About Us

My shampoo bar talk


Hello, and thank you for stopping by to browse my online shop! My name is Amanda and I have a PhD in chemistry and am also very health conscious, which lead me to create Tiki Bar Soap, LLC. in 2011. I chose the name Tiki Bar Soap because I have always been really into tropical, Tiki inspired wares. 

302538_2289145560964_980905801_n

I love rockabilly inspired fashion and anything that looks like it came from the 50s, especially wood carvings and totem poles. I also liked the play on words, Tiki Bar, Bar Soap…

 You will find tropical, Tiki inspired products in my shop as well as traditional scents like lavender, rose, and eucalyptus and mint. I hope to provide a bit of luxury, something for everyone to enjoy and pamper themselves with! I offer a wide variety of fragrance and essential oil soaps as well as bath and body products.

Handmade soap is so good for your skin, and unlike commercially available synthetic detergent bars, handmade soap contains naturally occurring glycerin as well as a host of specialty oils and butters to wrap your skin in luxury.

More

New Tiki November

New Tiki November

We are so close to reopening our store with new packaging and are so excited! While soap never technically goes ‘bad’, it does lose its scent and can develop stearic acid precipitates over time (aka ‘steric spots’), especially if the soap gets hot during transport. 

To say thank you for being a loyal customer, to help clear out your shaving den, to replace a scent you didn’t particularly care for, or simply to get new Tiki in your hands for less, we are featuring a special buy back program for the month of November. 

To participate, send your old Tiki soaps to the following address:

Tiki Bar Soap, LLC. 

3985 PARKWOOD ROAD STE 109-134

BESSEMER, AL 35022

It doesn’t have to be a soap that you purchased from us, however it does have to be one of our soaps (eg Tiki or Steambath) – no bar soaps please, yuck! Shaving soaps and balms only 🙂 For every soap and/or balm you send in you will receive 50% off a new soap or balm. We will also ship your new order to you for free.  

When you send the soap in, just shoot us an email (tikisoap@gmail.com) with tracking and your address. We will send a coupon which will be active starting on Friday, when we reopen the site.

Thanks so much for your support & all the encouraging emails recently 🙂 We love you guys and are really excited to get the site back up!  

New Tiki November
New Tiki November

 

More

Tiki Time Update

Tiki Bar Soap Update

Many of you have expressed concern over the past few days as I haven’t really been on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) very much recently. We have gotten extremely behind on orders, and are closing from now until September 7th to get caught up as well as recover from DragonCon. So what has been going on? Well, I have been absent from a myriad of factors, including, but not limited to moving locations from our warehouse which started leaking tons of water every time it rained (also why many orders got lost, during the move) back to the building we have at my home. This involved lots of outfitting, painting, organization, etc. In hindsight, I should have put the website on hold while doing this, and for that I am very sorry – had I known we would get this backed up I would have done things differently. I am sure many of you would have loved to see our progress during the break we should have taken back in April, but sadly I not only didn’t record anything, I didn’t even let anyone know what was going on because I was so overwhelmed I didn’t even know where to start. So, during this break we will be giving consistent updates in the form of blog posts and newsletters, for those of you who are interested in seeing our new packaging as well as how we are preparing for DragonCon.

That being said, it is possible to learn from our mistakes. We have so much to do in terms of website maintenance – we need to update nearly all of our plugins, back up the database, go through use cases to improve the flow (thank you so much to several people who have emailed us with suggestions on how to improve this – we really appreciate it and take it very seriously so will be doing functional testing over the next few weeks after the site is redesigned).

I believe some of the orders were erroneously placed on hold due to the fact that we need to update to Woocommerce 2.6.2. In terms of shipping, we are planning to integrate UPS into the website so that our US customers will have the option to use this service as it is fast, reliable, and not that much more than USPS, which in some areas might be wonderful, but here is quite awful. It is so bad in fact that this happened last year. I have no idea if any of our packages were in any way affected by this drug bust, nor am I making any claims against USPS. All I am saying is, our soap smells good, and other illegal stuff, not so good. So it makes sense to toss in something to mask the odor, but again this is total speculation. Most of our recent issues are actually from moving and getting behind.

BUT, just to be on the safe side, you will now have the option to ship via UPS for the exact same price as USPS. Even though the fee is higher, we are going to cover the balance for you because we really believe our soap is that good and should be in your hands, sooner rather than later. We are also lowering our free shipping option to $49 rather than $75. This is the free shipping mark at my favourite tea company and I feel like it is a good price point for Tiki. As always, international shipping will have a flat rate of $11, with us covering the difference.

In terms of production, we have several wholesale and private label orders to finish up, orders to get out to many of you that were either lost in the mail, lost in the move, or were delayed in shipping. We just finished several huge orders, so are getting caught up, it just takes time. We also have several orders here which were for whatever reason returned – either rejected by customs, returned by post office, etc. We will be reaching out to everyone in the next week or so via email.

In addition to finishing up on these orders, we also have to prepare for DragonCon, which is basically a month away, and we have a ton of soap, perfume oils, and beard oils to make for that. We also need to prepare costumes 🙂

One thing to remember is that Tiki is me & Nic. We aren’t a huge corporation, and ‘just hire more people’ doesn’t always make sense, especially since it not only takes time to train them but also because, in our experience, my expectations don’t always meet reality in terms of their ability, and if I am not supervising them 24/7 they are goofing off on their phones, they miss work, and mainly just don’t share the passion and vision for Tiki we do, which is really important.

Unlike many other websites who are reselling product or having their product made by another artisan (maybe us, maybe another artisan, or maybe by a commercial factory) we are the makers, the graphic designers (note – we have a graphic artist who draws the characters, but we still have to design and print the labels), the sales team, the web developers, the business analysts, the social media strategists, the shipping department, the customer service department, etc.

While we realize this is also true of other makers, everyone is different, every situation is different, and we aren’t trying to copy or model another artisan’s business. This is the beauty of supporting an artisan business – you are purchasing something unique that an individual created, and the manner and speed in which they create will be directly related to the demand for their product, as well as their ability to streamline the process.

During our break we are going to re-assess our best sellers, improve our packaging, and reduce the number of scents we make in order to get them to you faster. We will no longer do custom orders, as this creates a huge bottleneck in our production schedule and is, in part, one of the many reasons we are so behind. In addition, many of the packages lost in transit and/or by USPS were custom orders, which we are still trying to catch up on. Again, hindsight is 20/20. We have learned from this mistake and are moving forward to improve the Tiki experience for everyone.

We recommend anyone who would like a custom order to contact Irena Marchu, as this is her specialty. I have spoken to her directly about this and she could not be more excited as she prefers making soap in small batches and has a background in perfumery. Irena is a sweetheart and was truly concerned about me and was one of the many people who checked in on me this weekend to make sure everything was OK. Seriously, you don’t know how much this means to me, because I have been quite overwhelmed recently and it is good to know that so many people care.

As artisans, we are who we are, and that is what makes Tiki unique. Even though we have so much to learn, and so many ways to improve, we do recognize our shortcomings and welcome constructive criticism, as it is the only way to improve. We are not making excuses for getting so overwhelmed, but we have learned a great deal from the past few months and are going to implement the suggestions everyone has given moving forward.

Speaking of artisans, and being unique, I want to give you a glimpse into who we are and what we enjoy about Tiki, because we have been so silent recently trying to get everything made, that I realized yesterday many of you may not know that much about us.

Nic is an amazing artist, graphic designer, and kills it at manufacturing. The drill press, the new whipping method, or ‘making mashed potatoes’ as he likes to call it (in his defense he was trained at Culinard and was a chef in a past life, so I suppose this makes sense – shaving soap batter, when whipped, does sort of resemble mashed potatoes), has really been wonderful in terms of scaling up as well as quality control. From this simple change in production, the texture and performance of our soap has improved 100 fold. Without his insight, I never would have considered this as a possibility in manufacturing as my brain just isn’t wired that way. He also gives feedback on the labels and is constantly trying to improve our design. Even though he hates working on the website, he has some great ideas for improving the look and feel of the site from a design prospective, so these changes will be implemented in the coming months.

Because I have a PhD in chemistry, I am more analytical. I am an awesome web developer (I have freelanced since 2008 and know a good bit about programming from grad school, as my research involved quantum mechanics simulations, which required a good bit of coding). This means that our soap is formulated to perfection and I am constantly looking for ways to improve the website to make ordering easier. I love business analysis, SEO, and totally geek out to numbers. Seriously, who gets excited about writing functional documentation about the process flow of a website, including detailed flowcharts, use cases that consider the best case scenario versus the worst case scenario of a customer might running into an error that we need to fix? That’s right – me. I love doing this, and just the thought of it makes most people feel queasy. I get told often that not only can I not see the forest for the trees, I can’t see the other trees for the tree that is in front of me which I am totally over analyzing.

That being said, neither one of us is good at shipping. However, upon seeing how much we have been struggling recently, Nic’s mom, Connie, who happens to have a graduate degree in library science, has decided to manage this department. She loves doing inventory (according to her, it is reminiscent of the card catalogue of days past). She is also going to be handling all of the shipping so Nic can focus on creating and I can focus on social media, customer service, and keeping the website running smoothly. This means that orders will be packed every evening and she will take them by the post office or UPS on her way to school.

While we are on break we are going to do a buy back program, which will be detailed in the next post, but essentially we want you to send us any of your Tiki products which are losing their scent, which you have gotten tired of, with labels that are damaged and no longer good for SOTD posts, or simply that you didn’t like the scent and haven’t PIFed or sold in BST forums. We will give you a 50% off code for our new products when we re-open, and will reimburse you for shipping the products back to us when you make the new order. We want you to have the best, freshest, newest items. Connie will organize the returned items in a spreadsheet along with your names and addresses so that we can get in touch with you when the new products are ready. She will also ship all of the orders beginning from our re-opening date.

This will be such a help and we are so lucky to have her want to take on this task, because, to be honest, each of our interests is a full time job, and we have been trying to do everything all at once and this is another reason that we have been so overloaded. We have hired several people for shipping in the past and it never worked out as they needed constant supervision, meaning that I couldn’t focus on what I needed to in order to keep things running smoothly. We are so excited to have Connie on board. I suppose this means we are going from 2 struggling artisans to a family business 🙂

Honestly, I have missed posting SOTDs on Instagram and in shaving groups. I want to broadcast manufacturing as well as how business analysis works for those few nerds who are interested on Periscope. I want to do shaving videos and be more active in the community. I want to start blogging again about topics that actually matter rather than just a 200 – 600 word post to say ‘I wrote a blog article today, good for me.’ I love writing and want to always speak from the heart, because life is too short to be disingenuous. However, I have not been able to do these things as we have been in ‘putting out fires’ mode for several months now.

During our break I am going to create a schedule for everyone – a realistic schedule – and stick to it. I don’t have to post a SOTD or comment in groups for 3 hours a day, but I do need to be consistent. If I pop in every Wednesday at lunch, for example, then everyone knows I am not dead. If I schedule Nic’s Periscope of production every Monday from 6 to 8 PM, then you will know when to tune in. You get the idea. I have done this before but am not very good at estimating the time it takes to complete a task and/or I get so super excited about what we are doing that I want to do all the things at once. Nic has suggested using a timer app on my phone and tracking my activity during the day, which I think is a wonderful idea that I plan to implement immediately. Doing all the things is not only infeasible, it also creates the snowball effect which we are experiencing now.

This is so me - I have to learn to pace myself, and set timers.
This is so me – I have to learn to pace myself, and set timers.

In addition, I take full responsibility for throwing Nic into the deep end without a life preserver, and yet he is still here, which means he really cares about what we are doing even if I failed to give him enough instruction prior to bringing him on as my business partner. I will be training him on everything, including what I do, so that he understands how the entire process works, unlike now where he really only does production. This is important not only for him to help me when I need it, like I help him with production when we have a large influx of orders, but it also covers us in the unlikely event that something happens to me, so that he can continue to run Tiki smoothly and know the ins and outs of the business.

I am setting up a new email address today and updating the contact form on the website to ensure it is working properly so that anyone who has a grievance can get in touch with me and allow me to remedy the situation. I am not sure if needing to update the website meant emails weren’t going through, or if they were going to spam, or what has happened, but I do want to respond to anyone who has tried to contact me if I haven’t already, so please get in touch with me through the contact form.

I realize this is probably the longest blog post in history, but I have had a great deal of things weighing on my mind recently and it feels good to get them out. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, any feelings we may have hurt, and anyone we have neglected. This was never our intention – we love and believe in what we do and we are so fortunate to have the love and support of so many individuals, because honestly you are why we do what we do – make quality natural personal care products that are good for your skin and make shaving fun!

 

More

Meet Nic, the new co-owner of Tiki Bar Soap

Meet Nic Oberneder, co-owner of Tiki Bar Soap

Meet Nic, the new co-owner of Tiki Bar Soap

I would like to introduce you to Nic Oberneder, the new co-owner of Tiki Bar Soap.

Meet Nic Oberneder, co-owner of Tiki Bar Soap
Meet Nic, co-owner of Tiki Bar Soap

As many of you may know, we hired a warehouse manager last August to assist with creating products, staying organized, shipping orders – doing basically everything I needed help with. My previous assistant met the love of her life and moved to Indiana, so having Nic around was a huge sigh of relief to me. I honestly didn’t expect him to pick up things so quickly, but within two or three weeks he had not only learned to make soap but had also memorized all the formulas and rearranged the entire warehouse. Not that this should be at all surprising to me, as he attended Birmingham Southern College where he focused on business management and distribution, but I was still quite pleased with how quickly he helped to increase production and productivity. At this point I can honestly say he is better at making soap than I am, because he has no problem lifting the pots (any of you who watched my recent YouTube video can relate as I was struggling to heave the pot onto the table!) and has incredible attention to detail.

When he started, Nic was working as a server at a local restaurant, and I didn’t want to influence him to quit this job, especially as the holidays were approaching (anyone in the food service industry knows Christmas through Carnival Season [or Mardi Gras as we call it here] is the best time of year for tips), so I just let him set his own schedule and work two or three days a week. After probably two weeks he came in one day and said ‘I turned in my apron, lets make some soap!’ I was so happy to hear these words, as in the back of my mind I had been thinking the entire time about Christmas at Tiki, which is our busiest time of year for shipping orders, and I really needed the help! Not only did Nic help, but we sailed through the season with much less stress than the previous year and he got to experience first hand what manufacturing and shipping is like during November and December. With each passing week we increased production and productivity. I really couldn’t believe it – was I this bad at being organized? (short answer is, yes – hey, you can’t be great at everything!).

When the new year approached Nic had so many ideas for new products, new scents, was working on label designs, and on top of that was staying up until 3 AM multiple nights a week making soap with me. At this point I realized, WOW this guy is really serious about Tiki and loves it just as much as I do. I decided then that he should have a bigger role in the company, but just wasn’t sure what. After much planning, brainstorming, and discussion we decided that we really enjoy working together and both really have the same short and long-term vision for Tiki. I also realized that Nic is literally good at everything I am awful at, and vice versa. For these reasons, I decided to bring Nic on as my business partner, so that we can focus on the things that matter – YOU guys! We want to continue to innovate and improve, ship items faster, blend more complex scents, offer more media content in the form of interviews and videos, write more blog posts, do more shaving videos, introduce new products – but in order to do that we both have to be organized and have clearly defined roles in the company. Hard work really is rewarded, and I truly believe Tiki could not be in better hands.

Nic will be on The Sharpologist’s broadcast soon, so you will get to know him there. If you are lucky enough to be attending The Big Shave West in Pasadena, CA this April he will be there as a vendor, so you will have a chance to meet him and talk to him face to face. He is also starting a Periscope channel where he will be filming himself making products for an hour or so a day and answering any questions you may have at that time. I will be keeping up with YouTube but he will probably make a guest appearance or two on my channel to shave. We could not be happier with this decision and hope that we can continue to serve the wet shaving community. Let us know how we are doing by dropping us a line, or just stop by to say hi!

More

Tiki Bar Soap is Now Avaliable at West Coast Shaving!

West Coast Shaving

We have a super exciting announcement to make – Tiki Bar Soap is Now Available at West Coast Shaving!

You can now purchase our products at West Coast Shaving in the following scents:

  • The Captain – Cherry Pipe Tobacco with Molten Lava and Ozone Notes
  • 1920s Barber Shoppe – Powdery and Light with Musk, Reminiscent of an Old School Barber Shop
  • Fougere – A modern take on the traditional French classic, this soap is green and herbal with patchouli and oakmoss base notes
  • Into the Forest – Oakmoss, Pine, Spruce, and Tree Essential Oils – this one is a personal favourite 🙂
  • North Shore – Pineapple, Lavender, Avocado, Coconut

Tiki Bar Soap West Coast Shaving

West Coast Shaving
West Coast Shaving
More

Preventing Ingrown Hairs

DSC_0132

Preventing Ingrown Hairs

When shaving with a straight razor or DE (or even a disposable razor – although I know none of you use that!) ingrown hairs can be a major issue, especially if you are ethnic, have course hair, or thick, dark hair with larger follicles. Some people even have multiple hairs growing from the same follicle which can also cause numerous problems. I learned about this home remedy to prevent ingrown hairs when getting my hair cut at a salon which sold an ‘ingrown hair serum’, so I forked over $36 because I have always had issues with ingrown hairs. Upon arriving home and reading the ingredients I was shocked that it contained only 3 simple things: Witch Hazel, SD-40 Alcohol, and Salicylic Acid. While I was sort of bummed that I just wasted $36 on this, I am sharing what I learned with all of you so that you can recreate it at home for less than $5. The premise behind how it works is that salicylic acid constricts pores, making it more difficult for the hair to travel downward and become trapped inside the follicle. An added benefit is that the alcohol and witch hazel act as an astringent.

To make this you will need:

  • A spray bottle
  • A bottle of isopropyl alcohol (they have it with wintergreen oil now – it is the green one, you can get at any drug store) – you could also use some of your alcohol based aftershave here in place os isopropyl if you like
  • A bottle of witch hazel
  • An asprin

Fill the spray bottle half way full with alcohol, then top off the remaining with witch hazel. Crush the asprin and add it to the spray bottle. Shake until dissolved. And that is it! Super easy, right?

To use, spray a small amount onto a cotton ball (trust me, you do not want to spray this stuff directly on your face because it will BURN!!!). Dab the cotton ball over the freshly shaven skin and viola! You are ready to go. Let me know if you have done something similar to this, and if so, did it work for you? I have been using my ingrown hair spritzer after each shave and it seems to be helping.

Note – this is not something I will offer for retail sale. This post is for informational use only. Create the product at your own risk. It is not meant to treat or cure any disease. Discontinue use if irritation occurs.

More

Tiki Acquires Steambath

Key to My Heart Soap, Shared With Permission from Kat Von D. Follow her at https://instagram.com/thekatvond/

Many of you already know this, but for those of you who do not, Tiki Bar Soap acquired Steambath Factory last November and we have been focusing our efforts for Women’s products for Steambath Factory since then. I am working on a website for this company now but it hasn’t been fully populated with products yet, although the etsy shop is in full swing and can be viewed at etsy.com/shop/steambathfactory.

The original creator of Steambath Factory used a muse, Gin Shakespeare, and I also use this name for the shop. This is the creative inspiration behind the brand, and as you can tell by the name, is actually not a real person. However, I do have to say, after immersing myself in product creation and design – we have since released several new items and scents – I find myself being inspired more and more by Gin, who in turn I think is evolving as a result of all of my design influences.

It has been a wild and crazy adventure since we started, because not even two weeks after I began making product I got an order from Kat Von D, which she posted on Instagram and I received close to 400 orders of heart key soaps around the Christmas holidays, which was quite exciting! She gave me permission to share the photo but I haven’t formally announced anything yet because I have been planning on releasing shaving soaps branded under Steambath Factory and with their scents, only made by me. By the way, here is the photo of Kat’s key soap:

Key to My Heart Soap, Shared With Permission from Kat Von D. Follow her at https://instagram.com/thekatvond/
Key to My Heart Soap, Shared With Permission from Kat Von D. Follow her at https://instagram.com/thekatvond/

So, once things settled down after the holidays, I made the decision to apply for DragonCon in Atlanta. It would be the perfect fit for Steambath Factory, since everything is steampunk inspired, which is a sub genre of science fiction well represented there. I really didn’t think I would be accepted because it is such a tightly juried show, but I found out in April or May that we were accepted so since then I have been trying to make product little bit by little bit. The event is Sept 4th – 7th so it really is crunch time! I ran a contest on my Instagram account  with help naming a soap which I was planning on taking to DragonCon and the responses were so amazing that I actually picked 5 winners. I know, right? So now we will be taking an entire line (ok, 3 scents, but still) called ‘Airship Boutique’ with Steele Brighton, Baroness Lockheart, and Julia Vern. I also formulated a new soap for these scents which is free of coconut oil, shea butter, and other common allergens to appeal to the largest amount of people possible, since this will be a rather large event. I performed a scale up of Baroness Lockheart today, shown below:

Scale Up of Baroness Lockheart - Top left, melted oils with scent and mica added, Top right - 50 lb block mold with approximately enough soap to make 180 bars, Bottom, cut bar of Baroness Lockheart
Scale Up of Baroness Lockheart – Top left, melted oils with scent and mica added, Top right – 50 lb block mold with approximately enough soap to make 180 bars, Bottom, cut bar of Baroness Lockheart

I also had our graphic artist work on a new logo and labels, and we will be using them on the Steambath Factory shaving soaps, which we will be releasing at the beginning of the month. I am SO EXCITED to share Smolder with you, because it is the perfect cherry pipe tobacco scent. I think I may even like it more than The Captain. I know, that is a bold statement. Masqureade is another scent that I selected for the Steambath Factory shaving soap line, and it is a sweet honey pipe tobacco scent. What can I say, my Dad smoked a pipe, so pipe tobacco scents remind me of my childhood. We will also be releasing Frostbite from the Steambath Factory product line into shaving soap, which is a blend of peppermint and vanilla. I realize there is already another shaving soap with this name so I am going to try to think of another name for it, but I promise I am just using the names of the scents which existed with Steambath when I took over. Bloodbath will be the fourth and final scent we release at first, and it is a deep pumpkin spice latte scent.

If you are in Atlanta for Labor Day Weekend PLEASE come by and see me! The Steambath Factory booth will be downstairs on the first floor in the America’s Mart building. I will have a big sign and life sized cutout of our mascot, Gin Shakespeare. I will be dressed in character the entire time, so you may not recognize me, but I will be sharing tons of photos via social media so go ahead and prepare yourselves 🙂

 

More

French vs Italian Shaving Soap

What is the Difference Between French & Italian Style Shaving Soap? Click here to find out!

French vs Italian Shaving Soap 

Many of you may have heard the terms ‘French style’ or ‘Italian style’ soap. Tonight’s post will describe these two types of shaving soaps and discuss the main similarities and differences.

French style shaving soap is saponified with potassium hydroxide only. Potassium hydroxide makes liquid soap when used with fats such as olive oil, rice bran oil, coconut oil, or other liquid oils. When stearic acid is used a cream soap is produced, which is basically what French style shaving soap is – a creamy consistency shaving soap which is more pliable (you can press on it and make a rather large indentation in the surface of the soap). These types of soaps work better when loaded with a soft bristle brush (I prefer synthetic). It is very important to let this type of soap dry completely and not let water pool on the surface or it will become a giant glob of goo quickly and won’t perform properly after. I like loading French style soap in a lather bowl by first slicing off a small portion of soap and lathering that soap in the lather bowl rather than lathering the surface of the soap as I have a tendency to overload my brush. As always, your mileage may vary 🙂

Italian style shaving soap is saponified with a combo of potassium and sodium hydroxide. The presence of sodium hydroxide makes a harder soap, although many Italian style shaving soaps are still slightly soft. The ratio of KOH to NaOH as well as the amount of water used and the amount of time the soap has been curing as well as the ratio of hard to soft oils all determines the overall hardness of the soap. I always load my Italian style shaving soaps in the tub although I do leave their caps off overnight to dry before recapping the next morning.

It is my understanding that French style shaving soap originated in France a la Martin de Candre, and Italian style shaving soap originated in Italy a la Proraso.

I like using both French and Italian style shaving soap, it is really difficult to pick a favorite honestly! Which style of shaving soap do you prefer?

 

 

More

Facial Masks

Mud Masks!

One of my favorite things in the entire world is to get a mud wrap or mud mask. You don’t have to spend hundreds on spa treatments to enjoy this luxury. Mud masks are easy to apply at home, and only take 15 to 20 mins to dry. I prefer using Dead Sea Clay but there are many various forms of clay available for facial masks, including:

  • French Green Clay
  • Moroccan Red Clay
  • Dead Sea Clay
  • Kaolin Clay (White)
  • Rose Clay
Dead-Sea-Mud-Mask-For-Face-With-Aloe-Vera-150ml-5oz-Authentic-from-Israel-For-All
Mud Mask

Additives like fruit enzymes, pumpkin seed powder, as well as botanical extracts are all great additions to a mud mask and help to tone skin while the mud draws out oils and impurities. I have really oily skin so using a mud mask a few times a week is a must to keep my skin feeling fresh, especially in the hot summer months.

There are two different types of masks – dry and wet. The wet mask is a blend of clay and water with a preservative, and may also contain other ingredients like emulsifiers and thickeners. This type of mask is the most widely available on the market. To use this type of mask all you have to do is apply it after washing your face, allow to dry, and rinse off.

The dry mask is simply finely ground clay which may have a few other added ingredients. To use this type of mask takes slightly more effort although not much. After washing your face, simply pour a small amount of the mask into a bowl and mix with just enough water to form a paste. Then simply apply the paste to your face and allow to dry.

Other types of facial masks like ‘peel off’ or gel masks exist but I wouldn’t suggest using them as they have a tendency to clog my pores and are really difficult to remove.

Have you ever used a facial mask? If so how did you like it? Is this something you do for skincare frequently or only once in a blue moon? I would love to hear in the comments!

 

More

Inventory Tracking

How to Keep Track of Inventory

There was a question posed in our Indie Business network facebook group today about how everyone does inventory tracking and inventory management, so I decided for tonight’s blog post I would share how I handle inventory. I am by no means an expert at this, just letting you all know up front 🙂 I have also changed things several times since I started tracking inventory and I will most certainly change things several times again, probably even before the end of the year. I am a firm believer in doing what works while it is working, and as soon as it stops working, doing things differently.

When I first started actually trying to keep track of inventory I purchased 500 skus, assigned them to products, printed barcode labels with descriptions, and sent them off to a fulfillment center to handle packing and shipping orders. NOTE ABOUT SKUS – If you don’t plan on using order fulfillment and also do not plan on doing wholesale to retail outlets requiring SKUS, you can use the free ‘barcode maker’ in online labels or many other online tools for free to create SKUs to keep track of your own products without having to purchase SKUs. However, if you plan on selling to any websites or stores you should probably go ahead and invest in some barcodes.

Order fulfillment worked out well for a few months, but as time progressed they started making more errors, and around Christmas of 2014 it was a complete and total nightmare – products were not being keyed in properly in their inventory management system, so I had product entered in my website which I had shipped them but they had no record of in their database. This company went out of business in April and we paid to have all of our remaining products shipped back to us. After that we have been handling inventory management ourselves, which is one of the main reasons I moved into a workspace – it is very difficult to pack orders inside a house because packing and shipping supplies take up a ton of space, not to mention I am completely inefficient at it if I don’t have several folding tables to pack orders. Since moving into the warehouse we have way more space which makes packing orders faster. Here is a photo of what our inventory looks like:

Inventory
Inventory

For those of you who don’t know, we acquired Steambath Factory last November, so to stay organized we have products separated into shelves for product. Our sales channels are only etsy and this website at the moment, so for etsy I just list a few items at a time and then list the remaining on the website. For example, if I make a batch with 30 items, I may list 3 on etsy and 27 here. I don’t do many in person events, but for those, I make specific inventory for the event and don’t list it on the website or etsy until AFTER the event is over. There are solutions to handle this in real time which I will discuss below, but first I want to finish explaining how we are doing things now.

We have an upcoming science fiction event at our local library followed by DragonCon in Atlanta, both for Steambath Factory, and then the local church fund raiser I do every year there will be no other in person events. For this reason I plan the items I am going to create in a spreadsheet and mark them off as they are made.

Planning Inventory
Planning Inventory

I assign a sku to each item and enter the inventory through the portal website for my card reader, then sync the app on my phone. After syncing the app is populated with inventory created in the portal since the last import. If you have been following my blog, you may remember I posted a few weeks about planning for a show, where I mentioned that I switched from Square to TransFirst for credit card processing. I really didn’t use square that much, and when I did I always just entered the amount at checkout rather than keeping inventory for shows. I am sure there is a way to enter inventory in Square because I have seen one of my friends do it before. I am not sure if it lets you upload photos or not, so if someone wants to chime in with the answer in the comments if you know, I would love to know!

I like having photos of each item because if you have multiple team members working your booth it makes checkout faster and easier because they have a photo of each product along with sku so they know exactly what to ring up when a customer checks out. I took some screen shots of entering a product so you can see what the process looks like. They are sort of difficult to see but if you click on the image it will maximize on the screen so it is easier to read.

First you create categories – This could be lotion, shaving soap, bath salts, etc. Basically whatever you are selling. I made one category Tiki Bar Soap and one category Steambath Factory, but as I continue to populate products I think I may abbreviate TBS as Tiki Bar Soap and SBF for Steambath Factory so when I want to list lotions, for example, I can list as SBF lotion or TBS lotion so things are more organized.

Categories

Categories

After the categories are created you can populate products.

Entering A Product
Entering A Product

Once products are entered, you can import them into the phone app. This is what the app looks like with products populated:

Product Listing in App
Product Listing in App

Once the show or event is over I enter my remaining inventory onto the website, leaving two or three products out for each etsy listing (again, 30 products = 27 listed on website, 3 on etsy as the example). I keep all etsy products on one shelf so they don’t get mixed up with website products. While it seems like a small thing, one misplaced product can throw everything off and create mass hysteria. We try our very best to keep everything in order but mistakes do happen from time to time.

This works well if you are not doing tons of local shows and events and can plan inventory for EACH sales channel. But what about those of you who have a storefront, do local sales events frequently, have etsy, a website, Amazon, etc. While there are point of sale (POS) systems which will track inventory from website and in person sales – meaning if you sell an item at a market and you have 10 listed on your website, the POS system deducts from the website when the item sells, but it doesn’t deduct from all sales channels. These systems are fairly expensive, but are a must if you have a physical storefront. I have seen people trying to run their clothing botique on square with no skus and just hand keying sales and trust me, this is a complete and total inventory disaster. It may work fine for a local farmer’s market when you bring eight or ten products, but when you are managing hundreds of products some sort of inventory management POS system really is necessary.

 

I actually did a good bit of research before writing this article because I am currently NOT using a cross platform inventory management solution but it is something I am looking into doing for the future, especially if I ever actually open a store (which may be never, but I like having options). The best solution I have found is a cloud solution called Trade Gecko. There is a free wordpress app for inventory management for Trade Gecko and they have a free trial period of 30 days for using their service. After that it is $79 – $349 a month for a plan depending on needs. It is possible to create a solution like this by hand, but it would take months of custom programming which would cost tens of thousands of dollars at a very minimum. If you have the order volume and are doing many different things and hate hand keying and counting, Trade Gecko may be the solution for you.

For now, what I am doing is working really well. We switched over to using ShipStation based on the recommendation of a friend and shipping has gotten much faster. I would recommend it or a similar shipping platform if you have the orders to support it. Before I was using usps.com coupled with about 10 command line utilities I had written to resize, clip, and print labels along with an automated script which did a database dump and converted the orders to .csv format which I then uploaded to the usps.com website. In theory, my solution should have been flawless, but the usps.com website is CONSTANTLY broken. The amount of time I save using ShipStation now is insane, I am so happy we switched.

I hope this post has helped some of you see what I am doing, which is probably close to what you all are doing, but I would love to hear about it in the comments!

~ Amanda

More

The Oil Cleansing Method

Click Here to Learn More About the Oil Cleansing Method

I am not sure how many of you have heard of the oil cleansing method (OCM) and how many have not, so the focus of tonight’s blog post will be on the OCM, including benefits, how it works, and if you should try it.

The basis of the OCM is that ‘like dissolves like’. Because your face contains natural oils, the least aggressive way to remove them is by using another oil. Now, this concept might seem foreign at first, or even downright scary, especially if you have had problem skin like me in the past. I will admit, this method is not for everyone, and while many blogs will tell you that if you are breaking out this is ‘detox’ and you should give it a few weeks, I think if you are breaking out then you should try something else. Unless you are entering a treatment facility, ‘detox’ isn’t a thing. Your body knows how to process toxins from environmental factors and if the OCM is making you break out the most likely reason is that you didn’t thoroughly remove all the oil from your face after cleansing and dirt and environmental pollutants are getting stuck to your face, causing the breakouts. While diet and stress as well as lifestyle factors are major contributions to acne, I am not a doctor so if you are having skin issues your best bet is to visit a dermo.

I personally use the OCM to remove makeup, it works especially well for eye makeup like mascara but oil will literally remove anything you put on your face to enhance facial features, like foundation, mascara, lipstick, primer, setting spray, whatever.

To start, I fill a bowl with very hot water and soak a handmade organic washcloth. You can use whatever you like, but I have a ton of these around the house that friends and family have made for me or that I have gotten in soap trades over the years. I like them because they are very textured and offer gentle exfoliation. For the benefits of exfoliation please click here.

Place the washcloth in the hot water for a few mins. After the washcloth has been soaking and the water has cooled off slightly, squeeze out the cloth and apply a dime sized drop of oil. Work the oil into your face using a circular motion. Continue for two to three minutes. Most people just rinse their face after this and call it a day, but I have to wash my face with facial soap after oil cleansing because otherwise the oil leaves a filmy residue.

To make the cleanser you can use olive oil, castor oil (for oily skin), jojoba oil, emu oil, or basically any liquid oil or blend of liquid oils you can think of. I also like to add a few drops of essential oils to my oil cleanser, eucalyptus and mint are my favorites but lavender works well for a night time relaxation cleanser and pink grapefruit works well for a morning wake up cleanser.

While many people enjoy the OCM because it is an ‘all natural’ way to cleanse the face, I really prefer adding a small percentage of Cromollient SCE because it makes the oil feel much silkier upon application and also seems to rinse cleaner.

Have you tried the OCM? If so how do you like the results? Let me know in the comments!

 

Click Here to Learn More About the Oil Cleansing Method
The Oil Cleansing Method
More