Thursday, April 29, 2010

New at Wonder Turtle Soaps - Gingersnap!

Gingersnap isn't just for the holidays! It's a year-round favorite. When I asked the Wonder Turtle Soaps fans which scent they'd like to see added to the ol' Etsy shop inventory (Gingersnap, Tranquil Waters, or Balsam & Citrus), Gingersnap won by a landslide.

And so here it is ... Gingersnap soap!
Notes of caraway seed, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla compliment the spiciness of this yummy-smelling soap. I had to stop Wally the Wonder Turtle from taking a bite out of this one! These creamy brown soaps have pretty cappuccino-colored mica swirls running through them.

Head on over to WonderTurtle Soaps and check it out!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ten Craft Fair Tips!

Craft fairs and shows are awesome. They allow you to meet other crafters, chat with some nice folks, receive immediate feedback on your products, get some exposure, and (hopefully) make some cash and clear out a good chunk of your inventory.

Here I am at a recent craft show, trying to look normal.

And isn't it cool when someone picks up something that you made with your own little hands and they love it? Not only is it a nice little boost of confidence for you, but it's so rewarding to think that someone is using your product and it is making them happy. And isn't that what it's all about - making something that will bring joy to someone else?

Before my first craft fair, I was nervous. I didn't know how much inventory I needed to take (this is still a tricky area for me), and I felt unprepared, like I had "newbie" written on my forehead.

What would I say to people? How could I get conversations going? Will I talk too much? Too little? Are my business cards okay? Oh, my goodness, where are my business cards anyway? Will people like my soap? Will they hate it? Will they hate me?

Turns out, just about everyone is really nice at craft fairs, so I really had nothing to worry about. It seems that craft fair-goers are usually out having fun and in a good mood, so there's naturally a good vibe.

I'm not a craft fair guru, but I have done several and have learned a few things along the way. Here are some of my tips and tricks:

1. Don't stress too much about having to think of stuff to say.
Turns out, folks will often get the conversations going for you. People love to talk to the crafters that make the lovely items they're considering. And sometimes they're crafters, too -- they may even be making the same sort of craft that you are! I love when people have soaping stories of their own to tell me.

That said, not everyone who approaches your table is going to be a chatter. Some folks do just want to browse in peace. Does that mean you should ignore them? No, definitely not. Greet them. Pay attention to the person's body language -- you can usually tell if they're open to talking, or if they just want to look without having to make chitchat.

Get the ball rolling by smiling (VERY important!) and saying hello. Let them know that they can pick up your items and that you'll be happy to answer any questions. If they're looking at flower-scented soaps, maybe point out other flower-y soaps they might enjoy. If they pick up a bar that is special in some way, tell them about it. And if they start the conversation going first, follow their lead.

2. Get yourself some display items and practice a dry-run before the show.
Set up your table at home and see how you want to arrange things. (I got these wire cabinet shelves and tiered cabinet organizers at Bed Bath and Beyond.) Most craft fairs will allow you to set up the day before the show, and this is usually a good thing to do. You can see where your booth is beforehand, iron out any problems before the big day, and see how your display looks on your actual booth table. Plus, it's one less thing to do in the morning and it will probably be better for your nerves to know that you're all set in that regard. Whether or not you leave your crafts overnight is up to you. (I don't leave mine -- it doesn't take too long to set up once I know how I want to do it, and I don't want the extra worry.)

3. Know thy ingredients and materials.
Be as much of an expert as possible in whatever craft it is you do. Read, read, read. Read up on your craft, read up on your materials, read up on business issues. You never know what someone might ask you, so it is an excellent idea to be well-rounded. When I started soaping, I read and read and read. Even though I do melt-and-pour soaping, I read a few books on making soap from scratch. Someone may ask you how soap is made, or they may want to know what exactly each ingredient on your label is used for. It is far better to be able to give an accurate explanation than to say, "I don't know."

4. Take more inventory than you think you will need.
In this article from, it is recommended that you plan on 1-3% of craft fair attendees buying something from you. Sometimes, you can find out from the craft fair organizers how many people they expect to come to the show, and do the math from there. (By the way, TeachSoap's entire article is terrific, and it is full of good general craft fair tips.)

A well-stocked table is an inviting table. Bring enough product so you can restock as you sell. Make sure you have enough of each kind of product.

5. Stay positive and upbeat even if you're having a rough day at the show.
So, the craft fair has been going on for four hours and your booth still looks pretty much like it did when you set it up? Don't mope. Stay friendly, happy, and approachable even if you're disappointed and worried that you're not even going to get your booth fee back. If someone does approach your booth and ask you how you're doing, smile and say you're doing super. I'm not saying you should lie and do back flips, but you will do yourself no favors by pouting or openly complaining. Pout and complain only if you want to put a big gross vibe out there and kill any potential sales. Some shows are a bust -- it happens. Just deal as best as you can.

6. Bring plenty of change and small bills.
I like to bring a base of $200: $100 in ones, $80 in fives, $20 in tens. Maybe that's a bit overkill, but I'd rather have too much change than not enough. I try to include the sales tax in the final price of the item. This makes things so much easier and nobody has to fumble around with a bunch of coins. If you have a way to accept credit cards, that's a bonus. If you decide to take personal checks, ask for ID and make sure the customer's phone number is on the check, in case there's a problem. (I have taken several personal checks and have yet to have a problem.) Bring a cash box or apron with pockets or something to hold your money.

7. Bring business cards.
Either hire someone to make you some decent business cards or learn how to make them yourself on your computer. Include your name, contact info (email, website, blog address, Facebook® address, whatever) and put a bunch of cards in a business card holder at the front of your table. Put a card or two in every bag when a customer makes a purchase. Which brings me to my next point ...

8. Bring bags.
I like white paper bags, but go with whatever you like. You can jazz them up with stickers, rubber stamps, or whatever. I make a sticker with my logo and contact info and stick them on my bags.

9. Get yourself a booth buddy.
The day goes much smoother and much faster if you have a friend or family member with you. If things get crazy, they can help you bag or make change or chat with customers while you're taking care of other stuff. If you need to go to the restroom, I'll bet your booth buddy will cover your booth. Plus it's just nice to have someone there. If you don't have a booth buddy, make friends with a craft show neighbor.

10. Other stuff you might want or need:
* Tablecloth for your booth table (If your tablecloth doesn't quite reach the ground, use a bedsheet to close the gap.)
* Hand sanitizer gel (Wanna see me panic? Take away my hand sanitizer.)
* Lip balm (Wanna see me panic? Take away my lip balm.)
* An insulated cool bag with lunch, snacks, sodas, and water (Bring finger food so you can easily sneak bites between customers. This is not the time for leftover spaghetti.)
* A receipt book, just in case someone wants a receipt
* Copies of your local and state business documents, such as your Sales and Use Tax Certificate of Registration, local Business Tax Receipt, Certificate of Liability Insurance, or whatever documentation your area requires, just in case someone asks for it
*  A couple of extra pens
* Make a list of your items and mark each time you sell one to help keep track of sales
* Business banner/sign to hang on or behind your table
* A camera
* A big ol' smile!

This is by no means a completely definitive guide to getting ready for a craft show, but these are some tips I've picked up along the way. I have done only indoor shows so far, but one day I may decide to branch out to outdoor shows, which brings a whole new set of considerations (tents, awnings, tables, chairs, inclement weather, etc.).

If you have any tips or tricks of your own, please share them! We'd love to hear them!

Happy crafting, everybody!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Soap How-To: Adding Pigments to Melt-and-Pour Soap

Powdered pigments (ultramarines and oxides) and micas are great -- they give your soaps strong, defined colors with stunning effects.

In clear melt-and-pour, pigments are bright, almost like stained glass.

With a white base, pigments create beautiful pastel shades.

Micas are shiny and shimmery and gorgeous.

Skin-safe pigments and micas are among the best choices for soap colorants. Trouble is, they can be a little tricky to mix into your melted soap base. If you dump powdered pigments or micas directly into your base, they can clump, leaving specks in your finished soap even if you stir, stir, stir until your wrist is dizzy.

So what to do?

Here's a little trick -- dissolve your pigments and micas in a bit of rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol. (Don't worry -- the alcohol evaporates away very quickly and will not adversely affect your soap.) Here's an easy way to do it:

Get yourself a small bowl or cup. I am using a condiment cup here. Pump a few spritzes of rubbing alcohol into the bowl or cup. (You probably already have your alcohol in a fine mister spray bottle. This allows you to easily spritz your soap layers after and between pours. It's also helpful here.)

Add a pea-sized amount of the pigment to the alcohol. (I am using Bramble Berry's ultramarine violet oxide.) Remember, a little bit of pigment will color a whole lot of soap!

Mix the pigment and alcohol together with a spoon or craft stick to make a slurry. Keep stirring to work out any clumps. If your mixture seems dry, add another pump or two of rubbing alcohol.

Once the clumps have been worked out, add your slurry to your melted soap base and stir.

The color should now incorporate smoothly with little speckling. When using micas, it is common for some mica bubbles to rise to the surface. Just spritz the bubbles with alcohol and they should burst.


Now you're ready to pour your beautifully-colored base!

You could also dissolve your pigments and micas in a bit of liquid glycerin instead. Some soapers even add it directly to their fragrance oil to make their slurry.

Pigments are also available pre-mixed with glycerin so all you have to do is shake up the bottle and add your color drop-by-drop without it clumping. This makes coloring your soap super-easy and painless, although not all colorant options may be available in this convenient form.

Oxides and micas are so much fun, and they can add such interesting dimensions to your soaps. Give them a try!

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Soaps!

Hi, Wonder Turtle friends! There are two new soaps at Wonder Turtle Soaps!

Check out Island Temptations soap (Tropical Passionfruit type). These pretty peach/pink seashell soaps are fragranced with a combination of mandarin oranges, exotic passionfruit, papaya, and apricot nectar with hints of musk and coconut milk. Copper mica gives these bars a pretty shimmer. Perfect for summer, this soap will make you think you're relaxing in a hammock on a sunny tropical island.

Also, take a look at my Bedtime Bath soap. These purple- and pink-layered soaps are fragranced with a soothing blend of lavender and chamomile. This scent reminds me of baby lotion or baby powder. You'll want to grab a bar and relax your cares away in the tub!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lemon Cake Recipe Wowza!

All of you wonderful Wonder Turtle Soaps fans and followers know that I love to soap, but you may not know that I also love to bake.

It struck me the other day how soaping and baking are sorta similar. There are measuring cups and measuring spoons involved in both, and there's a lot of mixing and stirring. And there's a bit of anxiety when it comes time to turn out, or "unmold," the creation that you've slaved over. In soaping and baking, you take a bunch of ingredients that aren't too terribly useful on their own and combine them to make a practical yet lovely thing.

Anytime a potlock or family gathering comes along, I volunteer to make dessert. I pull dessert duty on Easter, too, for our family get-together, and it seems that I make a lemon-something every year. This year, I made a lemon cake with a lemon cream cheese frosting and a lemon curd filling. Definitely not low-calorie, but every dang calorie is worth it.

I got this Lemon Cake recipe from the Southern Food website. I followed the recipe exactly except for one small tweak -- I added a tablespoon of fresh lemon zest to the flour mixture.


Ingredients for cake:
* 3 cups cake flour
* 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp ground ginger
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
* 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
* 2 cups sugar
* 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
* 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
* 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Ingredients for frosting:
* 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
* 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
* 2 cups confectioners sugar (sift before measuring)
* 1/4 cup heavy cream
* 1/3 cup lemon curd

Ingredients for filling:
* 1 cup lemon curd

(Note: You can make your own lemon curd if you want to, but I ain't gonna. Store-bought lemon curd is just fine, and you can usually find it wherever you find the jams and jellies in your grocery store.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or grease two 9"x2" round cake pans and dust generously with flour. Tap out the excess flour.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger and salt. Sift into another large bowl. Stir in the tablespoon of lemon zest.

In another large bowl, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. At low speed, beat in flour and buttermilk, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the flour mixture (about four flour additions and three buttermilk additions). Beat until just blended.

In a small bowl, beat (with clean beaters) egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form (this may take a few minutes). With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter, folding one-third of the egg whites in at a time.

Spread the batter in prepared pans. Bake 35-40 minutes until cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on cooling racks for 10 minutes, and then invert the cakes onto the racks. Allow cakes to completely cool before frosting.

To make the frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter for 2 minutes until fluffy. At low speed, beat in the confectioners sugar, heavy cream, and 1/3 cup lemon curd until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes or until the frosting is of a spreadable consistency.

Using a serrated knife, level the tops of your cooled cakes if necessary. Place the first layer on a serving plate and spread 1 cup of lemon curd on top. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set the curd. Top with the second cake layer. Frost the cake.

Store cake in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature for serving. Garnish with fresh berries or lemon slices, if desired.

* To grease my cake pans, I just smeared the bottoms and sides of my pans with a hunk of butter and then put about a 1/4 cup flour in the pans. Then I picked up the pans and swirled the flour across the bottom and sides of the pan. Dump out the excess. This helps your cake to not stick when you turn it out.

* If you're like me, you never remember to leave your butter out to soften. You can microwave the butter in short 15- to 20-second bursts to soften it up in a hurry.

* I love my Microplane zester for zesting lemons, but you can use the finest grate on a grater instead.

* You should be able to find cream of tartar wherever spices and dried herbs are sold in your grocery store. If it's not there, check the baking aisle. Cream of tartar is a white powder that looks like baking soda.

* Don't forget to scrape the sides of your mixing bowls often while beating to make sure everything get mixed in!

This makes a very nice lemon-y, moist cake. The lemon zest in the batter really helps bump up the lemon flavor.

I hope you enjoy this cake, if you decide to make it. And if you do, please let me and Wally the Wonder Turtle know how it turned out! Heck, even if you don't make the cake, feel free to tell us what you think about it!

Happy baking (and soaping)!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Wally Sez ... Happy Easter!

Here is where Wally the Wonder Turtle gets to share his thoughts with the world. Enjoy!

wally here to say happy easter to everyone!

easter fun -- i like eat food and spend time with family. jenny make lemon cake this year. yum!

what wally really want is bunny like on tv. i love those chocolate eggs with white and yellow stuff in middle. i know bunny lay eggs from watch tv and some lay chocolate egg. i see commercial on tv where bunny go bwok-bwok-bwok and then chocolate eggs there.

wally get bunny like bwok-bwok one on tv, then i have easter egg all year long!

happy easter!

Brand New Soaps!

Hey, Wonder Turtle friends, there are three -- count 'em, three -- new soaps at Wonder Turtle Soaps!

Check out our Fresh Baked Bread soap:
This soap smells just like a fresh-baked loaf of bread, straight from the oven! Mmm ... is there anything more comforting than homebaked bread? A creamy goat's milk base makes this soap especially luxurious, and a dash of ground cinnamon gives it a beautiful speckled appearance.

Also new is our Dragon's Blood soap:
This deep, earthy fragrance's notes of frankincense, red sandalwood, patchouli, and rose create a sweet musky scent that both men and women will love.

And, finally, Beachy Keen (Summer Escape fragrance) is like a day at the beach:

The scents of sun, sand, gentle breezes, cool water, and suntan lotion will make you feel like you're sitting on a warm beach with your toes in the sand and the sounds of the waves echoing in your ears. Fresh, clean, and relaxing, it's like a summer getaway in a soap bar!

Head on over to Wonder Turtle Soaps and check 'em out!