Hi everyone. I have 14 years of soapmaking experience and had my own handmade bath and body business for 8 years. I don't claim to be an expert, but I would be willing to help anyone in anyway I can. If you have any questions on soapmaking or making other B&B products, just ask and I will do my best to answer you or lead you to where you can find the answer. I did not make lotions as I did not have a sterile environment to do it in and I feel homemade lotions were just too risky to sell. But I did make a lot of other things, so ask away.
Hi Stasichick. The best advice I can give you is to have all your ducks in a row prior to opening the business. In my area you need insurance, a DBA, a business license and a resale number. Then you are going to need a book keeping system, a merchant account and a way to accept credit/debit cards. Where are you going to sell your products at? What's your demographic. Who are you targeting your products at?
Check out venues prior to signing up to sell at them. The soaping market is way over saturated, so you really need to make sure you have excellent products and that there is a market for your products before jumping in. 6 soap makers at one show means less sales for everyone. And cash. You are going to need way more money than you think you will in that first year or so. Supplies have gone through the roof from when I had my business. Know your costs. Exactly how much does it cost you to make a bar of soap? Don't forget to include your time and things like electricity into your costs. You can't make money if you don't know how much things cost you. Soapmaking is extremely, fun but it is difficult to make money at. I was lucky because when I got into it, the market wasn't nearly as saturated as it is now and I had some very good venues to sell at as well as a small shop and a website, so we did fairly well.
Also beware that when you have to make 50#s of bath salts or hundreds of bars of soap, it isn't fun any more. It is a job. There is no time for playing and getting creative. Our customers wanted the same soaps over and over and over again and so there was a lot of repetition. Also beware of packaging. What looks cute to do on a dozen bars can be expensive and time consuming to do on 1000 bars.
Keep things as simple as you can. A good soap can be made with 3 oils. No need to try every new and exotic oil that come along. You don't need 40 different fragrances or 10 different soap recipes. Our 4 biggest sellers were my goat's milk soaps, goat's milk lotion, lip balm and whipped shea butter. Yes, I made lots of other things as well, but we could have eliminated all of them and just had the 4 products mentioned above.
HTHs. If you have any specific questions let me know and I will try to answer them as best I can.