  I was delighted that she called my soap “the best soap on Etsy”  With all the soap makers on there that is quite a compliment.

Now if that wasn’t enough a few days later she writes me telling me she is scenting her whole home with my soap.  Again I’m flattered and I’m thinking “it’s so nice to have customers that really like my stuff”

At this point I thought it really can’t get better than this.  Then today I wake up to even another message from Heather.  Here is what it said “I'm redoing the downstairs bathroom to match the peppermint soap. I love the colors so much I'm taking it with me to Bed Bath and Beyond tomorrow.  Now that is some good soap when a bathroom has to be remodeled around it!”


new soap 022

When I received this message from Heather I just about died laughing and then I thought “WOW that is awesome that some one likes my design so much that they are designing their whole bathroom around what I made!”  This truly is the soap makers ultimate compliment!  I am writing this post to share this experience but also to give Heather an official online “THANK YOU!”  Please take the time to visit her shop on Etsy at Vanity Design.  She has some really cute pendants and is a super sweet person.  I would love to send her some support equal to what she has done for me.  Thanks Heather and I’m happy your husband was in agreement after seeing the soap :)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Loopy Knits Boutique

I’ve recently had the pleasure of doing business with Kelli of Loopy Knits Boutique and little did I know the luxury of hand knitted washcloths.  I’ve been using my own soap for 12 years and never even thought about handmade washcloths to go with them.  I was lucky enough that Kelli found me on Etsy and approached me about including some of my soaps as samples to go with her washcloths.

After I sent out the soaps she ordered I couldn’t get my mind from thinking “gosh I want to try some of those washcloths”  So I approached Kelli with the idea of swapping some soap for some washcloths and was very pleased she said yes.  My entire experience of working with Kelli has been wonderful, she is very communicative, understanding, easy to work with and flexible.  On top of that she is extremely talented, just take a look at her shop at Loopy Knits Boutique

loopy knits washcloths

I’ve now received my wonderful lime and raspberry cloths and am really pleased.  I had no idea how nice it could feel to use hand knitted cloths such as these.  I couldn’t help but write about it and share the experience with others.  If you love handmade soaps you should try some handmade cloths to go with them, you’ll never want to go back to terry, just like Kelli advertises.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Rapid Cart for blogs and more!!

A great feature for all involved! Whether you like to shop with ease, sell with ease or even just browse, the new rapid cart feature on ArtFire has just made life easier for all of us. Take a look at this cool new feature and browse or buy my soap right from my blog.

If you sell your own crafts online you can use Rapid cart for your blog, website or anywhere that you can post flash code. Hope this information is helpful for both shoppers and artists wanting to sell their own craft.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Chai Tea anyone?

march 2007 158

Today I've been whipping up a batch of Chai Tea soap.  I absolutely love the spicy aroma that fills the air when I make this soap.  It is also one of my favorite soaps to use in the winter time as it is very warming and the cinnamon contained in it works as a great exfoliator for dry skin.

I use an orange essential oil from Florida in the soap, the cinnamon oil is from Sri Lanka and the clove oil is from Madagascar.  I searched for the top oils to use in this soap for years and now have a solid supply to continue creating the Chai Tea soap. 

new soap photos 022

Alot of people comment when they smell my soaps that they want to eat them and this one is one that I almost have to hold myself back from taking a bite out of.  It smells so delicious.  The spicy aroma reminds me of the holiday season or fall.  You can find this soap at my Etsy store or my website if you would like to purchase it.  This one is definitely FRESHLY MADE!  All of my soaps can be stored up to 2 years if kept in an airtight container.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Back in town!

Well I've been away for a week in sunny Florida visiting my dad and have now returned to snowy Boston :) With nothing to do on this cold snowy day I've decided to have a sale. So I've made a new listing at my Etsy store for all of you who have been waiting for me to bring this sale back here it is 6 bars for $25 and free shipping in USA

Also please vote for my sale on CheapTweet here Vote on CheapTweet for me

While I'm at it I'd like to share a couple of shots from my trip with my dad. Here is one in the harbor.

and this is one out the back door, not bad huh?

With it looking like this out my window right now I think I'll pretend I'm still in Florida for a few days LOL.

Hope you all are having a pleasant and hopefully warm Sunday in your part of the world. I'll be back to my routine tomorrow, making soap YAY!