In case you were wondering…

… where I’ve been.

I posted in mid Jan with great intentions to get back on the writing horse, and then found myself paralysed with indecision about WHAT I should write.  I felt that I should recap everything that I’ve been up to since the end of October, but that felt like too big a job.  It would never be complete (and would probably not be 100% accurate either – I don’t have the best memory these days!) and I wouldn’t be satisfied with half hearted attempt.  Anyway, THAT is only reason I haven’t written anything for the last month.  Crazy really.

I’m jumping back onto it tonight, and from now on I’ll be doing my weekly roundups and any other stuff in between, just like before. I’m not going to try to backtrack, but if you have any specific questions about what’s been going on over the last few months, please just ask  (my memory’s not that bad ;-D) but I may well naturally fill in the blanks as I go along anyway.

The run up to the Christmas period was amazing, business-wise. I was busier than I had anticipated, and for that reason I’m still playing catch-up as far as stock levels go.  My current goal is to get to 1000 bars in stock over the whole range, and I every time I think I’m getting close, another big order comes in. Mind you, I’m DEFINITELY not complaining.

I’m making a minimum of 120 bars a week now, and if you follow me on Instagram (www.instagram.com/thesoapmine) you’ll know that Monday is my big ‘making’ day.  I’ll make four double batches every Monday (that’s my 120 bar minimum) and occasionally try to fit in another session later on in the week.

I’ve retired a couple of fragrances that weren’t selling so well – Delicious (a dupe of DKNY Be Delicious) and Boho Baby (Patchouli & Orange essential oils) have both gone. I don’t have any plans to replace them with anything permanent just yet, but if I come across a fragrance that I just ‘have to have’, I have the capacity.

This was the result of last week’s Monday session:

Four Double Batches of Soap

Four Double Batches of Soap

From left to right are Serenity, Welsh Rose, Tutti Frutti and Blodau (Flowers), and here are a couple of them cut:

Serenity Handmade Soap

Serenity Handmade Soap

and

Welsh Rose Handmade Soap

Welsh Rose Handmade Soap

I used slightly different colours for the Welsh Rose this time, and there’s a more subtle different between the pinks that I usually have (I’ve also just realised that this is such a fresh photo that I’ve not bevelled this one yet!) Anyway, I can’t decide whether I really like it, or I really don’t… Hmm… what do you think?

I’m going to leave things there for now, and not try to get too ahead of myself. I’ve already had some thoughts ping into my head for the next post, so I THINK I’m back on a roll. I’ll be doing my best anyway.  I’ll be back next Sunday for a full weekly round up, if not before…

Thanks for reading!

Vickx

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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

 

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 (Blogtober 7)

Welcome to the weekend folks!  I’m not only celebrating the fact that it’s SATURDAY but also that I’ve got to the end of the first week of Blogtober without too much difficulty.

Hooray

As well as writing and posting, I’ve also been doing a little blogosphere housekeeping this week. I’ve been working my way through the list of blogs that I follow and have stopped following anyone who hasn’t posted since the beginning of 2016.  I was REALLY surprised, and a little saddened, at how many there are were.  Saddened because some of these blogs were people that, at one time, I absolutely loved following and reading, but I hadn’t even noticed how long it had been since they last posted.  Circumstances change, lives move on, and I do wonder what happened to those people I admired so much. I hope they’re all ok…

Anyway, I realised that the number of active soapy / skincare bloggers that I follow has seriously diminished, and wondered how to plug that gap.  As ‘Social Saturday’ (the concept of inviting people to share their profiles / accounts via your own) seems to have become a bit of a thing on various social media recently, I thought I would offer up this post as a place where anyone with a soap / skin care / bath & beauty type blog could share their blog and perhaps find new ones to follow themselves.

So! Don’t be shy – even if I already follow you, please share your blog in the comments below so that others can find you and hopefully follow you too.

And don’t forget there is also a dedicated Facebook group for soapmaking (and other types of skincare) bloggers here 

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow 🙂

Vickx

September Goals Reviewed (Blogtober 3)

I had three goals for September:

  1. Website
  2. Christmas Soaps
  3. 8-10 blog posts

Website

I’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s still not there. I’m really been struggling to find the time to sit down and focus on getting it ready for launch (just see yesterday’s post for how busy I was last week) but I can’t fret too much about it, I just need to keep going. It’ll get there.

Christmas Soaps

YES! 60 bars each of Candy Cane, Frosted Christmas Tree and Warm Gingerbread made last month.  Last year I only made 30 bars of each, which wasn’t quite enough, so I was aiming to double that this year – boom! BUT there’s been so much interest thus far that I’ve decided to go for 90 bars of each. It’s a bit of a leap of faith, but considering the big Christmas fair I have the first weekend in December, I’d rather have too many than not enough.  I’m lucky that I started making them early enough that it won’t be a problem to make more during the next couple of weeks and still have them ready for the start of the festive season.

I still haven’t taken ‘proper’ photographs of these three, but this is what I do have so far in case you’ve not seen them yet:

Warm Gingerbread

Warm Gingerbread

Candy Cane

Candy Cane

Frosted Christmas Tree

Frosted Christmas Tree

Publish 8-10 Blog Posts

I published 7 posts last month.  Didn’t quite hit my target, but, if I’m completely honest, I was holding back a little, knowing that I would be trying to post 31 times this month.  There were a few times I thought, “Ooh, that would make a good blog post” and then immediately thought “Ah, no, I should save that for next month…”  Basically self-sabotage, ha!!

Back tomorrow with my goals for October – no prizes for guessing what at least two of them will be 😀

It’s Here! Blogtober 2017

It's Blogtober!Yikes!! It’s the first of October, and that means it’s the first day of the annual blogging challenge, Blogtober. Because I managed it last year (by the skin of my teeth), I seemed to think that I would have no problem repeating that success this year… until this week. This last week has been crazy busy, and I’m not sure how I oculd have fitted in seven (!!) blog posts as well. But more about that in the next post…

Anyhow, a few of us in the Soapmaking Bloggers Facebook Group have taken up the challenge, and will be sharing our posts using the #blogtobersoapers hashtag on social media. Keep an eye out for us – a bit of cheerleading is always welcome 😀

A lot of my posts will be soap related, but by no means all (even complete soap obsessives do other things sometimes). I have a vague idea of various topics I could waffle on about, but if I’m honest, I’ll mostly be winging it. Good grief, did I get a bump to the head?

Back tomorrow,

Vickx

Blogtober’s Fast Approaching…

I’m in the process of building a list of blog ideas to keep me going throughout this year’s Blogtober blogging bonanza.  For those who don’t know, the goal of Blogtober is simply to post on your blog at least once a day during October. I did it last year and didn’t find it too difficult, but I don’t think I can re-hash all the post from last year, I need some fresh inspiration!

And this is where you come in my soap-loving readers.  I’d welcome any suggestions for posts that you might have, but, more importantly, I was wondering whether you would be so kind as to throw some questions at me? Anything at all (well, kinda, lol)  I thought I could then do a post answering them, and then I’ll only have to think up another 30 blog ideas… :-/

If anyone out there has their own Soap and/or Bath & Body  blog and would like to join in the fun, there are a few of us in the Soaping Bloggers Facebook Group taking part, using the hashtag #BlogtoberSoapers.  It’s a bit of a challenge if you don’t normally post regularly, but it really is doable, especially if you do a little prep beforehand so you have ideas to hand, and maybe even have some posts ready-written and saved for emergencies.

So pleeeaaaase post me some questions – anything you like – and I’ll answer them next month – pinky promise 😀

Commitment

I’m slipping.  After successfully completing Blogtober, I planned on continuing to post at least twice a week, but because I don’t have that challenge mentality it’s just not happening. I need a plan.  I need structure and regularity (and a little more determination :-D).

Commitment

                        Commitment

So here’s the deal. I’m making a commitment, now, to post a minimum of twice a week, most likely on a Sunday and a Wednesday. I plan on doing a weekly roundup on a Sunday evening of everything soapy (or maybe the top 5 soapy events / the best soapy stuff) that has/have happened that week. I’d also like to start sharing some book reviews (I have an AWFUL lot of soapmaking books, for starters) and also posts about other products that I’ve tried and enjoyed.

Somewhat disconcertingly, out of all my Blogtober posts, the one that received the most ‘likes’ was the recipe for a Swiss Roll. Ohhhh, OK. Nothing to do with soap at all.  Well, this blog is supposed to be about my soaping life, and baking is part of that, so I will probably share some more of my favourites – occasionally.

I do have plenty of ideas for the Wednesday blog posts, I just need to buckle down and write them. Now that I’ve made a commitment to post more regularly, I think I will!

 

 

 

 

Blogtober 2016, Day 31

I only flippin’ went and did it!  Participation in the Blogtober 2016 challenge was such a random, hasty and last minute decision that, in all honesty, it was highly likely that I would fail.  I realised, after mentally committing myself, that many of the other participants had been (sensibly!) planning ahead, preparing and scheduling posts beforehand. I didn’t have that luxury, having decided approximately 8 hours into the first day of October that this was something I could/should/would do.

Decision made, I had to be clear on what on earth I was going to write about every day.  I didn’t think I would have enough ‘soapy’ topics to cover, so I made sure I had a rough list of other possible topics. As it turned out, I didn’t need to use many of those off-topic ideas – turns out there is an awful lot to share / write about in the soapy world!

Now, here I am, 31 days later with 31 more blog posts under my belt than I had at the beginning of the month.  I did it (!) and it’s been an extremely useful experience – primarily because it’s got me back into the habit of blogging on a regular basis. I’ve discovered during the last month that I really do enjoy writing, but that doing so within such narrow time constraints doesn’t do anything for the standard of what I produce.  It has without a doubt been a case of quantity over quality (sorry about that 😉 ) Some of the topics I’ve covered have been done hurriedly and I’ll probably revisit them in greater detail at a later date.

Coincidentally, this post is also my 100th on the blog and I’m determined to keep blogging on a regular basis from now on.  More soap pics, more tutorials, more reviews and more personal ‘meet the maker’ posts (Ooh – they scare me :-D).

Thank you SO much if you’ve stuck with me over the last month, and a double/triple thank you to those of you who’ve rewarded me with the odd ‘like’ or ‘comment’.  It really has helped spur me on, knowing that there is somebody, anybody, out there reading every now and then.  Thank you, thank you, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!