There are many levels of production “Full” could
mean, 1000 bars per week to one person and 10,000 bars, per week
to another. Below are some suggestions and comments, giving an
idea of what is possible, with what we might call an average,
Air Soap Cutter™ Production System.
A complete production system, less storage and
drying space can be accomplished in a space of less than 16’ x
16’, giving close attention to work flow and access to oils and
ingredients. Some oil storage can be in this area.
Drying can be accomplished in very small area by
stacking trays higher than the avg. 6 feet (1.8m). These can
actually stack up to 8 feet (2.4m).
You want an efficient, dependable, system that
all you have to do is add a piece or two to step up to the next
level without changing anything in the basic system and flow of
production. That can be done with this system.
One Air Soap Cutter™ with one person operating
can cut, rack and maintain 3000 to 4000 or more, large bars in
an eight-hour day; one person can pour the same amount in a day.
Much depends on bar size, formula complexity and proper layout.
This of course is exceeded with experience.
Hotel size, starting out at around 5000 per day.
More time is spent in racking the bars. The actual cutting time
is only a couple hours.
By using our liner paper for lining, shortening
for sticking and a plastic putty knife; the paper can be quickly
applied and made smooth, eliminating any need for a trim cut.
Lining a mold takes about 30 seconds to a minute.
A general rule of thumb is one mold pour per
hour when first starting out; this includes, pouring, mixing,
measuring all oils, eo’s, fo’s and lye.
Allow a possible three-day rotation for curing
in the soap mold.
Oil-Wax Heater (Melter) can be pre-loaded the end of
the day and can be on a set timer to turn on just prior to your
start up time.
Manual Soap Cutter™
Air Soap Cutter™
I am really
interested in buying soap making machinery, but as a novice, how
can I tell which equipment is rudimentary to soap making and
which maybe optional?
You first have to start with something concrete,
for example; how many bars do you want to produce per week. How
much space will you have to work in? How many days per week will
you be working? This will help us determine the basic equipment
you need, number of molds, size of tanks, the proper cutter,
If you are over 1000 bars per week you might
consider an Air Soap Cutter™ System. This is also at the same
area of the website.
We would like to
start a business in soap making, but we have very little idea of
how. We would appreciate if you could supply us with a starter
pack about soap making, and also magazines for it, and advise us
on all the things needed to be able to make soaps.
Do you have any
advice for someone who wants to start a small soap business?
If I were you, I would try to concentrate on one
or two products and get those down to a science. For example,
come up with a good recipe for CP soap and use just that. To
start, don't have several formulas, using different base oils as
this becomes confusing and leads to errors. When you are ready
to expand this, have controls in place, so things don't get
Scent and color is what usually makes the
difference from soap to soap. It is what the
customer notices first. Well, packaging is right at the top too,
especially if you are fully covering the bar. I would suggest
starting out with about eight scents, building the number of
selections little by little as your find what people in your
market are looking for.
CP soap is the "Premier" of soaps. It is
difficult to go wrong with it and you make it from scratch -
meaning you get to do all the labor, you even get money for the
water in it. With M&P, you have to buy the base and pay
shipping, plus 1/3 of it is water. Liquid soap is profitable and
again, you can make it from scratch. Lotions are good later on
when expanding your line, but you have to have something to put
it in, same for liquid soap and containers can get costly.
Persistence and discipline are the key factors
in any business. Things get tough, and many times the picture
looks grim. Just don't ever give up. Force yourself to do the
job, even when there seems to be nothing to do. There is always
research - find the deals, find the short cuts, the best
products and shop, shop, shop. When you find yourself up against
a problem look outside the envelope, you have created. There are
a hundred ways to do the same thing.
Ever sell directly to retail stores like
Whole Foods, Walgreens, or health food stores? If so how much
did you have to discount your selling price?
Yes. We had a
number (about 80) of Long's and Raley's drug stores in CA and WA
carrying our products. Around the Midwest, OSCO, only about
10. We had a couple large accounts, Cabela's, Yellow Stone
National Park Lodges and some I can't remember. Most were gift,
antique, local craft, boutiques, etc. Some were, B&Bs, small
lodges. 60% was private label.
We started out at $2 per bar, wholesale
and then around 2002 raised to $2.25. We never sold much retail,
started out wholesale. Maybe a 1/10 %, of our business was
Were you ever required to work on
consignment? If so, how can we get around that?
Tried it once, a real
hassle, and you discover that they place no value in your
product because they have nothing invested. Not for
professionals....only for part time crafts people. Any store
that asks you, is probably not worth the trouble or may be
having financial difficulties.
How much commissions did you pay to your
15%, pay on pay. Pay on Pay, which means, when
you get paid, they get paid. We paid monthly, on time and never
missed. Trust is all important. Oh, and don't expect them to be
very good at collections. They might put in a word, but that's
We would like to direct ship to our
accounts. What are standard terms for payment, credit cards,
collections or guidelines to follow?
Boy, that one is tough. We started doing credit
cards late in the game. Credit cards does give you the option of
using that method for the first few orders. Remember you lose
money on card charge fees. It does add up.
If you are on a net/30 and your product doesn't
sell well, and they lose interest, they may lose interest in
paying you. After a few re-orders you and they have a
relationship. You can do net/upon receipt for the first couple
times, then net/30, but get a feel for them first.
Long established stores that a
Rep says is okay, you can go to net/30 right off. The Rep
may even require it. A Rep can work very hard for a sale.
They will expect you to take a gamble too. Don't be afraid
to ask questions though.
You can do credit checks, use
Dun & Bradstreet, etc, but that is time consuming and; who's
to say, those few accounts they give you are paid well and
the rest of their accounts are treated like dirt? Best to
have in place some parameters and get good at reading people
and between the lines. A good set of payment rules, makes a
difference. If payment is not right on time, given time for
mail, to and from; call, email or fax them.
You will need to become a
good bill collector, it is inevitable, so get used to it
now. Get every phone number, contact information you can on
a, "Net/Upon....". Get their Home number, Sister's number,
Mother's number :o)....etc. You don't get mad, you
get persistent. Out of thousands, upon thousands of orders,
over about seven years, we had three small accounts, we
What is the proper way to list ingredients
This one is easy to
answer. A book written by the President of the Handcrafted
SoapMakers Guild, Marie Gale; covers this subject. Here's our
book link, "Soap and Cosmetic Labeling".
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