Use the Soaps, Peeps!

I recently started selling my products at a Farmer’s Market; I love chatting with new people, seeing loyal customers, and meeting the other vendors.  I’ve been frustrated by something lately, though, and it’s the realization that some people buy handmade soaps just to scent their linen closet.  Or their lingerie drawer.  Or their bathroom.

I talked with a woman today and I went on about the benefits of handmade soap, how luxurious they are and how beneficial they are to the skin.  She mentioned that she had been buying handmade soaps for years.  I said, “So you know what I’m talking about!  They feel so good to shower with don’t they?”  “I don’t know,” she said.  “I don’t use them for that.  When they lose their scent, I throw them away.”  This is where, if this were a TV show, you’d hear the sound of a record player needle wildly careening across a vinyl record and grinding to a screeching, scratching halt.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard this, nor will it be the last time.  But I beg you, I urge you, I implore you, I beseech you:  take a bar of handmade soap into your shower and use it.  It lathers, it bubbles, it lasts a very long time.  It smells great and it feels incredible on the skin.  It is an indulgence that your skin may have never had.  And it’s an affordable indulgence that sets your skin back on the path to good, clean health.

Handmade soaps retain their natural glycerin, they don’t remove your skin’s natural layer of protection and they don’t interfere with your skin’s sebum production.  They aren’t loaded with nasty chemicals and they are not detergents (most commercial soaps are just that).

Next time you’re at the Farmer’s Market or you’re at Whole Foods or you see some handmade soaps in a shop, pick it up, read the label.  Then compare with ingredients in a commercial soap.  You’ll be amazed.






Sometimes, even in a business blog, we write about love because love seeps into our business life more often than we’d like to admit.  My dad was a champion for me and for what I wanted out of life and what I wanted to do.  He listened to my questions from the time I was a little girl and he gave good advice.   And my dad loved to dance.

I had my grandson with me for a visit yesterday and it flowed into an overnight and then pooled into today so I asked his best buddy’s mom if I could have the pleasure of having Liam’s buddy Hunter and Hunter’s little brother, Ryder, over to play with Liam today.  We had such a great day, the four of us.  I took the boys to a play place where there’s all kinds of fabulous indoor playground equipment … there is also outdoor equipment but on a 90 degree day, I was not going outside.  There’s trampolines and a basketball court for kids indoors as well.  We were there for about an hour and a half and then I took them to McDonald’s Play Place where they had lunch (even grandmas are excused from providing healthy meals every now and then) and they played.  Then we drove back home.  During our drive times, we listened to music from my iPhone.  One of the songs I selected today was “I Got a Feeling” by the Black Peas.  Hunter was quite excited and shouted, “I know this song!  I know this song!”  So I turned up the sound and we bopped and sang as we drove.

My dad loved to dance and he did it very well.  In the 70s, he and I took disco dance lessons together and we’d go out and practice our steps on the weekends.  My mom just shook her head and shooed us out the door.

A few years later, when I lived in Syracuse, NY and my husband and I were raising two young children, my dad and his future wife came for a visit (my parents had divorced a few years earlier).  Before they’d hardly made it through the door, my dad wanted to dance.  My kids were about 5 and 3 at the time and they flung themselves onto the couch with glee because they knew there was going to be a show.

Feeling mischievous, I put on Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop,” almost as a challenge to my dad’s modern day dance skills.  He did not disappoint.  He grabbed my hand and we cut up the rug as he whooped and hollered and twirled and spun me this way and that.  I was breathless by the time the song finished and his future wife and my children were laughing at the scene.

Fast forward about 25 years when I returned home to New York to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday.  My sister, brother, and I were going to take dad and his then wife, Jean, out to a fabulous restaurant for dinner.  I was to pick up dad and Jean and meet everyone at the restaurant.

I was so excited for dad’s birthday and it had been several years since we’d danced together so I had a plan.  I brought a boom box with me that held my iPhone and through that I could play music.  I’d only recently downloaded the song, “I Got A Feeling” by the Black Peas and the words seemed great for dad’s 80th birthday:  “I got a feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night; tonight’s gonna be a good good night…”

When I came in, dad motioned for me to sit down. Jean asked me what the box was for.  I said that I thought I’d play a song for dad’s birthday before we went out for dinner.  And if he wanted to dance, if he was up for it, I’d oblige.  I plugged in the boom box and set my iPhone in the little adapter and pushed the button.  I smiled as the song began.  I waited.  Dad smiled and nodded his head to the beat of the music but nothing happened.  He didn’t spring from his chair like I thought he would.  He didn’t hold out his hand and say, “C’mon, kid!”  He sat in his chair and, legs crossed, he bounced his foot to the beat of the music.  The song ended and my heart was in my throat.  Something wasn’t right.  But then I cleared my head and heard a voice inside of me said, “No, it’s all right.  Really.  It is.  It’s all right.  It’s just that there’s no real room in this living room.  It’s all right.”

Jean didn’t join us for dinner that night because she had somehow bitten into a sandwich earlier in the day and her tooth fell out.  She said she wouldn’t be seen dead like that let alone in a fancy restaurant.  So dad put on his coat and said, “C’mon, Sue.  Let’s go!”

When dad and I got to the restaurant, no one was there yet; we’d gotten there a bit early.  Dad said he wanted to sit at the bar and wait for the others; sitting at the bar was not the norm for my dad.  He asked for a glass of wine.  I ordered and turned on my stool and smiled at dad.  The bartender brought our drinks and we toasted.  Dad swallowed more than once before he told me he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  Tears welled up in his eyes and it was hard for him to talk.  I put my hand on his and I said, “Dad, we’ll get through this.”

We did get through it.  Dad was a trooper through his illness and, quite honestly, it was rare that we even knew he had Parkinson’s Disease.  He ended up dying from something totally unrelated to Parkinson’s two years later.

When I eulogized dad, I talked about his advice and his love.  I remembered dad saying to me, “I don’t know where you get this business sense from.  It sure doesn’t come from me.”  I replied, “Sure it does.  It comes a little from you and a little from mom.  You both have taught me how to manage so many things in life, how to be a good leader, how to be kind and fair.”  “Really?” he’d said.  “Yes.  Really.”

In my eulogy, I also talked about the dance that dad and I took part in throughout my life.  And how sometimes one of us would sit out a dance.  Sometimes we would both sit out the dance because there were times when he was stubborn and I was madder than hell at him.  Eventually, one of us would extend our hand to the other and the dance would begin again.

Business isn’t just about getting ahead.  Life isn’t just about “making it.”  It’s about loving those who fill our lives and who help us to get ahead.  Because we can’t get ahead in our businesses or in our lives without others.  Life is about dancing with others and knowing when to dip, when to twirl, when to sashay, and when to sit a dance out.  Life, business,’s all intertwined.




Coconut Milk, Coconut Oil and Coconut Water

We love coconut milk here at ArtiSun Bath & Skin.  Not just to drink, mind you – it’s great on our skin.  We put it in a few of our soaps because coconut milk has an emollience in it that leaves the skin feeling (key the Mike Meyers character Linda Richman) “like buttah.”

Coconut Milk is loaded with Vitamin C and is high in copper, making it fabulous as an anti-aging ingredient, skin-softener and emollient.  Studies have shown it helps with age spots as well!  Zoinks!

For those of you who are strictly vegan but want the benefits of goat’s milk without the goat, coconut milk is a great choice when choosing your soap.  Our Golden Lemongrass and Forbidden Orange soaps boast generous amounts of coconut milk.  These two soaps are in our top-selling category and I firmly believe that the coconut milk is one of the biggest reasons.

Coconut oil is a great addition to soaps and ours are all made with 30% coconut oil.  It makes for a harder, more bubbly bar of soap.  Coconut oil is a funny character, though – like the 3 bears, you want your ratio just right.  Too much and the soap becomes very drying.  Too little, you don’t notice much benefit.  Just enough and it makes a fabulously creamy, cleansing, moisturizing, bubbly bar of soap!  It’s all about taking things in moderation, as they say.

Coconut water… we actually haven’t used coconut water in our soaps.  The coconut milk and the coconut oil suit us just fine.  But the humans who make the soaps?  We like to drink coconut water – or at least one of us does.  And it’s an awesome beverage that’s high in potassium, low in calories and carbohydrates, cholesterol-free and super hydrating.  It’s a great beverage to have just before working out and again right after working out.  Honesty, you’ll feel great.

So there’s our lesson on most things coconut-y.  And here’s a photo of our lovely Golden Lemongrass soap sporting some colors to please the eye.


Golden Lemongrass with Luxurious Coconut Milk


Our “Why”

When people ask me why I began this business almost 7 years ago, I say that the business found me.  It started itself and, truth be told, I was a reluctant participant – at first.  I had no intention of starting a business making soap or any other product but when my first grandson was born, my entire life changed.  I thought motherhood was great, but becoming a grandmother was even better…so much better that I experienced a new level of love that I never knew was possible.

When Liam was born, I wanted something better to wash his sweet little skin with.  When my kids were born in the early 80s, I was a very young mother and trusted what the commercial companies told me, what they advertised as safe for my kids and for me.  Boy was I ever wrong.  Fast forward to 2008 and I, along with so many other consumers around the world, were more educated on personal care products and the chemicals that go into so many of them – even products for babies and children.

In October 2008, I drove all the way to Flint, Michigan for a soap making class because I couldn’t find any offered near me.  By the end of the day, I’d learned how to make soap and proudly drove home with my little lined shoe box holding one pound of the stuff.  I let it sit for a couple of days and then I cut it.  In the class, we made soap with a recipe the instructor provided and, after washing with it, the soap wasn’t as good as I had hoped for.  That’s when I began my reading and researching and experimenting.  Eventually, I came up with a recipe that worked for me and made my skin feel fantastic and, better yet, it had ingredients that were gentle enough for Liam’s skin as well.  There’s a problem, though, when one becomes a soapmaker.  An addiction takes over and, once you start, you don’t want to stop.  Ever.

So I had my base recipe and I decided to try adding some things.  Botanical infusions, essential oils, other skin-loving oils, colors and design methods opened up a whole world of possibilities.  And eventually, I had too much soap for just my family to use so I gave it to neighbors, friends, relatives so that I had room to make more.  And. They. Loved. It.  They wanted more.  They wanted to give it as gifts.  And the happy soapmaker obliged.

Soapmaking can be an expensive hobby when you want to make a good soap.  So I started charging a nominal fee for my soaps and it kept me going so that I could make more soap!  I dreamed about soap.  I read everything I could about soap.  I watched tutorials on soap.  And my skin had never felt better.  Liam’s little skin kept its baby softness and the soap was gentle enough to wash his baby-fine hair.  Like all natural and handmade soaps, however, I made sure to keep it out of his eyes.  Those “no-tears” soaps?  They are “no-tears” because of all of the chemicals used to make it that way.  Like prescription medication, it solves one issue but causes problems in other ways.

When Christmas rolled around, I had huge requests for my soaps because they make great stocking stuffers, teacher gifts, employee gifts.  I sold so much soap during November and December that my entire stock was depleted.  And I was exhausted.  And I was reluctant.  But the reluctant soapmaker had to decide.  And she did.

I set up a website, made up business cards, joined a business networking group and made a Facebook business page.  I became a member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild and got my insurance through them.  I was officially in business.  All because of a sweet little boy who stole my heart.  And the rest, as they say, is history.nimmyandliam

Retiring Soaps

Some of our soaps are tired.  They’ve worked long and hard and are ready to spend the rest of their days in a soapy retirement community, lathering it up and enjoying a glass of bubbly with other retired soaps.

Why are we retiring these soaps?  Some just never gained the popularity needed to justify further cost and expense to create, package and market them.  Others are more popular at peak times of the year and those soaps are retiring only during off-season.  When their season comes around again, we’ll offer them for a limited time as we do with our other  seasonal soaps.

So…drum roll please … (And please keep in mind that we will sell the retiring soaps on our site ( until they are sold out.  So if you are a fan, get ’em now!).

Galaxy:  Our interstellar clove and orange soap surprisingly has not sold as well as we expected.  We’ll be bringing this one back around the holidays, though, with a new name:  Orange & Clove (so original)!

Witchy Woman:  Make with added hemp oil and hemp milk, this Nag Champa-scented soap has only been popular with a few – except at Halloween.  Witchy will be retiring for the year until Halloween rolls around again – so keep an eye out for her then.

Vanilla Bean:  We’re as surprised as you are that this soap didn’t keep us working hard to keep it in stock.  But don’t fret too much:  Vanilla Bean’s sister, Vanilla Spice, will remain among the working soaps.

Mud Pack:  Mud Pack is only slightly retiring.  She’s returning as a facial bar in a different package and a different shape. Stay tuned…

La Rose Francaise:  Either you love rose or you hate it.  And it seems that the majority of our clientele falls into the latter category.  Rose, it was nice t’know ya, but we’re setting you out to be wild and free in the rose garden.

Snow White’s Apple:  We’ll bring her back in the Fall and that’s where she’ll stay – in the Fall lineup.

Sea Salt Bars:  Another surprise to us, these bars are luxurious and the minerals from the sea salt are magnificent on the skin.  Apparently, the majority didn’t agree.  These bars may return someday, but for now, we’re setting its ship a-sail.

Retiring the aforementioned soaps or only offering them at specific times allows us to have a greater ability to focus on the soaps that do sell well and to work hard to keep them in stock.

To the soaps that are getting ready to collect their pension, we say “thank you!”  To our customers who love these soaps, Galaxy is already sold out, we have only a few rose and Witchy Woman, and about 20 each of the other soaps available for purchase at the website.  Thank you!

Our Recent Survey

We recently conducted a survey based on our customer likes, wants and needs.  We were actually surprised by the information we received.  Read on to see what areas surprised us.

  1.  Our first question asked the following:

We’re working on the next product(s).  We look to our customers to see what interests them most.  Please choose from one of the following categories as to which type product currently interests you most:

  • Anti-Aging
  • Face Washes, Face Scrubs, Eye Cream
  • Bath Products (Bath Bombs, Bath Salts, Bath Melts, Bubble Bath)
  • Products for Teens
  • Products for Babies & Kids
  • Other

Anti-Aging ranked the highest in interest with 72.5% of those polled asking for this type of product.  Face Washes, Scrubs and Creams came in second.  In the Other category, an interest in sunscreen was listed.  Unfortunately, unless we want to get involved with all kinds of red tape with the FDA, we are unable to market and sell sunscreen.  Do we know how to make it?  We sure do.  But once it’s labeled as a sunscreen, we enter into the “no-no land” where the product must go through all kinds of avenues, filings, fees, testing (and more) with the FDA.  Similarly, we cannot put the words “anti-aging” on our skin care products even if those products have proven results with wrinkles, etc.  Sad, isn’t it?  The rules are the rules.  Eventually, when we’re swimming in all kinds of extra cash, we’ll revisit the sunscreen topic again.

2.  Our next question asked for favorite fragrance type.  We were astounded by this answer.  More than half of the people polled said that their favorite was floral (lavender, rose, lilac, etc.).  Second favorite was earthy notes (patchouli, mint, etc.).  In the Other category, people wrote in vanilla, cardamom and spicy!  Yes, we forgot to add vanilla and other foodie type fragrances to the category and if we had, I think that would have been high on the list as well.

3.  Because we have been asked on numerous occasions to create a good facial mask, we thought we’d ask our customers about that.  Responses showed that this type of product had people only lukewarm.  Many hadn’t ever tried a facial mask; others felt it would be too much work.  Still others were concerned about the effect it might have on their skin. This was a real eye-opener for us because we’ve been on the fence ourselves on this type of product.  We’re going to toss this idea around for awhile more before we consider whether we will create it and, if we decide to delve into this type of product, when we will be creating it.  In the meantime, we’re going to focus on facial scrubs made with gentle exfoliants and nourishing ingredients.

4.  We’ve been flirting with offering soy candles.  Most people polled said they would be willing to pay a bit more for soy candles as opposed to the current market-deluged paraffin candles.  Research has shown that paraffin candles are a huge source of indoor air pollution.  Additionally, they emit chemicals that are as dangerous as, for example, second-hand smoke (and worse). Paraffin is a petroleum waste product and must be deodorized and bleached before it can be made into wax.  For more information, please read this article.  Soy candles, on the other hand, are a sustainable resource and burn clean with NO soot.

Interestingly, the majority of candle users burn their candles year round and state that fragrance is first on their list of qualities they seek in a candle.  Now that you know just a bit more about paraffin and other petroleum-based waxes, perhaps substituting soy candles as your candle choice would be better for your health and your family’s health.  We will keep you posted on our release date for our line of soy candles!

5.  While we’ve also had fairly regular requests for a natural deodorant, most of our customers who responded to our survey were not interested.  Natural deodorant does not contain the anti-perspirant ingredient, aluminum, which has been linked to a variety of issues, including Alzheimer’s Disease.  Regardless, some people stated they tried natural deodorant and because it didn’t help with sweating, they went back to an anti-perspirant.  Natural deodorant probably will not help much if you are a big sweater, but a good deodorant should help with odor.  We’re going to hold off on this as well for a bit until we feel a more rousing interest in such a product.

6.  We asked what your favorite product is.  More than half said our soaps and that makes us very happy.  Our handmade soap is fabulous on the skin, lasts a good long time, and is made with only the best skin-loving ingredients.  Our Forever Young Face Puck was a close second to our soaps.  There were some comments related to the Puck that I wanted to address:  one person said the fragrance wasn’t their favorite.  We don’t use the essential oils we use in the Puck to scent it; instead, we chose ylang ylang, lavender and wild orange because of the fabulous benefits to the skin.  It’s also important to note that the fragrance does not linger after application.  You can read more about the Puck here and why we put what we do into this amazing cream.  Still another person said that he/she preferred the original Face Puck (it was hard and solid).  With everything, it’s important to cater to what the majority prefers and most people who’d used the Puck wanted a cream for easier spreadability and a less greasy feel.  We obliged and the new Puck has been received better than we could ever imagine!  We are grateful.

7.  Our final survey question asked what people would like to see on our list of products for the future.  We had some great responses!  Some people asked for a shampoo bar.  This has been considered, visited, revisited and considered again.  Until we can formulate a good shampoo bar for all hair types WITHOUT using synthetic detergents in our bar, we won’t release this product.  Someone mentioned that they had received a great shampoo bar from Ulta.  I went to the Ulta online site and did a search for shampoo bars and found none currently available.  The product may have been discontinued which could be because shampoo bars are a hard sell, but we will continue to research, experiment and try to get a great shampoo bar for those who are interested.

Others requested a moisturizer with sunscreen (see #1 above).  It should be noted that there are many of our ingredients that contain natural sunscreen including shea butter and coconut oil (SPF of 4-6) and carrot seed oil (with a whopping SPF of 35-40!).  Want to try your hand at some homemade sunscreen?  Go here or here.

Some asked for a spray-on hair moisturizer for aging hair and others asked for a variety of different type anti-aging products.  We here at ArtiSun Bath & Skin Care are definitely keeping anti-aging products on our “to-do” list – probably forever!  Of course, we will not be labeling them as anti-aging since that’s a no-no (see #1 above).

Many complain of dry skin.  So here are my questions to you:  Are you using the Face Puck?  Are you drinking enough water everyday?  Have you tried our body butter and/or hand cream and/or body oil?  Do you shower with our soaps?  Do you exfoliate with a good sugar scrub that also provides great moisturizing benefits?  What are you waiting for?

For those who took the time to respond to our survey, thank you.  It helps to regularly get a grasp on how we are doing, what is most popular, what might be of interest to our customers and what holds little to no interest.

We appreciate you.