Last week, I accepted an invitation to speak at the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild's 2009 Annual Conference of Handcrafted Soapmakers at the Miramonte Resort and Spa in Palm Springs, California. I am honored and excited, not only because my topic is "Become the News You Want to Be," but also because I get to work with my photographer/videographer husband and co-business and home leader to create another fantastic promotional video for the organization. Here's the one we did earlier this year at their conference in Vermont.
The Soap Guild is an institution in the world of soapmaking. Everyone who makes soap should be a part of the Soap Guild. The people are warm, smart and fun. You'll learn a lot and you'll have a great time growing your business around like-minded people who understand how exciting it is to stand over a pot of water, oil and lye, and watch them slowly transform into a household product that you can use yourself, give away as gifts or even better, sell at a profit. Today, I want you to get to know the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild.
10 Interesting Things About the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild
1. The Soap Guild Was Founded by Barbara Bobo.
Barbara Bobo was the first (and one of the only) handmade soapmaker to be featured in the pages of Martha Stewart Living Magazine. As the owner of Woodspirits, one of the nation's first soapers to have soaps in stores nationwide, Barbara Bobo is an entrepreneurial institution. When I spoke with Barbara last year, she told me that she and her husband had semi-retired to their Canadian cottage where she's enjoying her hobbies of knitting and bouncing grandchildren on her knees. She is the President Emeritus of the Soap Guild. Wherever you are Barbara, we thank you for what your vision has produced!
2. I Was Registered to Attend the First Soap Guild "Conference".
Back when I had a "real" job, I registered to attend the first Soap Guild conference in the Paris, Ohio, in Barbara Bobo's back yard. Two days before the event, I had to fill in for an attorney in a court case. Just my luck. I wasn't in Ohio physically, but I was there in spirit. I have always been proud that my name is listed on the little tri-fold brochure as an attendee at the Soap Guild's first "conference."
3. The Soap Guild Gives Away Spatulas.
When you arrive at the conference registration desk, you are given a huge goodie bag. As it turns out, this is reason enough to come to the conference. You also get a folder containing important papers and a spatula. At the annual meeting, you vote with your spatula. It's hilarious to see a bunch of mostly women from all walks of life discussing business and voting on serious issues — using huge spatulas.
So if you need a new spatula, there's another reason to come to the conference.
4. The Soap Guild Knows How to Host a Conference.
I already said how great it is to be a member of the Soap Guild, and it's true that there's lots of business inspiration. But I have to say that another reason to connect with them is that you get a discount on one of the most exciting conferences ever.
The Soap Guild conference is not a "gathering." (Not that there's anything wrong with gatherings.) It's a conference in every sense of the word. This year, Elvis was there as you can see from the video. Next year, a great comedy line up is planned as part of a Renaissance Carnival, which will hosted by my friends and longtime Indie Beauty Network members Dennis and Kayla Fioravanti of Essential Wholesale.
5. Marie Gale Rocks.
Marie is the president of the Soap Guild. She's also a the owner of Chandler's Soap, a member of IBN and a wonderful example of how to lead a non-profit trade organization. I have often gone into Soap Guild meetings with the expectation that I will see a true leader run a business meeting using Robert's Rules of Order like nobody's business. Marie never disappoints.
Marie has an uncanny ability to stay focused in the midst of chaos. Once at a Soap Guild meeting, the conversation was getting out of hand. After a while, we all heard the voice of Marie roping everyone back to the crux of the matter and announcing that there was no time for extracurricular chatter. She used her Mother Voice. We all sat at attention. And that was that.
Meet Marie and the Soap Guild's current Board of Directors here.
6. Soap Guild Conferences Are Organized.
Have you ever been to a conference run by amateurs? You get there and your name tag is not alphabetized or they had to find you a place to sit at the awards dinner because the volunteer ran out of place cards? Well, that won't happen at the Soap Guild Conference.
First of all, it's organized by Leigh O'Donnell, a soapmaker who is blessed with incredible administrative gifts. Leigh has become a professional event planner (in my eyes) simply through on the job planning of Soap Guild conferences. She coordinates volunteers and motivates each one to work the conference as if they are being paid a million dollars. They are dedicated, helpful and they even wear coordinated uniforms so you can easily spot them and get the help you need no matter where you are in the hotel.
Leigh, can you come help me organize my life?
7. The 2009 Conference Will Be in Palm Springs, California at the Miramonte Resort and Spa.
And so, that's all I have to say about that.
8. The Soap Guild Just Started Twittering.
OK, so you know I can barely do a blog post anymore without mentioning Twitter. Through the Supreme Organizer of the Universe, Leigh O'Donnell, the Soap Guild showed up at Twitter a few weeks ago gathering followers and generally Twittering about how they were working to get the best speakers possible for the conference. Within a matter of about 5 days, they had filled the speaker rostrum with other Tweeters.
Ahem. Do you need to join Twitter?
9. The Soap Guild Donates Soap.
Every year, the Soap Guild conference includes a contest to determine the best soaps in a variety of categories — best in show, best packaging, best swirl, best fragrance, etc. Each year, they connect with a women's shelter or similar organization in the city where the conference is hosted to donate soaps and other personal care items for their residents. A representative from the shelter is on hand at the awards dinner to accept a donation of all of the soaps in the contest, plus other products donated by members throughout the organization. How cool is that?
I think I'll make some soap next year to donate. On second thought, better leave that to the people who make it more and way better than me. Wouldn't want to give Palm Springs the wrong idea about me and all. (That is to say, I love making soap but my spatula's a little rusty since young kids and the Indie Beauty Network keep me pretty busy. Are those acceptable excuses not to make soap? Be kind when you answer.)
10. One of the Soap Guild's Most Treasured Members is Sister Cathleen Marie Timberlake.
A soapmaking nun, yes. Only at the Soap Guild. Sister Cathleen Marie is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri. In addition to a life of prayer and devotion to God, Sister Cathleen Marie makes and sells handmade soap at Monastery Creations. If that's not the darnedest thing, you know? Check out my video interview of Sister Cathleen.
So that's 10 interesting things about the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild.
What about you?
Do you know anything about the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild and their annual conference? Do you agree that it's wonderful and that Palm Springs can't get here fast enough? Please tell us what you think in the comments section below.
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