Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Here I am, trying to look normal.
Yesterday was my birthday. How old am I? I am older than the original Superman movie, Papa John's Pizza, and MTV (I am also old enough to remember when MTV used to have something to do with music).

I spent the day with my mom. She bought me lunch at Vin'tij (if you're ever in Destin, FL, I highly recommend dropping in to say howdy), where I had a lovely pan-sauteed flounder with a vegetable orzo and fresh tomato salsa. Mom had one of the most handsome-looking roasted chicken sandwiches I have ever seen.

And here I am, partaking.
We did some shopping and then headed back to her house, where I partook of some pale ales while waiting for my dad to come home. My grandparents also stopped by later, and we had pizza and cake.

Sounds pretty wild, right? Well, I've never really had birthday parties. We tried to. Once.

When I turned five, we had a birthday party for me at our house. Of all of the kids I invited, only two showed up and they got into a fight with each other and left.

Worst. Birthday. Ever.

So, that was that and from then on, we did quiet family get-togethers, although even with that arrangement there are still no guarantees that someone won't get into a fight with someone else and go home. It cuts the odds, though.

It was a nice birthday. I had nice pizza, nice beer, nice cake, and nice presents. Oh, and nice people, of course.

The cake was super-cute. I requested a chocolate cake with a vanilla buttercream frosting. My mom is a wonderful cook and baker, and she has a flair for decorating.  She used Oreo cookies as the base for some icing sunflowers, and red M&Ms and black icing to make ladybugs. Apparently, I was called "Ladybug" when I was little, although I don't particularly remember that. "Ladybug" is a cute nickname - I've been called worse.

Next, the gifts. Look what Wally the Wonder Turtle got me - gorgeous handmade glass soap dishes from BPR Designs! That sweet turtle done good this year. He even wrote me a little note: "jenny this for you to hold you soap so you have happy birthday." Aww! I had mentioned to Wally that I wanted some nice new soap dishes for the bathrooms, and he knew that I admired Beth's glasswork. You know what's super-cool about the soap dishes (besides that they're beautiful)? They have three raised slats in the middle to keep your soap high and dry between uses, extending the life of the bar.

Check out BPR Designs on Etsy

My brother (who I didn't get to see because he lives near Atlanta) bought me a very nice Sharper Image immersion blender. Funny thing is, I had been thinking about maybe dabbling in lotion-making, and I planned to use this stick blender for that. But after I got it and started looking at it, I decided to use it for food (what a concept!) and just get a cheap stick blender for my lotion-making adventures, if I decide to give that a go. I mean, it's got a whisk and chopper attachment, too!

I also got a cookbook (I'm a bit of a cook and baker myself) and an IOU for the fourth season of "Dexter" when it's released in August (yippee!).

My husband was away, but he sent me a lovely bouquet of roses, which are now in full bloom. He has promised me a birthday celebration dinner soon, so I kinda get two birthdays!

It was a good birthday. Great success!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The "Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010"

Well, here we go again.

U.S. House Representatives Schakowsky, Markey, and Baldwin introduced a draft of the "Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010" (H.R. 5786) last week. The bill seeks to amend title VI of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to ensure that cosmetics are safe.

Sounds good, right? I mean, we can all agree that having safe cosmetics is a wonderful thing, yes?

Well, of course. Problem is, this bill contains so many reporting and testing requirements that it would be virtually impossible for small business owners (like yours truly) to comply.

Like most legislation, it is well-meaning. And, like most legislation, it could cause tremendous unintentional harm, especially to small businesses, which, ironically, legislators are always claiming to want to protect. (Remember what happened when the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) passed? Many small businesses that made things like toys and clothes for children shut down because they simply could not comply with the new laws.)

And this is not the first bill like this to be floated in the cosmetics industry. The "Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act" (House Bill 1248) was successfully slapped down in March 2010. As I understand it, though, the FDA Globalization Act of 2009 (H.R. 759) is still on the table.

H.R. 5786 is not a done deal - it still needs to be voted through to become law. Now is the time to write to your legislators. If you own a small business making bath and body products (or if you like to buy bath and body products from small businesses), please read the bill, find out who your Representative is, and voice your concerns.

I emailed my U.S. House Representative today. I'll share my letter here to give you an idea of what to maybe say if you want to write a letter, too. But, please, tailor your letter to make it your own, m'kay?

Here's what I wrote:

Dear Congressman ________ ,

I am writing to express my concerns about H.R. 5786, the “Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010.” I make soaps, and I sell them online and at local craft shows. I would also like to eventually perhaps make and sell lotions, lip balms, etc. I sell my products not only for the income, but also because I want to share with others the happiness that my craft brings me. My little business is a source of joy and pride, and customers love to have the freedom to buy handmade bath and body products from artisans like myself.

My products are made with high-quality bath-and-body-approved ingredients bought from reputable suppliers. I would be uncomfortable using anything less than safe, approved ingredients not only for safety reasons but because I also want to offer my customers a superior product. I take pride in what I do, and I would never willingly jeopardize my customers’ health or satisfaction.

One big problem with this bill is that there are no small business exemptions. I run my business out of my home, by myself. I don’t have a staff helping me – I do it all. This bill has reporting and testing requirements that would hamstring my ability to run my business. These requirements would be virtually impossible for me to comply with. For one thing, I make small batches – a little bit of this, a little bit of that. If I have to submit a new safety and ingredient affidavit for every single product I make, my ability to change formulations based on the season or customer requests would be hindered. I am afraid that H.R. 5786 would burden me with a landslide of paperwork, making it a bureaucratic nightmare to run my small, home-based business. I am also concerned that the passage of H.R. 5786 could put me – and many small business owners like me – out of business entirely.

This bill is unnecessary. The cosmetic industry already requires that manufacturers produce safe cosmetics and to fully label them with ingredients and contact information.

Please don’t support this legislation, Congressman _______ . It is well-intentioned but written in such a way that I won’t be able to stay in business because I will not be able to fulfill its requirements. Please protect my small business, and please protect the businesses of others like me.

Thank you for your time.

Jennifer Rose
Wonder Turtle Soaps

If you want more inspiration on what sort of letter to write and wish to read more about H.R. 5786, check out Anne-Marie's Soap Queen blog post. (Anne-Marie's post helped me greatly when I was composing my letter.) Also check out these blog posts by the Handcrafted Soapmaker's Guild and Donna Maria's Indie Business Blog for more info. These are just a few of the blog posts I've run across about this proposed legislation - there are lots more out there, as the indie cosmetics industry is all atwitter (or is it atweeter?).

Let's make some noise, everybody!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Craft Show Recap!

Hey, Wonder Turtle friends! As many of you know, I was at the Fort Walton Beach Creative Senior Center's "Christmas in July" craft show yesterday. And this time, I took my camera with me and actually remembered to take pictures! Wow, what a concept!

Here I am, trying to look normal.

Sales were slow, but I still had a good time chatting with folks, meeting other crafters, and spending the day with my mom, who was my booth buddy.

I'm really liking my wire and tiered shelves for displaying my soaps - it creates some nice height and leaves me a bit of table space. I took about 30 or 35 varieties of soap with me and broke them into categories to make shopping easier for customers who have a certain kind of fragrance in mind, be it floral, fruity, foody, earthy, etc. You can see in the photo that I have little note cards next to each section - they list each of the soaps in the fragrance category. Sometimes I wonder if having so many different kinds of soaps out is overwhelming for shoppers, but I also think that the more choice someone has, the better. You can't sell it if it's not on your table, right?

Door prizes were given away throughout the day, which was fun, and vendors were included in the draws. I won this cute handbag from Something Like Laughter. I adore earth tones, and this will match a lot of my clothes. Something Like Laughter is on Etsy, too, so check out Melissa's shop to see some of her aprons, quilts, and other lovely handmade items.

I donated a door prize, too. I put my Honeycomb, Lavender, and Sunrise soaps in a pretty basket with a shower pouf. (I should have taken a picture of it, but I can't remember everything - or anything, really.) The nice lady who won my soaps seemed to really like them, and I hope they bring her lots of soapy happiness!

I'm looking forward to the autumn craft shows, and soon it will be time to start getting ready for them. Christmas (the actual "Christmas in December" Christmas) will be right around the corner then, and the indoor craft shows are a little more plentiful then. I'd like to do three shows in October - I've got two booked and I'm hoping to get into a third. Right now, my next show is scheduled for October, but if another show comes along before then, I may give it a go if it sounds good!

(Speaking of "Christmas in July," don't forget that Wonder Turtle Soaps is offering free U.S. shipping and discounted international shipping now through July 25!)

Anybody gearing up for some big holiday shows, either as a vendor or a shopper? Or both? :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Christmas In July" Sale!

It's Christmas in July at Wonder Turtle Soaps! Now through July 25, U.S. orders get FREE SHIPPING! (International customers, enjoy discounted shipping.) This is the perfect time to stock up on a few of your favorite soaps!

Etsy is running a site-wide "Christmas in July" promotion July 15-25, so please do check out some of the awesome Etsy shops running a sale! Each shop decides on what kind of sale they want to run, and Etsy is helping spread the word. Go to Etsy and type "Christmas in July" or "cij" into the search box to start browsing all of the lovely handmade items included in the promotion!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Soap at Wonder Turtle Soaps!

Just listed at Wonder Turtle Soaps on Etsy: Fresh Sweetgrass soap!

This soap's fragrance is bright and green, like strolling through tall grasses on a sunny day.

Top notes of eucalyptus, ginger, and peppermint are grounded by thyme and hints of amber and musk to create a refreshing, outdoorsy fragrance.

Fresh Sweetgrass soap is perfect for men, but women will love it too!

Head on over to Wonder Turtle Soaps and check it out!

(Also, Wonder Turtle Soaps will be at the "Christmas in July" Craft and Bake Sale Saturday, July 17 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Fort Walton Beach Creative Senior Center. If you're in the Fort Walton Beach, FL area, please stop by and say howdy! See the "Events" tab on the Wonder Turtle Soaps Fan Page on Facebook® for more info ...)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wally Sez ... Happy Fourth of July!

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

happy fourth of july everyone!

i ask jenny what she think about fourth of july and she say is also called independence day. july 4 is america's birthday, she say.

so, jenny say, imagine july 4 is like birthday party that 300 million people come to.

that sound like big party, but lots of fun. wally have birthday parties when he little. my mom say, wally invite you friends, but no more than 15. i think 300 million a lot more than 15, so i don't know where this party being held where everyone can fit. jenny say party is everywhere in u.s., that everyone have own party at same time. is like one party in millions of parts going on at same time, she say. this blows wallys mind and i confused, but sounds like fun anyways.

at these many parties, people have barbeques, make hot dogs and burgers and ice cream. (wally like lettuce and bananas at his birthday parties.) people spend time with friends and family and go out on boats or in pool. they make loud pretty sounds with firecrackers. i hear one last night after midnight and i say, whats that? and jenny say, is fireworks. it scare wally at first like thunder but then was okay - is like sparkly lightning.

whatever you doing this fourth of july, have fun and be safe. and jenny and i thinking about our military men and women - thank you for your sacrifices!

happy fourth of july, everybody!

-- wally

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Soaps at Wonder Turtle Soaps!

Hey, Wonder Turtle friends, there are two new soaps listed at Wonder Turtle Soaps on Etsy!

First up is a Eucalyptus and Cedar soap made with a luxurious base containing 10% real liquid goat's milk. This scent is woodsy and outdoorsy, like walking through a fragrant cedar forest after a rain shower. Grey-green mica swirls through these bars. Guys will especially like this slightly masculine scent, but women are sure to love it, too (I do!).

Next is this yummy Pineapple Ginger soap. Fresh pineapple and a splash of ginger gives these pretty peachy-pink bars a tropical, fruity scent with a touch of warmth. Mmmm-mmm! Gold mica adds a bit of shimmer and sparkle.

Head on over to Wonder Turtle Soaps and check them out!