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Wholesale Supplies Plus Article Library includes handmade business articles, inspirational soap making ideas, and specialty product trends.

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In a Creative Slump? 7 Ways to Spark Your Next Great Idea

When inspiration hits, you happily busy yourself developing that new line of sugar scrubs or tea infused soaps--it feels as though nothing can stop you. Ideas seem to come from nowhere to peak your confidence and curiosity.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Simple Secrets: Creating Custom Molds

Why Create Custom Molds?
Special occasions often call for special molds. While there are many different love and wedding mold options available for weddings, sometimes you're looking for something more personalized. Ordering a custom mold is an option (usually a pricey one), but you can also make one yourself! In this short article, we will show you how we made our own molds to create these guest-sized soaps.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Chemistry of Bath Fizzies and Bath Bombs

What makes the simple combination of citric acid and baking soda in a bath bomb fizz and bubble, releasing all kinds of wonderful fragrances and colors? It’s all about the chemistry, of course – in this case, an acid-base reaction. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Simple Secrets: Achieving White CP Soap

Reasons for White Soap
Some soap makers seek out ways to make white soap. White soap for a white wedding might be a request from a demanding bride on her large custom order, or perhaps white soap fits better with your branding. Another reason for white is the ease in coloring. When you start off with a white base, it is less challenging to predict the color when adding powders and additives. Whatever your reason for lightly colored soap, here are some tips to create a true white bar.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Six Things To Know Before You Apply For Your First Business Loan

Want to grow your business? Expand your product offering? Perhaps you simply want to know you have access to financing to protect your cash flow in case of an emergency. A small business loan could be of value in any of these scenarios, but there are some important aspects of small business lending that are important to understand, whether you hope to borrow from a bank, credit union, the Small Business Administration (SBA) or an online lender. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Millennial Machine - 2017 Trends

If you’re like most small businesses, trends are something you likely follow to help keep your finger on the pulse of what is new, exciting and profitable. Millennials, defined as those ages 18-34, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). Like every generation before them, millennials come with their own set of characteristics that make them unique and companies can’t afford to ignore their enormous purchasing power.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Due Processes: Comparing the Chemistry of Commercial Soaps and Handmade Soaps

The world of handcrafted soap is often divided into two subcategories: Melt and Pour (MP) and Cold Process/Hot Process (CP/HP). MP soap is actually already soap (and perhaps some detergent) when the soapmaker buys it. CP/HP soap is made by reacting fats and oils with sodium or potassium hydroxide. While we like to think of handcrafted soap as returning to the pre-industrial methods of an earlier age, the processes used by modern handcrafters are actually quite different from those used historically.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Simple Secrets: Anchoring Fragrances In CP Soap

Why Anchor Fragrances?
Cold process soap creates a hostile environment for fragrances including fragrance oils and essential oils. The searing temperature of raw soap coupled with the hostile chemical reaction of saponification challenges all fragrance notes to hang on until the end. Unfortunately, not all fragrance notes last the minutes, weeks or months after saponification. Some burn off almost instantly, some hibernate coming out once the smoke has cleared and some hold on like the warriors they are. Coconut fragrances, orange essential oil and light floral essential oils and fragrances are infamous for disappearing in soap whereas patchouli, ylang ylang and litsea cubeba fragrances are known to last. We can anchor problematic fragrances to help with their battle. Here are three suggestions for making the strongest smelling soap.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Simple Secrets: Enhancing Bubble Bath

Bubble Bath
While bubble bars are the new fun thing to make, did you know there is still a market for liquid bubble bath? For those of us that grew up with traditional liquid bubble bath, sometimes understanding the concept of a solid bubble bath is difficult to comprehend. 'Crumbling that beautiful scoop or intricately designed bar is really going to make bubbles?' runs through the minds of some customers. Appeal to this bubble bar ignorant market by offering liquid bubble bath. Also, having the liquid bubble bath around your solid bubble bars will help bridge that connection into understanding about bubble bars. Enjoy these tips on enhancing your liquid bubble bath.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Hot Stuff

The cold process is not exactly cold. The oils are generally warmed to something higher than room temperature, and once the lye is added, the raw soap can become quite warm indeed. Of course, the term arises because, unlike the hot process, no additional heat is provided once the oils and lye are mixed. Despite the name, temperature plays a large role in cold-process soap, and we will explore that relationship in this article.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Science of Scent

What in the world do the terms top, middle and base notes mean in relation to creating amazing fragrance blends? 

Friday, March 3, 2017

How To Choose Scents That Sell

Next to packaging, a product’s scent is one of the most important components a consumer considers when forming a positive or negative opinion. When choosing a fragrance for your brand it’s necessary to convey a distinct message, know what you want the consumer to feel and understand what fragrances have already worked for other, similar brands.

Friday, March 3, 2017

How To Hire Good Employees

You’ve heard the saying “Good help is hard to find.” (Unfortunately, you also may have experienced its truth first-hand). Hiring can be a challenge for companies of all sizes, but when you own a small business finding employees who have the right skill set, values and attitude can be a deciding factor in whether your business thrives or struggles. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Ready to Start Selling Your Products? How to Break into Small Retail

While whipping up product batches brings you joy, you need only so much sugar scrub and lip balm lining the shelves of your linen cabinet, so you give it away like any devoted crafter would do.

Friday, March 3, 2017

How You Can Use Contests To Build Your Customer Base

Social media and online marketing can both be inexpensive opportunities to connect with existing customers and new audiences, but it’s become increasingly difficult to cut through the barrage of messages consumers are now exposed to in a day. That’s part of the reason contests have become such a powerful (and popular) tactic among small business marketers. 
Here are a few simple tips to help guide and inspire the development of your first contest. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Simple Secrets: Testing Soap's pH Level

You've researched the safety of lye, tackled the task of using a soap calculator and made what appears to be a successful batch of CP soap...but is it successful? Testing the soap's pH is a critical part of soap making to ensure your soap is safe and within an acceptable pH range. Soap can range from a pH of 7 to 10 with most soap being 9 to 10. Soaps greater than 10 are considered lye-heavy and can irritate or burn the skin. Saponification, the chemical process in which lye and oils turn into soap, usually takes between 24-48 hours. After this time, the pH can be tested and it should be within the soap range of 7 to 10. Note that the pH can lower further during the 4-6 weeks of curing. Here are three ways to test a soap's pH.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

5 Critical Steps To Launching A Successful Brand In 2017

Some call it superstition, some say it provides powerful motivation. Whatever your thoughts, ringing in a New Year has its way of lighting a fire under those of us with a dream. This is an especially meaningful time for entrepreneurs, or aspiring entrepreneurs, to strategize a strong foundation upon which to build those dreams. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Simple Secrets: Gelling CP Soap

What Is Gelled Soap?
Most of us learn about gelling the first time we experience a partial gel. A partial gel happens when the inside of your soap heats up enough to become gelatinous and translucent while the outside retains a cooler temperature. The resulting soap has a circle throughout it where the inside circle is brighter and the outside edges are muted. The problem is purely aesthetic. Generally, soap makers try to avoid partial gel by either gelling their soap completely or preventing the soap from gelling at all. In this column, we will discuss three ways you can force gel phase.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Simple Secrets: Shrink Wrapping Products

Why Shrink-wrap?
Many of us spend countless hours designing and tweaking our recipes for the highest quality product, but are you putting time into packaging as well? Many customers are ignorant to the amount of time put into soap and cosmetic making, but what customers do notice is your product packaging. Customers have a natural knack for gravitating towards pretty things, which include pretty packaging as well as your pretty soaps! Shrink-wrapping adds an element of professionalism to handmade products, and customers are more likely to trust your brand. In this column, we will discuss tips and tricks for shrink-wrapping commonly made products to elevate your homemade product to a handmade commercial commodity.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Chemistry of Color Morphing

It’s unbelievably frustrating to create a brightly colored handmade soap only to see the color morphing over time into something completely different, something dull or muted and boring. What causes these changes? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Carpe Saponem II

Last month we explored seizing, a phenomenon in which an oil/lye mixture solidifies so quickly after mixing that it is too thick to transfer easily from the mixing pot to the molds. The root cause of seizing is the presence of a surfactant (like soap), which hastens the conversion of an unstable emulsion (pre-trace) to a stable colloid (post-trace). Normally, lye reacts slowly with oil, soap forms gradually, and the mixture becomes thicker as the emulsion becomes a colloid. Rancid oil, however, may contain “free” fatty acid (i.e. not bound to glycerol), which reacts almost instantly with lye to form soap, cutting the time short available for crafting and pouring. Last month's article gave directions for detecting free fatty acid in oil.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Simple Secrets: Using Plastic Molds for CP Soap

Many soap makers love plastic molds for their beautifully detailed designs and their economical price, but they can be tricky to use with cold process soap. Plastic molds come in a variety of designs that include molds for practically every holiday or event and molds that complement a wide variety of colors, fragrances and other soap making ingredients. Some of our favorite Milky Way® molds for this issue of Handmade include the Aloe Vera Soap Mold, Bee and Honeycomb Soap Mold, Lavender Guest Soap Mold and the Oatmeal Rounded Soap Mold. We have found three tricks that make for consistently molded soap bars in plastic molds. 

Pictured: Cold process soap with Crafter's Choice® Energy Fragrance Oil and Safflower Powder. Molded with Milky Way™ Henna Teardrop Soap Mold (MW 258)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Starting 2017 With A Positive Attitude

A new year marks an opportunity to take note of which aspects of your business worked in your favor and which you may need to adjust—including your own perspective and attitude. Here are a few tips to help you make the lens through which you view the world a little more positive—both for the good of your business, and your enjoyment as an entrepreneur.

Friday, January 6, 2017

How to Set the Pace for Higher Profits in 2017

Many people view the month of January as an opportunity for a fresh start. I see it as a fork in the road: we can choose to stay on our existing path, or we may choose to pave a path to change. Either way, there’s something psychologically powerful about the first month of a new year—it sets the pace for the next eleven months of our lives.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Carpe Saponem

This month we explore seizing, a phenomenon in which an oil/lye mixture solidifies so quickly after mixing that it is too thick to transfer easily from the mixing pot to the molds. While there is nothing functionally wrong with the resulting soap, seizing leaves little time for artistic techniques like layering and swirling, and in a large batch there may be insufficient time to fill the last molds before the soap hardens completely. Fortunately, the cause of seizing is easily understood, and simple tests can identify the culprits.

Friday, January 6, 2017

All About Natural

There’s no definition for the word “natural” – it can be applied to any cosmetics – but there are some ingredients homecrafters avoid when it comes to making plant based products. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Wine In Cosmetic Formulation

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes. Grapes ferment when yeast consumes naturally occurring sugars in the fruit and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different styles of wine. Variations occur as a result of the complex interactions between the development of the grape, the fermentation reaction, the terroir (environment/geography) and the production process. Wine contains phenolic acids, flavonols, anthocyanins, catechins, glutathione, resveratrol and proanthocyanidins.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Should You Start A Subscription Business?

Subscription-based businesses like Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, StitchFix and HelloFresh, have all proven that there’s consumer demand for having products delivered directly to their doorsteps each week or month. 

Although a recurring stream of prepaid orders can reduce some of the uncertainty that comes with running a small business, there may be more complexity to running a subscription-based business than meets the eye. Here’s a look at the pros and cons that subscription models entail, to help you consider if it’s the right approach for your business.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

5 Success-Blocking Distractions & How to Manage Them

What a creative mind you have! Most see creativity as a blessing--and it is. What non-creatives don’t know is that your mind is always spinning: seeking new opportunities, hunting for novel ideas, problem-solving, and let’s not forget the concerns and worries that are present all too often.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

All Salts Are Not The Same

Salts are compounds that bring together positively charged metals, like calcium or magnesium, and negatively charged non-metals, like fluorine or bromine. While table salt (sodium chloride) is the one we encounter most often, there are so many other interesting ones, like potassium chloride, found in “half salt” products; sodium nitrate, used to preserve deli meats; and calcium chloride, a road de-icer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

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