Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stocking UP!

I spent a good amount of time last weekend making soap...about 400 bars worth! Got them all cut into bars yesterday and put on the curing racks. My house smells amazing.

One that's really surprised me is a new one...Lilac & Honeysuckle. Anyone who knows me knows that I really can't stand floral scents. I love the smell of real flowers, mostly, but I just can't tolerate a floral fragrance. But...I really, really love this one! It's hard to describe, but to me it smells more citrusy maybe...definitely a clean, refreshing scent. I can't wait to share it! Don't ask me why I colored it orange though, I was wanting it to be a paler pinkish/orange color, but must have put too much color in it, and it's pretty orange. Oh well...that's how I learn I guess. If it's a good seller and I make it again, I'll change that.

Another one I'm excited about is going to be called Euphoric! It's a duplicate of Calvin Klein's Euphoria perfume, one of my favorites that I wear often. Both of these will be ready May 21.

Thanks to everyone who has donated towards Bri's mission trip, we've been amazed and humbled by the generosity of customers and friends. I'll be sure to post photos when she gets back mid-May. You guys are the best!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Soap dishes, new fragrances...and Farmer's Market!

I'm very excited to say that the wood soap dishes are now back in stock! It's been a long time without them, but I finally got ahold of more. I was holding out for these specific dishes, they're the best I've found and didn't want to settle for cheaper quality dishes just to have something available.

There are at least three new fragrances coming soon! Jasmine will be ready on April 10. If you're a floral lover, you'll want to get ahold of some of this.

I just made some Cranberry Fizz yesterday, that'll be ready May 10. And Ginger Fuji Apple too! They're both wonderful, I'm hoping the fizzyness of the scent stays like it does in the Vanilla Champagne (you can really smell the bubbles/effervescense in that one). Speaking of, Vanilla Champagne will be back in stock May 10 also.

And, I've changed my mind again on the Farmer's Market! I'm sending in my application this week for the Monticello market which is on Thursdays (this'll be my 4th year there). I think it'll be ok to just be doing one market per week, and that's a good one for me, so I'll see you there starting in May!

I'm also going to be putting together an email special, hopefully yet today. My daughter is taking a mission trip with her church, they're going to Haiti in May, and she's doing some fundraising to help finance her trip. Her church http://www.crossing-church.com/ fully supports an orphanage down there, and they're going to help do some work on the buildings. Here's her message from Facebook:

"I'm the kid's director for the The Crossing Zimmerman campus. I hang out with kids each and every week and they've had a huge impact on my life! The Crossing has supported an orphanage in Haiti for over a year now and we have the opportunity to lend a hand during May. There are about 30 children who depend on us, ages 12 and under. While there we will be repairing buildings, building shelters and hanging out with the kids.

Time is not on my side. I ask for you to donate as graciously as possible to help make this trip a huge success. My deadline is fast approaching! Anything helps, and nothing is too small!"

She's very excited to be able to help these kids, and I'm happy to help her get there. Like she says, any amount helps. If you haven't signed up to receive our email specials, go to the website http://www.realsimplesoap.com/, and sign up! I don't fill your inbox with junk, I really only do specials a few times per year, and this'll be a good deal.

As always, I appreciate your business!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I've made a decision...

Well, part of a decision anyway.

I haven't totally figured out what to do, other than I am not going to continue with the Farmers' Markets this year. It's just too much.

I've had a few other wholesale interests lately, and will continue with the wholesale accounts and online sales, and most likely still do at least my 4 most favorite craft shows this year (Lemonade Fest, Anoka Riverfest, Buffalo Art & Crafts, and Bayfield Apple Fest), but I think that's going to be it. We'll see how that goes.

I've been working on rebuilding stock, and by the middle of February I should be pretty well restocked (some will be available in January).

I really appreciate all the kind words of encouragement and even offers to help from my customers! You guys really are the best!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Out of stock??

I feel like I need to explain! Currently, I'm out of stock on more than just a few favorite soaps, and it's the Christmas season too, where people want to buy more, and I'm running out.

It's because I'm trying to make a decision. Yes, a rather big decision!

You probably guessed it, I'm trying to decide whether to continue making soap, and if so, at what capacity. I work a full-time job at the high school, and have also taken on the job of yearbook adviser, which is another job in itself! The soap business was started as a sideline, with the hopes of someday being able to do just that alone. But, as is such in life, things change, and, because we're now dependent on my school job for health insurance, that would be a huge extra amount I'd have to make each month just to be able to do soap alone, if I were to also cover the cost of insurance. It might be possible, but it would also be an extremely huge leap of faith to even try, and pretty risky.

To keep up with the demand for soap, I usually spent most weekends making soap, and a lot of my evenings making labels, wrapping bars, ordering supplies, doing paperwork, website work, etc. Basically another full-time job. In the summer, when I have time off school, it's not so bad, but when I'm working full time, doing farmers' markets after work each week May through October, and shows on some weekends, it gets to be an awful lot.

So this fall, once my super-busy months of September and October were over, I just relaxed a bit on the soap business. My plan was that once I ran out of soap, that would be it, I'd be done. But I do still have enough supplies to make a bunch more soap, and that was my plan for today, which got sidetracked by filling orders, working on the website, etc. Maybe next weekend I'll spend a day making a bunch more.

But that doesn't help those who might want to order for Christmas, because it takes 6 weeks to be ready, and I feel bad about that!! And when I visit with repeat customers at shows, like last weekend, and they tell me that my soap is all they'll use anymore and how much it has helped their skin, I feel bad about even thinking to quit because it helps so many others (and no, I am not usually a "guilty feeling" person about things either!).

The good news is that there should be a supply of the good old favorites ready around mid-January, when the dry winter skin needs it the most.

Anyway...I haven't decided what to do yet. I may just continue the online sales and do a few shows and not take on the weekly markets...I'm just not sure.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I get to

see so many cool things at craft shows, and talk to so many neat people!

Today was another one of my favorite shows to do, the Anoka Riverfest. We had beautiful weather and great crowds, and I got to visit with many loyal customers who came to restock their soap shelves. And even with increased "competition" this year (there were a lot of soapmakers there this year), I still had fantastic sales!

And once in a while I get a treat like seeing this ultra-cool (although really he was HOT!) dog. He was huge! The top of his head was about as tall as my tables, and they're tall...I have them on risers so people don't have to bend down at all, everything is at a comfortable level for shopping. He looked like a little calf!

A few weeks ago my daughter Taylor helped me with the Lemonade Fest in St. Cloud. Another great day! We have been "lucking out" with gorgeous weather again this year, it was a near-perfect day.

At one point during the very busy, very loud day (the Blue Angels air show was in town and practicing that day), we glanced up at this shady rock across from our booth, and saw the sweetest sight...there was a boy, probably about 8-10 years old, sitting there in a meditation pose...legs crossed, eyes closed, hands resting on his knees with palms up and fingers touching (lotus pose??). We watched him for several minutes, and this wasn't a fake pose sort of deal, he really was meditating! Amazing, especially since it was so loud with the air show practice that we could hardly even hear each other, and here was a child meditating in the midst! I wanted to snap a picture of him, but before I could he was done and left.

We always have this great spot at Lemonade Fest, behind the rock and tree is an open space where they have mini-concerts all day, so we get some great music too. That means we get to see some great dancing all day too! This little girl just couldn't stop herself from moving to the music!

Now it's time for a little R&R...vacation time! We'll be closed until July 25 for some much needed down time and will return all renewed, refreshed, and ready to get back at it. By then some of the new soaps should be ready, and I'll put them on the website as soon as I can.

Hope you're having a great summer, thanks so much to my fantastic customers!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

New/Old Soaps!

There's a lady who I see several times a year at shows or markets, and she always asks me "Got any Pearberry again?" That was one of my original scents, and I haven't made it in a few years.

But....since she's kept asking, I know at least one person who wants it again! I bought the fragrance a while ago, and finally made a new batch a week ago, it'll be ready July 25.

Then....yesterday I also made a new batch of Pixie Sticks, another old favorite I haven't made in quite a while, it smells just like the Pixie Stix candy. I think it's gonna be really pretty too, it's a nice grapey color with a gold mica swirl and more mica "painted" across the top. I might change the name to Pixie Paint or something...we'll see. I only made about a 32-bar batch, so it won't be around long.

And then....I've been holding onto this fabulous scent that smells just like Froot Loops cereal, and wanted to do it in the round mold and name it "Fruit Rings" or something like that. Well...the best laid plans...!

I wanted it to be colorful too ('cause it's a kids' soap scent!), and used yellow, red, green and blue oxides to make a pretty swirl. But, when you pour/funnel it into the round molds (big pvc pipes), the colors kind of muddied, and it looks more like swamp water with bits of color here and there. And it was a huge pain to use the round molds, they are hard to seal so it leaks out the bottom, etc.

My daughter looked at it and said I should just name it "Swamp Fruit" so that's probably what it'll be! I wanted to use up the rest of the fragrance, so I just made another batch in the square mold since it probably won't have a "ring" name to it, so the circular shape won't matter. I think it's gonna be a really fun soap, especially for kids. The second batch has more color too, it'll be a fun one to cut up and see the funky patterns inside.

I tried again to make more Monkey Farts, but I'm having trouble getting a fragrance that'll stick and smell good, so that one might be a while yet. The batch I made has, again, a very light scent (too light for me), so when it's cured I'll probably either donate it to the local food shelf or Clean the World.

Oh yeah...I did make another new scent too! Dragon's Blood. An Oriental blend of Patchouli, amber, sandalwood and rose on a warm sweet musk base. It's often described as "mysterious, sweet, earthy." Definitely a unique scent, often recognized as a popular incense fragrance. I think it's one you'll either really, really like...or really, really hate!

Most of the past two weeks has been spent doing a lot of soap making, trying to get ahead of the game and get my stock built back up, it was getting too low. I don't like running out of soaps! I wanted to get a bunch curing too, I'm going on vacation later in July, so most of these soaps will be ready just about when I return, or a week or so after. The summer is looking to be very busy, our oldest daughter is getting married here at home in August, it'll be a pretty big event with a huge tent, relatives staying from out of state, etc., so of course there's lots to do here too!

Never a dull moment...Hope you're having a great summer so far!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Monkey Farts and kids...

Yesterday was Kids' Day at the Monticello Farmer's Market. I got to surprise about 25 kids with a free bar of Monkey Farts soap, and it sure made some of them giggle!

This last batch of Monkey Farts just really wasn't up to my standards for a good strong scent, so I let it serve a purpose that way by giving it away. The kids were thrilled and I was happy to see it go to a "good cause." It was still great soap, just had a sorta weaker scent, and the kids will have fun telling their friends that they bathe in Monkey Farts. What kid wouldn't be proud of that fact?!

And now I can make a new batch that'll be even better.

Both Farmer's Markets are up and running for the season, I'm in Rogers on Wednesdays and then Monticello on Thursdays.

The Lemonade Fest on the beautiful SCSU campus is coming up in two weeks, it's Thursday, June 24, so I won't be at market that day, I'll be in St. Cloud. If you've never been to it, it's a fabulous day with a huge craft show that starts at 11am. This summer, day long festival features local music groups, roving performers, a wide variety of foods and crafts and a children's art and entertainment area. This event traditionally has over 10,000 people in attendance. Then from 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. is the free St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra Concert at Atwood Mall (rain site - Ritsche Auditorium).

Come out for a fun-filled free family day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Soap Donation Thanks to YOU!

A few weeks ago I did an email special where customers could get seven bars of soap for the price of five, and donate another bar to Clean the World, a humanitarian organization that puts soap into the hands of very needy people mostly in third-world countries or, in this case, it was especially needed in Haiti where the earthquakes have caused so much devastation.

I'm happy to report that last week I sent off a 24-pound box of soap, containing 83 bars of soap, to Clean the World offices in Florida!

You guys are amazing! Some people even donated their second bar of free soap to the cause.

So I thank you, not only for being such great customers, but for extending your helping hand to those in need.

If you'd like more information about Clean the World, go to their website: http://www.cleantheworld.org/

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Email Special!

I've decided to put off the email special until January, and have a Customer Appreciation deal then, only because my stock on a lot of soaps is so low that I don't want to have a great offer and then not have the soap available for you to get!

This Fall has been quite an experience for me with sales far exceeding my expectations, and that's why my stock is so low. My curing shelves are packed full right now, but several varieties won't be ready until Christmas or just after.

Thanks for waiting! And have a fabulous Christmas season!


Saturday, November 21, 2009


I want to shout out a huge "THANK YOU" to all my loyal customers! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Because of you I've had the best year yet, and it just keeps growing.

Today was my last craft show of the year, and what a smash ending. I had repeat after repeat after repeat customer come to stock up, telling anyone else who was at the booth how good my soap is and how much they love it! I had a couple travel from the airport area to Albertville just to restock their soap. Another couple came with a shopping list after spending time on my website this morning looking to see what they wanted to buy. I tell you, I'm always amazed, humbled and grateful when I do shows and hear your wonderful comments.

So this week I'll be putting together an email special for you all. I'm planning to share the goodness with an organization I've mentioned before, "Clean the World." They get soap into the hands of those who truly need it in third world countries where the lack of sanitation presents life-threatening problems. Details will follow in the email special.

I thank you again, and look forward to seeing many of you again next year at shows.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Soaps!

Chocolate Orange

Love Potion
I have some new scents appearing soon, some by customer request, others just because they sounded good to me!

Return of an old favorite is Tres, which is available now. This is the soap made with goats milk, cream, and coconut milk, so it's extra moisturizing. A great choice for dry winter skin.

In just another week (September 14) there will be two more new choices, Love Potion and a bar with a nice Frasier Fir scent (unnamed yet, I'm still figuring that one out). I've been working with a customer for a good year and a half trying to get just the right "woodsy" scent he wanted, and I think we've finally got it! Now we just need to come up with the right name for it. Love Potion was a customer request (she makes candles with the scent and wanted soap to match), and I'm glad she requested it. It's a very exotic, sensual fragrance. The description is mostly fruits, but it doesn't smell like fruit to me. I tend to like the more earthier, muskier scents, and I've certainly fallen for this one. It's very hard to describe though, because it's not really earthy or musky....just very, very nice.

Carrot Cake

Then, a few weeks after that (October 1, which really is just right around the corner), both Chocolate Orange and Carrot Cake will be available. I can tell you, my soap curing room sure smells heavenly right now. They're both wonderful, and again, the Chocolate Orange was a customer request.

Some of the soaps I do are a limited edition, and if you're at all interested in them you should snatch them up while they're available. Sometimes it's a matter of mixing scents I had on hand to try something new, like Summer Escape. Other times, like with the Lemongrass & Olive, the fragrance oil was so hard to work with I won't be repeating it again. Whatever the reason, if it's marked Limited Edition Soap, once it's gone it's gone.

September is a very busy month for me, I start back to my full-time job at school tomorrow. Looking ahead to my schedule, I have one day off in September between my "real job," the two Farmer's Markets I still do after school each week, and the weekend shows coming up. There's even one day I had to recruit my daughter to help, because I'm supposed to do two shows in one day (I was invited to be part of a historical re-enactment show, so I get to dress the part too)!

But you know, when I get emails like these, it makes it all worth it to me:

"I wanted to send you feedback on the bars of handmade soap I purchased. I was skeptical at first, thinking how could handmade soap be any different than commercial soap bought at the store. I would normally buy it and then let it sit in a bathroom just for "show". Wow, was I surprised, not only does it smell GREAT, but it lathers wonderfully and it leaves my skin....oh-so-soft!

I can't see myself ever going back to store bought soap, your handmade craft is wonderful! I can't wait to use the other scents.

Thanks again,
Michelle P."

"My order arrived yesterday and thank you so much for the extra sample soap! I have two kids and younger one is 10-month-old baby and she has down syndrome. My dear friend looked very hard to find a special gift for her sensitive skin and she sent us your soaps. We loved your soap and we have been using yours for her & also for us too. : )

As the child with down syndrome tends to have more sensitive and dry skin, your soap is very gentle and works perfect on her skin. I bought couple of Bare Naked this time and plan to share with my friends who just had/going to have a baby to see if they like those too! Thank you so much for making such wonderful products and I like your personal touch correspondence on your business.

~Emi M., California"

Now that makes me smile!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Clean the World!

I've recently become aware of a fantastic organization called "Clean the World."

Here's a little info from their website:

"Clean the World recycles soap and saves lives.

Everyday in America, thousands of hotels discard millions of pounds of soap and shampoo. These products often end up in already overflowing landfills and contaminate fragile groundwater systems.

Impoverished people around the world die every day from acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease because they have no soap. The death toll is staggering. Each year more than five million lives are lost to these diseases with the majority of deaths being among children less than five years old. Studies have shown that simple hand washing substantially reduces the spread of these diseases. Unfortunately, the essential items for proper hand washing are unobtainable for millions of people worldwide.

Clean the World gets soap to people who really need it.

In an effort to prevent these needless deaths from occurring, Clean the World distributes recycled soap products, along with appropriate educational materials, to impoverished countries worldwide, and to domestic homeless shelters."

You can read more at their site http://www.cleantheworld.org/

Now isn't that COOL?!

I'm going to be running a special soon and send a donation of new soap to this great organization. If you haven't done so already, go to our website www.realsimplesoap.com and sign up for email specials so you can help too!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I love

my loyal customers!

I did a craft show a few weeks ago where, as soon as booths were set up and vendors were ready to sell, a couple came up to me and said, with huge grins, that they were "here to stock up on soap!" They went on to tell me how much they love my soaps and it's the only soap they'll use anymore. The husband told me that they've been watching my website to see which shows I'll be at, and decided to come to this one to save on shipping costs (which was still a good 30-40 mile drive for them). But I think it gave them something to do, and it's always a fun time to go to a craft show and see what's new and interesting. And it made my day too!

Yesterday I did a show in Buffalo, which is always another great show to do. I've been there for three years now with soap and have quite a "fan" base there. Several people came up to restock, and as always I gave away a lot of free samples and even a few free bars.

I especially love talking with the people who have sensitive skin and I always give them a couple samples to try (Bare Naked and Oh Honey, Honey). It thrills me to be able to help someone stop their constant itching and get them away from the chemical-laden stuff out there. And when they usually call me a few days later to tell me what a difference it made, I just want to give them a big hug and a "Hurrah!" I even offered to work with a lady who is allergic to olive oil and develop a recipe just for her...I'm pretty sure she'll be giving me a call, she had tears in her eyes when I told her I'd be happy to experiment and find something that will work for HER.

And that's why I do what I do! : )

Friday, July 10, 2009

It works!

People often ask me at shows whether the "Don't Bug Me" soap actually works. I reply that "Well, in theory it should. It contains citronella, lavender and eucalyptus essential oils, but I haven't been able to really test it out yet for it's effectiveness."

I've had two customers in the past few days tell me that yes, it definitely works! One lady stopped by my booth in Rogers to report that her family had taken it camping with them up in the Boundary Waters (border of Minnesota and Canada). She even used it to wash her hair, and said it most definitely did help.

And my "vendor neighbor" at the Monticello market last night told me it works for her too! She said she uses it before going out to work in the garden, and nothing bugs her.

That's pretty cool. Something that's 100% natural, contains no harmful chemicals like DEET, and it works!

I'm going on my Summer Escape in a few days and will have a chance to test it out at one of North Carolina's state parks near the ocean. I can't wait to go and report back what I find out.
I do have a limited supply of this soap though, and won't be making any more this year because with the six weeks cure time, it would be fall before it's ready and that's getting too late. But I'll definitely make a LOT more next year!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Adding to the busy schedule!

Like I don't have enough to do. Seriously! I've taken on another weekly Farmer's Market, this one is in Rogers, Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon/evenings from 3pm to 7pm. It's located right next to the high school, just off Hwy 101 at 21080 141st Ave. N in Rogers (a quick minute or two off I-94).

Last week was my first week there, and I was very impressed. Not only with the amount of customers coming out to a brand new, two-week-old market, but with the people who are running the market too. Everyone was super nice and very accommodating. It's gonna be great!

This week I'm missing my usual Thursday Monticello market to go up to St. Cloud and be a vendor at the Lemonade Fest. I believe this is my sixth year there, third with soap and I made jewelry for three years before that. Another great show I look forward to each year, and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate again. Yay!

I hate to not be at the market though (in Monticello). Customers come to expect that the usual vendors will be there, and it's not good if you're missing. My plan was to be gone also on July 9th, 16th and 23rd, but I'm pretty sure that plan is changing. The 9th is my son's birthday, but I made a deal with him to share in the profits that day as part of his birthday present, so I can attend. I might even talk him into coming with me so we can have a special birthday sale (we'll see about that one!).

The other two weeks I'll be having fun in North Carolina with my big brother, who I don't get to see very often. I'm really looking forward to a vacation with him and his wife and stepdaughter. He's a fabulous cook (yum!) and fisherman, and we're planning to camp by the ocean for a weekend. I love being by the water.

Then I'll be back, refreshed, and ready to make more soap!

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Wow, I hate to do it, but I've had to mark several soaps "Temporarily Out of Stock!" The Farmer's Market has started, and I've received some unexpected, unusually large orders, depeleting a lot of my stock.

There's a lot more already ON the curing racks, but since I let my soaps cure a full 6 weeks before packaging and selling them, some of them might be a little bit of a wait. But wouldn't you rather wait for a fully-cured soap than get something that's just going to melt quickly in your shower??

The busy summer season is on! Be sure to check out our "Where You Can Find Real. Simple. Soap." page if you're looking for a few good craft shows to attend.

And thanks for your patience!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Farmer's Market!

We've started the new season of the Farmer's Market, and have had two fabulous days already! And this year it's even better!

What can you find at the Farmer's Market this time of year? Not really much produce yet (although I did get some fresh rhubarb yesterday), but there are some new vendors, which means new products among the "old" regular vendors...this week included some beautiful felted purses, stepping stones, jewelry, baked goods, bedding plants (veggies and flowers), hanging baskets, soy candles, fresh eggs, bird feeders, maple syrup, homemade taffy, photo cards and framed art, gluten-free baking mixes, chemical free beef and chicken, all kinds of home-canned goods like jellies, jams, pickles, pickled green beans, beets and more. I bought some wonderful home-canned roasted red pepper soup that I can't wait to try.

We have a new location this year and it seems to be working out nicely. We're just across the road from where we were last year, we're at the Monticello Public Library parking lot each Thursday from 3:30 - 7:00, now until mid-October.

There's even live music this year! Yesterday we had acoustic guitar and an accordian player. It really helps liven things up and provides a nice atmosphere for the market.

Stop on out...you never know what you'll find!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A little consumer deception??

I happened to be at the Mall of America the other day, and stopped in to check out a soap/bath/body store that I've been curious about....you may have heard about it, it's called "Lush." They are a big corporation with many, many stores and a huge following.

They have beautiful products - soaps, bath bombs as big as a baseball, fresh facial masks, solid bubble bath...the list goes on. Very nice stuff, and expensive too! I don't know that I'd personally want to spend $6.95 for a bath bomb for just one bath, but they sure looked cool!

I told the girl as soon as she came over that I make soap and just came to check out their stuff too. She asked me how I make soap, and I told her the basic ingredients/steps. Then she went into her sales speech, "educating" me on their products. Turns out, I ended up educating her a bit.

She proudly told me that their soaps are not made with palm oil, because there is a controversy around the sustainability of the rain forests, nor is it made with lye or glycerin. Hmm. Soap made without lye? Sorta impossible, as the lye is what reacts with the oils to change into and create soap.

So I looked at the ingredient list for their honey soap: Honey Water (Mel Aqua), Propylene Glycol, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Perfume, Beeswax (Cera alba), Sweet Orange Oil (Citrus dulcis), Bergamot Oil (Citrus bergamia), Aloe Vera Extract (Aloe barbadensis), Aloe cupensis, Sodium Chloride, Glycerine, EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides), Titanium Dioxide, Limonene, Linalool, Benzyl Benzoate.

Ok, so it doesn't say lye or palm oil, right? I explained to her that when you mix an oil with lye (sodium hydroxide), it becomes a whole other substance. In this case they mixed Palm Kernel oil with sodium hydroxide, and it becomes Sodium Palm Kernelate. And Palm Kernel oil definitely does come from the same plant/place as Palm oil. The palm fruit is the source of both palm oil (extracted from palm fruit) and palm kernel oil (extracted from the fruit seeds).

And...what else is in their soap? Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, also referred to as just SLS, one of the worst ingredients to put on your body. So why is a dangerous chemical like sodium lauryl sulfate used in commercial soaps and shampoos? The answer is simple - it is cheap. The sodium lauryl sulfate found in commercial soaps is exactly the same as you would find in a car wash or even a garage, where it is used to degrease car engines. A report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. Skin corrosion...seriously?

National Institutes of Health "Household Products Directory" of chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called "highly irritating and dangerous." There's no way to know what the concentration is in the product, but you know the higher it is up on the ingredient list, the more of it is in the product.

Tetrasodium Etidronate is a substance found in many personal care products that has the potential to cause adverse effects in people with eczema. Tetrasodium etidronates are also used in water softeners. Because tetrasodium can be an irritant to the skin and mucus membranes people with eczema should exercise caution before using products that contain it. One reason that tetrasodium etidronate is used in soaps is for its preservative properties. Commercial soaps are required to have no more than two percent of tetrasodium etidronate but even small amounts can trigger eczema symptoms.

Many commercial soaps and other personal care products that are billed as "natural" actually contain tetrasodium etidronate. In fact, many of the soaps sold in health food stores contain tetrasodium etidronate.

Benzyl benzoate is used to treat lice and scabies infestations. This medicine is believed to be absorbed by the lice and mites and to destroy them by acting on their nervous system. Wow, not something I'd want to be putting on my body every day!

So what's in OUR honey soap? Water, coconut oil, castor oil, palm oil, olive oil, sodium hydroxide, shea butter, beeswax, honey, sugar, lemongrass essential oil. Yep, that's it! Nothing else!

The sales girl seemed to be interested when I explained the lye/sodium palm kernelate part to her, and she said "Well, I guess I can't say that to anyone anymore, but that's what they tell us to say!"

I walked away rather angry at this company, because if they are indeed telling their employees to say such things, that, in my opinion is major deception. Their soaps look like the purest, most natural soaps you could imagine, when in fact they're not.

Another reason that we, as consumers, need to educate ourselves.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Healthy Life Expo!

Wow, did we have a busy and fun weekend! My daughter, Bri, and I were vendors at the Healthy Life Expo downtown Minneapolis this past Friday and Saturday. We gave away a LOT of free samples and met some wonderful people.

Friday was a little slowish, but things picked up considerably on Saturday. I think the gorgeous weather (or so I heard!) may have helped. It was 47 degrees out and I believe sunny, so I think people wanted to get out and do something.

We really did have a good time. When we had some slower moments we took turns walking around looking at the other booths. I got a mini-massage each day, what a treat. Just what I needed on Saturday afternoon when my shoulders were feeling a little tight.

There were wonderful booths there...everything from chiropractors, jewelry, natural fiber clothing, artwork, purified water, natural grain-fed beef, handmade soy candles, healthy cookware (which we were directly across from, and I could probably now tell you their whole sales talk, having heard it 8 times!), natural skincare, energy/vitamin drinks, personal trainers, body detoxification, essential oils, massage, intuitive and palm readings, dna activation, anti-aging, and so much more.

If you missed it, there will be another show this November 7 at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis, and again next January.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

And the winner is....

Patricia Perla from Utah is the lucky winner! This basket full of 12 soaps will be in the mail to you on Friday, January 2.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and best wishes for a fabulous 2009!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Soaps!

I added three new 100% natural soaps to the website today...Patchouli Lavender, Patchouli Lime, and Pine Tar.

I've had a customer stop by my booth a few times this summer and ask me to make Patchouli Lavender. It was a favorite of hers from another soapmaker who no longer makes it, so I did it. And while I was at it I made an old favorite of mine, Patchouli Lime. If you're a Patchouli Orange fan, while that one's out of stock (curing now), give the Patchouli Lime a try.

Pine Tar soap is an old-time recipe for a medicinal soap. Pine Tar soap has traditionally been known to help with frustrating skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and dandruff. I make no claims...that's just what it's known for. Lots of people over the years have found relief (NOT cures, but relief) from skin problems when using Pine Tar soaps. It definitely has a medicinal smell, but if it helps, it would be worth it! I added a touch of Eucalyptus essential oil to it to help with the smell a bit. Many people like the medicinal smell of the soap.

I'm still working on the other new items (lip balms, bath bombs, sugar scrubs, bath salts, etc.). A big part of the whole process is working out the labeling, as there are government rules and regulations that have to be followed. And of course the labels have to fit on the container too!
I'm hoping to roll out the new products in January.

Hope everyone's having a wonderful December and holiday season so far. We're getting a beautiful, soft, light snow today, which helps put me in the holiday mood.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Packing it up!

No, we're not the latest store casualty going out of business!! : ) Not at all!

I just unloaded the van and brought everything in for the last time this season (unless I find another craft show I absolutely must do before Christmas). It was sort of a relief, because I've packed and unpacked the soap, tent, tables, and all other things necessary to do a show at least 40 times this year, and that's just since May! It'll be nice to take a little break before the spring season kicks back in.

Yesterday was my last show of the year, and what a way to end the season! I had such a great time, it was a very well known, well run show at the St. Michael/Albertville High School. The crowd was unbelievable, I was actually thinking that it would not be much fun to be a shopper in the first few hours, it was so crowded people could hardly move, let alone have fun shopping.

Several of my favorite customers stopped by too. One lady (Jane!), is so much fun...I was busy wrapping up some gift sets for customers, so there was a line at my booth, and she was telling people (anyone within earshot), how great my soap is and that it's all she's used for the last two years and has helped to greatly control her eczema. She always comes with her daughter, and they're just great people to see. I asked her if she wanted to hang around the booth for a few hours and just be my salesperson! I love her! Of course I gave her an extra free bar for being so nicely outspoken about my soap...she deserved it. Jane, you're the best!

For the next month I'll be working hard on the recipes for new products (bath salts, bath bombs, lotion sticks/bars, body butters and more). They're coming along nicely, and I'm hoping to have them all perfected before mid-January, as I do have one big show the end of January that it would be nice to have new products for. But I won't put them out for sale unless they're just right! I'll send out an email special when they're ready too.

Thank you all again for being great customers this past year! It's been a delight.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Win FREE Soap!

How would you like to win a year's worth of FREE SOAP?

For every order placed between now and December 31, 2008, your name will be put into a drawing to win this basket jam-packed with a dozen bars of handmade soap!

There's nothing to do...except place your order (yes, you can place as many orders as you'd like, and each time your name will be put into the drawing)!

Drawing will take place on January 1, 2009.

And there's more exciting news...we're expanding and doing some new product development!

Felted soap is now available. What's felted soap you ask? It's soap with wool roving wrapped around the soap, then felted (wet and rubbed so the fibers lock together). As you use the soap you'll get great lather and a nice scrubby texture.

Skip the washcloth or poof and try felted soap. They're beautiful and practical, and make great gifts. You can choose to have any bar of soap felted, but please be aware that it will delay shipment of your order for five days, while your bar is being felted and dried. Colors will vary.

Creations like whipped shea butter, bath salts, sugar scrubs, lotion balms and fizzy bath bombs are all being worked on, tested and perfected. The guinea pigs (friends and family, not real guinea pigs!) are testing, testing, testing products and giving me lots of feedback. Hopefully there will be several new items on the website to start the new year off with a bang (or a bomb...bath bomb that is!).

I'm also considering lip balms, and would love to hear what kind of items you'd like to see us make, and your favorite scents, etc. Any feedback/ideas/suggestions are appreciated! Just email me, valarie@realsimplesoap.com, and let me know your thoughts.

Thanks for being a customer!
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

End of the season!

Thursday was the last day of the Farmers' Market for the 2008 season. It was bittersweet, of course.

Thankfully we had an absolutely gorgeous fall day to end the season. Did you make it out to the market this year? If you didn't, here's what you missed:

We'll start again next May, so mark your calendars! It's not only a great way to spend some time, but you never know what you'll find there (if you're interested in the free kittens, let me know and I'll hook you up with that person!). They need a good home! : )

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hunting time!

Hunting season is upon us. Actually the bow hunting season opened here mid-September. My husband is a bow hunter, and he likes to try different things to hopefully get the advantage over the deer. This year he bought himself a special bar of soap. It's unscented, and is supposed to help get rid of human scent.

Hmm...that sounds fairly familiar (my "Tall Tale" soap?). Nope. It wasn't Tall Tale, and I'm sure he paid a pretty penny for it too.

That's fine. Give it a try I say. But I picked it up in the shower and didn't like the feel of it. It wasn't smooth feeling like my soap. And Honey, I also make one that's unscented (Bare Naked), and one that's supposed to attract deer. : )

I didn't say anything, just let him use his special soap.

Then last week he told me that he had to stop using it because his skin felt really dry! He went back to my soap and could immediately tell the difference.

Guess we all have to live and learn!

By the way...he's been throwing small pieces of my soap around out in our woods this year, hoping that the deer will get used to the smell...'cause he smells like soap all the time. Hope it works for him!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pretty cool...

Last night I got an order from a woman in Arkansas. When I asked her how she heard about our soap, this is what she said:

"My husband is in Iraq, and somehow got some of your soap. He sent me a slice of the Patchouli Orange and said I needed to get some! It took me a little while, but he kept bugging me to get some, so I finally called. He'll be so surprised when he comes home because he doesn't know I'm ordering it."

How cool is that?!! I had sent about 100 bars over to Iraq the end of July. One box went to Troop Care Package, where she divided it up amongst boxes headed for soldiers. The other box I sent directly to a customer's son who's serving over there, with a letter hoping he'd share it with his troop mates. Somehow this soldier from Arkansas got his hands on a bar and loved it so much he encouraged his wife back home to get some too!

I just love stories like that! I never know what'll happen or who might fall in love with the soap, and it makes my day hearing such cool stories.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Bar Shape

When I got the product test results a while ago from the National Health & Wellness Club members, I noticed one particular comment/suggestion happened several times.

People suggested that I make the bar shape a little differently, so the soap is easier to hold on to. Currently it's about an inch and a half thick, and it can sometimes be hard to hold, especially for those who have smaller hands.

So, I'm taking their wonderful suggestion to heart! With the newer batches I've started cutting the bars a little thinner, but longer, and you can see the comparison in the picture. Hopefully this will work out wonderfully, I like the new shape myself.

The bars will still weigh the same (approximately 4.5 oz. or more), they'll just be longer and narrower, so they'll look a little different.

I've been working on some web updates today, adding a few new soaps and putting some summer scents on clearance. I've got several great new scents coming out, so if the summer ones are your favorites, you might want to snatch them up while they're still available, and clearance priced!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

100% Natural vs. Fragrance Oils

When I set up my booth at shows or the Farmers' Market, I separate the soap tables by which soaps are 100% natural, and those that contain a fragrance oil, which is the only thing that's not natural in that soap. That way it's easy for those who are interested in strictly 100% natural soap to see what they have to choose from, and avoid the soaps with fragrance oils.

Sometimes I'm asked why I use fragrance oils and don't strictly do 100% natural soaps. My reasons are many. I personally don't have a problem using soaps containing fragrance oils, because I know they are high quality cosmetic fragrances. I only buy fragrances from reputable companies, never the "cheap imitation fragrances" I've heard other soapers refer to. Good quality fragrance oils aren't "cheap" to begin with, some are much more expensive than essential oils. I hold myself to a higher standard than that, and would never buy or use something in my soap that wasn't top quality (don't forget, my family uses the soaps too!). I scent my soaps at 1% of the recipe, so each bar contains a very small amount of fragrance, whether it's essental oils or fragrance oil.

There are many, many fragrances which people love, that just aren't available in a safe essential oil (not all essential oils are skin safe either). Scents that are very popular, such as Fresh Cut Grass, Black Raspberry Vanilla and Hardwood Musk just aren't going to happen unless I use a fragrance oil. I like bathing with scents such as Lime Margarita or Cleopatra's Treasure.

I also struggle with the "sustainability" of essential oils. Do you realize how much plant material it takes to make a tiny amount of essential oil? And what is the environmental impact of all the machinery used to plant, harvest and process the plants to make such a small amount of oil? Are those plants grown without pesticides? Are they processed without solvents? Here's an interesting link about essential oils: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_oil#Production

If someone wants to live completely natural, I honor and applaud that. Whether you choose 100% natural soap, or those containing fragrance oils, handmade soap is still 100% better for you than commercial detergent bars. Guaranteed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

FDA Globalization Act of 2008


Have you heard anything about the FDA Globalization Act of 2008? If not, I urge you to go to the link above and watch a short video from Donna Maria, President & CEO of the Indie Beauty Network.

This video summarizes the Indie Beauty Network's position against the Discussion Draft of the FDA Globalization Act of 2008, the legislation that would put thousands of Indies out of business by forcing them to pay outrageous registration fees and comply with burdensome paperwork.

If you've ever bought a lotion, lip balm, or other personal product from someone other than a big name national or worldwide company, that choice could be taken away from you when small, independent businesses are forced out of business due to the burdens of this Act.

If passed, this law would drive consumers back to the days when they could only choose between a few huge, faceless, nameless big box stores and brands for their cosmetics and personal care products. And fewer consumer choices always leads to higher prices.

The Act would put unfair burdens on small, Indie businesses like Real. Simple. Soap., burdens that would most likely put thousands upon thousands of small business out of business. Not only would that affect your choices as a consumer, but think of how many families depend on the income from their small businesses these days.

Please take the time to view the video, and sign the petition if you feel led to do so.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Things We Go Through...

Yesterday was one of those days.

Our local Farmers' Market was set to open early because of the town celebration (River Fest), so we were to open at noon instead of 3:30. Everyone got there, got their booths set up, and wham.... look what happened! We knew storms were coming so I think most of us were pretty well prepared, but man, did it rain! With wind too. I took this shot of the booth across from me (while holding down my own tent, so it's not the greatest quality). It rained for a good long while and then finally cleared, giving us a nice cool breeze on our soaked bodies, which meant then we were cold. No problem, just continue on.

Not much later, it clouded up again and rained some more. There were some shoppers who braved the weather, some had umbrellas, some didn't! I had managed to put a tarp on my canopy ceiling, so my soap was staying pretty much dry, which is good. The sun came back out.

Not much later, it clouded up again and rained some more! Yes, it did that probably 6 or 7 times. I'd put a side up on my canopy to stop the rain because it always seemed to change directions. It would stop raining, things would dry off, I'd take the side down for customer shopping ease, and then it would rain again! Finally around 4:00 it stopped for good, things dried off and the rest of the evening was beautiful. The nice part was that everything was dry to pack up, because packing up in the rain is absolutely no fun.

Today I'm going shopping for a new canopy! My old one is not waterproof at all, and if I hadn't put the tarp in the ceiling, my day would have been ruined. One of the other vendors had a new canopy that I was eyeing all day, and I'm going to go look at that one. It would be nice to not have to worry about rain and soap mixing.

It's nice to see the "regulars" coming out to the market. It's nice to see people supporting local farmers and crafters. It's even nicer when I hear comments like this: "Last week I took a sample of Paradise, and it smells and works just as good as the Bath & Body Works stuff... without all the chemicals." That was fun to hear!

I also picked up a few "new" vegetables for our family to try. I've never tried kohlrabi, but it sounded good when the vendor was telling a customer about it, so I got some too. And fresh beets. I haven't had beets since I was a kid and had to eat the canned ones, so that'll be an adventure too. I'll most likely be the only one in the house to try them, but you never know.

If you are local and haven't ventured out to the market, it's every Thursday from 3:30-7:00 pm behind the Community Center in Monticello. You never know what you'll find there, besides veggies there are things such as fused glass pendants, photography cards and prints, kitchen towels, homemade baked goods, jams and jellies, garden plants, hanging baskets, homemade candies, homemade fruit rollups, stepping stones, salt-water taffy and lots more. Yesterday a group was selling THE best strawberry shortcake with local berries that were the sweetest I've ever tasted. So I had to taste it twice. : )

Bring your kids, your spouse, your grandma! There's something for everyone at the market.