Made it! (Blogtober 31)

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

I hope you’ve all had a spooktastic evening (or managed to avoid one, whichever you prefer!)  But there’s another reason to celebrate tonight – Happy End of Blogtober!

Having completed Blogtober in 2016 without too much trauma, I was a little blasé about doing it this year.  What I failed to take into account is how much busier I am this year. I have more customers, more retail outlets, and I needed to make (and wrap & label) far more Christmas specials too.  I won’t lie, it’s been a squeeze some days to get my posts written and posted by the midnight deadline.

I’ve been trying to work out exactly WHY I wanted to do it again this year. I know blogging is good for SEO, but given that I don’t have a live website yet, that’s kind of immaterial. I like writing, and blogging every day has given me an excuse to do that, and of course, I LOVE a challenge. I like goals, lists and challenges. Hmmm… 

Have there been any benefits?  I’ve picked up 10 new followers during October, which is a few more than the monthly average.  I’ve had 2.5k views during this month (the next highest monthly views was LAST October, at 1.7k, and I’ve also seen my highest number of views in a single day this month, on the 12th October when I posted my top tips for giving a soapmaking demo.

There were some downsides though.  I didn’t complete a single other of my October goals NOT ONE! I didn’t do ANY work on my website. I didn’t make a lotion or a cream and I ran a grand total of 3.5km – a far cry from the 50km I wanted to complete.  I struggled sometimes with finding something I wanted to write about. I had plenty of ideas, but it wasn’t always the right time to tackle that subject, or I didn’t feel I had the time to do a particular subject justice. That was another concern to be honest, lack of time led to some superficial posts that I probably wouldn’t have been posted had I not had the pressure of daily deadlines.

So would I do it again? Probably, yes.  Maybe not Blogtober though. This October has been my busiest month EVER in the business. I’m rushed off my feet, and I think the challenge of daily blogging for a month is better suited to sometime during the first half of the month –  Bloguary anyone?? 😀

So that’s me done for Blogtober 2017.  If you stuck with me thus far, thank you SO much! I can’t close before giving a shout-out to my partner in crime Sarah of Sas-Oki Soaps, one of only two others who started the challenge with me, and the only other one who completed it.  A special mention too has to go to Hayley of The Pamper Kingdom who got to day 17 before family had to take priority.  If you enjoy soaping blogs and haven’t yet checked out theirs, please do!

Thanks for reading, back… *ahem*… sometime soon 😀

Vicki

 

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The Week in Soap: 29th Oct ’17 (Blogtober 30)

This week is half term here in in Wales, a week later than the rest of the United Kingdom it seems.  This means, of course, that there’s no school all week, and I’m left wondering how I’m going to fit in everything I have to do while entertaining two energetic children.  It also means that this is going to be a whistle-stop post as every minute counts this week!

On Monday I made two double batches of Candy Cane and Frosted Christmas Tree.  I’ve been caught by surprise somewhat at how well (and quickly) these soaps are selling, and seeing as I still have time, I made some more…

More Candy Cane

More Candy Cane

More Christmas Tree

More Christmas Tree

Tuesday was a write-off, work-wise, thanks to that power cut.

Wednesday was my last-but-one day at the day job, followed by kickboxing and then my last Wednesday night soapmaking demo of the season. I have been asked back for next year (yey!) but that won’t be until the hotel opens to guests again at the end of March.

Thursday was bittersweet.  My last day at the pre-school was lovely – we took the children for pizza and ice-cream, and then to the park and everyone had a wonderful time.  It was sad to think that I won’t be working closely with them again BUT I can’t wait to be able to focus properly on this business from now on (well, after this week anyway!!)  As soon as Dean finished work at 4pm I headed over to the office to put together orders for the following day’s deliveries and ended up feeling elated and just a little bit in awe at how quickly the Christmas soaps are heading out the door!

Orders in Progress

Orders in Progress

Friday morning was spent making soap deliveries, including to a brand new stockist – always exciting! The sky was clear and it was  a joy to drive around beautiful Snowdonia in the sunshine, delivering soap and chatting to the stockists. I had a load of wrapping and labelling to do in the afternoon, in preparation for the Porthmadog Craft Fair the following day but by 7pm I’d had enough and took the evening off.

Up and out early the next day for the end of month craft fair in Porthmadog.  Honestly, I  think it was the quietest day I’ve ever had there in all the years I’ve attended.  I suppose it’s that lull between the end of the summer season and the start of the Christmas shopping, but given that I’m busier than ever with wholesale and online orders I really didn’t mind. While I was there I managed to put together a long list of places I want to approach in the new year with a view to becoming stockists, and also worked on plans for new projects, so it wasn’t wasted time.

I spent most of Sunday with Dean and the children on a Halloween themed day out. The plan was to have a completely work-free day but during the drive home I started getting anxious about my low stocks of bathbombs.  Arrghhh!  I couldn’t help myself, I made 5 different varieties – 75 in total. Ho hum… the life of a business owner 😀

Back tomorrow for the last Blogtober post of 2017 – woo hoo!!

Vicki

 

The Wall (Blogtober 29)

After a really busy week, I’ve hit the blogging wall. I’ve utterly lost my blogging mojo today and if I’m thankful for anything it’s that there are only two more days of this to go… I had thought about writing a post about time management today, and perhaps if I wasn’t sitting down at 9.30pm to start thinking about it, I might just have done so – guess my time management was a bit off today 🙂

Anyway, yesterday was Porthmadog Craft Fair (about which a post STILL hasn’t been written) but today was a much needed family day. We took the kids out on a Halloween themed train ride followed by a rare trip to McDonalds.  Not one of my favourite places, and we’ve managed to avoid it for years, but somehow the younger members of the family have discovered it and we occasionally give in :-/  I took no photos until, on the way home, we passed by the classic view of Snowdon that I’d been trying (and failing) to recreate in soap:

Snowdon

Snowdon

See – for the highest mountain in England & Wales it doesn’t look particularly impressive or majestic does it? No wonder I couldn’t make it look good in soap. Perhaps I need to choose a different perspective?  To drive around it and find the most iconic aspect and try to recreate that in soap? Or perhaps I’ll stick to my plan of simply calling it ‘Snowdonia’ instead.

I sense I’m straying into the waffle zone, so I’m going to stop right here, get a good night’s sleep and I’ll be back tomorrow with my weekly round up and a better attitude.  Thanks for reading!

Vicki

Social Saturday #4 – Instagram (Blogtober 28)

The fourth and final Social Saturday, at least for a while, features my current favourite social medium –  Instagram.  I was a bit of a latecomer it and if I’m totally honest I couldn’t initially see the point of it. That soon changed once I jumped in and started sharing photos and following other accounts, and believe it or not I’ve gained most of my wholesale customer through Instagram. I’ve found that there is a lot more interaction on IG than other social media – follow, like and comment on other accounts/photos and it’ll often be reciprocated.

It’s undoubtedly the best social medium for soap porn.  Follow the right accounts and you’ll get photo after photo of beautiful soap (or whatever floats your boat, lol). Using the right hashtags to search (eg #handmadesoap #coldprocesssoap #soapshare) will help you discover new accounts to follow.

If you don’t yet have an account, this article is a handy guide to getting started. If you’re already all set up, there are more advanced tips here and this page is really useful for finding craft based hashtags.

Follow me here: The Soap Mine, and if you share your account in the comments section below I’ll follow you (and others might too :-D)

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

Vicki

A New Stockist – Siop Ogwen (Blogtober 27)

I’m so excited to be able to share today that I have a brand new Stockist – Siop Ogwen in Bethesda, Snowdonia.  I delivered a selection of bars and gifts sets there this morning, and by the time I’d got home they’d already shared a pic on social media:

Soap!

Soap!

They started out as a book shop (my other passion):

Books, glorious books

Books, glorious books

but they’re diversified their range and now have some lovely, locally made gifts like this jewellery:

Jewellery by Ann Catrin Evans

Jewellery by Ann Catrin Evans

and these utterly glorious Welsh lady prints and bags by Twinkle & Gloom:

Twinkle & Gloom prints & bags

Twinkle & Gloom prints & bags

I’m honoured to have been asked to supply this lovely shop, so if you’re not near enough to be able to pop in and check it out (33 High St, Bethesda), then please take a look at their website or social media:  Twitter, IG and Facebook.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

Vicki

 

 

Throwback Thursday (Blogtober 26)

As the Blogtober juggernaut trundles on, I thought it would be interesting (and easy!) to make the most of the fact that it’s Thursday and do a quick #throwbackthursday post. I’ve kept photos of every single batch I’ve ever made so I dug out the earliest incarnations of some of the varieties that are still in the current range to compare them to today’s version…

Original Bewitched

First Bewitched

Current Bewitched

Bewitched

Original Blodau (Flowers)

First Blodau (Flowers)

Current Blodau (Flowers)

Blodau, tidied up

Original Clarity

First Clarity

Second Clarity

Second Clarity

Current Clarity

Clarity (lemongrass & clary sage)

First Delicious

First Delicious

Current Delicious

Delicious

Original Luscious Lavender

First Luscious Lavender

Current Luscious Lavender

Original OMH

First Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Current OMH

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Original Serenity

First Serenity

Current Serenity

Serenity (Ylang ylang, Patchouli, Lemon & Orange

Phew! It’s becoming clear that I can’t keep this ‘blogging every day’ business up for much longer – I’ve gone from writing posts a few  days before (organised huh?) to posting them less than an hour before deadline…

Just 5 more days to go, I can do this 😀

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

 

A Spanner in the Works (Blogtober 25)

I had plans for today. Big plans. Important plans.

Today was the day for finishing off the wrapping and labelling of the first batches of Christmas soaps which had emerged, at the weekend, from their curing confinement

Today was also the day for delivering/dispatching said soaps to all the lovely people, both wholesale and retail clients, who had pre-ordered them.

I got up, and started making breakfast for the kids (pancakes, from scratch, in case you cared).  I made my husband a coffee and took it up to the bedroom. He works from home and I take him a coffee in bed every. Sodding. Morning.  Mind you, I can’t complain. I get a cup of tea in bed at the weekends. If I nag enough…

I digress. I should have known it was going to be a strange day.  Most days my kids are awake before me – they were both utterly rubbish sleepers as babies (my eldest was over 18 months old before he slept more than 2 hours at a time) and have always been early risers. Today, for the first time in our family history, I had to go in to each of their bedrooms and WAKE THEM UP!! (*Ahem* capitals are for effect – I didn’t actually shout – how mean would that be?!!)  Seriously though, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever had to wake one, or the other, up in the morning. Never, ever have I had to wake them both.

So, they were up a bit later than usual, and I was hurrying them along to eat their pancakes and get ready for school. At 7.45 the electricity went off. Complete power outage throughout the village. Never mind, teeth still got done, faces still got wiped, hair was still brushed and we put on layers of waterproofs to brave the howling wind & rain for the arduous 45 second walk to school (have I mentioned how close we live to the school?)

Did you see it coming? We arrived at the school door and were turned away. No school today – ‘Health and Safety’. Can’t do school without electricity. “Arrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!” (I might have said, under my breath)

So home we go. I couldn’t go to work, and I couldn’t even take the car to make deliveries as my husband, at a crucial point in his current project, needed to use the car to go hunt for the to nearest reliable wifi connection (which, it  turns out, is to be found parked up outside our nearest Tesco (8 miles away), laptop balanced on knees – who’d have thought??!!)

So I spent an hour trying valiantly to do ‘housework’ (but mostly boiling a pan of water to make cups of tea). The kids spent an hour not knowing what on earth to do with themselves until I remind them that they have some toys that don’t have screens…

Mum turned up at about 10.30am, saw the wild look in my eyes and took the kids for a couple of hours. I ran (literally, the rain was still an issue) over to the office and wrapped and labelled as much as I could in the gloom.  These are about half of the orders that were supposed to go out today:

Soapy Work in Progress

Soapy Work in Progress

It was dark, really dark, and although I had so much to do my eyes did get sore and I was glad when 12.30 came around – time to collect the kids.

The electricity finally came back on at about 5.30, just in time to illuminate our meal of  fish and chip suppers that Dean brought home, in full-on hunter-gatherer mode.  The family was fed.

I’m back at the day job tomorrow, so I have a lot of soapy catching up to do somehow but one thing’s for sure – I’ll be back with Blogtober 26 😀 #blogtobersoapers

 

 

International Soap Swap, 2017 (Blogtober 24)

Earlier this year I hosted a second International Soap Swap (You may remember the last one, back in 2015, which I wrote about over three posts: Post 1, Post 2 & Post 3).  We had fewer participants this year (we started out as a group of 14 but unfortunately a few had to drop out and the final count was 9 participants in total) but they are all wonderful, highly respected soapmakers, and if you have an interested in the soaping world I’m sure you’ll recognise at least some of them.

Here we go – the final haul. This was a truly international swap, with participants from Europe, the USA, Canada & Australia, don’t they look amazing?!

The Soap Swap Haul

The Soap Swap Haul

I’ve been procrastinating over this post for quite some time, but I’ve come to the conclusion that you probably just want to see the bars, and the packaging, and to know who made them. You don’t really need me to wax lyrical too much about them. Suffice to say that as well as looking stunning, they all smell flippin’ wonderful too.

Heavenly Bubbles

Wendy of Heavenly Bubbles is based here in the UK. I love the unique cuboid shape of these bars, and the utterly fabulous packaging.  You can find Wendy on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and on her website.

Wendy of Heavenly Bubbles is based here in the UK. I love the cuboid shape of these bars, and the fabulous packaging.            You can find her on  FacebookInstagram, Twitter, and on her website

Heavenly Bubbles

Heavenly Bubbles

Heavenly Bubbles

Heavenly Bubbles

Kangaroo Apple Soap

Lisa of Kangaroo Apple Soap is based in Australia, and sent these beautiful rainbow bars.  Sadly Lisa’s return parcel with all her soapy goodies was lost in transit  😦  Some of us sent extra little parcels individually in an attempt to make up for her disappointment.  You can find Lisa on Facebook.

Kangaroo Apple Soap

Kangaroo Apple Soap

Kangaroo Apple Soap

Kangaroo Apple Soap

Melinda’s Naturals

Melinda is based in the United States, and is currently on a break from soapmaking, so we were really lucky to get ourselves a bar of Blossom Dreams when we did. Perfectly natural and scented with a sweet frangipani fragrance.

Melinda's Naturals

Melinda’s Naturals

Melinda's Naturals

Melinda’s Naturals

Melinda's Naturals

Mimi & Boo

Look at this gorgeous packaging!  Linda is the face behind Mimi & Boo, and these wonderful bars are scented with her own custom blended fragrance.  You can find her on Instagram, and also on her website.

Mimi & Boo

Mimi & Boo

Mimi & Boo

Mimi & Boo

Shieh Design Studio

Emily of Shieh Design Studio was a soapmaker who’s blog I devoured when I first started making soap – she’s a really innovative and interesting soapmaker. Sadly her blog hasn’t been updated for a while but if you’re not familiar with it out you really should check it out.  She’s also on Instagram and Facebook.

Shieh Design Studio

Shieh Design Studio

Mimi & Boo

Shieh Design Studio

Mimi & Boo

Shieh Design Studio

Sienna Lily Soaps

Carolyn of Sienna Lily Soaps is based in Spain, and has the most amazing imagination.  These ‘Sailor’ themed soaps each came with their very own maritime based quote and hand decorated packaging. Find her on Instagram, Facebook,Twitter, and her website

Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps

Soap & Soap

Zacil once made and sold soap commercially under the ‘Soap & Soap’ company name.  She no longer makes soap to sell, so again we were so lucky to have her as part of the swap group.  The photos don’t really do justice to her bars – the piping on the top is exquisite!

Soap & Soap

Soap & Soap

Soap & Soap

Soap & Soap

Soap & Soap

Soap & Soap

Soga Artisan Soaperie

Louise, the owner of Soga Artisan Soaperie, is based in Canada.  She sent these gorgeous ‘Frozen’ themed bars, who’s cool scent was a perfect match for the design and colour. You can find Louise on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and her website.

Soga Artisan Soaperie

Soga Artisan Soaperie

Soga Artisan Soaperie

Soga Artisan Soaperie

What do you think? Aren’t they gorgeous? A huge thank you goes out to each of the participants, it’s a real honour to be able to experience the creations of all these amazing soapmakers.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow

Vick

The Week in Soap: 22nd Oct 17 (Blogtober 23)

Blimey it’s been a busy week! It started on Monday with two double batches of Luscious Lavender and Warm Gingerbread:

Luscious Lavender in the mould

Luscious Lavender in the mould

Warm Gingerbread in the mould

Warm Gingerbread in the mould

and continued on Tuesday with two double batches Welsh Rose and Clarity:

Welsh Rose in the mould

Welsh Rose in the mould

Clarity in the mould AFTER CPOP

Clarity in the mould AFTER CPOP

I was so SO pleased that the Clarity turned out ok:

Clarity, freshly cut

Clarity, freshly cut

 

The two previous batches failed (I wrote about that trauma here) and I still need to try my hand at rectifying the failed batches with the oven method. Soon, soon…

Wednesday was my regular weekly soaping presentation. I only have one more to go this season before the hotel closes for winter, but I’ve been asked to go back in the spring which I’m really happy about.  That’ll be my fourth year so I must be doing something right!

On Thursday (after the day job) I spent the late afternoon / most of the evening wrapping and labelling soap for the Beddgelert Craft Fair the following Saturday. I spent all day (and evening) on Friday doing the same.

Saturday was the fair itself and, being the organiser, I needed to be there before anyone else to set up, and was the last to leave after the clear up.  Despite the (relatively) poor turnout, which was entirely down to the rubbish weather, it really was a good day. The stallholders and customers left happy, and I breathed a sigh of relief – it’s definitely going ahead again next year 🙂

Sunday, yesterday, was a family day. I needed a breather, away from work, so the kids and I baked and generally spent the day relaxing. Well, as much as one can relax when one’s dear husband is taking apart the bathroom… Yep, the next phase of home renovation has started, the reno-rollercoaster has begun again and we should have a shiny new bathroom by Christmas. I’ll share pictures when I can.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

Vick.

Beddgelert Craft Fair (Blogtober 22)

This time last year I wrote a post called 10 Tips for Organising a Craft Fair which was a response to organising one in Beddgelert,  my home village, for the very first time.  For the last month or so I’ve been working hard putting together this year’s event, which was held yesterday.

Yesterday! Those of you in the UK will know that yesterday was pig of a day, weatherwise.  Storm Brian came to visit, and the weather was shocking.  Strong winds and torrential rain. Ho hum.  This resulted in two stall holders cancelling on me last minute, which was a disappointment, but we managed to spread out the other tables and I don’t think they were missed by customers.  The other issue with the awful weather was, of course, that people clearly didn’t want to leave the warmth (and safety!) of their homes.  Footfall was down from last year, and I can only put that down to the weather. Nothing we could have done about that, and so I was really grateful to those people who did brave the elements and came out to support us. I thought I’d share some pictures of the day with you here.

Kevin & Kay collect driftwood and other ‘recyclables’ from the coast locally and turn them into gorgeous items to decorate the home.  The Christmas tree with incorporated fairly lights are a special favourite of mine… Kevin & Kay aren’t on any social media at all, they can’t keep up with production as it is so have no need to advertise – what an great situation to be in!!!

Driftwood Crafts

Driftwood Crafts

The stall next to Kevin & Kay was taken by Pauline of Jewellery by Pauline.  Practically all my earrings these days have been made by Pauline, and as well as other jewellery she also makes adorable embroidered lavender bags.

Jewellery by Pauline

Jewellery by Pauline

Next up was Vanessa of Vanessa’s Papercuts.  Vanessa has an amazing talent creating art with paper – either intricately cutting it so that it’s almost lace-like, or using lots of cleverly cut layers of paper to create an image:

Vanessa's Papercuts

Vanessa’s Papercuts

The came me.  This was the very first outing for my step risers, so I haven’t necessarily worked out the best configuration for the display yet…

My table

My table

Next was my next-door-but-one neighbour Cadi.  She makes the most lovely Christmas wreaths and had a small table in order to take orders for this Christmas.  I always have a wreath of hers on our front door during the festive season.

Handmade Wreaths

Handmade Wreaths

Next up was a group of three local ladies who are INCREDIBLY talented with yarn and fabric.  I wish I’d taken some close-ups of their work, so intricate and finely done:

More Handicrafts

More Handicrafts

The next table was taken by the ladies of our village Craft Club.  They meet once a week in this hall, and had lots of knitted/crochet items for sale (along with a few jars of homemade preserves which went down a treat too).

The Craft Club's Table

The Craft Club’s Table

There was one more table, next to the one above (you can just see a corner of it in the photo) but it was a stall being run for a children’s club, and there were children manning the table.  I failed to get a photo without any of the kids in it, so I can’t share any, but they had Christmas stockings, greetings cards, purses, bunting and lots of other lovely stuff for sale.

We should also have had a wood turner and a lady who makes mosaics, but they were the two who were sadly unable to come at the last minute.  I think there was plenty to interest the lovely folk who came in to support us though.

At the other side of the hall we also had a lucky dip for the children, a tombola and a fabulous refreshments table manned by the local club for *ahem* ‘people of advanced years’.  I suppose you could call them Golden Oldies 😀  They did us proud, serving up teas and coffees and SO many homemade cakes.

All in all it was a great day, and could only have been improved by having more people come through the door, but there’s no predicting the weather around here!!

Thanks for reading, and my apologies if this post seems a little rushed – and for the quality of the photos!! Up until now I’ve managed to get posts written at least one day before, and schedule them to go live on the morning of deadline day.  By the time I got home last night after clearing up the hall I had absolutely no inclination to write, and today I’ve been busy with the kids, so it’s now 7.30pm on deadline day – eek!  No matter, as long as it’s live before midnight I’m still in the game lol 😀

Back tomorrow!

Vickx