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Dawson’s Market Grand Opening!

Baltimore Bumble Crafts’ products will now be sold at Dawson’s Market in Rockville!  The Grand Opening is today and there will be free samples available all day!  The shop is in Rockville Town Square and has plenty of parking nearby.  As of today, the following products are available at Dawson’s:

Look at that beautiful inventory!

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Swirl – VICTORY!

Those who follow the blog closely will know that I have struggled with swirls since the beginning!  They would either blend too much or not blend at all (poor poor Plucky Peppermint …. you never swirl quite right).

BUT, I have done it.  I have made a swirl, a proper swirl!  The Poe-tchouli Soap is everything a swirl should be.  The first  test batch was too blended, but the normal-sized batch got it just right.

I’m using three colors here: brown, yellow, and white.  To create the colors I’m using black walnut hull powder, turmeric powder, and the soap’s natural off-white base.  Mixing them separately did take time, but I actually think that the extra time at trace made them more stable and less likely to blend.

I began by pouring a couple dollops of the brown, then a bit of the white, then a couple dollops of the yellow.  Then I added a lot of the white from a greater height, then topped it off with more of the brown and yellow, poured from various heights. Until it cures completely, the yellow will be that dark orange-y color, but once it’s done, it will be a much lighter semi-yellow.  HOORAY!

Check out the results!

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Upcycled Soap Boxes

Soap is pretty indestructible, but even the hardest soap can get damaged during transport.  Since my soaps are definitely not the hardest on the market, I’m always looking for new ways to protect them.  After looking into pre-made soap boxes, I realized that the cost of boxes was a little high for my finances.

Being the self-sufficient crafter I am, I’ve decided to make my own and rather than buying new card stock, I realized that I could re-use card stock from packaging!  DIY + sustainability = yippee!  In a fabulous excuse to get in touch with all of the people I never have time to see anymore, I sent out requests for old cereal, microwave popcorn, or granola bar boxes.  Dozens of boxes later, I finally got a chance to make my beautiful soap box!  Below you’ll find directions on how to make your own.

Materials:

  • Cereal Box
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Black Marker

Step 1: Prepare the Box and Gather Supplies

You will need to flatten the box and open the glued portions so that it is a single layer.  You’ll also want to gather scissors, glue, and a black marker.

Step 2: Outline the Soap

Working vertically, outline around the long, skinny length of your soap bar (in my case 4″ x 1″).  Do this twice; this will become the flap that closes your box.  Then set the bar down on its biggest side and outline it.  Do another skinny end, then another big side.  Finally, you will want to create side flaps, approximately 1″ around the outside of your initial outline.

Make sure you are working on the side of the box that has the design.  You want the outside of the new box to be the inside of the old box.

Step 3: Cut the Box

Once you’ve outlined the box, you can cut along the outside lines.  Then, you can begin cutting out some of the flaps.  Check twice; cut once.  Don’t cut until you are sure that you are cutting the correct section of the box.

Step 4: Score the Cardstock

Now that you’ve cut all the sections of the box that you need to, use your scissors to score the fold-lines.  Start out scoring lightly; you just want to be able to fold along these lines.

Step 5: Fold the Box

Fold the boxes along the scored fold-lines.  Make sure you fold towards the side with the design (what used to be the outside of the old cereal box).

Step 6: Glue the Box

Now that you’ve folded the box and feel comfortable with the shape you’ve made, glue each side.  Depending on the glue you are using, you may need to use either a paperclip or binder clip to hold the parts together while they dry.  I usually find that the Elmer’s glue I use dries quickly enough that I can just hold it for a few minutes.

Step 7: Put the Soap Inside and Enjoy!

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Introducing Bumble Balms!

After listening to YOUR feedback, I’ve finally launched my line of lip balms: Bumble Balm’s!  These no-frills lip balms are as simple and pure as possible.  Sticking with my mission to produce high-quality all-natural skincare, the Bumble Balms contain only organic shea or cocoa butter, organic beeswax, organic olive oil, and essential oils.  You will never find synthetic flavor oils in these balms!

I thoroughly research the safety of the essential oils that I’ve used in these balms.  Only lip-safe EOs are in the Bumble Balms.  This limits the range of scents I offer, but you can rest assured that these products will be safe!  I’ve also chosen not to add any sweeteners to the balms to help you protect your lips.  Sweet balms tend to encourage us to lick our lips, which actually dries them out!  Here, you’ll get all the great scent and none of the temptation to lick your lips dry!

You can find these great balms at my Etsy store.

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Display Evaluations: One Store Front

Everyone knows that it’s a rough economy.  I can’t afford to pass up on a single potential sale, especially with soap’s small profit margin.  This is why I’ve been tracking my booth layouts to see which system works best.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Booths with One Store Front

This layout puts me right in front of the customers.   They can see everything that I have to offer and they do not have to decide whether or not to enter the booth, which intimidates some people.  The main disadvantage is that this layout has limited space.  On the other hand, this was a great layout when I had low inventory and wanted the tables to look full.  Another advantage is that I can move the tables either closer to the entrance or further into the shade depending on the weather.  This is crucial since the soaps and lotions need to be kept out of the sun and rain.

 

This layout relies on customers’ willingness to enter the booth.  During bad weather (high heat or rain), folks are more than happy to seek shelter inside.  They do not all make purchases, but I do see a lot more foot traffic with this layout if the weather is killer.  On the other hand, if the weather isn’t pushing people into the shelter, then this only works for determined customers.  The bright side here is that if someone enters the booth, I know they are genuinely interested.  This is also a decent layout if there are two storefronts, one in front and one in back.

This layout allows me to separate special products, especially the fragrance free line.  This is nice because it means I’m not accosting people with the scent of the soaps.  Since the kind of people who need fragrance free products are also usually sensitive to air-borne scents, it only makes sense to put their products up front.  It also gives people a chance to see some of the products as they walk past and a chance to come inside for more information if they want.

This layout allows for the most display space, but requires an additional table.  As with the other internal layouts, this requires that customers enter the booth to see the full range of products.  However, once they enter the booth, I have the chance to talk with them, get a sense of their interests, and suggest products that they might appreciate.  Having those one-on-one conversations is really important in a business like mine that deals in intimate issues like skincare.

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Favorite Scent Line Poll

Hello Soap-Fans!  I know which scents I love, but which scents do YOU love?  Cast your vote and see the results!

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Fenton Street Market (May 2012)

Location: Silver Spring, MD

Day of the Week: Saturday

Weather: Sunny with a gentle breeze

Organization: Excellent! Lots of information before the event, porters available for hire during the event, and event staff throughout the market to answer questions.

Crowd Size: Decent crowd.  Not large, but steady.

Crowd Make-Up: A good mix of families with children and adults with dogs. Not as many elderly.

Booth Fee: $50 for a 10′ x 10′ space

Today at the Fenton Street Market, I sold more product than ever before!  It might have been due to the fact that there were only two soap makers there (a lovely lady from BEST, in fact), but I’m chalking it up to good organization, extensive advertising, and great weather!  I almost sold out of a couple of things!  I had steady business for the entire 6 hours and had nice conversations with plenty of browsers.

I showed up early because I wasn’t sure about the drive, but the event staff were already ready to go and helped me get set up quickly.  There was free parking for the truck (hallelujah!) and a nice porter named Jeremy to help me set up the tent.  It was in a nice part of town and we were surrounded by businesses.  I’ve never been in such a busy part of town.  Even in Annapolis, the streets were so blocked off for the festival that we didn’t get much random business traffic there. In contrast, today I met people who saw us out of their windows and on their way to do their normal shopping.

Once again, one of the vendors who was supposed to be my neighbor didn’t show so I was left with a beautifully set up booth and customers wandering around the side where they weren’t supposed to be.  It is so frustrating!  I always look at the map beforehand and try to figure out how I should set up the booth; and I always have to set up before I know whether or not my neighbors will all be there.  Inevitably, the customers don’t come in the front like they should, but go around the side.  I’m usually tempted to just turn the products around to face the outside, but then I lose a whole table’s worth of display space!

I added a few more items to the displays this time around.  I made soap balls out of the leftover Miel Citron bars and called them Lemon Drops.  They looked pretty adorable wrapped up in tulle and terry cloth.  I also finally put up a fragrance free sign.  Not everyone looked at it, but it did save some people the embarrassment of trying to smell the scentless soaps.  My corner display unit finally arrived and it was the perfect place to show off the sea salt scrubs.  Every time, my booth looks snazzier and snazzier!

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All in all, a great day!

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Peppermint Swirl: Take II

After the last attempt at a peppermint swirl left me with pink soap.  While cute, it was not my intended effect.  Today, I tried a new technique and I think it will work out much better.  Rather than the pink marbling I got from mixing the swirl in the pot, I hope I can get a real red stripe.

This time, I separated some of the soap at trace and added 2 T of Madder Root Powder to the separated amount.  Then, rather than return it to the pot, I poured the uncolored base into the mold first.  Once that was done, I poured the colored soap into the mold and used a bamboo skewer to swirl.  From the outside, it looks good:

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We’ll wait and see how it looks once I slice it.

First Craft Show – Loch Raven HS Craft Fair

For my first public appearance, I will be selling soaps at the Loch Raven High School Craft Fair in northern Baltimore, MD.  If anyone is interested in seeing, touching, or smelling the soaps in person, come on out and join us! 

Who: YOU!

What: Loch Raven High School Craft Fair

When: Saturday, March 24th from 10 AM – 3 PM

Where: Loch Raven High School, 1212 Cowpens Avenue, Baltimore, MD

Why: You can buy wonderful soap!