Anyone else making and selling soap?

Discussion in 'Dairy Diaries' started by amiandhergoats, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. amiandhergoats

    amiandhergoats Junior Member

    Hi everyone! I got into dairy goats a few years ago, and have a herd of 8 Oberhaslis now. Just as I started working towards my dairy certification, I got a truly awesome job working for Etsy. With the extra milk that we did not use (and couldn't sell) I started making soap.

    Things are starting to take off. People love the stuff, love reading my blog and knowing who the goats are that contributed to the soap. The local co-op has expressed an interest in carrying it. I am doing very little, but people want the stuff! I am just a little overwhelmed trying to create a more professional appearance for my packaging and labeling. Also, how to display!

    I am doing my first craft fair in a few weeks and would love pointers. I've been trying to decide whether to wrap all the soap, or let people touch and smell it, then put their selection in a little muslin bag with a stamp on it.

    Any thoughts?
  2. The only thing I can offer is, I'd wrap the soap but have a small sample of each at the booth to let them touch and smell.

  3. flatmountain

    flatmountain Member

    Aug 14, 2010
    my sister in law is in marketing (big huge accounts) and I know very little about what she does. ;) I DO know that packaging and presentation get people to stop and look. Product brings them back. When I buy homemade stuff I like packaging that looks clean and nice but also still says local and small scale...
  4. amiandhergoats

    amiandhergoats Junior Member

    I agree. I look for the same. That's great advice!
  5. Sarazgirls

    Sarazgirls New Member

    Apr 12, 2011
    I would use clear cellophane bags for the soap and display it in a basket with tissue or something like that. As a previous poster said, have a sample out for people to touch and smell.

    Also goats milk lotion is easy to make, easy to use and sells very well. Frangiapani fragrance is a big hit with a lot of people once they smell it.

    Good luck.
  6. Stacykins

    Stacykins Goats of da UP

    Mar 27, 2012
    Escanaba, MI, U.S.
    I make soap, but I do not sell soap. This article sums up the reasons why I do not sell. Until I can afford business insurance, no soap will be sold by me.

    "This is a generic thing I've been posting when people are considering selling soap. There's a lot to consider. I suggest soapmakers wait a year at least before selling. It's not meant to be discouraging or anything, but will hopefully give you an idea of all that selling entails.

    What are your state & local regs on selling? You'll need a tax ID. Do city zoning laws forbid you from manufacturing in your home? Do you have liability insurance? Some venues require vendors to carry their own liability insurance. You should have it anyway to cover your own assets. Do you need to register as a business with your city, county and or state? Even if you're not required to, you should, in order to protect your personal assets in case of a law suit. Will manufacturing in your home make your homeowner's insurance null & void?

    How long have you been making soap & B&B products, & how long have you been testing them? Do you know what your products are like a year down the road? Do you know what the shelf-life is of each of your products? Are you well-educated on INCI labelling & cosmetic regs? If someone's child has an allergic reaction to one of your products & the parents decide to file suit what will you do? Do you have insurance to cover that?

    Do you have bookkeeping skills, & can you use accounting software? Will you do your own business taxes or can you afford to have someone else do your business taxes for you?

    Consider your responsibility for your products. Consider how many people can come in contact with your products. Your responsibility grows exponentially. It's not just the person who purchased your, say soap. It's everyone who comes in contact with it - the person who purchased, their immediate family, friends of each family member, the extended family members who come to visit. Are you ready for that level of responsibility for what you create?

    Many times I have had people buy soap & say it's too pretty to use. People will use your soap in their drawers as sachets, or leave them on the bathroom counter for month & months just to enjoy the scent. Sometimes they stash them away for months to give as gifts. The question then is, "What will your soap be like in 6 months or 8 months or a year? If you haven't waited it out, you don't know.

    I purchased a competitor's soap at our local coop. In less than 6 months it smelled rancid, & I tossed it. That angered me:

    1. I wasted my money
    2. That handcrafted soap was a reflection on the entire handcrafted soapmaking community. Are her customers going to assume that all handcrafted soaps smell funky after a few months?!!

    You need to know all the regs. What pushes your soap from soap into the "cosmetic" class & what does that mean as far as cosmetic regs? What pushes your lotion or cream into the drug arena, & what are the regs regarding that?

    After you've gotten all that under your belt, what are your state & local regs on selling? You'll need a tax ID. Do city zoning laws forbid you from manufacturing in your home? You'll need liability insurance & that's NOT cheap! Will manufacturing in your make your homeowner's insurance null & void?

    These are only a handful of things to consider. You have a long learning curve ahead of you. You need to learn to formulate & test your formulas. That means researching each ingredient you plan to use - oils, butters, scenting materials (FO's, EO's), & research any additives you plan to use to avoid those that are known sensitizers, or outright harmful to use. While researching, you'll need to figure out which info is reliable & which isn't.

    You'll need to learn when to use preservatives & which one you need for each type of product you make. Your lotions & creams should be tested to make sure the preservative you chose is really working.

    Then, there's packaging & labeling. You'll need to learn the proper way to label your products using INCI nomenclature.

    So, I don't mean to sound discouraging, & as you already know, there's a lot to consider before selling. I just like to put that out there for other new people to see & consider.

    Lots of people rush into selling without having all their ducks in a row, or even caring to try to. I'm just passing along what I've learned & what other soapmakers shared with me in the beginning when I wanted to sell right away.

    The added benefit of waiting a year is that when you sell, you'll feel confident talking to your customers about your products, & you'll have good sound info to give them based on all the research & testing you did through that year."
  7. happybleats

    happybleats Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2010
    Gustine Texas
    Ive seen it done both can try wrapped in with natural look..people like to see the Natural products packages as such...kind of goes hand in hand..try a coordigated (sp :eek:) piece of cardboard wraped around the soap and natural color raffia ribbon.. looks clean and just add a pretty label. make sure a little soap sticks out on the side for color...folks can easily pick up and smell without touching the soap..: )
  8. couto_123

    couto_123 New Member

    Jul 22, 2012
    Cambridge, OH
    I use a cigar band type and when purchased I place in a muslin bag.
  9. kristinatucker

    kristinatucker New Member

    Jan 3, 2012
    I agree with your Stacy. I too have been wanting to start making soap but there are so many facets to consider. I like your idea of processing but letting it cure and watching the shelf life on your product. I know the tax issue and liability are big factors for me and in many ways you dont really know where to start. It is daunting.
  10. amiandhergoats

    amiandhergoats Junior Member

    Hi Stacykins,

    Thanks for your very thorough post! I've actually been making soap for two years, and I've been selling to locals in the community for about a year and on Etsy. This wasn't something I "tried" to do even... I just started using my extra pasteurized milk, and everyone wanted soap! I already have a tax ID and the proper insurance and zoning, as I've been in process to certify as a dairy. We have plenty of bars that are still around and smelling great well after a year. But I let people know, when they purchase, that natural food grade and essential oils have a shelf life, and should be used within a year, stored out of the sun. Fresh, handmade soap shouldn't necessary be expected to smell like soap processed with harmful preservatives.

    I am a true believer in the handmade. I don't believe one person's rancid smelling soap will turn a community away from buying local and handmade. I think people who purchase with this is mind are discerning and willing to spend the money on good, quality product. The rancid soap makers will naturally fall to the bottom of the list.

    I feel it's important to support the efforts of people who want to create handmade and farm businesses, not discourage them. So I don't really agree with your suggestion. I have seen, first hand, how awesomely small farm businesses can impact communities and families. Every state and community is different though... There's so much working against a successful farm business, I'd rather tell them to get out there and try it!!
  11. kristinatucker

    kristinatucker New Member

    Jan 3, 2012
    amiandhergoats- how would you suggest going about getting set up as a small business? we have a business license in our city for the farm but beyond doing that Im not sure where to start. I was wanting to start making soap this year and also lotion. I have soap making books and a plan but not sure where to start.
  12. amiandhergoats

    amiandhergoats Junior Member

    The first step is to make some product, try it, pass it around and see what people think of it. I started by trying some different recipes and getting my process down, then giving soap to my family and friends. They kept coming back for more and I enjoyed making new recipes, narrowing it down to 4 that I could do really well.

    I started selling on, where there are tons of seller tools to get you started marketing and listing your items. Do research there on your competition and price fairly. Buy soap from others in the community and check out how they are packaging and marketing it. Join some Etsy teams for soap and cosmetic makers and ask their advice. Also, farm markets are an excellent place to sell and interface with the buyer. Everyone loves a story, so have pics of your goats!

    Good luck!!
  13. liz

    liz Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Shelocta PA
    I checked out my states laws on what I could sell... soap is one of the ones that is not considered "food" or "cosmetic", lotions fall under cosmetics and I simply don't want to deal with the governments red tape so what I make I give to friends, soap on the other hand is sold on my website and I have local customers, I do not do craft shows, consignment shops etc.
  14. RedGate

    RedGate New Member

    Dec 7, 2012
    NW, AL
    I have been selling soap locally for about year, though my milk freezer went out on us this fall after I had dried up all of my does and ran out of milk to make it! I couldn't keep up with demand for it! I get several messages a week from people wanting soap. I have just been tying a card around each bar with a ribbon. It's pretty but still allows them to see and smell each bar. I then wrap them in parchment if I'm shipping them. I have two local stores lined up to start carrying my soaps in January after my girls freshen again! I plan on supplying small stamped brown paper bags for the customers to put their soaps in. Here's a picture with the ribbon/card "packaging". I've had a great response with it!

    Attached Files:

  15. amiandhergoats

    amiandhergoats Junior Member

    Those look yum, Anna!! I love the simple packaging!

    I'm getting ready to go to the Etsy Friends and Family sale. It's a craft sale at the Brooklyn office of Etsy, for admins only. This will be my first "craft fair" experience. But I've got 5 varieties of soap, all wrapped in brown tissue, with a hemp tie. I put a stamped card with the type and ingredients. You just reminded me to put my farm business info on there! Thanks!
  16. nubians2

    nubians2 New Member

    I do craft shows, consignment, website and wholesale. I do bookkeeping and office work as a profession so keeping books is routine for me. There is no state law on me selling soap. It has been a nice source of income for my girls to pay for their fed and vet bills
  17. RedGate

    RedGate New Member

    Dec 7, 2012
    NW, AL
    Thank you :) I'm glad I could help in some way! You would be surprised how much business having that card has gotten me. pretty much all my orders have been word of mouth and that card makes my info easy to share. Yours sounds great too! I love seeing other soapers do it! Good luck with with your etsy deal! That is so neat and exciting!