The soap that got away
Its the final countdown to Christmas 2020, the year the world was broken and needed healing. For artisan crafters Christmas would have been planned and prepared for much earlier in the year. For me personally, I have been planning, designing and formulating my Christmas range since June 2020. Yes, when the sun was shining, I was thinking Winter, Snowmen, Father Christmas and what would be popular and sell well around Christmas time.
Of course, none of us knew or dreamed, we would still be living in a pandemic. A lot of product design is about prediction and trying to work on designs you hope that your customers will love as much as you have creating them.
So how does a design of a new soap begin? When I create a new product or collection I try always to go bigger and better than anything I have created previously. By that, I mean I try to always push my boundaries. Learn new techniques that push and test me in my making skills. I also research into product ingredients and fragrances that would work well with the product and the collection I am designing. When I do this I have to be mindful that the ingredients all fit in line with my brand ethos of being vegan,cruelty free and eco-friendly. This has is always slightly difficult and more costly. But sadly more so, since we have been in a pandemic. Prices have risen on many ingredients. Or I have found lead times on getting product ingredients from suppliers, has proven tough.
Sketch and design
Once I have my ingredients sourced and an idea of the design in my head. Its then time to put that design on paper to visualise it all coming together. Often, this is a really great way having a reality check on the design you had in your mind. Once on paper, it can look very different. Remember, at the end of all this, I have to be able to make it. Just because its on paper doesnt mean its set in stone either. Things can still be shifted and changed. It just helps me personally, to see my idea clearer.
The next stage was the testing my own abilities using techniques I hadnt tried before. I wanted the snow globe to look like it has snowflakes falling inside. For that I decided I would grate up some white soap (again that I would have previously made) and add this during the making of the snow globe. I also had the idea that a nice festive tree would sit inside the globe, with the snowflakes falling around it. Then I would try a very new technique to me, which is piping a soap "high top". This would mimic fluffy snow sitting on my usual sized soap slice. Decorations would then be added to the top of the piped soap such as tiny stars and baubles and maybe stars made from soap. I decided I would add the festive tree to the globe after I had sliced it. I would stick the trees on afterwards. So I needed to make the baubles, trees and stars plus the base to the snow globe, and the actual snow globe, prior to even making the main soap base.
In conclusion You now can hopefully understand how preparation is the key. A soap can take many hours of planning and preparation to make all the decorations etc. Once it is time to make the full finished soap, you still have no idea whether your design on paper and in your mind, will infact come to life? So, prepare to have to adjust and plan your design again and go back to the drawing board many times over until you are happy with the final soap slice. The Final Design: It took me 3 attempts to get my snow globe how I wanted it plus the black base it sat on. A day to make all the soap decorations. Bare in mind also, that once the soap is made it takes 4-6 weeks to cure off ready to be able to retail. So you can understand why I started this design quest back in June! The finished soap: "Christmas Snow Globe"
Reflection on the design: I ended up amending the soap tree idea. Once I stuck the trees onto the soap I found it just took away all the design element I had put into the soap globe. So I did some more research and sourced a soap stamp in a snowflake design and used that and added a little bit of silver festive bio-degradable glitter over the top. The main colour of the soap was a challenge I didnt expect to have. The fragrance I used which was "Cherry on the Snow" seemed to turn my green pigment a grey colour in the first few tests. So it took a lot to gain this green tone in the end. The fragrance held really well after curing which I was pleased with. The piping went better than I expected. The soap itself is a really lovely rich creamy soap and smells divine. Why it didnt make 2020 final Christmas Collection? Many of you may not be aware that every product I design and wish to sell, must be sent off to be tested by a cosmetic chemist. This is not just for me. This is a legal requirement for anyone selling artisan products in the EU. This is a mission in itself to find a chemist you trust, you feel you can work with and that charges the best price. Trust me, it really isnt cheap. The cheapest, like most things isnt always the best. But then, you have the assurance that your product is truly safe to use on the skin and body and is legal to sell. To me, thats worth the fee that you get charged. I have to do this with every single product I currently make and sell. That 6-8 weeks wait is very nerve wrecking. So although this soap took a lot of my time and money to create. It didnt make my Festive Collection 2020. Sadly I just ran out of time to input all the information to send it off in time for the cosmetic chemist to test and return it to me in time for me to make it. Time was against me with the making and designing of all my other products for the festive launch. So I had to make the difficult decision to leave it for another year. As sad as it makes me. Id rather send all the information off correctly, than rush it and miss something off. Its designed and I have tested it myself throughly. So 2021 it is for this little soap. That my friends is why this is the soap that got away....(for now). Festive wishes to you all! Stay safe. Heres to a better 2021 for us all. Caroline Founder & Formulator Stepping Stones Emporium