Many people got into Biodiesel, then Biodiesel Glycerin Soap, and then as people find out how cool the soap is, they gravitate toward actually selling the soap as well.
I'd love to know if you've been able to sell your soap. If so, how have you gone about doing it? Was it successful? Where do you sell it at?
Here's my story...
Back in 2004, Jack Jones, the guy that first introduced me to Biodiesel, wanted to get into soap making. So, he bought a bunch of books, read up as much as he could, and made some soap bars to test. We had a coop going back then (The now defunct Utah Biodiesel Cooperative) that both of us were heavily involved in. I think he was VP & I was Secretary. So, we had a built in group to try the soap out with.
He made a bunch of bars, would tweak the recipe a little, and then make some more.
By 2005, he had really started making some great soap bars. He'd also experimented with liquids & those were going well too but I always was partial to the bars.
Here's a link to a directory of pictures of some of those bars:
Here's what some of them looked like:
The soaps were great to work with & smelled incredible! (I always loved when he made a new batch because I was kind of the guinea pig to try them out & got to bring some home to play with).
I liked them so much that I offered to throw them up on my then-brand-new website & see how they did. They didn't sell terribly fast, but did sell. We sold them for $1.50 to $3.50/bar, depending on how big they were.
Around April 2006 I was contacted by a lady from North Carolina that worked with Piedmont Biofuels that said they had also been experimenting with making soap with Biodiesel glycerin and wondered if she could send a few samples and if I liked them if I'd be willing to sell them.
By that time I was just about through selling the soap Jack had made so I figured I'd give it a try.
The soap came and I tried it out and instantly fell in love with it.
I told her I'd be happy to list the bars and so with that her soap bars went up & I started selling those.
Here's a picture of what they looked like:
The packaging was clever. All brown paper wrapping, a white label and a purple piece of construction paper.
Initially they sold fairly well but I wouldn't say they were screaming off the shelf.
Over the years, they've added a few more scents to the line up, changing them every season. She's sent me all sorts of different kinds to try and some have worked better than others.
My all time favorite was and still is the Cinnamon Oatmeal bar. I absolutely LOVE the scent of it.
As to today....
I still sell the soap she makes and it does fairly well, but it's not a best seller or anything, but I think that has more to do with how I sell it (on a website primarily full of stuff to make Biodiesel with, not especially where someone would go to buy soap).
I've never tried selling it at bazaars or craft shows or stuff like that (I suck at those kind of things; I'm much happier selling stuff online), so selling it through the website is my only experience with it.
So, that gives the long story to the questions.
Here's my quick & short answers:
Do I sell soap - Yes
If so, how - In pre-packaged bars.
Where? Online at my website http://www.utahbiodieselsupply...eselglycerinsoap.php
How Successful? Not super successful. Probably about 30-40 bars every 2-3 months, depending on the season.
And an added bonus one...
Do I Think I Could Sell It More Effectivley?
Heck yeah! If I had a website dedicated to soap selling only or if I went to craft shows or if I placed the soap more prominently on the website, it'd probably sell quite a bit more. But, I'm happy with the rate at which it sells.
Legal put out a really good guide on how to market the stuff that I think has a ton of great tips in it. I'm sure if I get more into soap making (which is now happening), I'll adopt some of this tips & tricks and I'm pretty sure it'll sell faster.
The problem in the UK is theres too much red tape - by law we'd have to get our soap tested and certified as a safe cosmetics product by a government approved cosmetics lab, and the fees are astronomical.
Man, and I thought selling stuff in the US was bad....
Can you get around it by claiming something like "Not for Human Skin contact." Then letting the customer use it as they see fit anyway? There are loopholes like that in a lot of USA cosmetics, medical devices, and vitamin laws.
No way round it. If we say avoid skin contact how do we assure people its better for them than ordinary soap?
That's where educating the consumer comes in.
There are many people (not the majority by any measure) who prefer to drink raw milk from grass fed cows that have not been inoculated with growth hormones and vaccines. In my state (Georgia) it is illegal to buy or sell raw milk for human consumption. On the other hand you can get raw milk if it is labeled for pet consumption only. The milk is delicious and much better for you than the pasteurized/homogenized crap they sell at the grocery stores. The downside is it costs about 40% more than the mass produced milk.
If you could point out to the potential customer that the soaps they purchase from the mass producers contain toxic ingredients e.g. titanium dioxide, sodium laurel sulfate, propylene glycol, etc. then perhaps they would be more inclined to take a step back in history and use your home made soap. You could even label it as laundry soap.
My plan of attack, whenever I finally start producing soap is to target the organic farmers' markets that are in abundance around here about 9 months out of the year. Find a vendor who might be interested in selling my soap with their other products.
The sale of any sort detergent here is controlled and has to pass strict regulations. Soap comes under cosmetics but detergents also have to be tested and approved. I wanted to market a fantastic insect repellant I invented but I was told to sell I would need it to be certified as safe and effective - which I was told by the authorities would cost a fortune.
Having encountered the ferocity of Scots midges firsthand I can see why that would be a good and desirable thing. I was going to bring citronella oil next time. Will it work?
mathematical elegance -- desired result achieved with minimal complication
Citronella works to some extent, depending on what particular midge it is (there are about 34 types I think) but it doesnt stop them entirely. Lots of people use Avon Skin-So-Soft - 'Woodland Fresh' seems to be the prefered variety; it works better than citronella but only makes the midge more tolerable. The latest is that people are using Listerine mouthwash, which a Highland shopkeeper mentioned a couple of months ago, so as all as the midge had started to disappear for the winter I havent been able to check that out. The best stuff on the market in my experience is Shoo! tho it doesnt work for clegs. Otherwise anything with 50% DEET is a big help. 'Jungle Formula' used to have a clear gel which worked great but they took it off the market for some reason - the effective ingredient was DEET.
As for my own formula which I use on my regular fishing trips up to the remote north it is effective against everything - midges, clegs, and black flies. I couldnt possibly divulge the ingredients, as I'm told by the locals that if it works it would make a fortune
PS - I might add that a friend's two sons used it in the Borneo jungle and in the Northern States against mossies and no-see-ums and they gave it rave reviews.
The nanny state in the UK is at least one order of magnitude ahead of ours.
It certainly is. One of the biggest excuses is 'Health and Safety', but its not so much our health they're concerned about as the money they can extort from us.
I second both those opinions.
mathematical elegance -- desired result achieved with minimal complication
Yea, they get us on the registering, we might be forced to attend 'courses' to obtain otherwise worthless certification, and if we're unlucky enough to slip up by overlooking something trivial among the screeds of statutes there'll be a knock at the door, a warning and of course a fine.
Wow and I thought our government was bad here..... but hey at least they're keeping all those people safe
I have been making soap off and on for the last year. I started with the help of LE's guide and Rick K's advice. I was initially just playing around to find a use for my glycerol but as my soap has gotten better, I've started trying to sell it. It was a big leap for me to actually charge for it but I got over that quickly. The soap I am making right now is pretty good stuff. It is liquid and transparent like maple syrup. It's probably too concentrated but I like it thick. Maybe I am biased, but I like it better than the commercial stuff.
I have sold quite a bit of the soap although my efforts have not been very organized. If I take it to craft shows or art shows it moves pretty well. I'll probably try some Farmer's Markets next summer. I live in Western NC and there is a lot of interest in "green" and or local products. There are lots of Green Markets, and also lots of small gift shops catering to tourists. The fact that I am recycling something is a good selling point around here, at least for the initial sale. The fact that it is good soap drives repeat sales. The high glycerin content just feels different than commercial soap. The brown color hasn't been as much of an issue as I thought it would be. Interestingly one of the best selling commercial glycerin bars looks like a solid form of my liquid. (I wonder if they also fry chicken in it to get it brown?)
I price it relatively high (in my opinion) but I have had several women tell me to price it higher. The strange thing about cosmetics or skin care products is that the more you charge, the more you sell. Inexpensive is deemed "cheap". Also, many women buy my product for gifts and they don't want to seem cheap when giving a gift. I guess it just depends on who your market is.
It's still just a hobby for me but with Christmas coming on, I wish I had made a more concerted effort to take it more seriously. I think I could have sold a LOT of soap.
We've got a nice recipe for a gel type soap made from KOH glycerin and are working on getting it into the restaurants we get our oil from for starters. One local mini mall has 7 bathrooms and our soap will be there soon, put a nice label on the dispenser and we get more exposure. People with sensitive skin know when they have found a good soap, some just don't care.
Our website is updated with the gel, marketing it separate from the liquid.
I've spoken with a few people in the auto trades who comment that it doesn't have pumice... I've given up on getting even the gel to suspend pumice. You know what- our soap doesn't need pumice its that good!
I did a job in Spain a few years back and the electrical shop water closet had a pot of gel soap with a pot of some type of pumice next to it. You could dip your hands in the gel and then dip em in the pumice to get some traction if needed. It worked pretty slick.
Just a thought.
Simple schematic for a pump and heater control with a high limit
Sensor for the biodiesel/glycerin layer
http://www.knicenclean.com your single-most largest free BDG soaping content on the internet.
SAP Testing, Ingredient Properties, Soap Glossary and Recipes just to name a few.
Making Biodiesel Byproduct Soap Learn how to use your biodiesel byproducts to make great bar and liquid soap!!!
"Closing the loop on biodiesel production one bar at a time!"
Beware of the Dunning–Kruger effect.
I am always looking for soap containers. I think I am on to something that will go over big. Graphics need a little work. Just don't take it to a picnic.
LOL -- POST OF THE MONTH!!!
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