How to Grow Your Soap Business By Attending Conferences

Pittsburgh Soap Gathering

Over the weekend I had a chance to attend the Pittsburgh Soap Makers Gathering and it was such a remarkable experience. I have attended this particular gathering for the past three years and each year it just keeps getting better. This is a gathering meant to bring handcrafted soap and cosmetic makers together to learn, grow and share. This year the gathering added a second day of hands on learning for four different products: lotion, shampoo bars, body cream and conditioners. All of which I have never made but I’m always up to adding tools to the belt.

How can you grow your soap business through conferences?

It always surprises me that more people in business don’t actually attend industry events. No matter how long or how short you have been in business there is always more to learn even if it’s just to build a camaraderie with fellow makers in the industry. No man or woman is an island and today there is no reason to try and figure it all out alone.

As an attendee you can learn about the vendors who support your industry, you can learn new regulations, new techniques and feel free to share with others who don’t mind discussing bath and body for hours if not days on end.

When you attend a conference you get the sense that you have found your tribe.

Live Video Unboxing Soap Gathering Goodies Take 2

What happened at the Pittsburgh Soap Makers Gathering?

The conference was held in Harmony PA and was organized by Lori Chandler and a host of volunteers. Lori is a quiet force with a heart of gold. We had a conversation and she said something the will stick with me.

soap maker gathering

The heart that gives, gathers!

-Lori Chandler

The gathering was divided into two education filled days.

The first day we learned:

  • How to make lotion from scratch…did you know that water is a key ingredient in lotion making?
  • How to make soap dough….did you know you can store soap dough until you are ready to use it?
  • How to make and test candles…did you know each wick, wax and fragrance may have a different outcome?
  • How to read warning labels from a chemist…do you know what all of those symbols mean on the bottles?
  • How to use the heat transfer method…did you know you don’t actually need to wait for all of your oils to melt to start making cold process soap?
  • How to test color before putting it in soap…did you know that you don’t have to wait to see if your color will morph?

All of these topics were covered during the first day, so let’s just say I was buzzing with excitement and exhausted. It was just enough information before my brain went into overload.

The second day was make-it day and we learned how to make and formulate 4 products

Not only did we learn four new products, we made them! A special shout out to Beth Byrne who was our instructor for the day. I’m telling you this lady has the patience of a saint. Imagine trying to herd cats… that was her job for the day and she kept everyones attention and did it gracefully. This was such a valuable experience because seeing and doing are two completely different things.

What I appreciated most about the second day was my group: Rose, Sarah and Connie. I had received some bad news at the start of the day and these ladies helped to raise my spirits and put a smile on my face. We even created our own signature blend and it’s called “The Shaft”, you had to be there. Thanks ladies!

What we learned for Make it Day

  • LOTION – I have been so nervous about making lotion because of the requirement of a preservative, however the session and hands-on has eliminated all lotion making anxiety.
  • Body Cream – With a small adjustment of the recipe we went from having lotion to the creamiest body butter you can imagine.
  • Hair Conditioner – This is a game changer. I co-wash (conditioner-only) wash my hair every morning. That means I go through a lot of conditioner, now I know how to make my own!
  • Shampoo Bar – I was really looking forward to this session as I didn’t quite understand the difference between a shampoo bar versus a bar of soap. For this session we were making a syndet bar. This means there was no lye required as we used a combination of synthetic detergents. My mind was actually blown here because the one thing I have always said is in order to make soap you must use LYE. Well that’s not entirely true.

What I truly appreciated about make it day is, not only do I now know how to make the products I can formulate them too. You all know how I feel about depending on other peoples recipes for my products.

My Experience

It was awesome to see some old friends and make new ones. Several people picked up 1, 2 or all 3 of the Soap Makers Cookbook. The door prizes, give aways and scent sniffing station were clear cues that as a soap maker…I was in the right place. I wish there was just a fly on the wall to record the sights and sounds the room was buzzing with high energy and laughter.

Until next time…


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