Summer Festival

Summer Fest Booth

Well, the weekend came and went and the Summer Festival I spent so much time preparing for is now over.

I had planed to take the week off from work before the event in order to mix up some final product, organize and get everything ready.  Well, we know what happens to plans.  There was a snag with one of my engineering jobs that had to be taken care of without delay.  It took some time to get it all settled.  It’s really inconvenient when my real life gets in the way of my fun time.  Anyway, as a result of that fiasco, I wasn’t able to finish everything I wanted and ended up unorganized with product unlabeled.

This was my first event as a vender and I was a bit obsessive about how everything should look.  I futzed around with my display for a large part of the first day until I got nearly everything labeled and looking just how I wanted it.  My cousin, Kathy, who came up with her spinning, knitting, jewelry and other assorted crafty stuff, silently laughed and shook her head.  Though, after a while, the laughter wasn’t so silent.  No doubt the story will amuse her family, too, in the telling.

Once I felt the table was looking how I wanted it, I got out the unscented cream soap samples I had set aside for kids to scent and color for themselves.  It was a success and a disaster at the same time.  I had a gaggle of girls in no time, all wanting to do it all at the same time in the same tiny space I had set aside for the activity.  Fragrance oils were spilled and color scattered all over.  I found that monitoring the kids, cleaning up the mess and trying to sell soap at the same time was just not going to happen.  I cleaned up the final mess, with more than a little help from Kathy, and put the whole thing away.  Lesson Learned:  Do not try to sell your product and have a kid’s activity at the same time.  It. Does. Not. Work.

I did have a hand washing station for people to try out my creme soaps.  I was very popular with little girls and parents of young children.  That I will do again.  It wasn’t a big deal and I earned a lot of good will.

Saturday went much better and the table was set up and arranged to my satisfaction fairly quickly.  A few people came by before the parade and I was anxiously awaiting the post parade rush.  We waited, and waited and waited.  It got a little busy for a short stretch, but the day really started to drag on.

The crowds I expected never materialized.  I was heartened somewhat to hear others say it was a slow show – I least I knew it wasn’t me.   Another lesson learned:  The corner booth was great, but being next to the Merry-Go-Round was torture.  Everything was caked in dust by the end of the show, including us.  Despite the slow sales and perpetual dust storm from the Merry-Go-round, Kathy and I had fun.  I plan to set up again next summer and hope for both a better spot and better turn out.  I hope Kathy decides to join me again.

Addendum:  Many thanks to my husband, Andy for being our pack mule both days, and to Samantha, too, for running various errands and occasional help.

AND a big Thank You to all who stopped by and purchased my hand made soaps.  It was greatly appreciated.

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An Otion of Support!

In a previous post, I thanked all those who have provided support, encouragement and feedback during this soap odyssey I’ve embarked on, but there are three more people I need to give special thanks to.

Alicia, Karly and Ginny at Otion.  (I hope I spelled everyone’s name right.)  These women have been super supportive and have provided hours of time and their expertise answering my infinite questions over these past months as well as offering suggestions when I’ve encountered a problem or setback.  They’ve also laughed with me when faced with some of my more interesting failures.

When I say I couldn’t have done it without them, it’s not a platitude.  It’s the literal truth.

Thank you all at Otion – for everything.

Many Thanks!


On Top of the Fridge






I’ve spent the last couple of weeks producing mass quantities of soap in 2 1/2 pound and 5 pound batches.  Different scents, colors and swirls.  It’s been fun, sometimes frustrating and hectic as I try to get this start up off the ground and keep up with my engineering business, too.  There have been more than a few late nights and some dinners out when the kitchen was overrun with soap and soap making paraphernalia.




I want to take this opportunity to thank my family for their support and patience during these crazy times, though I must say patience is wearing a bit thin as food becomes more sparse.  I’m the primary shopper and I’ve not kept up with that job very well.  So, to Andy and Samantha – Thank you for your feedback on name and logo ideas, for being perpetual product testers, for your understanding and for not moaning too loud when dinner wasn’t done until 8:00 (or later).

With the Everson-Nooksack Summer Festival (formerly Everson Days) fast approaching, I have finished with bar soap production and will be moving on to creme soap and scrubs while the cold process soaps cure.

I’m exited to announce that my products will be available for sale at Courtyard Gardens, our local Everson florist, after the summer festival.  Cheryl has been very encouraging and supportive of my enterprise and she and her husband, BC, have been enthusiastic testers of all my products.  The feedback Cheryl has provided as well as the product packaging and logo advice she offered have been valuable beyond measure.  Thank you Cheryl and BC!

To all the other brave souls who tested soaps and provided feedback – Thank You!  Lesley, Eric, Draughn, Patricia, Karen and Nadine.  Here’s to my mother-in-law, Lynne Stone, who unbeknownst to her was a tester of sorts as well – she was too chicken to volunteer, but I sent her some anyway.  FYI – she assures me she loves them.

Many thanks to my sister, Leigh, who is shipping her old soap molds and my parents, Elwin & Alice McGrew for their feedback and encouragement as well.  I also appreciate the enthusiastic responses from my nieces, Finley and Kieren.  “They smell really good!”  It’s hard to go wrong with hearts, flowers, butterflies and stars where 9 and 6 year old girls are concerned.   DSC04511

And another heartfelt Thank You, to my sister, Lesley, for her constant encouragement, business name and logo feedback/advice and unexpected but very welcome investment.

Oh – did I forget to mention how much I LOVE my soap cutter from Bramble Berry! DSC04496

Toxins in Our Blood

I wanted to share this with you.  The number of toxins that can not be metabolized and excreted from our bodies increases every day, and is one of the reasons I began making my own all natural cleaning products, bath soaps, lotion, deodorant and more.  I hope you find the attached informative.

Moyers Moment (2001): Toxins in Our Blood

May 17, 2013

In this 2001 Moyers Moment from Bill’s documentary Trade Secrets, Bill examines the many chemicals that have been introduced into our environment over the last few decades. To find out just how pervasive these chemicals were, Bill volunteered to get his blood tested.

What’s in a name?

When starting a business, coming up with a name can be a difficult endeavor, but a very important one.

You want your name to reflect you and your product and be cool.  I tend to not want to name my businesses after myself because if it grows and you take on partners or eventually sell it, the business isn’t stuck with your name.  I experienced working for a firm named after the founding members and when those people retired and new partners took their place, there was more than a little petty bickering about it.

The process for me was bandying about ideas with my husband, daughter and friends.  There were so many, I can’t recall them all.  This went on for a couple of weeks or more when one day Greymalkin just popped into my head.  I still have no clue why, but it did and it just felt right.  My husband liked it, the kid liked it, my sister liked it and so did many others.

How does it reflect me?

Me – I’m the crazy cat lady.  I’ve had cats as long as I can remember, and often more than one.  Currently we have 4 who call our house home and 3 feral cats who live in and around our back yard and have meals on our deck.  All neutered, I should add.  I participate in Trap-Neuter-Return and have rescued a number of strays over the past several years.  Cats are one of the constants in my life.

How does it reflect my vision of my product?

My soap – I love the multiple variations and artistry in soap – from the chemistry of the ingredients used to the visual impact of the swirls and other designs.  Soap can be utilitarian, whimsical, comic and/or intricately artistic.  The options are as limitless as one’s imagination.  The Artistry of Chemistry becomes Soapistry.

Once I settled on the name, the logo was next.  I spent hours on it and it went through many iterations before settling on the final design, then there was the time spent tweaking it, getting it just right.  I’m very pleased with the end result and I hope you like it, too.  Greymalkin

Call Me Crazy

I find myself in an interesting position.  I’m starting a new business.

More than a year ago I started looking into making my own hair gel and other hair care products.  I have semi-curly hair.  Not quite curly, but more than a little wavy and finding products that I liked that I could afford on a regular basis was not so easy.

Another consideration for me is smell.  I’m sensitive to scents.  The chemical scents of most cleaning products, including the ‘green’ selections, can knock me off my feet and trigger a migraine.  Many of the more affordable personal hygiene products are also very heavily scented.  I recall purchasing a ‘light scent’ deodorant one day when my local store was out of the unscented options.  That lightly scented deodorant was overpowering.  If that was light, what did that say about the normal version.

So, I started doing some internet research and set up a small chemist lab in the kitchen.  I can tell you with certainty that my husband has ceased to be amused when I answer his, “What’s for dinner?” with “Lotion”.  Soon after a few experiments – some great, others not so great, I learned that my local soap making supply shop was offering a class called “The Naturally Clean Kitchen”.  I took it and I loved it.

Then I thought, why not take the soap making class and learn to make my own shampoo?  So I did and I was hooked.  I have not achieved my goal of a great home-made shampoo, but we have enough luxury liquid hand soap to last us and eon.  I gave up on the liquid soap and have now focused a great deal of energy on some superb (if I may say so myself) bar soaps.

I knew that making just enough soap for my family and some friends wasn’t going to be enough for me.  There is just too much to try – swirls galore, confetti soap and other techniques that required my attention.  As a result, my family and I are swimming in soap.  Then I thought, “Why not sell it and make my new-found hobby/obsession pay for itself?”

So, here I am, neck deep in business plans, marketing, promoting, making soap and generally having a really good time.

Funny thing is, I’m already self employed and my new business is totally unrelated to my current business – engineering – and the engineering is really cutting into my soaping time right now.

Sigh – I now have 2 jobs and the same boss for each – me.  Here’s to maintaining my sanity.  I’ll keep you updated.