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Why We Support Local Businesses and Non-profits

Every once in a while, we get a chance to talk about why and how we support local businesses. Mostly, it’s to folks from out of town or those interested in having us switch to their company. I would like the chance to spend a moment explaining our reasons in a bit more detail about what it is we do locally because I can’t always while we’re out at an event! There’s a couple of reasons that are most important to us and I really wanted to spotlight them as part of our blog also.

We buy local ingredients or materials whenever possible because we can usually have the chance to see them first hand before purchasing. I can actually pick them up, view them, or smell them as needed before we commit it to soap. We like having the chance to see the place where it was grown or harvested, forged or crafted as much as possible. You can see if the shops are clean, the owners friendly and honest, other customers are happy, or if it is a place you should avoid working with. It also feels good to see the person you hand your money to, and know that it goes to support their family or further their business. We also like to promote local crafters, businesses, or events we like as often as possible to help spread the word about them. Lastly, there is just something awesome about being able to see something handmade in front of you! Why wouldn’t you support your local community?

We also like to give to charities and non-profits locally as much as possible. We like to donate our time as a family in addition to fundraising for them through our company. We have found that our preference is to go work hands on with the group, such as food drives, sorting items in donation drives, and helping work in an animal shelter, because they have had such a more long lasting impact on our children. However, there are some others we help financially as that is what works best for them. It also feels good to be able to see the results of your hard work make an impact in your community right in front of your own eyes. Our children have very fond memories of some of our local projects and we have made lasting connections with many of the people we’ve met along the way.

I hope that this post answers more questions some of you have had about how our company handles a few of our buying and giving choices. We hope that more people can do the same in their areas and would love hearing about your thoughts. Have a favorite store, events, craftsman, or show we need to know about? You can find us this weekend at Fenske’s Country Store to talk to us directly, email, or comment below or on Facebook. We are officially collecting food items for a HCC Food Pantry and will also gladly take your donations for them this weekend while we’re there. Fenske’s will be open on Saturday from 10-5pm and Sunday from 11-4pm. I am updating our show schedule this weekend and should have more information for those of you who were waiting to have it posted. We should be able to give you an idea of where to find us in person for at least the next three to four months. That may be just a quick Facebook post though as I’ve had a lot less time to blog lately between being a soap-making workaholic and parent, as many people can relate. Also, yes, I’m working on fixing those pictures in the shopping cart again! Have a great holiday season everyone!

Happy Washing!

Dorothy

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Mixing Soap Techniques Again

I confess, I did it again. Couldn’t help it really. Had a great, simple, straight forward soap idea to make but I just couldn’t behave. As most of our followers have learned, I love to experiment in the soap kitchen. It’s just too much fun to try new shapes, scents, molds, and off the wall ideas for me to resist. My favorite soaps are the old fashioned cold process style but it is a lot of fun to play with the other styles as projects allow me. Luckily, this one let me go crazy.

Uncut Fruit Smoothie Soap
Uncut Fruit Smoothie Soap

There had been multiple requests from customers (and begging from my kids) for me to give a fruity fragrance oil a whirl. It has a blast of so many yummy fruits like raspberries, citrus, kiwis, strawberries, bananas, and apples. I knew it would be fun and expected a kid’s soap from the batch. A simple log soap that could be shared among us all, maybe one swirl or something, standard recipe even. Nothing too crazy, maybe even somewhat boring compared to the other projects that week. It was a busy week too and I knew I would have two sets of sad little eyeballs looking at me if I mentioned maybe waiting until the following week to make their soap. Ahhh, what a parent will do to avoid disappointing their kids at times. So I decided to whip it up real quick while my visiting sister-in-law hung out with me in the kitchen. No pressure anywhere in this, right? Exit my sanity and enter Murphy’s Law. I knew as soon as I unmolded them that there was trouble with the batch. Sure enough, it failed my tests (don’t think Angie’s ever gonna forget lye testing lol) and I had a loaf of soap that the kids were swooning over but couldn’t touch. Time to grab my favorite knife!

Fruit Smoothie uncut in the paper
Fruit Smoothie uncut in the paper

I had enough extra of the fragrance that I decided to chop the batch up and pop it into the double boiler for a milled light green soap. I tweaked it a bit to fix it to my specs (I am known to be picky about them- another way I drive hubby crazy some days) and then the mad scientist light bulb clicked on over my head. I had wanted to try mixing some more soap techiniques and here, lying so innocently in front of me, was the perfect opportunity. Happy dance! I let it finish its cooking while I mixed up a regular soap base which I dyed with annatto seed powder for an orangey red color to make a big contrast in the bases. I combined the raw cold process soap with the hot process soap and did my best to mix them together without overdoing it. I wanted a definite contrast in the soap styles like when we do some of the confetti soaps instead of a completely smooth mix, I had thought. For those soapers thinking of trying this, plan to work quickly. The temp differences make it tricky to completely combine. It couldn’t decide whether it wanted to stay put or separate in the mold. Hot process wants to clump as it cools and its texture differences are immediately obvious, even to those who don’t really understand the difference in them. The fruity scent didn’t accelerate either soap, luckily, and hasn’t discolored any of it. It was a lot of fun to make though and I’d do it again. The look of this run is most often compared to slices of lava when people see it. What do you think? I love the texture differences on the tops of these too. We’re still debating if I’ll make this the official look for our Fruit Smoothie soap so please chime in if you have a thought on it!

Side and top view of Fruit Smoothie soap
Fruit Smoothie soap- Mixing soap techniques

Please welcome Fruit Smoothie to our catalog as of today. Sorry I never put out a teaser on this one but I kept this batch aside for special monitoring. It has passed all of its tests every time and is finally old enough to be shared with our friends and followers. Truth be told, I was curious enough about this run that I kept it beyond its usual confinement time 🙂 You’re going to love the fruity smell of this one and the bubbles are awesome! I was surprised at the response to this scent from all ages; it appears that this one won’t be for just the kids. Drop me an email or comment here about your thoughts or find us on Facebook too. We love hearing your input and ideas. I must now get back to tweaking the website in the background. Hope your weekend goes well and we’ll see you at our booth again soon!

Happy Washing!
Dorothy

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Orange Teakwood Scout Soaps

One of our most recent fun projects was creating soap medallions for some local Cub Scouts at their crossing ceremony. Our local customers and friends have helped us support the local Big Cypress District Scouts and my little den of boys was graduating into Boy Scouts. Of course, I had to give them a little something to remember their goofy den leader as they moved on to bigger and more exciting things so I created little soap medallions for them in some molds I had found. Young boys aren’t exactly known for wanting to get showers while camping so I had hoped that these soaps MIGHT make them want to clean up- at least once in a campout! These fun little soaps come with designs like the BSA emblem, an eagle with BSA across him, and the Cub Scout emblem. We had a few that were round that I managed to get a picture of before they disappeared but I will need to get some pictures of the diamond-shaped ones once the next batch is done!

Round scout medallion soaps
Scout medallion soaps
Round scout soap medallions
Scout soap medallions

I used a plain soap base and used one of our popular men’s scents, teakwood. I wanted to keep it a little lighter since this batch was going to preteens so I added some orange peel for a lighter citrus touch along with a little scrubbing power to remove a little more of that camp grime the scouts always seem to collect 🙂 These fun little soaps are hand sized and fit perfectly into their gear bags. It was a lot of fun making this project and we decided to offer it in our gift sets for everyone to enjoy. It is completely customizable to your preferred scent and colors. If you have a scout or know a dirty one, here is your perfect gift for Blue and Gold, Crossings, or any other time before they head out into the woods. I hope your boys enjoyed it like ours have. And to my boys who have graduated and are moving on, I wish you the best in all you do. I know you will go far and I’m proud of you.

Happy Washing!

Dorothy