sell soap at craft fairs

How To Start A Soap Making Business From Home

Read on for a short, but quite complete, plan about how to start a soap making business from home.

Selling handmade soap as a business requires much more than just making interesting soap. It isn't enough to find the best soap recipe somewhere. Making great soap is a part of making money with soap, but only a part. The marketing of that soap is where the fun begins.

Read on for the details!

Making handcrafted soap is a fascinating hobby. Just think about it. By crafting soap bars you produce items of beauty that are also very useful.

Read on for top tips for making some really premium soap, and then some ideas for turning a soap making hobby into a part-time home-based business. These ideas are based on personal experience.

My family and I have operated a home-based, specialty soap business for several years. We sold about 29,000 bars of soap over a four-year period. We are still soap makers. We also still market crafts both locally, regionally and on the Internet. Some of the story is at http://www.soapbizkit.com.

ideas about how to start a soap making business from home

Always remember that soap ends up going down the drain if it's used.

That's a really good thing if you want to sell your handmade soap!

It's the selling of replacement bars that makes selling soap really worth a closer look.

At this point in time, many people want to buy fine soap products, which means there is a demand for what you might turn out. Before even thinking about making money from your hobby efforts, there are a number of things to consider.

Let's look first at some of the advantages of soap making, both as a craft and as a business.


Starting A Soap Making Business At Home - Advantages

  • Soap making requires little money to get going,
  • The supplies to make soap are easy to obtain,
  • Equipment needed is easy to get,
  • Making soap is relatively easy to learn,
  • People already want to buy handmade soap,
  • You can specialize in what you make,
  • It's easy to make soap that is different from others,
  • You can make other products that go along with soap,
  • You can potentially generate profits with soap,
  • Finding places to sell is simple.

How Much Money Can You Make Making Soap?

That's a question that is hard to answer, as a lot depends on you. And to be perfectly clear, there is no money in making soap. The money is in selling the soap, of course. Just like with any business venture, it takes a lot of work, and quite a bit of drive, to make money selling a product.

Some home based soapmakers have turned soap into major money.

Burt's Bees is an example.

Dr. Bronner's is too.

There are plenty of others.

Could you do that?

I don't know.

Think about this.

starting a soap making business

With some practice you could make a batch of soap that would turn into 100 bars in about 2 hours.

You could then cut up a similar-size soap batch, that had been drying for a couple of days, in about another 2 hours.

Then you could wrap up a hundred bars of soap, that had been curing for 8 weeks, in about 2 hours.

So, once you got a system going, you could, with simple tools, make and process 100 bars of soap in less than a day!

So...


In 2 Hours You Can Make Soap Worth $500

Using the resources I will suggest, and a recipe as shown below, you could look at prices of the materials and determine the cost for a bar of soap.

Using the recipe I provide, and current material costs, yields a cost for a bar of soap of about $1.00 or so. Note that these figures will vary wildly, depending on the scent oils used and on your source of other soap oils, and the quantities you purchase. You get the idea though.

If you have looked around a little, you probably know that crafters are selling their soap for somewhere around $5.00 a bar now. You can certainly buy cheaper soap, and you can certainly buy more expensive bars as well. Soap is trading locally for about that figure though.

That $4.00 difference between sales price and cost is the potential profit per bar. This may sound like a lot. It could add up, but as you can easily see, you must move quite a bit of soap to make enough to add up to much.

Now, if you could make that kind of profit per bar, and you could make 100 bars in a day, then you could get rich, right?

Not necessarily!


Challenges To Making Money Selling Handmade Soap

Making it and selling your handmade soap are two entirely different things!

In most cases, soapmakers who try to make money selling their products will make nothing!

That's a bold statement, and it is a guess, but why would I say that?

It takes serious action to make money with any kind of business. In most cases the effort level stops most people from getting anywhere. It's just too hard to make soap in volume.

If the effort level doesn't get them, then the lack of a plan likely will. You have to figure out how to sell what you make, and then you have to actually get the sales made and get the money in your hands somehow! That's what has to happen.

The work required to make a home based business go guarantees that few people will stick with it!

But, that's actually to your advantage.

See, if you really work at it and have a good plan, you have little competition. Most of your competition will quit! If you stick, you win. If you quit, you lose.

Are you still with me?

Certainly there are already many people making soap, and a lot of them decide to try selling it.

That does not necessarily mean there's no room for new people to get into this industry. Handcrafted soap making is an industry too. Make no mistake about it.

Of course soap making is not just about making money.

You could even sell soap mostly for the fun of it.

Let us look now at some handy soap making tips for crafting soap as a hobby, mostly for fun, or for making money seriously.


Soap Making Using The Cold Process Method - Tips

At its most basic level, soap making is quite simple. The most common method of making soap is called cold process. It's "cold" because the ingredients are just mixed without cooking. You can make soap using heat, using the "hot process" method. We use cold process, and that is what is described in this report.

At its simplest level, soap results when you mix fats and oils with a lye and water solution. The mixture of water and lye and fats and oils just turns into soap.

The fun comes as you vary the materials and the proportions of the different materials.

But to keep it really simple, remember that soap making is just mixing fats and oils with lye and water in solution. That's all there is to it.


Making Soap Without Lye?

Can you make soap without lye? Not really. You can buy soap bases that can be melted and poured into molds. Somebody else used lye to make the base so you didn't have to. You really don't know what's in those bases though. The lye used to make bar soap is sodium hydroxide. Potassium hydroxide is used to make soft soaps.

One can make lye by leaching it from wood ashes. That kind of lye makes for a softer sort of soap. That's a project I have not undertaken yet.

Lye is usually hard to source locally, unless you have access to a chemical supply house. It is easy to order however.

Lye is very caustic and will burn skin and remove paint from any surface. It will blind a person if it gets in your eyes. This is dangerous material and should never be used where children could get to it. However, with simple precautions, adults will have no trouble with the lye.

Wear safety goggle at all times when working with lye. Protective gloves and long sleeves are recommended as well. Do not leave lye or lye mixtures unattended. Uncured soap too should be treated like lye.


Fats And Oils For Making Your Cold Process Soap

Here's another basic to making soap. Different oils and fats require different amounts of lye to turn them to soap. The amount it takes to turn oil or fat to soap is known for every fat likely to be used in soap making. One can just look in a table and read off the amount of lye needed to make soap of a given oil.

For any recipe then, the amount of lye is calculated based on the oils used. You want to use a little less lye than it takes to turn all the oils to soap. That's done as a safety precaution to insure that all the lye is used up in the process. That amount of reduction in lye used is called the lye discount. It's usual to use about 5 percent less lye than would fully turn the oils to soap.

Don't be tricked by the many details discussed about soap making. It's mostly a matter of simply mixing a few ingredients.

The main oils used to make soap are coconut, palm and olive. If you make soap with just those three oils you can make great soap. Each of those oils has unique properties that make them valuable as soap oils. You can make soap with just one of the oils, but the results will be inferior to a soap made using all three. Here's why.

If you want a lot of bubbles in soap, then you really must use coconut oil. It's the source of big, light bubbles and lots of them. However, soap made with just coconut oil will clean so well that it strips all the oil from the skin and thus is drying. That's the reason to limit it to about 30 percent of the soap oils.

how much money can a soap maker make

As for palm oil, it is the key to hard, long lasting bars, but is not so cleaning or so bubbly as coconut. Often referred to as "vegetable tallow," this fat is really much like beef tallow in every way. Use it, rather than beef fat, if you want to skip out on the animal fats.

Then you must consider olive oil. Castile soap is traditionally made using only olive oil. If you have used this kind of soap you know about how great a skin conditioner it is. It's fantastic. However, if olive oil is the only oil used to make the soap, you get tiny little bubbles and you get bars that fade away somewhat faster than you might like. For that reason this kind of oil is only used at about 40 percent of the oils in a recipe.

Now granted one can use just about any kind of fat or oil to make soap, and there are a lot of choices. However, as a starting point, these three are a great way to go.


Adding Ingredients For Premium Luxury Results

If you wish to include other oils, it is simple enough to just add a small amount at the last stages of the soap making. You will note in our sample recipe that we put in almond oil. One can simply use more olive oil in the recipe, and eliminate the almond oil. We included it as it adds a little something to the feel and performance of the bar.

You can do a lot more with soap than just make basic soap. It's all the additives that make soap making really interesting. Additives include clays, essential oils, herbal materials, colors, textures and just a whole list of ways to customize soap.

Getting the basic soap right is the first step to great soap and that can be done quite easily and simply. It's only after the basic soap making is mastered, that the soap maker takes it to the next level with all sorts of exotic materials.


A Popular Soap Recipe And Soap Making Procedures

Following is one of our top recipes.


Lightly Lavender Soap Recipe

  • 11.3 ounces (320 grams) Coconut Oil
  • 11.7 ounces (330 grams) Palm Oil
  • 15.5 ounces (440 grams) Olive Oil
  • 3.9 ounces (110 grams) Almond Oil
  • 6.1 ounces (175 grams) Sodium Hydroxide
  • 15.5 ounces (440 grams) Water
  • 2 1/3 Tablespoons Lavender Essential Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Oil

The lye and the uncured soap mixture are very caustic. It will burn your skin. It will blind you if it gets in your eyes! You absolutely must wear goggles when you make soap and it's best to wear rubber gloves and long sleeves too.


Soap Making Equipment You'll Need

  • 2 Stainless Steel Pans
  • 1 Plastic Pan
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Thermometer (90-200 degree F Range)
  • Scale For Weighing Material
  • Molds For Soap (Plastic Tub)
  • Hand Held Stick Blender (Optional)

Soap Making Procedures - Step-by-Step

Weigh oils and combine in stainless steel pan.

Heat slowly until everything melts. Cool to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not include the scent oil or the small quantity of almond oil.

Weigh lye in a plastic container. Remember the gloves and goggles.

Weigh water and pour into a separate stainless steel pan.

Slowly pour the lye into the water. When all the lye is added, let the mixture cool until it is 110 degrees.

Add the lye/water mixture to the oils, stirring while you do so. Now stir the soap mixture until it begins to thicken.

It's time to stop stirring when a thin stream of soap drizzled on top of the soap mixture lays on top. This is called tracing.

To speed things up use your hand blender to stir the soap for 30 seconds, let it rest for a minute and repeat until it traces.

Add scent oils and the extra almond oil.

Pour into prepared molds. Let sit for 24 hours. Remove from molds. Cut into bars and set aside to cure for 4 weeks.

If you want a smaller batch size just divide each ingredient by whatever number you choose. To cut the batch size in half for example, simply divide each ingredient by 2.

These are basic instructions. Lots of soap making books are out there, but most of them make it so complicated that it's tough to get going.

Even if you consult some of those soap making books, you can come back to these instructions for the basics. Give this recipe a try. You'll be pleased with the results.

Get many more details on our home page. You can check it out at http://www.soapbizkit.com.


 Homemade Soap Business Plan

This section describes a simple system for starting a soap business at home. As already mentioned, there are already many people making and selling soap, so it will take some thought to make a go of marketing your products.

What it takes to make this work is not complicated at all. The only way to go, it seems to me, is to try to make selling as easy and simple as possible. Let's look at how to do that.


What You Can Do To Start A Soap Business Fast Is Something Like This

  • Build interesting and somewhat unique products,
  • Find potential buyers for those products,
  • Make presentations to those potential customers,
  • Some will buy,
  • Offer more products to those customer friends,
  • Add more products to your mix,
  • Repeat and do more.

Since there are already many people making soap to sell, you have an easier task in front of you if you make soap that is different. If you can pull that off, then you are the only source for what you have. That's a good thing.

The reason to try to make something unique is repeat business. Soap just naturally goes right down the drain. If your customers love what they get from you, then they come back for more.


The Hardest Sale To Make Is The First One

It's sort of like the first dollar you make in a business is worth remembering. You often see them pinned to a board in a little cafe! That's the tough one, because of all it took to get in the position to get it!

Similarly...

The hardest sales to get are the sales to people who don't know you, and have never used what you make. The easiest sales are to enthusiastic customers who want what you have, based on positive experiences with using what you make.


But Is There Some Way To Make Your Soap Unique?

Isn't soap all pretty well the same?

You must try to get as many buyers as possible to come back for more. That's the reason you want great products that are somewhat unique. How do you do that? How do you make unique soap?

Part of producing unique products is telling your story.

Tell who you are, and how you do what you do, and why you do what you do. By doing that, your story gives what you make a unique twist. You can do that with pictures of what you do in a photo album, or in a collage of pictures. Give people details of what you do and how you do it. Tell your story to set yourself apart. Nearly nobody does that.

But the product ultimately speaks for itself. How can you build soap that is unique? Actually it's not that hard to make soap that is unique.

You can make soap using mostly organic ingredients. You can use all natural scents. You can make milk soap. That not only produces a different feel, it also adds a nice color.

Soap making with goat milk is so popular, that's almost a niche market all by itself.

What about other ideas?

Research the most popular natural soap scents and specialize in those.

You can use shea butter in all your soap. You can use jojoba oil in all your soap. You can practice and develop beautiful colors. You can layer colors. You can marble the colors better than anybody else does. You can make all your bars a little on the big side. You can offer all sorts of formulas for different skin types. Many soap makers only make one recipe and just vary it with additives.


Repeat Sales Of Your Soap Products Is The Real Key

Here's the thing about the product as a marketing advantage, repeat sales is where the money is.

Make soap that is really better and more pleasant to use, and the repeat business will cover you up. That's the key to success.

What you want is not just sales of a bar or two, but sales by the dozens of bars. Those kinds of results depend on building really great products.


Getting That Initial Sale

You can sell soap in all kinds of ways.

Certainly the Internet is one way to move some soap. In a bit I wish to cover some details about using the Internet to sell soap. For now let us look at one way to get some soap out there that beats most other ways.

If you can sell a lot of soap in a short period of time, then you set yourself up to get those desired repeat sales. The easiest way to pull that off is to get what you have in front of a lot of people in a short period of time. Those must be people who might like the kinds of things you have to sell too.

Think about this. You could sell bars of soap door-to-door. Likely you would sell a few too. How many doors would you have to knock on and how many doors would you have to hear closed to make a hundred sales? How much time and money would that take? I cringe to think of what it would take.

That sort of approach is a bad idea for a low-ticket item like soap.

A home party to sell soap is a better idea. But even with that, you must look at what it takes to pull those together and then it would be easy for buyers to just make small purchases. That kind of marketing is an improvement over knocking on doors, but we can do better.


A Soap Making Business Course And Event Marketing

The best approach to moving soap is likely getting involved in some event that lets vendors set up and display products. These events include these.

  • Craft fairs,
  • Town festivals,
  • Holiday festivals,
  • Art shows,
  • School fairs,
  • Street fairs,
  • Farmers markets.

At these events you can potentially talk to hundreds of people, who are there to have a good time, and maybe buy something interesting. Like your products for instance.

Likely there are multiple events like this right where you live. That's where you get your start.

After you get some experience, you will find that some events work better than others.

You drop the losers and look for more winners.

You will also find resources that will point out other shows you can participate in. There are actually regional and national shows that attract vendors and shoppers from wide areas. With some experience you can likely get in some of those, but you may not want to.

Especially those of you that live in resort and tourist areas may have your hands full just in your local market.

There are some costs to getting into this type of marketing. Outside shows require a special tent. They don't cost much though. You will often need your own tables as well as table covering and display racks or shelves. That's easy too. All in all it takes a minimum of investment to get into this type of activity.

But what if you aren't the sales type? Actually many craft marketers aren't. What is required is mostly just telling about what you have and how you made it and why. People interested in soap are already quite knowledgeable, in many cases. A hard sell is not necessary, and usually not helpful. Learning how to sell soap at a craft fair is quite simple. Just showing up, ready to sell, is half the battle.

Like anything else, to get the best results you need some specialized knowledge.

That's part of what we offer in our material.

It's partly about how to sell soap at a craft fair and how to sell soap at a farmers market. But it's more too.

See, many people never figure out the easy part of marketing. Read on.


The Repeat Part Of A Craft Marketing Plan

When you do get some sales using whatever method you choose, then the fun starts.

Imagine that you attend an event in a tourist area.

People that might buy your soap are there from all over the place. You may never see them again, even if you are in the same spot again. But if you give that person some material that makes it easy for them to order more soap, you can sell and sell again to the same person.

We have several easy ways to do just that in our material. Repeat sales truly are the way to make a soap making business work.

This is all based on putting together great soap that people want to replenish. That can be done quite easily though. Get your product right, and make money mostly from home by dealing with repeat orders.


Can I Sell Soap Online?

Staying in touch with customers using the Internet is a natural. Using your own website as you would use a brochure is a great idea.

Note though that the Internet is already clogged with people selling soap. Look at all the soap on Etsy, eBay, Amazon and the Google search results and you quickly see that you have a task in front of you to sell soap mostly using the Internet. How will you get eyes on your offer?

It can be done, but it will take serious, professional marketing efforts and some luck.

Can I sell soap using social media? Likely that can work, if you get a following. But how can you do that? It take a lot of time and attention. And in my opinion should be only a piece of an overall plan. If using social media to sell soap is your only plan, then you better be really good at building followers and readers.

Getting your own customers, folks who know you and your products, to look at your offers on your own site or on Etsy will not be hard at all. That's the easier way to go. Use the Internet as a marketing tool, but not your primary marketing tool, and you will get better results, with less expense and effort.


Resources

Based on my experience, I think this report describes the best approach to a home-based soap business. Two of the better publications to learn about shows you might get in are these:

Sunshine Artist
Sunshine Artist, 4075 L. B. McLeod Rd., Suite E, Orlando, FL 32811, 407-648-7479.
www.sunshineartist.com

Around the South
A Step Ahead, Ltd., 2090 Shadow Lake Drive, Buckhead, GA 30625, 706-342-8225.
www.events2000.com

My favorite soap making resources are:

Columbus Foods Company
730 N. Albany Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612
www.columbusfoods.com 800-322-6457

GloryBee Foods, Inc.
120 N. Seneca Road, Eugene, OR 97402
www.glorybeefoods.com 800-456-7923



How To Start A Soap Making Business At Home With The SoapBizKit

If you want more details, get our SoapBizKit.

This is in digital form and includes a step-by-step detailed soap making guide as well as a complete marketing plan, with many more details than contained in this short report.

The soap plan teaches how to design soap recipes and includes our own recipes, as well as other tips on how to make soap unique to you.

The marketing plan includes much more detail as well. You'll get lots of ideas for getting customers. Then we'll show you how to get repeat sales from your customers. After all, they will want more of your soap once they have tried it!

You'll get some ideas about the best way to use the Internet to sell your soap, including the easiest site builder to use. We tell what soap sold best for us, potentially valuable info. You'll get our ideas on what else will sell really well along with your soap.


Summing Up The SoapBizKit Offer

In summary, with the SoapBizKit you get a complete plan to not only make great soap, but a plan to sell it like crazy!

Don't put off getting this valuable resource.

Don't waste any more of your time and money trying to come up with a way to make money with your soap. Avoid wasted days and wasted time. Get the plan and get a giant head start on learning how to start a soap making business from home.




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