I had a hard time over the weekend....watching a live sale on social media for one of the shops that carries my soap. There are a few "soap makers" in that shop now and it appears I'm the only one doing it from scratch.
I love what I do. But as I sat there and watched box mix soaps fly off the shelves because they were cute shapes or trendy colors and patterns....it broke my heart. It hurt to watch things sell because of the way they looked and not what was in them. It hurt my feelings that my soap didn't sell because it wasn't trendy, because it wasn't a shape or "for kids". Box mix soap making is easy- it's a technique called Melt & Pour. Literally you buy a block, microwave it, add color or scent and pour it. That's it. You can always tell it's M&P because it's wrapped in cellophane (it sweats and thus must be wrapped) while Cold Process and Hot Process are never wrapped. They must breathe as they continue to cure through the life of the bar of soap.
For a couple days I've struggled with this- should I give in and do the pre-mix so people will buy? I didn't learn that "method" from my mother (it didn't exist when I was small and learning to soap) and I questioned myself. Sales are down, so so so far down. Should I crank out a batch of M&P to try to get sales up? I have wrestled with this for two days...so I researched these box mixes.
And in a nutshell I can't do it. There are rad techniques like suspending and putting glitter in them but I can't feel good about glitter being near your eyes. I can't feel good about the ingredient panel- no matter what type of box mix you order you always have propylene glycol, cousin to the anti freezing agent in antifreeze. They contain so many things I can't pronounce and when I research them I can't get an answer to what they ARE or where they come from. So I've asked a friend of mine (wow I remembered I actually know a chemist, he was a latex chemist for a big paint company) and he's explaining what these things are to me. There are three ingredients that are in every box mix even if you go organic- and I can't feel good about these ingredients. They're there to make the mix microwavable, pourable and shelf stable indefinitely. (and many other reasons according to the chemist)
Turns out surfactants make a bar a "detergent" instead of soap. You'll find detergent bars at all your grocery stores- notice they're never labeled "soap". They're a body bar or a deoderant bar, or just a bar...of what? And I can't produce that, even if it sold like hot cakes I can't do it and feel good about it. I'm thrilled that folks use the M&P method- it's great for kids birthday parties or something to do. I'm not bashing anyone who does it- I'm all for creativity and creation. But when I see the ingredients....as much as I need sales right now, I can't do it. I can't put the FD&C dyes in something and feel good about it. I can't put glitter near your eyes and feel good about it. I can't put ingredients I can't pronounce, some I can't even understand, in your shower or with your kids and feel okay doing that. It's just me- but in the end sales are sales. If they don't come I'll tackle that hurdle next. But I can't do it - I can't make a fast buck and sell that. I love being a suflate free company- and I'll stick to that thank you very much. I'll stay true to myself.
In the photo- Buckeye Stone Soaps. Cocoa powder colors them and soda ash (another subject for another blog) gives the white lines. Another batch is curing now, stone soaps are one of my favorite things to make. This is about as trendy as I get - but my heart sings when I make stones.