Did I ever tell you how much I love my students. I really mean it. I am not saying it to be mushy but I so love how they have taken what they have learned and made it their own. This student of mine has been hiding from me. Not in the sense that she didn’t want me to find her but that I didn’t know she was doing such great things with what she has learned. I am at awe at her website “Soap Smiths” and how creative she is with the product descriptions and did you see the commercials she has on her site about her products? Like they said in the 80′s “Way Cool!”
I introduce to you Erin Calig – owner of Soap Smiths of Brooklyn, NY!
What made you decide to register for the handmade soap and lotion class a NY Open Center? I am a very hands-on person, I read a lot of books on soap and product making but wanted to see it in person. This class was perfect for me, I learned so much and got to experiment with scents and colorants right in class which I really enjoyed.
What did you like most about the class? You are very knowledgable and willing to share what you know with others. We made many different items (which was neat) and we had a lot of time to experiment and create our own products.
How did you first start making soapmaking? I wanted to try something new. I have always been into health and nutrition, I also love to cook, so I thought it would be interesting to make my own products. It started out as something I would do just for myself, but then as the formulation addiction grew, I had to share with others and they loved my items too.
Were you making soaps, lotions or beauty products before taking my class? Dabbling, I made one batch before I took your class along with some very sad looking lotions (I had not yet learned about emulsifiers) lol.
If so, how did the class enhance what you already were doing? The class moved me light-years forward and filled in a lot of information gaps that I had and did not even realize existed at the time. It gave me the confidence to really jump in and make soaps and other products on my own.
I see you’re a member of the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild. Why did you decide to join this trade association? My husband got my soaps into a couple of neighborhood stores, once that happened, we knew it would be best to have insurance so I went through HSMG for that. From there I found a wonderful and very supportive community.
You were already making body products what new products did you make after taking the class? I was making BETTER products after class. Soaps that were not brittle or overpowered with scent and color, lotions that were thick and luxurious. Also after your class, I became more experimental and really got into the chemistry behind product formulation.
You have been making soaps for several years. Why did you wait some time to start your business? Originally I was just making the products for myself, family and friends, then I began to get requests from co-workers and my husband was able to get my items into a couple of neighborhood shops so I thought, hey let’s set up a web site and see where that takes us. From there it just grew to where we are now.
Why did you decide to start a body care product business? We believe in creating high quality products without the high price tag. We think everyone should be able to have nice body care products and be able to pamper themselves even if it is something as simple as a bar of soap.
What inspired the name of your business “Soapsmiths”? The name came from my husband, I am terrible at naming things, he just kind of said it one day and I really liked the sound, I was trying to play around with the word Serendipity and add that to Soapsmiths, but it was just too much of a mouthful, so we went with Soapsmiths, it has sort of an old tyme feel and I like that.
I see you make more than just soaps, what do you enjoy about making your own body products? I have control over what is going into my products and the ability to educate others on the benefits of sed ingredients. As a small business owner, I have the time to listen to my customers and tailor my products to what they’re asking. To me, it’s just the best.
Of all the beauty products you make which one is your personal favorite and why? Oh dear, that’s a tough one. Probably the whipped shea and cocoa butters. I use them everyday and my skin is baby soft. I also love selecting a new bar of soap for our bathroom, each time it’s a new adventure that I really enjoy.
Do you have any plans or goals with Soapsmiths? We have plans to contact smaller grocery stores and smaller chains to see if they would like to have our products available for sale. My feeling is that once someone sees, touches and smells our great products, they will come back for more.
How can people purchase your products? Right now they can visit our web site, we also just made a delivery of beer soaps to the one and only Brooklyn Brewery. It was a really fun collaboration in which we used their beer to create a “flight” of soaps. Now available at their giftshop.
What is your current professional career? I took a year off to go to Esthetician school here in NYC, before that I was a Property Manager in Manhattan.
Do you have any recommendations for others who may thinking about taking a soap and lotionmaking class? Do it, the class is super fun, you will meet some great people and get to take home the products that you made. But the real fun starts when you are able to make products at home.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about starting their own soap and/or bath and body beauty biz? Never underestimate the power of social media. As with all new businesses, it will take time to become established and perfect your recipes, so don’t rush things, be patient and make as many friends along the way as you can.
Stay in touch with Erin and what she is doing with Soapsmiths. You can read and subscribe to her blog at http://www.soapsmithnotes.blogspot.com or follow her via her Twitter handle SoapSmiths.
If you are a past student and have taken your knowledge to start your own business please let me know I would love to share what you are doing with the world (okay maybe not the whole world but I sure will try). Or perhaps you have taken what you have learned and have used it somehow I would love to hear your story too!