If you’ve been in the soap world for sometime you have heard of Soap Dough. We are fortunate to have Bee Iyata of Sorcery Soaps and author of five books and counting joins us to share her Maker’s Tale and how she got started through a serious of fortunate mistakes. In her quest to make really hard soap she stumbled on her own unique process to create Soap Dough.
From a soap that wouldn’t get hard enough to crashing her website she discusses her Maker’s Tale. Not only does she teach the process but she also created a lane for herself with a line of soap dough, soap stencils and soap stamps. Listen in to learn how she shifted her perspective to harness her strength of service to build a community and business that empowers soap makers to create truly unique creations.
5 Key Takeaways
- “Any idea you have you can put on Soap with Soap Dough”
- You never know where an idea will take you or lead you to another idea. Embrace them as stepping stones and see where they may lead you.
- “Ignore the naysayers and get grounded in what you see to be true to yourself and stay on that path”
- “Figure out what you are about and stay with the idea of causing more good than harm in the world”
- “New ideas are met with resistance, it’s up to you to treat it like it’s precious, nurture it and bring it out to the world when you are dedicated to it regardless of what anyone else thinks.”
Where to Find Bee Iyata online
Bee’s Books: https://sorcerysoaps.com/collections/books
Instagram: Sorcery Soap
FB Group: Sorcery Soap Creations
If you are wondering what is soap dough? Watch this video and subscribe to the channel, where Bee describes what it is and how to make soap dough. Bee has also done a series of interviews with makers and these can be found on her blog.
[00:00:10.150] - Zakia Ringgold
Welcome to another episode of a soap Makers tale. I'm your host Zakia Ringeld of Live soapschool.com and this podcast is for makers and woods would be makers alike. Listen in and get inspired with lessons learned building a handmade business. This week we get to sit down with Bee Iyata of Sorcery Soap. If you've been in the soap world for some time, you have heard of Soap Dough. We are very fortunate to have Bee of Sorcery Soaps and author of five books and counting. Join us to share her maker's tale and how she got started through a series of fortunate mistakes. In her quest to make really hard soap, she stumbled on her own unique process to create soap dough. Welcome Bee. Can you introduce yourself to the listeners?
[00:01:05.390] - Bee Iyata
Hi, I'm Bee Iyata from Sorcery Soap in Idaho, USA. And I make cold process soap features soap dough and that's my favorite product.
[00:01:19.390] - Zakia Ringgold
So, as the title of the podcast implies, this is all about a maker's tale and every maker has a getting started story. So could you tell us how did you get started with your handmade business?
[00:01:35.330] - Bee Iyata
I got started because I made a mistake. I made a couple of mistakes and I was striving to make really hard, cold, processed soap and I didn't make hard soap. What I made was sort of a mess and I didn't want to waste it because I was on a really tight budget. So I dug it out and I started to play with it and I continued down that path for a really long time. And there was a combination of things that happened. I wanted to make embellishments for my soaps and I didn't just want a bar of soap, I wanted something else in there because I needed an outlet to be creative. And I had all these ideas and after years of practice and formulations and kind of trying to figure this all out on my own because there wasn't anything about what I was calling soap dough, I didn't even know what to call it. I discovered a process that worked in order to create a pliable cold process soap. That was the beginning of it.
[00:02:51.400] - Zakia Ringgold
So what I hear you saying is that ultimate quest, we all get started and we're like, I'm going to make this particular thing. And what you did actually is very interesting, where it didn't necessarily go to what it was that you wanted or what you were after. Instead you actually unlocked your own process. So how did you know that you were ready to move into the business realm with it?
[00:03:21.530] - Bee Iyata
I kind of knew when I launched the first book and I crashed my website. I had a little WordPress website and the first weekend I didn't think much would happen with this book. And the reason I wrote it was I got a lot of questions that I wanted to be more concise and instead of answering all these questions personally, I wanted to point them in a direction and at first I thought I would just make it a PDF and give it away so that I could help other people. But I launched it and we got so much traffic that it crashed the website. That was a whole nightmare. But my guy is an It guy, tech guy, and he helped me sort it all out and we got it up and running. And then I realized, well, there's a little bit more call for it than what I thought there would be. And then even though I had written the book, people wanted Soap Doe, I offered a little bit here and there, some bars, some basic color bars and things like that. And then it just kept going and going and I basically essentially wanted to create a service, be helpful.
[00:04:43.150] - Bee Iyata
So I continued to offer that and now we have a whole line of hundreds of colors of soap dough. And that's the one strength that came out of all this. Not to mention soap stencils and soap stamps and a variety of different things. And I make soaps as examples and show people and teach them on patreon now. So it sort of grew into this other thing that I didn't even anticipate. And I have five books now, so I wrote more books and I'm thinking of maybe another one soon. So that's kind of how I knew circumstance.
[00:05:23.870] - Zakia Ringgold
You listened and you delivered based on those questions and what you wanted to share. You wrote a book, a beautiful book, I might add. I love the information and the layout within your book, but crashing your site, that's a sure sign that people wanted what you had. That's one challenge, and I know there's a lot of challenges when people are getting started. So what would you say or some of your biggest challenges when you were getting started with your business?
[00:05:59.750] - Bee Iyata
One of the biggest challenges was people taking my ideas and claiming them as their own. And I thought, that is tricky. Everything else could be sorted out by asking some questions or research, but that one was really tricky and it was also a spiritual matter. So the thing that came from that was that I turned it around and realized that people are copying my designs because they really like them and they want to create something like I created. So how can I continue to do that and then not have tension in my person or anxiety about being copied and not credited for my design? And what I realized I could do is support that person. So I have a group where I go in there and support other people and encourage them to keep going whether they mentioned me or not, even in the group. And even if they don't mention me publicly. And I can see that they're either using Soap Doe that they purchased from me kind of I can guess on it because I see their name or maybe they just missed the opportunity to connect with me and they forgot to mention where they saw the design first or how they learned or whatever.
[00:07:38.600] - Bee Iyata
So now I just decided to incorporate that and not use it as a buffer or a resistance anymore and as an opportunity to reach out to them and support and encourage and be helpful, even in that capacity. And that was probably the biggest hurdle. Once I got over that, then things seemed to sort of smooth out a bit. So the rest of the pricing and setting ideas and how to market and all that naturally in that regard. But I think that I hear that often in the community, in the soap community, and people get their feathers ruffled about that. And I can understand why, I really can, because it feels terrible. But if I could eliminate the story that I tell myself about that and get past that and see that it's possible that they don't even have any ill intention, that they just really like the design and then want to create something with their own hands similar to what you created, that just helps tremendously.
[00:08:54.840] - Zakia Ringgold
I can really appreciate your perspective on that as well as the paradigm shift you just created. For me, they say imitation is the best form of flattery, but to be honest, when it's happening, it doesn't feel very flattering. What you just shared is that every challenge can be turned into an opportunity based on how we look at it as well as our intention behind it. You were really coming from a place of service. How can I help people? And you also started to discuss some of the resistance. Can you tell me more about eliminating that resistance?
[00:09:37.810] - Bee Iyata
One of the things I did is I moved. That was really helpful. I lived in an environment I didn't want to live in and that caused daily resistance in my person. That was a big deal because we moved a thousand miles from where we were. And being in a supportive community is so helpful. I mean, just so helpful. So I take that and incorporate it into all things, everything and try to be that community to people that I don't even know. So I have a Facebook group that I monitor and watch and pay attention to every day and I have other moderators in there that do the same because we want to create an environment where we're supportive to each other and encouraging to each other no matter where people are along the path of their craft process. And that we leave the negativity for the rest of the world to deal with in our group. I want it to be, and it is encouraging and supportive. And so I think it's so difficult to start some new project or to do something that you're excited by, but then if you take it to others and they have dissent or some other ill intent about that because maybe their life isn't exactly the way they want it and they put that on the new person, it takes the shine off of it.
[00:11:17.980] - Bee Iyata
And so I wanted this little bubble where we could grow strong and strengthen those ideas no matter what they are and be truly supportive in our hearts. And that probably is one of the biggest challenges for me. Even when in the beginning I started all this, I had a lot of negativity and naysayers and I saw that resistance and that it was seen as just the process of soap. Doe was seen as people were seeing it, as they were skeptical. And I didn't really have any vision for it. All I wanted to do is pursue the idea and see where it would go. So I want to hold that space for other people as well. And I think if we could get over that in ourselves and then we could be better supportive in our communities at large.
[00:12:27.170] - Zakia Ringgold
Yeah, newbies and experienced makers need that kind of space for sure. I remember when I first got started, I had posted in a group that I was considering starting a soap business. I even have a YouTube video that was really popular on. The first thing to do when you are starting a soap business is to not post it in a Facebook group because some of them can be brutal. So creating a space like that is really appreciated from a seasoned soap maker. But I'm sure for new people, what keeps you excited to keep going and what you're doing.
[00:13:08.930] - Bee Iyata
What makes me excited to keep going and motivates me good people, I know it's sort of seemingly cheesy, but it really is just to have a little snippet of a conversation or also to engage with others that are just as excited about new ideas as I am. I'm always creating new ideas and new concepts. And I just posted the other day, yesterday I put up a little angel, made a soap dough on a bar of soap that I'd stamped with a candle and some cranberries and a little bit of mistletoe on there and it was a new stamp I made and so I put that on there and I didn't really think much about it. I really liked the stamps. And then I started to look at that and realized I've always wanted to put an angel on a soap. But I couldn't come up with the idea that I really, really liked. That got me excited and it just was right there in my mind, so easy. So I made that and I was very tickled and I sat for hours just working on these soaps because I was very excited by it. So new ideas, I think, and I get excited to share it with the soap community as soon as I have a new idea and I flesh it out and I figured it all out.
[00:14:30.440] - Bee Iyata
That moment that being in that space, like all time disappears. I could work for hours. I just answer all the questions. It doesn't matter. That's the level of excitement that I love. And now I can't live in that space. Although ideas do come pretty rapidly. And that was part of the first book I wrote. An Enchanted Book of Peculiar Ideas and Soap Potions. I wanted to share how I get ideas. I wanted to share not just Soap Doe, but because soap dough is just a launching pad for new ideas. It's just there's no molds. You could just mold anything with your hands. Any idea you have, you could put on soap. There's so many avenues in order to be in that space on a regular basis. And I'd say 80% of the time I'm in that creative space, I'm always looking for ideas or writing notes or preparing for the next thing. And I go through highs and lows. Not really high or really low lows, but sort of this sine wave of creativity where I'm maybe labeling soaps and packaging soaps, which isn't my favorite task to do. But then there's other times where I'm in a little bit more intense creativity where I have lots of little notes and I'm, oh, I want to try this fragrance oil, or try that color combination or do that.
[00:16:07.330] - Bee Iyata
And then like I posted yesterday, one thing leads to another. So I made this soap last year that I called Witch Splat. So I made a little witch because I call the people that I associate with soap witches because it all is sort of sorcery how did we make all this? I want her no, it's sorcery so I made this little witch and I put her like she missed her mark and she splatted on the side of the soap bar and then her brooms on top. And I loved that idea and it was really fun. And I made a handful of them and then I started to revisit them this year and that's how I pay attention to that. And thinking about that whole process is how I came up with the angel idea and that was supportive of the candle and Christmas and all that sort of thing. And so you just never know where one idea is going to lead to the other. And so those things motivate me. And the other thing that motivates me is when I see people using our products stamps or they get tickled with it and they came up with something really cool or they put a new color combination or something and they post in the group.
[00:17:21.830] - Bee Iyata
That's very exciting too. Those are huge motivations or lately I connected with a new fragrance oil company and they're young and vibrant and excited about life and still really enthusiastic about their work. I don't really meet too many people my age. I'm pretty old, but that are still young and heart enthusiastic about their work. And it's almost like there's a peak that gets reached and that people get tired of what they're doing. And I'm not there yet. It's only been about eight or nine years. I'm still very enthused by all of it and invigorated by it. So when I met this new soap company or a fragrance oil company, and they have a group, and I'm in there listening to them, and they're posting new ideas and new encouragement and motivation and all this sort of it seems like the energy of champagne, all the bubbles and excitement and everything, but it's not vapid. It's very grounded, and there's a lot of continuity to it and a lot of continuous behavior of it. And we all go through those lower points where it's just life feels a little bit flat. So then how do you dredge up?
[00:18:52.730] - Bee Iyata
Nobody's going to give that to you, right? So how do you pull up from that? How do I make myself excited? The other thing that I really love is color. And so my guy, Jacob, he has a good eye for color, really good eye. And so he sources different colorants for our soap dough. And he brought up this new color we together named Pixie Teal Blue. And it's so wonderful, I just want to use it in everything. And I could just use one color and color all my soaps. This one particular color, or tulip yellow. Like, those things are very exciting. So I can find a little, like I call them these little golden stepping stones. So you know the water is going to keep flowing. All I have to do is find that one next stone, that one solid piece to land on it. And it's not like this big mountain. It's just this one little idea. So a color I could stand on and go, oh, that's cool. Or I could stand on a new fragrance oil and build around that. So it doesn't have to be this really big idea. Or I'll go through periods where I like ravens, and I want to put ravens on things, and I practice with those and think about those or whatever.
[00:20:14.560] - Bee Iyata
But so it doesn't have to be such a big thing. My motivation comes in these little small moments and again, to circle back around. I wrote about that. How do you get inspired and stay inspired in my first book? So it's a life process.
[00:20:31.190] - Zakia Ringgold
I think you hit on so much there from the creative process and what you summed it up as a life process. It's so much more than, oh, I have this idea now I'm creative. Anything can be an inspiration. You also discuss the concept or the thought process of one idea can always lead to another idea. And guys, if you have not checked out Bee's book, I will leave a link to it in the show notes. Definitely, aside from the creative process that she's describing, it's really getting down to how do you unlock those new ideas and then also keep yourself encouraged. So I'm really appreciative of you sharing that. So business can have some challenges, but they also have those great things that you look forward to when you wake up in the morning or when you go to a vending event or you're building your online business or your brick and mortar. So what is one of your best experiences as a business owner, whether that be just you personally or in interacting with your customers?
[00:21:45.970] - Bee Iyata
So my best experience I don't know, it's a couple of them, but I'll summarize it. Probably the best experience was we went to a Pinterest conference a couple of years ago, and Jay had just quit his other job to start working with me, and he didn't know anything about Pinterest, really. So we went to the conference and we're standing in line and there's this long snake line, all these women, like there was maybe one other guy there. And so he's looking at me, couldn't understand what was going on, couldn't grasp, like, what we were doing. So I had to keep re explaining, and I said, Lots of Hobbyists and crafters come and I tried to explain Pinterest to them and all this stuff. Anyway, so it was a big deal. I mean, there's a lot of vendors and it was the interiors that at Westworld and Phoenix. Anyway, we get inside and we're walking around, and it's not just SOAPERS, it's crafters. And we're walking around and part of the day is me exploring other ideas and then seeing other soap makers and maybe supporting them, but also hoping he has a decent time because, anyway, I don't want him to be bored.
[00:23:14.180] - Bee Iyata
And we get to one of the booths and I said, oh, look, there's some soap. And we walk up and I'm just sort of looking at the booth and observing it and smelling soaps and whatnot. And the woman that was manning the booth, she comes up and she recognized him from YouTube. And I just thought that was the coolest thing because he just started doing videos, a handful of them, and we basically did fragrance oil reviews, and the look on his face was so priceless. And then anyway, we met her and we became friends. We're still friends on Instagram, and it was just so much fun. And she was just super delighted because I can see the recognition on her face when she looked at him. And then she looked at me and she recognized me, and we had a really nice chat. So that was probably one of the best experiences. And that just happened to here where we moved into a really small community. And I was super surprised by that. That's pretty fun.
[00:24:21.190] - Zakia Ringgold
That's really good.
[00:24:22.610] - Bee Iyata
[00:24:23.010] - Zakia Ringgold
No matter how big we think the world is, the Internet has surely made it much smaller. So that little piece of recognition or just sparking up friendships with people is really cool. Okay, I'm going to be cheesy here. Since you are the creator of Sorcery Soup, if you had a crystal ball and it gave you the opportunity to say, if I only knew then what I know now, this is what it would tell me for either a new person or an experienced person, let your hindsight be there for site, what would it be?
[00:25:03.610] - Bee Iyata
Well, my advice to myself, I'll put it that way. One of the things that happened when I first started so I was an esthetician before I did this, and this is one of the reasons why I got into soap making handmade soap and explore that and some blog posts and talk about that a little bit more extensively. But to summarize it, I was disenchanted by that world. And so I wanted to bring it into some reality, some real world things. And I started to share with some people in my life who I had called friends at the time, what I was up to. And one of the things somebody said when I decided to put up an Instagram channel, she said, well, who's going to follow soap on Instagram? And that hurt. And I didn't say anything. I said, Well, I don't know, I guess it doesn't matter because I'm interested in it. And I didn't even really know anything about Instagram, so I didn't know there are so many soap makers out there. I just saw that that's what I wanted to do. So my best advice to myself was to get grounded would be is to get grounded in what I see to be true for myself and stay on that path.
[00:26:28.690] - Bee Iyata
What tickles me, what delights me, those are the things I want to share. I can't assume what other people think I shouldn't follow. Don't follow what social media is doing, definitely don't listen to the masses, and don't try to appeal to everyone because you're not going to be for everyone, you're just going to be for you. The other thing that people I get a lot of negative things about when I wanted to call it Sorcery Soap, and I just thought, like, Harry Potter, and I thought it was funny. And the first time I made soap, I was like, what is this? Sorcery take disparaging ingredients, put them together, and magic soap. I thought, oh my gosh, this is so fun. And I wanted to share that fun and that excitement. And although I've stayed with that line, I think in hindsight, I would want to have strengthened that a bit more so that I wasn't always on that edge of feeling a little bit beat up by the world, instead of feeling a little bit more confident in saying, I have a good heart, I know what I'm about. But see, even ten years ago, I didn't know as much about what I'm about as I do now.
[00:27:45.860] - Bee Iyata
So I'm trying to cause more good than harm in the world. So people can say what they want to say about me and I know what I'm about, so I guess that's what I would say. Figure out what you're about because that's most important and stay with the idea of causing more good than harm in the world.
[00:28:12.440] - Zakia Ringgold
You just said something that was paramount. What do you see to be true for you? And make sure that we satisfy us first and stay grounded in that because the world can be cruel but the world can also be amazing. But if we're grounded then we're not as impacted by the things that are happening externally because internally we're working for something that we see to be true. And you are absolutely right. Soap making is sorcery and I'm so glad that you stayed the course. So that's all the questions that I had. But I always like to leave room for maybe something that I didn't ask. Something that you would like to share? Is there anything else in terms of starting or growing a handmade business or unlocking creativity that you'd like to share?
[00:29:09.310] - Bee Iyata
I will say this, that new ideas are often met with lots of resistance and if you know what you're about and you have a new idea, find other people that can help support that idea. I think ideas are like this. There's a wives tale that says you shouldn't tell anyone you're pregnant for the first three months because that baby is just beginning to form and is very volatile. And there's other parts of that idea that says the soul hasn't decided whether it wants to be here yet or not. So it's your job as the doorway between this realm and that realm to protect it. And that's one of the ways that the wives tale sort of supports is saying you want to protect the idea. So I think of new ideas as little babies and that my job is to protect them. And so sometimes when I get a new idea, I don't tell anybody, but I let it formulate within myself and hold that and don't put a lot of words to it. I don't want to bring it to fruition too quickly. So I comfort it and hold it and nurture it and then start to gradually bring it out to the world.
[00:30:39.290] - Bee Iyata
When I do that, I don't wait for what other people think because whether I make the first judgment of whether I like the idea or I don't like the idea because it takes a lot of work to bring an idea forward. For example, when I wrote my first book, I wrote it in a few months. But over the years it's been cultivated and rewritten and rewritten and that took a huge amount of work over the course of many years. It took just a lot of concepts, a lot of work, a lot of quiet time and diligence and focus and dedication on my part. And so I'm the only one that can say whether I'm dedicated to a new idea or not, regardless of what everybody else thinks. I guess that's the last piece of advice or suggestion I would encourage. If you have a new idea, get grounded in it in yourself and say, do I really like this idea? Do I really like it? And then if you do, treat it like it's precious and treat it like it's valuable. Because if I see value in it, then it doesn't matter if other people see value in it, because I'm going to continue to use that idea and continue to pursue that idea with enthusiasm and sincere dedication to it.
[00:32:07.290] - Bee Iyata
And that's what it takes in order to manifest an idea from the unseen to the scene, takes a certain type of person to be able to bring it through all those levels so that it can be shared with other people. So that's probably the last bit of information I have.
[00:32:29.110] - Zakia Ringgold
I really appreciate you taking the time to complete this podcast interview. Now, how can people find you with your website, with your socials? Are there any local places that you are? Please let us know.
[00:32:42.950] - Bee Iyata
I could be found on my website, sorcerySoaps.com or Sorcery Soap, instagram Channel, facebook definitely variety of different ways in Facebook. So we have a group called Sorcery Creations and I have YouTube Channel. I have Odysseychannel and email. SorcerySoap@gmail.com. So there you go.
[00:33:10.320] - Zakia Ringgold
Well, that's it for this week's episode of A Maker's Tale. I am truly grateful that Bee gave us some time to share with us her Maker's Tale in Sorcery Soaps and how she sees creativity and how she was able to overcome some of that resistance that she felt early on with just some paradigm shifts and staying true to herself. Now, be sure to visit the website to access the show notes where I will have links to her blog as well as her Facebook group, her YouTube channel. And I'm really encouraging you, even if you are interested in making soap dough or not, to check out her book, an Enchanted Book of Peculiar Ideas and Soap Potions. I'm going to read you just a line from the introduction. It says Soap molding and the secrets in this book are a new view on an old process combined with a little magical realism and a whole bunch of imagination to offer you a fresh perspective on your craft. Thanks again, Bee for joining us. I'm your host, Zakia Ringwood of Livesoapschool.com, encouraging you to go out and create something amazing. Thanks for listening.