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The Christmas Range 2021 – Santa’s Cookies

Blogtober 2021 – Day 29

Last (but – of course – not least) in the Christmas 2021 limited edition line up is Santa’s Cookies. It smells just like Ginger Snaps – a bit of biscuitty sweetness but leaning more towards the ginger, rounded off with nutmeg, molasses and vanilla. Just don’t leave one of these out for Santa to nibble on – he won’t thank you for it 😉

There we go, four days, four Christmas specials. Which one’s your favourite?

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow with the penultimate Blogtober post – hooray!!

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The Christmas Range 2021 – North Pole

Blogtober 2021 – Day 28

The third of this year’s limited edition Christmas specials is North Pole. This one’s a bit of a departure from the norm, but the fragrance is perfect for a winter soap. It’s a fresh, cool menthol/eucalyptus blend with a touch of camphor, pine, lemon and spice. Oh so invigorating!

Thanks for reading! Back tomorrow with the fourth and final limited edition Christmas special for 2021.

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The Christmas Range 2021 – Snow Fairy

Blogtober 2021 – Day 27

The second of this year’s limited edition Christmas specials is Snow Fairy. This fragrance was the runaway favourite amongst my customers last year, so it had to come back for a second appearance this year (with a new look, of course!)

Snow Fairy is fragrance that’s difficult to describe, so I’m going to break my unwritten rule and just copy the supplier’s description. Let’s see what you make of this:

“A captivating blend of sparkling pink snowflakes laying gently on opulent velvet moonlight rose mingles with zingy black raspberry to complete on a seductive base of warm dark smooth ambers, earthy patchouli and sheer musk”

What do you think? Any the wiser? If you know what pink snowflakes smell like, please do share! All I can tell you is that it smells absolutely gorgeous, as a great many of my customers from last Christmas will testify….

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

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The Christmas Range 2021 – Noel

Blogtober 2021 – Day 26

The first of this year’s limited edition Christmas specials is Noel, and I’m sharing it first because I think it’s my favourite of the lot. Noel is fragranced with a blend of rich festive fragrances including citrus fruits, spicy clove and cinnamon, and notes of sweet vanilla, patchouli, cedarwood and amber which round off the scent. This is a gem of a fragrance, and is especially wonderful for soap because:

  1. It’s a fragrance that contains vanilla that does not discolour to brown and
  2. It’s a fragrance that contains spice elements that does not accelerate (thicken up too quickly) during the making process.

A bit of a soapmaker’s dream come true really!

Available from the 13th November

Thanks for reading – back tomorrow!

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Rainbows for Christmas

Blogtober 2021 – Day 25

I promised a photo of the cut bars of Enfys (Welsh for ‘Rainbow’) that I made yesterday, and here they are 🙂 Fragranced with a sweet and fruity berry-like fragrance.

Just over 90 bars of Enfys, freshly cut and still a little tatty around the edges. Please forgive their current rought and ready appearance – once they’ve dried a bit they’ll be bevelled and generally tarted up, but they’re a little too soft to be titivated at this stage.

They’re currently out of stock, but when they’re ready – around the end of November, you’ll find them here.

I had thought to tack this photo on the end of a completely different post today, but Blogtober exhaustion has hit, and I reckon as long as I get SOMETHING posted every day, that’s good enough. We’re also going away for a few days tomorrow, and so today has mostly been a day of washing and packing, rather than composing an interesting and constructive blog post 😉

Speaking of which. When I first decided, on a whim, to take part in Blogtober this year, I completely neglected to consider our little trip away. It’s just a few days in Fishguard, on the Pembrokeshire coast, but it’s a few days away from work, to enjoy time with the children, and I’m not taking my laptop. So over the next four days I’m going to introduce the four limited edition Christmas special for 2021, and I’ll be back with a ‘proper’ post on Saturday. Which, in all honestly will probably just consist of photos of our trip.

So, short and sweet, but thanks for popping by anyway. There will be a post tomorrow, and the following three days, but I’ll be back in person on Saturday.

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A Busy Weekend

Blogtober 2021 – Day 24

It may be the weekend, but I’ve still been busy making soap. I generally try to avoid working on the weekend, but it’s half-term this week and we’re going away for a few nights, so I’m getting caught up in advance 😀

Yesterday I made 180 bars of soap – 60 Cysur, 60 Fresh Linen and 60 Rose:

And today I cut all the loaves into bars:

Yesterday I also cut the loaves of Luxury Facial Bar that I made on Friday. If you’ve never considered washing your face with soap, then this might the thing to change your mind. It’s cleansing but super-gentle, and won’t leave your skin feeling tight. Just check out the reviews on the website listing here

Today I’ve made 88 bars of Enfys (the Rainbow bar) – the most I’ve ever made in one go. These are currently sold out but are a great seller at Christmas, so I was really keen to get these made before we went away. Hopefully I should be able to get them all cut tomorrow (Monday) and then I can forget about them for a few weeks. All being well I’ll share a photo of the cut bars in tomorrow’s post.

That’s all for today, thanks for reading, I’ll be back tomorrow!

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Becoming a Full Time Soapmaker

Blogtober 2021 – Day 23

Another question that came up when I asked for blog post ideas in our FaceBook group was this one:

I actually thought that I’d written about this aaaaages ago, and thought it would be a nice quick and easy to update and repost… But no. If I did write it, I can’t find it 😀

So, this is the story of how I came to be a full-time soap maker.

Sometime back in (I think!) 2009/2010 a friend came to visit and showed me a piece of soap she’d made. I was amazed. Not only did I have ABSOLUTELY no idea how soap was made, I couldn’t believe that it was possible to make it at home. This was something completely new to me and I REALLY wanted to know more.

I started scouring the internet for ‘how to’ articles, I bought loads of books, and started watching soap making videos on Youtube, until eventually I was ready to make my very first batch of soap. My first attempt was made using a kit bought online. It provided pre-measured oils, butters and lye, and with hindsight was massively overpriced for what it contained, but never mind that – I made soap!

It doesn’t look like much but I was SO proud of that soap! It was supposed to be fragranced but there wasn’t much smell to it, but it worked like soap should work, so I was happy.

After that there was no stopping me. I made lots and lots and lots of soap, in lots of different colours and fragrances, and pretty soon I had way more than we, friends or family could possibly use in one lifetime. All this experimentation took quite a while, during which time I’d had our first child and given up work to look after him. Needless to say the prospect of making a bit of extra cash by selling soap was very appealing and I hit upon the idea of starting up a little business that I could potter away at, while still being a full-time mum. But it wasn’t going to be that easy.

One thing I’d realised from my research was this: Selling soap involves a lot more than just making it and then finding a market. Every single product that is designed to be used on the skin, whether a leave-on product (like lotion) or a rinse-off product (like soap), needs to be assessed and approved by an appropriately qualified chemist and needs to be covered by a Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR).

Once the CPSR had been obtained I made sure I was properly insured and also had my soaps recorded on the European Cosmetic Product Notification Portal (CPNP)* Then I had to ensure that my labelling and ingredients list etc were compliant, and that batch numbers were recorded for all products. But eventually, I was ready to give it a go.

We were living in Manchester at the time, and I signed up for a few artisan craft fairs at the weekends, but it really wasn’t the earner that I’d hoped it might be. Sometimes I’d do well and go home buzzing, but often I’d sell a few bars and earn just enough to cover the fees that I’d paid to be there. I generally made enough to keep buying more supplies to keep making, but to be honest for a long time I wasn’t doing much more than covering my costs.

By 2014 we’d had our second child and decided to move the family back home to north Wales, where I was brought up, and it was here that the business really took off – mainly with the support of a few local businesses who agreed to stock my soaps. Over the years I managed to get my products in more and more shops, and then in February 2020 I launched the website, and thank goodness I did. Covid hit, and craft fairs and retail outlets all closed their doors.

Fast forward to today and althought the craft fairs are starting up again, I’ve decided not to participate any longer. I now have a long list of stockists and the website is doing well; doing craft fairs as well would mean stretching myself too thinly. I think anyone who runs their own business alone with know that it’s quite hard work, and I work at least 50 hours per week as it is – that’s quite enough thank you! Besides, starting the business was orginally a way for me to stay at home with the children rather than have to work outside of the home, and being at craft fairs all day at the weekend would mean missing out on a lot of family time.

*Since Brexit we in the UK no longer have access to the CPNP and instead have to submit a cosmetic product notification to the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) for every different product and variety of product

Well, that turned into a bit of a long-winded waffle, but hopefully it answers the original question. If there’s anything you’re still wondering about please just ask away in the comments below!

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

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Blodau (Flowers) Soap

Blogtober 2021 – Day 16

Phew! Made it to the halfway point! Tonight’s post needs to be a quick one because as always, I have nothing prepared and Saturday night is family TV night in the Hinde household and we have a date with The Cube!

It’s been a busy week making soap (I’m still catching up with stock levels) so I thought I’d show you one of the batches that came off my one-woman production line this week. Blodau (Welsh Flowers) is scented with a 50:50 blend of lavender & ylang ylang essential oils. Ylang ylang on its own can be a bit heavy for some, but combined with lavender it’s just gorgeous. This bar has been my 7th best selling variety of regular soap bars on the website this year, but for some reason it’s more popular in wholesale orders where it’s my 4th most popular.

I generally make four loaves of soap in one batch – this was Blodau in the mould this week:

Blodau in the mould

The next day I unmoulded and cut the four loaves, and ended up with 60 bars of soap, no two of which were the same. I love how ever bar of soap I make is individual and unique:

Freshly cut Blodau
Freshly cut Blodau

All sixty bars have now been put to bed for their six week cure, but as always there’s plenty available on the website, get yours here!

Blodau Handmade Soap
Blodau Handmade Soap

Thanks for reading! Back tomorrow with Day 17 🙂

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A Day for Everything (or Anything)

Blogtober 2021 – Day 13

One Mothers’ Day, a few years back, my children gave me a teddy bear. They said they felt sorry for me because they had a lot of lovely teddies and I didn’t have even one! To be honest, I’ve not really given Elwyn the bear the attention he deserves, but when I realised that today was, wait for it… Bring Your Teddy Bear To Work & School Day I couldn’t resist 😉 (Today is also No Bra day, you should be very thankful that I chose what I did…)

October 13th is…

Firstly I packed a few website orders. Every single retail order that leaves my workshop will contain a sample bar – something I think the customer might like to try. Elwyn did a very good job of reminding me to add a small sample bar into each parcel before it was sealed. Those bags are cellophane by the way, not plastic 😉

Sample bars

Elwyn was great at checking a wholesale order before it went to be bevelled and labelled:

Checking a wholesale order before bevelling & wrapping

We bevelled and tidied up some bars of Eryri. Each individual bar is bevelled by hand – using a regular potato peeler – before it gets wrapped in its eco-friendly paper wrapper.

Bevelling Eryri Bars

Finally, we did a stock check – a LOT of soap bars have left the workshop in the last 10 days and I needed to know exactly how many of each bar I still had available – both fully cured and not yet cured:

Checking stock levels

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back tomorrow with a slightly less infantile post, but at least I got to show you just a small portion of what goes on in a typical working day at The Soap Mine.

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The Making of Eryri Handmade Soap

Blogtober 2021 – Day 10

My number one bestselling soap is Eryri, the landscape soap:

Four bars of Eryri handmade soap
Eryri Handmade Soap
Eryri Handmade Soap
Eryri Handmade Soap

I’m pretty rubbish with technology, but I’ve been asked so many times to record some videos of my soapmaking I thought I ought to give it a go, and this video shows me pouring and sculpting Eryri. Some people use scrapers to ensure that all the bars are uniform in design, but I sculpt my layers freehand, so no two bars are ever the same. I like them that way 😉

I always make this in batches of six loaves (90 bars), but you only see five in the video – the sixth was just out of shot.

I don’t think there’s much else to say about this one, but if you have any questions just pop them in the comments below and I’ll respond asap.

Thanks for reading (and watching). I’ll be back tomorrow with Day 11.