I've known Indie Beauty Network Member Marie Gale of Chandler's Soaps for many years now, and had the pleasure of working with her as colleagues and friends. Marie is also the president of the Handcrafted Soap Maker's Guild and we had a blast at the conference (photos here) she hosted in May. (That's me and Marie enjoying a quick photo op.) Her new book, Soap and Cosmetic Labeling: How to Follow the Rules and Regs Explained in Plain English, is right on the money for anyone who needs to understand and implement the US Food & Drug Administration's labeling regulations for soap and cosmetics makers.
Marie first learned how to make soap in 1998, then launched her first website in 1999. By 2001, she had built her own soap making workshop and in 2003, she opened a store in downtoan Myrtle Point, Oregon. As busy as all this keeps her, she's also the twice elected president of the Soap Guild, and in the midst of all this, she took some time to answer some questions about why she wrote the book and how it can help Indie beauty business owners.
dM: Why did you write Soap and Cosmetic Labeling?
Over the years I have observed and participated numerous discussions about the requirements for labeling soap and other products. I solved it for myself by going to the actual information (generally from the Code of Federal Regulations). Believe it or not, I'm one of those very strange people who actually likes reading statutes and legal documents, so it wasn't too intimidating. However, not everyone likes to do that, and I kept getting questions about labeling requirements. So the idea of the book was born.
dM: What's something many people would surprised to know about labeling?
That some phrases we take for granted are actually regulated: "Made in the USA", for example, has very strict guidelines, as does "Organic." Even so-called "green claims" like "recyclable" or "reusable" have some government oversight!
On a more detailed level, I think the thing I was most surprised to find out is that the regulations actually state how to measure the type size. For all upper case it's the height of the "L" and for upper and lower or just lower case it's measured by the height of the lower case "o"!
dM: Would you say it's easy or not easy for a newly launching business to follow the regs?
Following the federal labeling regulations for soaps, cosmetics and non-cosmetic consumer goods isn't very difficult, so long as you know what they are. The hardest part is knowing what the regulations are to start with, and that's what makes the book valuable. It's much more difficult to fix labeling errors after you've invested the time and money in designing them. Better to do it right from the beginning, and know what you're getting into.
While the federal regulations mostly detail labeling, presentation and product claims, many states have additional regulations concerning licensure, weight & scale certification, manufacturing practices and the like. While those are not covered in the book, they are important for a new business trying to follow the regulations.
dM: What is on the horizon for you and your business in the near future?
While I am continuing to make soaps and my basic body care products, I preparing to launch a more upscale, lux product line geared to a higher end consumer.
Marie has been successful at Indie Business ownership for many years now, and offers these insights as her personal philosophy on the topic of business ownership.
- It is the way. For me, it is the only way … I can't imagine having what my friend calls a Capital-J Job.
- When Indie business ownership works and is done well, it is the way to personal fulfillment.
- It is the way to financial stability.
- It is the way to being able to contribute to your community.
- It is is the way to teach the children responsibility and the value of hard work.
- It is the way to solving the economic woes at the local, regional or national level.
Marie also points out that while all those things are true, when it doesn't work out and isn't done well, it can be the way to the opposite of everything listed here, so be aware that it takes a lot of work, attention and inspiration to keep things going!
You can read the Table of Contents from Marie's Book in PDF format here. If you like what you see, and I think you will, you can buy the book here. And as a bonus, if you purchase Marie's book, you can enjoy a special section of her website specifically to update and inform readers! For those of you in or around Oregon, you can visit Marie's shop at 431 Spruce Street in Myrtle Point, open 10 to 5 on Tuesday through Friday and 10 to 4 on Saturday.
What do you think of Marie's insight on Indie Business ownership? Did she hit the nail on the head? Leave a comment with your own person insights and thoughts by July 13, plus a link to your blog or website, and you'll be entered to win your very own copy of Marie's book!