If you are reading this article you may have realized that soap making is one of the more addictive hobbies of all known hobbies and you may have over 200 bars of soap that you now do not know what to do with. It was at that point that I also decided to start marketing my soap. This article is by no means the final word on marketing techniques for soap; but, is a short list of suggestions from my own experience. As you begin to sell your soap you will quickly figure out what does and does not work for your product and your customer base.
Where Can You Sell Homemade Soap and to Whom?
Every soap maker has different hurdles with finding a market for their soap. Some of us are in rural areas where there are few customers; some in urban settings where there is competition from other sellers. Every soap maker has a way of making soap that they enjoy. I would urge you to stick with what makes soap making fun rather than trying to accommodate to a specific market. If you do not have a customer base for your product that is local, the internet will provide a wider market.
It is always good to seek out a local market for any goods you might produce. Local farmers markets are a great way to sell soap. If you decide to sell at a farmers market you need to find out the rules for those specific markets. Some farmers markets are partially funded or get grants through the state. If your market has state funding they will likely have rules you need to follow for marketing your soap. Most of that information can be sourced on your states government website; or you can have a chat with your local market president. Every market has different rules for selling things other than vegetables. You need to find out if the fees for selling at the market will be worth the cost and decide if the time devoted to being at the market will be cost effective and convenient for you.
If a local market is either not available, not cost efficient, or not your preference; you may decide to sell online. You can sell your products through social media, yard sale websites, or you can make your own website and sell independently. Whatever media you use to sell always protect yourself legally. Do some research on how to phrase disclaimers about your product and make sure to produce a good quality product so you do not ever have to worry about your disclaimers. If you decide to sell online make sure the cost of shipping is accounted for so you do not end up giving your soap away to people in far away lands.
Determining Market Prices for Homemade Soaps
Once you have investigated your local area for market availability you will likely have a pretty good idea of how much you can effectively sell your soap for. Your pricing is always a little balancing act between you and your customers. They know as well as you do how much your soap is worth and they do not want to pay a dime more. If you have something special about your soap that no one else in your area has do not be afraid to charge a little more. How you present your product will help customers know the reasons why your soap is worth more.
Before you become too settled on a price that is comparable to others sellers in your area be sure to break down the cost of your product. How much is the cost of the ingredients of each bar? Also take into account the hours of labor you have put in to making your soap. If your cost per bar is more than what you can sell it for see what you can do to get cheaper ingredients. Purchasing your ingredients wholesale and in bulk are key to keeping your costs down; but, do not compromise the quality of your product. If you produce a bar that is no better than what you can purchase at the store it will not be worth your time.
It is really a sad fact that the reason why fancy stores can charge more is due to labels and pretty bags with tissue paper. Flashy labeling and wrapping is not typically the selling point of homemade soap thankfully! Most people purchase homemade soap because it looks homemade and feels homemade. As a culture we have taken a large step back from home produced products and people miss it. We have a sustainable farm and an almost no landfill waste system so recycling is a very big deal for us. I wrap my soaps in brown paper and use only black ink on the labels making the packing for our soap not only recyclable but compostable. I have seen soap makers use scraps of fabric, recycled gift wrap, or no wrapping at all. Be creative with how you present your product; you worked hard on it and people are looking for soap that is as unique as the soap maker.
To trim or not to trim your soap is also going to be unique to you. I trim all of my soap. It takes extra time, probably my customers would purchase it if I did not trim it, and I know people who prefer soap in the “raw;” but, it just makes me feel good to do it, so I do. I use the soap scraps in laundry soap so nothing gets wasted. If you use good soap molds, that will reduce the amount of time you spend trimming.
Labeling Homemade Soaps
If you are following the rules of your state, or your market, you probably have a set procedure for what must be on your soap labels. But even if you are selling outside of those restricted markets I would urge you to put no less than the following items on your soap labels: type of soap, the ingredients in the soap, your name or farm name, your address and phone number. When you sell something as intimate as soap it is important to build trust and good rapport with your customers. The customer is placing their health in your hands; giving them your contact information is an honest way to do business.
If you end up selling a lot of soap and you want your labels to look nice; but, also not be a strain on your time, computer generated labels are a wonderful way to label your soap. There are numerous companies that sell labels and the software to print your own labels. I am not in any way affiliated with the Avery company; but, they have been my favorite so far to use.
Have fun making and selling your soap. It is a craft and not a path to wealth. You will likely not get rich selling handmade soap. But creating and being a member of a community holds more value than money.
Holly Chiantaretto is an organic farmer and goat breeder in Kentucky where she also raises cattle, pigs, and chickens and preserves the harvests from her garden. Connect with Holly at Hallow Springs Farm and on Facebook. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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