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HSMG 2012 Conference in Portland, Day One

Our vendor table at the HSMG Conference.

I’ve been trying to sort out all the information I learned at the HSMG 2012 Conference and I’m finally able to get my thoughts in order. I found this year’s conference to be informative and fun as the previous conferences I’ve attended. Thanks to Jerry, I’m able to provide notes for almost every presentation during the conference!

Come join me for a synopsis of our first day!

The first presentation of the day was the keynote given by Mary Lou Quinlan. Mary Lou is a woman of many hats and these hats include titles like author, friend, marketing expert/strategist, wife, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker and daughter.

I was very surprised and pleased to learn that each attendee got a free autographed copy of “What She’s Not Telling You: Why Women Hide the Whole Truth and What Marketers Can Do About It.” I’m so excited to sit down and read my copy from cover to cover. Mary Lou was an amazing speaker and I found myself hooked to every word! When her presentation began, Mary Lou told us to be on the lookout for the half truths told by women. A half truth is not a lie, it is simply the truth a woman is willing to admit to others and even herself. The whole truth is what she believes, does and buys. A great example of a half truth is “I try to be healthy.” The whole truth hiding behind this half truth is probably, “I exercise, when I feel like it,” or “I watch what I eat, sometimes. But those pancakes dripping with syrup and butter and topped off with whipped cream are just so good!”

Mary Lou even shared with us the acronym that she and her co-founders at Just Ask a Woman developed to help marketers reach and understand women better. The acronym is GAMES.

  • Good Intentions – This is the tendency of women to proclaim big agendas and make promises without actually planning to complete or accomplish.
  • Approval Seeking – Women want to be liked and will proclaim they love your products. We all want to be approved and accepted by not only marketers, but other women as well.
  • Martyrdom – Women are busy multi-taskers who have to make sure you know how hard they are working. When in groups, women will actually try to exaggerate their schedules and stresses to appear more productive to other women.
  • Ego Protection – Women use half truths to keep their inner selves safe from showing weakness. A great example of this is, “Real beauty is on the inside.” Yet, the whole truth inside is different. “Ugh! Look at my face/body/skin/hair! I could use some serious help with it!”
  • Secret Keeping – Women will easily confess secrets to some women and yet keep those same secrets if she thinks you will frown upon that secret. These secrets are varied from person to person and can involve anything from problematic children, troubled finances, a worrisome career and many more.

Mary Lou also stressed that we should push ourselves to be INTENSE listeners. Don’t just listen to what people say, listen to what their bodies say and their mouths don’t say! I learned that if we are intense listeners, we can then use that information to change our product lines to meet what our customers really want.

After Mary Lou shared all this great information that made my brain feel stuffed, she shared her story about her mother and touched my heart. Her mother would take her stresses, worries, concerns and hopes, write them down on scraps of paper as prayers to God and tuck those papers into a box she called her God Box. She would listen to her friends, family and even strangers as they shared with her. Then she would take those emotional thoughts and change them to written prayers that were no longer something she could control as they had been passed to a higher power that would take care of those worries instead of her. After her mother died in 2006, Mary Lou found her mother’s God Box or boxes, there were 10 boxes with 20 years of written prayers for friends, family and strangers. Mary Lou also shared stories about the codes that she and her mom used to say “I love you.” This brought tears to my eyes during the presentation and again as I write this post.

The second presentation of the day was Good Manufacturing Practices for Handcrafters by Marie Gale. I found this presentation very interesting and gave me ideas on how to make blog testing and procedure a smoother process. Here are the points that she made.

  • Documentation – WRITTEN documentation is required to maintain Good Manufacturing Practices. All documents should be available when needed and the originals should be preserved in some way (like scans, a book of extra copies, or even computer back-ups). You should have a maintained copy on site as well as a maintained copy stored off site.
  • Standard operating procedures – A written document giving detailed instructions on how to carry out one specific procedure or process. This document generally deals with non-product related things like procedures on scale calibration or workspace cleaning.
  • Specification sheets – Written specifications giving the exact, detailed requirements that an ingredient, supply or material must meet.
  • Incoming materials – Keep incoming materials segregated until you can verify the quality meets your specifications. You can use the Certificate of Analysis, Technical Specifications Sheet or Material Safety Data Sheet issued by the supplier to ensure the product meets your specifications. Once the material meets your specifications, assign a lot number to it. This means you will be able to track this item through your system and it can give you a great way to find what products would need a recall if you had a problem with an ingredient.
  • Master Formulas – The recipe or formula for a product including quantity required for each ingredient and procedures and techniques for combining those ingredients into the desired end product.
  • Batch records – A written record of what was ACTUALLY done when producing a product based on a Master Formula.
  • Batch numbers – Labeling each batch with a unique number will make it easier to check a batch and see if a mistake was made during production.
  • Quality control – You MUST be an impartial judge when checking your products. Quality Control is a separate hat and has roles that can’t be mixed with creativity or product management. Your roles include; product quality testing, change control, returns due to wrong order or didn’t care for scent and/or texture, complaints when something is actually wrong with your product, and recalls.

Marie gave a great presentation and I learned more about ways to ensure quality from batch to batch and make sure my operating procedures helped me rather than setting me up for failure. Actually if I follow these Good Manufacturing Practices, I’ll have less failures on the blog! How cool!

The next presentation on my schedule was Pears Soap and the Art of Advertising by Catherine Failor. This was a great presentation for the time traveling trip we took to see how advertising was started by Thomas Barratt, “The Father of Modern Advertising.” Barratt was the chairman of Pears Soap and his advertisements made the way for the combination of slogans and memorable images. While Catherine took us back in time, she also gave us information about the importance of branding and how we can make advertising a key component of our marketing efforts. Her key points were:

  • Be different on the shelf. Make sure that your soap stands out among the crowd. You want your customers to recognize your soaps instantly.
  • Differentiate yourself in the minds of customers. Use Artist Trading Cards to help customers remember you. An Artist Trading Card is a are miniature work of art about 2 1/2 X 3 1/2 inches. Cards are produced in various media, including dry media (pencils, pens, markers, etc.), wet media (watercolor, acrylic paints, etc.), paper media (in the form of collage, papercuts, found objects, etc.) or even metals or cloth. These cards are different from business cards.
  • Help customers differentiate you from your competition. You are different. Make your differences shine! You don’t have to bad mouth, but you can mention those spectacular oils you use.
  • Change with the times. We all know that public desires change. After all, cars, clothes and even makeup aren’t the same as they were 10 years ago. Don’t stagnate. Bring in some changes to your line. Add a new product, scent or even label! You can keep your best sellers the same, but jazz it up!
  • Stay true to your customer base. Just like our family, our reoccurring customers are our biggest fans and supporters. Don’t forget them when you are trying to drum up more business. You might be able to find something they just have to have.

The presentation that occurred at the same time as Catherine Failor’s presentation was Moisturize It! Lotion Candles and Lotion Bars by Debbie May. Debbie talked about lotion candles, massage candles and lotion bars. I found this class to be informative even if I personally feel that lotion/massage candles are just asking for trouble. I listened in this class and feel that I did walk away with some great information for formulating solid bars as either lotion or massage bars as well as information for candle making.

  • Know your materials.
    • If you want to make candles, contact your supplier for information about the wicks and waxes. You want to ensure you have the right wick to pair with your wax.
    • You want to know what the recommended usage rate of scent is for your fragrances and your wax. Use the lower percentage of fragrance for lotion and massage candles and follow the IFRA guidelines for usage on skin. You want to know the flash point for any fragrances or essential oils that you use for scenting your candles.
    • If you want to color, then use skin safe colors. Remember, pigments can clog a wick.
  • Use a heat gun to solve cracks on the tops of your candles.
  • Labeling your products correctly as according to applicable laws. Don’t skip out on a step because you want to release your product soon. These laws will help protect you as much as they help inform the consumer.
  • Consider the recommend use of the product. Formulate according to that use. Need more glide? Or less?
  • Testing is very important. If making candles, you should burn the whole candle in 2 hour spurts and start each test with a completely cooled candle to see if there are any problems. If making lotion bars, does it meet your desired feel among your testing group?

The next series of presentations all occurred at the same time, but they were repeated twice. This meant that we were able to attend all of the presentations and get some great information for you.

Alternative Liquid Soaps. From left to right: Beer, Coffee, Tomato & Carrot layered soap.

The first presentation I’m going to cover is Making Cold Process Soap with Alternative Liquids by Ruth Esteves. Ruth covered making cold process soap with alternative liquids without following the Half & Half Method. She used the full liquid amount of an alternative liquid instead of water. In this class, she focused on using Alcoholic Beverages, Coffee & Teas, and Fruit & Vegetable Juices. Each attendee of her class got a sample of three soaps made with a beer, coffee and tomato & carrot juice. The soaps were unscented, which was nice to compare the scent between the different soaps. According to Ruth, there are both pros and cons to making soap with alternative liquids.
  • Sugars give a boost to lather
  • Natural scents
  • Natural colors
  • Label appeal
  • Overheating can ruin a batch
  • Smell can be unpleasant
  • Color may be undesirable
  • NaOH may take longer to disolve

When making soap with alcoholic beverages like beer, wine or liquor, you get a soap that has colors in shades of tan and has a nutty type scent. The color can be lightened with Titanium Dioxide or complimented by dark pigments. The nutty scent works best if you us it as a base note to round out the desired fragrance.
Ruth’s checklist of preparation:

  • Remove any carbonation.
  • Remove most of the alcohol.
    • This can be done by simmering the liquid for 15 minutes and then allowing to cool.
  • Chill overnight uncovered.
  • Add the sodium hydroxide slowly. Watch for bubbling over.
  • Stir until completely mixed.

When making soap with brewed beverages like coffee or teas, you get a soap that has a high level of anti-oxidants and natural scents depending on the tea used. Coffee soaps offer deodorizing capabilities and you can always add coffee grounds or tea leaves for exfoliating texture. The color can be lightened with Titanium Dioxide or complimented by dark pigments.

Ruth’s checklist of preparation:

  • Brew an extra strong liquid.
  • Chill well.
  • Add the sodium hydroxide slowly. It is going to stink.
  • Stir until completely mixed.

When making soap with fruit or vegetable juices, you get a soap that has a naturally occurring color and natural scents depending on the juices used. Some juices won’t hold their colors and will turn brown. Other juices shouldn’t be used due to their high acidity. You can use either store-bought or homemade. Just makes sure you have a fluid juice as it will be easier to work with in the long run.

Ruth’s checklist of preparation:

  • Chill well.
  • Add the sodium hydroxide slowly. It is going to smell like cooked vegetables.
  • Stir until completely mixed.

Ruth does chill all of her liquids. I do think this can cause problems by having a lye solution that is too cold, but her other information was great. I’m excited to give my soapmaking a new twist with using different liquids.

The second presentation in the series of three was Formulating Natural Lotions and Creams by Marla Bosworth. Marla talked about formulating lotions and creams without having to stress about greasy formulas, separating product or guessing which ingredients need what quantities.
Marla’s Formulation Guidelines:

  • Liquids: Water, Hydrosols, Aloe Vera Gel
  • Oils: Keep under 35%
  • Emulsifying Wax: 3-6%
  • Stearic Acid: 0.5-2% (If used to thicken creams)

Marla also talked about the importance of preservatives (I remember Taylor talking about this), challenge testing your products, giving your products lot numbers and she even covered marketing of your products. I think her presentation had some interesting perspective and information that would be useful.

The last presentation from the first day was Blending Essential Oils by Jade Shutes. Jade
talked about three key reasons we may blend essential oils.

    1. Physiological Approach
  • This is based on blending oils with the knowledge of their chemistry and/or known therapeutic actions. These blends focus on activity of a blend rather than aroma and their physical influence.
  • 2. Emotional/Mental/Spiritual Approach

  • This is based on blending oils for the aroma of a blend and its subtle therapeutic properties. These blends focus on the aroma of the blend and its mental influence.
  • 3. Holistic Approach

  • This is blending based on the combination of both physiological and emotional/mental/spiritual approaches. These blends focus on both therapeutic intent and pleasant aroma.

Jade’s presentation mostly focused on blending oils to follow a holistic approach by beginning with designing synergy. Synergy is a combination of 3-5 essential oils alone that meets your requirements without having an unbalanced blend.

Whew! I feel like my brain was stuffed and this just covered the first day. I’ll share more tomorrow.

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